Recently, the Mosque Administration Unit organized a study trip to Muslim destinations in Hongkong and China. Nine students accompanied by 2 staff departed from Penang to Hongkong on 11 Jan 2011. The trip was meant to be an eye-opener for the participants to witness the universality of Islam in other sets of culture other than the Malay Muslim culture which have been dominating the participants’ view of Islam along their lifetime in Malaysia.
The most important lessons actually started during the preparation for the trip. The participants were chosen mainly among the students from moderate and low income family background. Most of them have even never been on air travel or going beyond the boundaries of Malaysia before this trip. To make it more challenging to them, though possible, they are not encouraged to acquire fund by means of appealing for sponsorships as normally being the practice by our university students. Throughout the period of six months, they have been working hard to source the fund through sales of food, books, conducting courses, etc. Alhamdulillah, they have been very independent and the effort they have made increase their level of confidence in their own capability.
Approaching the day of the travel itself, they have managed to gather enough relevant information on the places to travel, contacting the institutions, hotels, embassies and the service providers without any need for travel agents or the like. To these freshies, what seems to be normal to our frequent overseas travellers, are new and interesting knowledge for them. It was fun to them having to have their passports issued, having the China visa glued to one of their passport pages, having to get their Malaysia money exchanged to the old-fashioned Yuans and beautifully-decorated Hongkong Dollars. They improved their negotiation skills in securing low-cost accommodation in between the sky-rocketing prices of hotels. They get to know many office bearers of the the muslim organizations in Hongkong and China.
The slightly less than 4-hour flight for the first time took them 2,400 km away from home. Arriving at Hongkong International Airport at the rescheduled night time was another challenge as the group have to convince the guest house’s owner without fail in order to have a proper cheap night stay in Hongkong. Upon arrival, the group immediately made a move to Kowloon Mosque and then having whatever they brought as the night dinner while watching the skyline of Hongkong Island on the opposite side under the cold night air of 7 degrees Celsius.
In Hongkong they visited the Ammar Mosque & Osman Ramju Sadick Islamic Centre situated at Wan Chai in Hongkong Island. Besides being the main prayer place, the 7th story building also housed a few muslim organizations, a seminar centre, a library and, not to forget, the halal Chinese cuisine at the mosque canteen. The group was entertained by Mr Muhammad Khan who represented the Hongkong Islamic Union, the main Islamic body that took care of the muslim welfare in Hongkong. The group presented most copies of the Waqf Quranic Tafsir from Malaysia to Mr Khan to be distributed to other Islamic bodies. The group was also greeted by Imam Yong, a local Chinese descent. Unlike the Kowloon Mosque that was frequented mainly by muslims of the subcontinent descents, at the Ammar Mosque we found more muslims of Chinese origin. After the Zohor prayer, there was a janazah prayer. Before leaving, the group also took the opportunity to enjoy the delicious Chinese food at the canteen.
The group departed to Guangzhou at 4.00 pm and arrived after a 2-hour trip by train. It is interesting to note that the train was a direct one with no border stop and the immigration procedures were all done at the place of departure and arrival. It was much colder in Guangzhou at 3 degrees Celsius. The group wasted no time to rent a van to Bostan Muslim Hotel which was only 5 minutes away from the Guangzhou East Railway Station. After the dinner, the night ended with restless sleep in a cold room with no heater provided.
The next day, the first destination was to explore Chinese culture demonstrated voluntarily by the Guangzhou residents at Yue Xiu Park. The group members have the opportunity to join the local people performing the opera, tai chi, wu shu, shuttle kick and took photos of the iconic Five Ram statue. After visiting the Sun Yet Sen Memorial Hall, the group took quite a long walk before they finally found the Hua Sheng Mosque which seem to be unnoticeable from the main road. The external outlook of the entrance was not easily differentiated from other Chinese features surrounding it. Despite being exhausted, the group members were excited to meet Imam Ismail at this oldest mosque in Guangzhou. The mosque dated back to the time of a Prophet’s companion, Saad ibnu Abi Waqqas whose tomb was found at another location, the Masjid Saad Abi Waqqas, not far from Yue Xiu Park. The group took the opportunity to pray Magrib and Isyak at Masjid Saad Abi Waqqas.
The next day, the group travelled to Shenzhen, a modern city at the Hongkong border. Arriving a little bit late, the group performed the Jumaah prayer at the mosque situated at the 8th floor of Shenzhen Muslim Hotel where the group stayed for the night. The earlier plan to visit Mei Lin Mosque have to be skipped. The group also took their time to look at the good sold at Lou Hu Commercial City. It was situated at the same area with the Shenzhen Railway Station.
The next morning, the group departed to Hongkong on foot through the Lou Hu (China) – Lowu (Hongkong) border. It was quite a wrong time to cross the border as a massive crowd of either side were cramping the immigration counters. It took 4 hours to go through the immigrations and waiting for the train to downtown of Mong Kok, Hongkong. Before going to the airport, the group took the opportunity to shop for souvenirs at the Ladies’ Market in Mong Kok.
Arriving in Penang right before midnight, the group we exhausted but happy with their new experience to share.
Cost per person was approximately between RM 900 – RM 1200 only for air ticket, accommodation & transport. Alhamdulillah. Thanks for your support.