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A Malaysian Mosque In Nova Breka

The Search For A Malaysian Mosque In Nova Breka, Sarajevo

semi-overcast 22 °C


Two days ago, I read in the newspapers at the hostel about a mosque. The mosque was called the Malaysian mosque. It was also known by the local people of Bosnia as the friendship mosque because it was built on the friendship and solidarity between Malaysia and Bosnia. I decided to visit this mosque after reading about its news in the newspapers.

This mosque, in Nova Breka of Sarajevo was built in 2002, with a cost of RM1.8 million and it was fully funded by the government of Malaysia. Nova Breka is a neighbourhood about 5 km from the city centre of Sarajevo. I decided to walk there as the distance was not far.

I did not know my way to get there. However, the printed map in my hands showed the course of direction along which I should be walking and heading to the northwest from the centre of the city. As I walked, I asked around for direction. The walking journey of 5 km became lengthy and it took me 2 hours because along the way, I have taken many wrong turns and lost my way. I did ask for a lot of help on my way to the mosque.

When I arrived at the mosque, the doors were shut. It was not opened. I stood by the doorstep watching around for any passerby who happened to be going past the mosque. I have wanted to ask about the opening hours of the mosque. I did not see anyone there. It was as silent as the heart beating no more. At that moment, if truth to be told, Nova Breka was untroubled, calmed and peacefully quiet.

Then I walked round the place of the boundary of the mosque hoping there was a side door. The side door was also shut. I was feeling disappointed with a bit of displease on how could the doors of a mosque closed in the daytime. The time now was about the call for a ritual prayer. It was around Zohor, at half-an-hour after noon. In contrary, the mosques in Kuala Lumpur have their doors opened all daytime.

I sat by the doorstep on a concreted marble-step leading up to the main door of the mosque. I sat there for about half an hour. I decided not to walk away until I have visited the mosque. And, this time around 1.00 pm now, I was sure that someone would have arrived at the mosque for the obligatory prayer.

I have not made a wrong decision to sit and wait. At that time, a young man came forward to the main door of the mosque with a heavy iron key. The iron key was a huge one.

He saw me. I was physically and skin tone different in some ways than the people of Bosnia. However, he was not surprise to see me.

I quickly stood up. I greeted, "Hi! Are you opening the door of the mosque for me, please?"

He was a clean-shaven and smart-looking young man. Minus his modest Islamic robes and headgear, I would have easily mistaken him as one of the young white-collar men working as an executive in any big cities such as in Kuala Lumpur or in London.

I thought it likely that he should be able to converse in English, if not, at least he has the ability to express himself of any idea or thought without hesitation with me. Many of the people of Bosnia were able to speak English. They spoke a fluent English and they spoke English better than I did.

I asked him again. "Are you opening the door now?"

He quickly pushed the heavy iron key and inserted the key into the keyhole to unlock the wooden door of the mosque.

Whilst unlocking the padlock hanging on the door too with another key, at the same time he turned his face to me and asked, "Where do you come from? Do you want to go in for prayer?"

He added, "I am the Imam of this mosque."

I replied, "I have wanted to visit the mosque. I am not going into the mosque for prayer but only to pay a visit. I come from Malaysia."

I asked, "I am not a muslim, but can I visit the mosque from inside?"

He pushed open one side of the huge wooden door after unlocking it and said, "You may come in. But not staying too long because I would have to make a ritual call for prayer from the minaret later. Are you a Chinese from Malaysia?"

I nodded.

He invited me in, and he asked me to sit down on the carpet of the hall with him. He introduced himself.

He was Elvedin Klisura, a 33 year-old imam of the mosque. He took a great pride to assume the role as the Imam of the mosque.

He said, “I have been to your country. Your country was a melting pot of diverse culture with different races of people. I was in Putrajaya to attend some forums of the faiths of Islam. It was two years ago. I met your former prime minister Dr. Mahathir during the forum. He was a great leader of huge vision.

"Dr. Mahathir shared his invaluable knowledge with us of the acts, information and skills acquired through his years of diplomatic experiences as a prime minister on how to rebuild Bosnia. Dr Mahathir was a great role model to us.”

The Imam added, “Are you aware that Dr. Mahathir is in Sarajevo now attending the national forums of Bosnia?”

I replied with a hearty laugh. I said, "I saw him with his team of diplomats two days ago in the old town of Bascarsija." The laugh was not a disrespect of anyone but one that was warm-hearted, sincere and full of joy from the inward of me. It was to express my joy of having to have seen Dr. Mahathir in Bascarsija and has to share my feeling of the exhilaration with the Imam I met in the far away land from Malaysia in Bosnia.

The Imam further added, "Dr. Mahathir has come to this mosque many times to perform his prayers with the community here when he was in Sarajevo. In 2007, Abdullah Badawi, your former prime minister has also been to this mosque. He was to officiate an opening of this mosque.”

Later, the Imam brought me to the minaret tower of the mosque. We climbed to the top of the minaret. The tower was very high with a height of 8 floors. It has a balcony, in a way it was a small porch or confined platform that extended from the top of the tower from which several loud speakers were fixed on. Standing at the top of the balcony at the tower, I could see a panoramic view, a wide view surrounding the silent neighbourhoods of Nova Breka.

Before I greeted goodbye to the Imam, he particularly brought me to the front door of the mosque and he pointed to the door, and asked, "How do you see this door to any of the door designs found in Malaysia?"

Then he asked further, "Does the door have any resemblance, in a way this door in which is alike the design of any of the doors featuring a typical Malaysian architecture in Malaysia?"

I stared and got a load of drawn to that wooden door and began to think of any identical same thing over and over of the design found in the buildings in Malaysia. I told him, "Isn't this design of the wooden door resembling the ones of the National Museum of Kuala Lumpur?"

The Imam cracked a jest with his laugh. He said, "Now you know!"

The wooden front door of the mosque was a refined process from the teak wood and has been intricately carved and was specially flown in from Malaysia.

I thanked him and I said goodbye to him.

All along the backpacking journey, because I am a quiet man, I have an inclination to visit and get into the place of religious or worship house, may it be an ashram, temple or church or a mosque. I incline to sit in silence in the religious or worship house. I would submit the will of the cause of everything to god and let the earth of my soul bring forth grass. I feel peace having to sit near to god. I would read or even do my writing while I sit there.

I have been to many mosques such as those in the Egypt, Turkey and Bulgaria and also in Bosnia. There have not been any highest degree of defenders who are muslims to cause a force on me by making a situation unpleasant or unattractive for me to leave the mosques. I may live in Malaysia, a country that has a majority population of muslims, however I have not stridden across the road into any mosques in Malaysia.

Until now, I still felt a sense of touch, or being nudged on the shoulders with an intense affection for being able to sit in silence on the arcade of the covered passage in the mosque of Al-Azhar in Cairo when I was there. I spent a lot of hours and everyday, I caught a bus from the house that I rented a room to Al-Azhar mosque. I spent the day sitting on the passage of the arcade to read and write my travelling journals. I have had a wonderful moment with the mosque.

In Malaysia, I am not able to do so. I would be judged by the people of other faiths as a weirdo to a degree my behaviour seems strange. I do not believe I would be allowed to get into the mosques either by the Malays, who are the muslim people in this land.

Nova Breka neighbourhoods

Nova Breka neighbourhoods

Nova Breka neighbourhoods

Nova Breka neighbourhoods

Posted by Quah Khian Hu 03:39 Archived in Bosnia And Herzegovina

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Your writings are an eye opening for me naa : ) : ) Now the list of places to see in Bosnia is getting loooong.....
I love visiting the mosques too. I always remember how peaceful it was sitting in the prayer hall in the main mosque in Damascus for hours - with snow outside, and being totally captivated during the prayer time. The mosque in Kampala also allows people get access to their minaret, although with a fee, of which I declined.


if u go bosnia, i'm sure u'll like tis charming country in d balkan region...hahaha, u have a long list to see, intriguing statement, but true naa.......

by Quah Khian Hu

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