Chiang Mai / 29th - 31st October 2016
Day 3 (in chronological order)
Conclusion: Reflections on trip to Chiang Mai
Attaqwa Mosque (Chiang Mai, Thailand)
Finding Attaqwa Mosque wasn’t a straightforward endeavour at all. I had asked a total of 3 separate persons for its exact location and they all pointed at different spots on a map. The issue with that was I found it literally impossible to key in my exact destination on Google maps.
As a result, I could not have specific turn-by-turn directions to the mosque. I had to figure out (manually) which roads to walk on, which turns to take, in order to get to Attaqwa mosque. Inevitably, along the way, I frequently got lost and almost gave up searching for it.
Before I left for Attaqwa Mosque, I asked the Le Meridien Chiang Mai’s concierge to help me confirm the exact location of Attaqwa Mosque. They tried their best to google the answer up but when they realized searching in English was a fruitless affair, they tried to search ‘Attaqwa Mosque’ in Thai. Eventually, they found the mosque’s Facebook page and showed me the spot on the map where Attaqwa Mosque is.
This is what they found.
They offered to hail me a taxi, but I said I wanted to walk instead. They cautioned me that the mosque is far away from the hotel and I would probably take about half an hour to reach there if I choose to walk.
I said I don’t see any problem with that. I told them I love walking long distances in a foreign country because the experience is liberating for me. From their expressions they gave me in response, they must have thought I was mad.
I came across a beautiful scenery as I walk. This is the Ping River. The mosque is at the other side of the Ping River.
Another beautiful scenery. Ketawa Kafe. Ketawa means laugh in the Malay language.
Other than Ketawa Stylish Hotel sign, I also see a familiar Halal sign.
This is the halal restaurant. It was closed. Not sure of the exact location of the restaurant on Google Maps. Sorry.
I tried my best to figure out how to get to the point on the map shown by the Le Meridien Chiang Mai’s conceirge. But I got lost, completely lost. Most times I didn’t know where I was because I believed that my GPS location was inaccurate. I wasn’t even sure which road or lane I was in. Everything around me was in Thai. I was lost for a good 15 minutes in the area. Soon, I decided that enough was enough and I started to make my way back to the hotel.
As I started walking out of the area, by God’s will, one Indian-Thai man riding a motorbike stopped 5 meters away from me. Immediately I knew he was a Muslim because he had a long beard. He went into someone’s (his?) house to deliver something and I knew that once he’s out (if he goes out), I had to approach him and ask where Attaqwa mosque is.
So I waited for a couple of minutes and he did go out of the house. Once he was out, I immediately approached him without any hesitation and said ‘Assalamualaikum’ to him. I asked him where is Attaqwa mosque. He didn’t speak much English but replied with a clear “Waalaikumsalam”. After rubbing the screen of my phone for a quick while, and with a couple of taps, he zoomed in on the actual spot of the mosque on Google maps. I went “Aaaaaaah!” I simply couldn’t believe my eyes. There it was, “Attakwa Mosque” on Google Maps. I can’t believe I couldn’t find it earlier. It was only 200 meters away from where I was.
Thanks to his help, I reached the mosque after a couple minutes of walking. I can’t believe I missed a turn earlier.
This was the Indian-Thai man who had set me on the correct path.
This is the correct route to Attaqwa Mosque from Le Meridien Chiang Mai. I didn’t have the luxury of referring to this set of direction that day.
I was so happy I eventually found the place. This is the madrasah which is next to the mosque.
This is the entrance of the madrasah.
Google even has the street view of the place. Go on and explore…
The Muslims in Chiang Mai even have their own Halal product fair.
Another banner about the mosque.
Paranoma photo of the mosque and madrasah next to each other.
Entrance of the mosque. Thai Muslim girls at the entrance.
Outside view of the prayer hall.
Another outside view of the prayer hall.
Close-up of the ablution area.
A cafe which is part of the mosque.
Yet another banner in Thai.
Entrance of the prayer hall.
Stairs up to the minaret? I guess it’s customary to have stairs to the minaret?
Yes. Stairs up to not-sure-where.
Imam praying area and the mimbar.
Close up view of the Qurans.
A set of Qurans on the window ledge.
Another set of Qurans on another window ledge.
Books in a bookshelf.
Another set of books in a bookshelf.
More prayer chairs.
I arrived Attaqwa Mosque about 45 minutes before Maghrib, and I prayed my Asar prayers there. After my prayers, I decided to make my way back to the hotel. There was nothing else to do at the mosque. The whole place was empty except for a bunch of girls playing with each other, giggling, near the entrance of the mosque.
And so when I was about to leave, by God’s will (amazing isn’t it?), one guy walked past me in the mosque.
I knew I had to say something to stop him so I can converse with him. So I said “Assalamualaikum” to him. He responded in kind with a smile.
Asked him, “Maghrib at 6?”
He said, “Yes yes 6.”
I asked, “Jemaah?”
He said, “Yes Jemaah.”
I replied, “Ok.”
And so I decided to stay for a little longer for Maghrib. I took out my shoes, sat on one of the benches and just started fiddling with my phone to occupy myself. I think I wrote a brief post about this experience on my Facebook account.
After about 5 minutes, the guy whom I talked to just now came out of the prayer hall and started to put his shoes on. But before he walked away, he came to me and shook my hand. He tried but struggle to converse with me in English. He asked me where I am from. I said Singapore. He went aaah.
Then I asked him, “you Thai?” He said yes. I said, “But you look Arab.” He said, “Noooooo. Noooooooo. Pakistaaaaannn.”
I smiled. He smiled. We knew there is nothing else to converse about. We wished each other salam, and he walked away.
Soon after he walked away, I started hearing the hummings of the motorcycles and the loud rumbles of many groups of boys. I knew the locals were starting to arrive.
I was still sitting on the bench when a person (probably an Ustaz) wished me ‘Assalamualaikum.’ We shook hands and smiled. It was a beautiful feeling. I thought it was just amazing how one word/phrase can break barriers between Muslims of different cultures and then affirm the sense of Brotherhood that we share as Muslims.
The muezzin was first to be in the prayer hall.
Soon the boys from the madrasah stood in line to pray.
This was after prayers. They stayed behind for Sunnah prayers, possibly something else?
But I decided to make my way back to the hotel because it was getting very dark outside.
My last shot before I made my way out.
Honestly, I am glad that I went to that mosque. Even though I never had a chance to have a deep conversation with anybody, the experience was an eye-opener. There is a madrasah in Chiang Mai, and it was nice to see local Muslim students studying in a religious school. This was probably my second time visiting a madrasah (even though technically I was not inside the madrasah) when I am overseas.
If you are curious, the first one I visited was Nurul Iman Chroy Metrey School in Phomn Penh. Here is a video I got from Youtube showing students from Nurul Iman singing Nasyid.