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Shaik Adam's Mohammedan Mosque, Ipoh
This divided back postcard, shows the Mohammedan Mosque, in Ipoh. The card was posted from Penang to France on 2 February 1921, with a 4 cents Federated Malay States Tiger stamp.
This mosque, opposite the Ipoh Padang (Ipoh Common Land), built in 1908, at a cost of $500,000 and endowed by Tamil Muslim Shaik Adam is an important and notable part of Ipoh’s early history. Built before the adjacent St Michael’s Institution (SMI) in Clayton Road (later renamed Jalan S P Seenivasagam after a famous local politician, brother of D R Seenivasagam) it is also known as the Town Padang Mosque designed to serve the Hanafi sect of the Indian Muslim community.
The mosque was built in reflection of Moghul architecture by Indian workmen. Square in plan, it has verandahs on three sides with scalloped archways inspired by the Chitty architectural style of South India. A single pyramidal roof caps the prayer hall, and there are two minarets. A square gateway leads into the compound.
He built this separate 'Hanafi' mosque, rather than continue using those existing in the town because of a dispute with his Malay co-religionists, the latter being followers of the 'Shafie' school of Islam.
Sheikh Adam came to Malaya from India and started in Penang as a clerk for the tailor's shop of A Moungyee, who also owned APK Soda Water Company. In 1899 Moungyee started a second factory in Ipoh which, in 1906, Shaik Adam managed to buy and rename the Kinta Aerated Water Company. He followed this up by starting similar companies in Taiping and Kampar.
He then realised the potential in producing ice for sale. At the time, all ice in Ipoh was imported and hence was costly. Consequently he decided to open an ice factory in Ipoh. It was a great success, supplying good quality ice for a much more affordable price than before. Not content with his companies he also set up a bakery on Panglima Street which was much-welcomed by the residents of Ipoh. This naturally led to him amalamating the companies into the Kinta Ice, Aerated Water and Bakery Company and with his wealth he also acquired extensive houses and property in the area.
In recognition of his role as an important pioneer and philanthropist towards Ipoh, a road in the town was named after him, which later had the dubious accolade of being the first street in Malaya to have parking meters installed.
His son, Jan S A Sahib, came from Madras to join his father's business, once it had expanded into the Kinta Ice Aerated Water and Bakery Co and was appointed chief trustee of the Indian Mosque founded by his father. He also set up his own premises at 128 Belfield Street, one of the premises numbered 128 to 136 which were originally a block of commercial stores with impressive facades featuring elaborate classical pediments and Gothic elements. Subsequently the building was taken over by M S Ally. Caxton press next door at 130 was started by G O LaBrooy and later run by Eurasians. A long-serving member of the Kinta Sanitary Board since 1924, Jan Sahib was appointed JP in 1935.
To read more about St Michael’s Institution, click here.
To read more about D R Seenivasagam, click here.
To see more about Ipoh’s first parking meters, click here.