On the occasion of the recent Muslim holiday of Eid’l Fit’r, I decided to take a break from my “Capital Dream” series to write this longstanding article
Apart from the Basilica of the Black Nazarene, Quiapo is also well-known for another religious structure that has become an area and city landmark as a whole. Of course, I am talking here of none other than the Masjid Al-Dahab or the Golden Mosque, purportedly the largest mosque located in the metropolis.
The mosque was originally built in 1976 as a project of then First Lady Imelda Marcos in time for a planned visit by the leader of Libya back then, Muammar Gadhafi. (or whatever his surname is spelled) Unfortunately, the Gadhafi visit did not push through for some reason. Nevertheless, the mosque remained as the symbol of the city’s thriving Muslim community, many of whom belonging to various ethno-linguistic groups like the Maranaos, Tausugs, and Maguindanaons.
While most (if not all) of the current Muslim population in Quiapo migrated there beginning in the 1960s to escape the escalating conflict that raged in Mindanao during that time, it is important to note that Manila itself began as a Muslim city. Had not the Spaniards came and defeated Rajah Sulayman and his men, we would have been a city as Islamized in way like Kuala Lumpur or Jakarta today.
But as it is, the Golden Mosque stands as an important center of Islamic faith in the city. And it’s not just because of the mosque; there is also an Islamic library and a madrasa or Islamic school located in its premises. And if you’re in the Quiapo area, chances are you will get to hear the voice blaring through the megaphones that reminds the Muslim faithful that it is time to do the salat or prayers.
The mosque itself is ornamented with designs that reflect Filipino Islamic culture with the dominance of the okir, a geometric and flowing design that originated from Muslim Mindanao, especially in the Maranao areas. Reportedly, a stained glass art depicting the fabled sarimanok was to be installed in the mosque but for some reason it didn’t get used and is now on display at the FEU Administration Building.
The mosque bears some spacious interiors, sporting a design that blends classic Muslim architecture and some modernist design, especially if you check out the design of the columns.
The Golden Mosque has also undergone some renovation works in recent years and plans are underway to add a minaret to it as well.
That being said, the Golden Mosque stands as a symbol not only of Manila’s Muslim heritage but also further cements Quiapo’s reputation as one of the few places that truly live up to be a melting pot of cultures, traditions, and religions.
Acknowledgements to the administrators of the Quiapo Golden Mosque for their accommodation during this roamer’s recent visit.
© The Urban Roamer