Located on Pitt Street (now Jalan Masjid Kapitan Keling), the Kapitan Keling Mosque was the first mosque ever built in Penang. Surrounded by a low wall, this white-washed mosque is adorned with black Moghul-style domes and turrets. A madrassah (a place where religious classes are held) can also be found within the mosque's compounds. The tall minaret, once used by the muezzin to deliver his call for prayers, is located on the corner of Buckingham and Pitt Street.
The mosque was named after the head of the Indian Muslim community in the late 1700's and early 1800's, a prominent trader by the name of Cauder Mydin Merican, who was referred to by the British as 'Kapitan Keling'. The word Kapitan, which was probably derived from the word 'Captain', was a term that the British gave to Cauder Mydin Merican to refer to his role as the head of the Indian Muslim community back then. And contrary to popular belief, the term Keling is not a derogatory word.
The Kapitan Keling Mosque was first erected by the troops of the British East India Company who were of Muslim religion, back in the late 1700's. Several years later, the growing Indian Muslim community required a more permanent mosque to be built. In 1801, the community, led by their leader, Cauder Mydin Merican or also referred to as 'Kapitan Keling', was granted with an 18-acre lot. Made of brick, the original mosque was a single-storey structure, but over the years, the mosque has seen plenty of rennovation works.
© Zain Abdullah Photography