Kapitan Keling Mosque is arguably the most popular mosque in Penang. It stands on the corner of Buckingham Street and what used to be Pitt Street but was renamed Jalan Masjid Kapitan Keling after the iconic mosque. It is also the largest among the historic mosques in Georgetown.
The name “Kapitan Keling” pertains to a real person who bore the title Kapitan Keling. He was Caudeer Mohudeen, an Indian Muslim merchant and the captain of a South Indian Muslim community that was credited to have built this majestic mosque in the 1800s. He brought in workers and stones all the way from India to complete the mosque. “Kapitan Keling” literally means “headman” or “leader” of an Indian group. “Keling” was derived from “keling-na”, which was a term used by a local Hokkien community to refer to Indian people in general. “Kapitan” is quite clearly a corrupted translation of “captain”. During those times, the leaders of Chinese communities were called Kapitan China. [Read more…]