History of Muslims in Hong Kong
Hong Kong has about 80,000 Muslims residents. More than half are Chinese, with the rest being either locally-born non-Chinese or believers from Pakistan, India, Malaysia, Indonesia and Middle Eastern and African countries. There are an additional 100,000 Indonesian workers which makes the total Muslim population up to 180,000.
The origin of Muslims in Hong Kong is difficult to trace. However, the Muslim community become conspicuous since Hong Kong came under British rule in the middle of the 19th century. The British brought Muslim soldiers from India. Coming with them were Muslim merchants. As Muslims increased in Hong Kong, forming a district community, the government allocated land to them to build mosques and cemeteries.
As years went by, more and more Muslims came to Hong Kong and settled down. Among them were Chinese Muslims coming from the Mainland.
The Chinese Muslim Cultural & Fraternal Association is the major body representing the Chinese Muslims in Hong Kong. It was established in 1922 at No. 7 Chan Tong Lane, Wan Chai and was incorporated as a charity organisation in 1963. Apart from conducting religious activities for the Chinese Muslims, it manages and maintains five non-profit making schools comprising one college, two primary schools and three kindergartens.
Four principal masjids are used daily for prayers. The oldest is the Jamia Masjid in Shelley Street on Hong Kong Island, which was established before the turn of the century and rebuilt in 1915. It can accommodate a congregation of 400.
The Masjid Ammar and Osman Ramju Sadick Islamic Centre, filling eight storeys in Wan Chai, was opened in 1981 and houses a masjid on two floors, a community hall, a library, a medical clinic, classrooms and offices. The masjid is managed by the Islamic Union of Hong Kong and accommodates 700 people but can hold up to 1 500 by using other space in the centre.
The Kowloon Masjid and Islamic Centre, on what is sometimes called the 'Golden Mile' in Nathan Road, was opened in 1984 and replaced a masjid built in 1896. This imposing building, with white marble finishing, is a distinctive landmark in Tsim Sha Tsui. The masjid can hold about 2,000 worshippers and has three prayer halls, a community hall, a medical clinic and a library.
Hong Kong Island has two Muslim cemeteries, one at Happy Valley and the other at Cape Collinson, Chai Wan. The Cape Collinson cemetery also has a masjid. The co-ordinating body for all Islamic religious affairs is the Incorporated Trustees of the Islamic Community Fund of Hong Kong, a public charity. A board of trustees nominated by the Islamic Union of Hong Kong, the Pakistan Association, the Indian Muslim Association and the Dawoodi Bohra Association, manages and maintains masjids and cemeteries. The trustees are also responsible for organising the celebration of Muslim festivals and other religious events. Charitable work among the Muslim community, including financial aid for the needy, medical facilities and assisted education, is conducted through various local Muslim organisations.