The time has entered 18.00 in Hanoi, Vietnam, but the atmosphere of the city is still very bright, unlike in Jakarta at the same time which is dim because it is already dusk. Indeed, there is no time difference between Hanoi and Jakarta which refers to West Indonesia Time but the afternoon in the city feel longer.
Until the Maghrib time shown by the web-based search engine on the cellphone, which is 18:28 local time, not even the faint sound of the call to prayer could be heard, let alone the sound of the call to prayer.
It’s no wonder that Vietnam’s flag with a star and a hammer and sickle with a fiery red color has become a common sight in Hanoi. There are almost no conspicuous religious activities in Hanoi, although there are many temples and pagodas, a few churches, and apparently there are also mosques. Even if it’s the only one.
Its name, Al Noor Mosque is located in downtown Hanoi, precisely at Jalan Hang Luoc Number 12, Hanoi. The commercial area is very dense and crowded. Its location is narrowly flanked by densely packed shopping buildings, but it will not be difficult to find it because almost all Hanoi residents know the location of the mosque.
The gates of the Hanoi Mosque look sturdy with a dome model although not too big, while the name of the mosque is clearly engraved in green in three languages, namely English, Arabic, and Vietnamese. Entering the mosque, silence is immediately felt, in stark contrast to the bustle of worldly activities and commerce from around the world. row of shops that are along the road in front of it.
Hanoi’s Al Noor Mosque is not that big, but it can accommodate about 200 people for congregational prayers, especially during Friday prayers. Beside the main room of the mosque with ancient architecture with a dominance of green and white colors, there are books of Quran, various books, and books neatly arranged lined up on wardrobe shelves.
The location of the mosque is also not far from the bus terminal, Long Bien Railway Station, and Dong Xuan Market which is the first and historical traditional market in Hanoi. Who would have thought, the mosque is more than a century old because it was built in 1890.
However, the building still looks so sturdy. Ustaz Nasir, Imam of the Al Noor Hanoi Mosque explained that the mosque was built by traders from India who came to the city long ago. The Hanoi Mosque, continued Nasir, who is fluent in Arabic, English, and Malay, frequented by tourists. Mostly from Indonesia and Malaysia.
“They (travelers) come to worship. Come at prayer times, especially Friday prayers,” explained the father of three daughters, two of whom are twins, in a friendly manner.
Nasir deepened Islam in Kedah, Malaysia, for three years, continued to Medina, Saudi Arabia, for six years, before being assigned to become an imam at the Hanoi Mosque. The man of Champ-Vietnamese descent estimates that the Muslim community in Hanoi currently numbers 130 people, both local native or descended from Islamic traders who came in the past.
“Most of the Muslims here follow the school of Imam Ahmad bin Hanbal (Imam Hambali). I myself (follow the school of) Syafi’i (Imam Syafi’i),” said the husband of Asma.
Religious life as a socialist-communist country, according to Nasir, the Vietnamese government does not put much restraint on the people’s religious life.
Indeed, the call to prayer is not sounded on loudspeakers, but it is enough to play it in the mosque, but in general worship activities are not prohibited. The proof is that Nasir can still carry out his activities as a mosque imam, leading the five daily prayers, holding religious studies, and converting Hanoi residents to Islam.
“In a year there are 15-20 people who convert to Islam. I am the one who converts to Islam. Because he (converts) to Islam, it can be because he is married (married) or he really wants to. It’s a kind of guidance,” said Nasir.
Around the mosque are also scattered several Muslim houses. One of them was Haji Mohammad, a native of Hanoi who was met sweeping the mosque’s yard.
Can only speak Vietnamese, the 69-year-old man admitted that he had embraced Islam since birth and had also performed the pilgrimage in 2013. There is also Abdul Kader, a young man who runs his family’s halal restaurant, right next to the Hanoi Mosque.
The name of the restaurant is Zaynab Halal Food. The cadre who also works as an accountant flows Vietnamese-Pakistani blood from his great-grandfather. His family became a part of the mosque management.
“I was born as a moslem. My Pakistani blood comes from the father of my grandfather,” said the owner of the Vietnamese name Doan Hong Minh. So, if you happen to be visiting Hanoi and feel religious thirst, try visiting Al Noor Mosque for a bit refresh it. (T/RE1)
Mi’raj News Agency (MINA)