The Jakarta Post
Asasi Mosque in Sigando subdistrict, Padang Panjang, West Sumatra. (Antara/Ira Febrianti)
Asasi Mosque, located in Sigando, Padang Panjang, West Sumatra, is considered to be one of the oldest mosques in Indonesia.
According to the Religious Affairs Ministry, the mosque was once estimated to have been built in the early 1400s. However, religious and public figures of Padang Panjang concluded in 1900 that it was built in 1718.
The mosque’s roof is shaped like a pyramid in three tiers. The building is covered in carvings usually found on rumah gadang, the traditional house of West Sumatra. Water from Mount Marapi flows endlessly to the bathrooms and for wudhu (ablutions) needs.
The mosque is covered in carvings usually found on 'rumah gadang', the traditional house of West Sumatra. (Antara/Ira Febrianti)
“The name Asasi comes from asas, meaning basis or something as support. Although when the mosque was built is still not clear, it was the brainchild of residents in four nagari (village). It became the center of Islamic activities,” G Datuk Pono Batuah, a teacher at the mosque’s Quran Education Park (TPA), told Antara.
Those villages are Gunung, Paninjauan, Tambangan and Jawo. The residents also contributed land and rice fields. But along with time and economic development, each nagari has built their own mosque for easier access.
However, Mosque Asasi is still where the residents of Gunung perform religious activities.
The mosque has been acknowledged as a cultural heritage due to its age and its role in education and religion. The building has been through two restorations, for its roof and wooden walls, without altering its original form.
The mosque includes a prayer room as the main hall, an archive room and a library. In one room is a locked Dutch antique safety deposit box. No one knows how to open it.
The mosque has been proposed several times to the Cultural Heritage Preservation Center in Batusangkar, West Sumatra, to be reviewed. The aim is to determine when the mosque was built.
G Datuk Pono Batuah said the mosque had been visited by religious figures from Egypt, Morocco and Thailand.
"Along with praying, they also shared knowledge on Islam," he said.
On days leading up to Idul Fitri, teenagers rhythmically beat the tabuh or beduk, a large drum made of animal skin and a barrel, for the attraction garitiak tabuah. (wng)