Lautze Mosque and New Chinese Converts

The Lautze Mosque, a predominantly Chinese Mosque, in Jakarta Indonesia seems to be the place where non-Muslim Chinese people can learn about Islam and where new Chinese converts can integrate with the local Chinese Muslim community.

Lautze mosque home to Chinese-Indonesian converts
The Jakarta Post, Jakarta | Fri, 08/06/2010 11:29 AM
Squeezed between shops along Jl. Lautze near the Pasar Baru shopping area in Central Jakarta, there is a four-storey red mosque with oriental ornament can be easily mistaken for a Chinese temple.
“We built this mosque with an architectural style that resembles a temple because we want Chinese-Indonesians to feel comfortable when they want to learn more about Islam,” spokesperson Yusman Iriansyah told The Jakarta Post on Tuesday.
Lautze mosque has attracted and assisted more than 1,000 Chinese-Indonesians converts to Islam since its establishment in 1994, Yusman said.
It was built by the Haji Karim Oei Foundation, which was founded in 1991 by Ali Karim Oei, the son of prominent Chinese Muslim businessman Oei Tjeng Hien, also known as Abdul Karim Oei, a member of the early nationalists who fought for Indonesia’s independence along with Sukarno and prominent Muslim leader Buya Hamka.
Yusman said many ethnic Chinese were interested in learning about Islam but were reluctant to seek guidance at regular mosques.
“Besides applying a temple-like design to this mosque, its name, Lautze, is different from mosques that use Arabic names, so that Chinese-Indonesians will feel more comfortable and at home,” Ali Karim said.
The word “lautze” means “teacher” in Chinese.
Ali Karim recalled an old Chinese-Indonesian woman that once entered the mosque bringing incense because she thought it was a Buddhist temple.
In the first half of the year, the mosque recorded 29 conversions to Islam by Chinese-Indonesians.
Acai, 22, who converted to Islam five months ago and is now called Abdullah, comes from a Buddhist family in Kalimantan.
“I have always been interested in learning about Islam because I have many Muslim friends,” he said, adding that he felt more comfortable learning about the religion among other Chinese converts.
Like many other Chinese-Indonesian converts, Abdullah’s family first rejected his conversion, but they now accept him.
“I am now working at the mosque as a helper,” Abdullah said while carrying a sack of cement on his shoulders to the second floor of the mosque.
Ahui, 52, a food vendor across the street from the mosque, became a Muslim in 1997. He said there were many cases in which Chinese-Indonesian converts were rejected by their families.
“I have heard stories directly from several members of this mosque’s congregation that they were beaten and their names were erased from the list of family heirs,” said the father of five children.
Ahui helped several Chinese-Indonesian converts who were disowned by their families, teaching them to make chicken noodles so that they could survive independently.
The current situation is much better, Yusman said.
“Since last year, several non-Muslim Chinese families have been bringing relatives interested in learning about our religion to this mosque,” Yusman said.
A Buddhist mother recently brought her Catholic son to the mosque’s weekly informal Koran recitation group (pengajian), Yusman added.
“We have diverse participants at the pengajian, with members from various ethnic and even religious backgrounds,” Yusman told the Post.
The mosque holds many other activities besides the regular penga-jian during the fasting month of Ramadan.
“After the Ashar prayer at about 3:30 p.m., a teacher will lead a book discussion. When the time comes to break the fast, we have our meal together. The young members of the congregation usually participate in spontaneous contests, such as eating kolak with chopsticks,” Yusman said, referring to a sweet condiment with coconut milk and palm sugar.
The teacher gives a sermon to the congregation before conducting the tarawih, a voluntary evening prayer performed during Ramadan, he added.
“On Idul Fitri we usually work together with several organizations to invite a Chinese musical group to entertain our congregation and the nearby community,” Yusman said.
Even though, the mosque still uses Chinese names, architecture and art, it does not officially celebrate Chinese festivals, such as imlek (Chinese New Year) and ceng beng (tomb cleaning ritual).
“However, we do not prohibit our congregation from celebrating the rituals as long as they understand the boundary between religion and tradition values,” Yusman said. (rch)

Lautze mosque home to Chinese-Indonesian convertsThe Jakarta Post, Jakarta | Fri, 08/06/2010 11:29 AMSqueezed between shops along Jl. Lautze near the Pasar Baru shopping area in Central Jakarta, there is a four-storey red mosque with oriental ornament can be easily mistaken for a Chinese temple.”We built this mosque with an architectural style that resembles a temple because we want Chinese-Indonesians to feel comfortable when they want to learn more about Islam,” spokesperson Yusman Iriansyah told The Jakarta Post on Tuesday.Lautze mosque has attracted and assisted more than 1,000 Chinese-Indonesians converts to Islam since its establishment in 1994, Yusman said.It was built by the Haji Karim Oei Foundation, which was founded in 1991 by Ali Karim Oei, the son of prominent Chinese Muslim businessman Oei Tjeng Hien, also known as Abdul Karim Oei, a member of the early nationalists who fought for Indonesia’s independence along with Sukarno and prominent Muslim leader Buya Hamka.Yusman said many ethnic Chinese were interested in learning about Islam but were reluctant to seek guidance at regular mosques.”Besides applying a temple-like design to this mosque, its name, Lautze, is different from mosques that use Arabic names, so that Chinese-Indonesians will feel more comfortable and at home,” Ali Karim said.The word “lautze” means “teacher” in Chinese.Ali Karim recalled an old Chinese-Indonesian woman that once entered the mosque bringing incense because she thought it was a Buddhist temple.In the first half of the year, the mosque recorded 29 conversions to Islam by Chinese-Indonesians.Acai, 22, who converted to Islam five months ago and is now called Abdullah, comes from a Buddhist family in Kalimantan.”I have always been interested in learning about Islam because I have many Muslim friends,” he said, adding that he felt more comfortable learning about the religion among other Chinese converts.Like many other Chinese-Indonesian converts, Abdullah’s family first rejected his conversion, but they now accept him.”I am now working at the mosque as a helper,” Abdullah said while carrying a sack of cement on his shoulders to the second floor of the mosque.Ahui, 52, a food vendor across the street from the mosque, became a Muslim in 1997. He said there were many cases in which Chinese-Indonesian converts were rejected by their families.”I have heard stories directly from several members of this mosque’s congregation that they were beaten and their names were erased from the list of family heirs,” said the father of five children.Ahui helped several Chinese-Indonesian converts who were disowned by their families, teaching them to make chicken noodles so that they could survive independently.The current situation is much better, Yusman said.”Since last year, several non-Muslim Chinese families have been bringing relatives interested in learning about our religion to this mosque,” Yusman said.A Buddhist mother recently brought her Catholic son to the mosque’s weekly informal Koran recitation group (pengajian), Yusman added.”We have diverse participants at the pengajian, with members from various ethnic and even religious backgrounds,” Yusman told the Post.The mosque holds many other activities besides the regular penga-jian during the fasting month of Ramadan.”After the Ashar prayer at about 3:30 p.m., a teacher will lead a book discussion. When the time comes to break the fast, we have our meal together. The young members of the congregation usually participate in spontaneous contests, such as eating kolak with chopsticks,” Yusman said, referring to a sweet condiment with coconut milk and palm sugar.The teacher gives a sermon to the congregation before conducting the tarawih, a voluntary evening prayer performed during Ramadan, he added.”On Idul Fitri we usually work together with several organizations to invite a Chinese musical group to entertain our congregation and the nearby community,” Yusman said.Even though, the mosque still uses Chinese names, architecture and art, it does not officially celebrate Chinese festivals, such as imlek (Chinese New Year) and ceng beng (tomb cleaning ritual).”However, we do not prohibit our congregation from celebrating the rituals as long as they understand the boundary between religion and tradition values,” Yusman said. (rch)

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5 responses to “Lautze Mosque and New Chinese Converts

  1. MasyaAllah. Malay muslims in Malaysia have a lot to learn from their brothers in Indonesia!! ..and I wonder when will they build a mosque for the Chinese Muslims in Kuala Lumpur

  2. FYI, your article is printed twice here.
    JAK, Thanks for your excellent work, keep writing!
    –Brendan Newlon

  3. Thank you.. I am really this close into believing that there is no other of my kind.. my mother comes from a very traditional chinese family, my grandma and grandpa were actually from the mainland. They became Buddhist somewhere in the 80s when they migrate from Palembang to Jakarta.

    My mother married my father who is an original malayan Indonesian (he’s a moslem), and started to learn – or you may say converted into – Islam on 2002 something. Actually my father’s family required her to convert before both of them were married, but it was more like formality, and mom had continued to practice the Buddhist ritual ever since, until her conversion. Dad started to practice in the same times with mom – he wasn’t a good moslem back then.

    I’ve lived my life surrounded mostly by family and friends who are chinese.. therefore it is kinda hard for me to adapt the malayan culture.. and in my entire 25 years I have never been in a relationship with a guy, because I’ve never really figure out whom I fit to be. As a cninese, or a moslem. I never knew I can be both.

    I came accross your article by accident, and really, I feel this is a blessing before Ramadhan.. guess what, I’ve been living nearby this mosque almost my entire life! Been visiting the mosque for the last 2 Ied Pray too. But I never knew that there were actually forums / congregations / group of chinese moslems who regularly gather together for some activities. I will find out about this. I am very eager to meet the other chinese moslems!

    Thank you!

  4. Pingback: Lautze Mosque and New Chinese Converts | Islam in China « Yusman Iriansyah·

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