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Adelaide Mosque


History


Built in 1889-90, Adelaide Mosque was the first mosque to be built in an Australian city and is considered to be highly valuable due to being the oldest surviving mosque in Australia. 1 The mosque was built by Muslim Afghan Cameleer who were among the earliest Muslims who settled in Australia post-colonisation. In the later 1880s, Hajji Mulla Mehrban (a local Afghan community leader) took the initiative to build the much-needed first mosque in an Australian city. Financial support was sourced from the Muslim Afghan community of Adelaide and the land purchase from European settlers was sponsored by another community leader, Abdul Wade. The purchased land (at 20 Gilbert St) was at the south-west corner of the city, with few other buildings (mainly residential) in the area. 2  

For the Muslim community in Adelaide, the mosque was more than a place of prayer. Adelaide Mosque was a social hub that helped the small Muslim population to bond, it was a place of rest and retreat for Afghan cameleers during their long journeys, and a place to host gatherings of the Muslim community, particularly during the holy month of Ramadan. 2  

Urban and Architectural


Initially, the mosque had similar architectural attributes of the few adjacent buildings in the area. The form was as simple rectangular building (measuring 12*7.5 meters in size) featuring a simple hipped roof, which was a typical feature of the architecture in Adelaide in the later 1880s. The Mihrab faced the street, and its only distinctive features were arched windows are doorways. A verandah lead to the main prayer hall. 2

Over the time, the Muslim community grew in Adelaide, and the mosque was upgraded to accommodate their needs, and as a mean of showing the integration of Adelaide’s Muslims with the mainstream society. Those upgrades include:

- 1891: the mosque was painted

- 1903-1905: four 20-meters high chimney-shaped minarets were added to the mosque’s corners reflecting the outstanding profile of Afghan, Indian and Turkish precedents.

- 1978: the mosque received major renovations in response to the large Muslim migration to Australia. As a result, the verandah was integrated into the main chamber creating a larger prayer hall, and an internal mezzanine was added over the verandah to accommodate women’s needs.

- Recently: modern steel vaults were added to the courtyard to shelter an increased number of worshippers during Friday prayers, and creating additional space to be used during Eid and Ramadan festivals.  

Description


References


1.            Adelaide Mosque [Internet]. Adelaide Heritage. [cited 2020 Nov 22]. Available from: http://www.adelaideheritage.net.au/all-site-profiles/adelaide-mosque-2/

1.            Rashid M, Bartsch K. Architecture of the Adelaide Mosque: Hybridity, Resilience and Assimilation. Traditional Dwellings Settlements Rev. 2014;25(2):65–75.


Image Credit: Tony Lewis as published in:

Manning C. Time and place: The Adelaide Mosque [Internet]. InDaily. 2016 [cited 2020 Nov 22]. Available from: https://indaily.com.au/news/local/2016/11/25/time-and-place-the-adelaide-mosque/

Details

Location

28/20 Little Gilbert St, Adelaide SA 5000

Owners

Afghan Muslim Community: Abdul Wade

Year of Build

1889-90

Drawings

Map

History

Built in 1889-90, Adelaide Mosque was the first mosque to be built in an Australian city and is considered to be highly valuable due to being the oldest surviving mosque in Australia. 1 The mosque was built by Muslim Afghan Cameleer who were among the earliest Muslims who settled in Australia post-colonisation. In the later 1880s, Hajji Mulla Mehrban (a local Afghan community leader) took the initiative to build the much-needed first mosque in an Australian city. Financial support was sourced from the Muslim Afghan community of Adelaide and the land purchase from European settlers was sponsored by another community leader, Abdul Wade. The purchased land (at 20 Gilbert St) was at the south-west corner of the city, with few other buildings (mainly residential) in the area. 2  

For the Muslim community in Adelaide, the mosque was more than a place of prayer. Adelaide Mosque was a social hub that helped the small Muslim population to bond, it was a place of rest and retreat for Afghan cameleers during their long journeys, and a place to host gatherings of the Muslim community, particularly during the holy month of Ramadan. 2  

Urban and Architectural

Initially, the mosque had similar architectural attributes of the few adjacent buildings in the area. The form was as simple rectangular building (measuring 12*7.5 meters in size) featuring a simple hipped roof, which was a typical feature of the architecture in Adelaide in the later 1880s. The Mihrab faced the street, and its only distinctive features were arched windows are doorways. A verandah lead to the main prayer hall. 2

Over the time, the Muslim community grew in Adelaide, and the mosque was upgraded to accommodate their needs, and as a mean of showing the integration of Adelaide’s Muslims with the mainstream society. Those upgrades include:

- 1891: the mosque was painted

- 1903-1905: four 20-meters high chimney-shaped minarets were added to the mosque’s corners reflecting the outstanding profile of Afghan, Indian and Turkish precedents.

- 1978: the mosque received major renovations in response to the large Muslim migration to Australia. As a result, the verandah was integrated into the main chamber creating a larger prayer hall, and an internal mezzanine was added over the verandah to accommodate women’s needs.

- Recently: modern steel vaults were added to the courtyard to shelter an increased number of worshippers during Friday prayers, and creating additional space to be used during Eid and Ramadan festivals.  

Description