Friday Prayers Experience in Kampung Alor, Dili

It was Friday 27 March 2010, 12:00 pm when I arrived at the An Nur Mosque Kampung Alor, Dili. The parking lot was filled with cars, even as a vacant lot in front the Embassy of Australia was also filled with cars.  Most are white-colored vehicle with the words “UN” on both sides.

According to Amirudin, a resident of Kampung Alor, An Nur was always crowded with Muslim Dili Timor-Leste which will perform Friday prayer service. Moreover, many Muslim members of the UN Security forces from Muslim countries like Egypt, Malaysia and Nigeria come for Friday prayers.

In the mosque, pilgrims have filled the room. Same as Friday prayers in Indonesia, the pilgrims were wearing everyday clothes  plus the cap. Most of the UN police also still wearing his official uniform (complete with a pistol at his waist).

After sunnah prayer, I was sitting bersilah on the floor, most of which are not smoothly again. I joined the congregation of about 300 people to listen to sermons in the Indonesian language. Most of the pilgrims looked diligently listen to what is presented by khotib (speaker), including Nigerian and Egyptian who do not understand Indonesian, while some other passengers are seen dozing.

After Friday prayers, the pilgrims returned to their work immediately. Samad, a member of the UN police from Malaysia for instance, immediately rushed back to his post which cannot be left to linger. Even when the rain has not abated (it rained when it finished Friday prayers), Samad rushed to his Mitsubishi Pajero with his colleagues. While Amirudin, who lived not far from the mosque in Kampung Alor, also hurried to return to trade. However, in a few others, while waiting for the rain to stop, look was busy talking to one another.

As quoted from the book “Islam in East Timor” by Ambarak A. Bazher (Gema Insani 1995), An Nur Mosque was built in 1955 or 1956 at the initiative of the Imam Abdulah Bin Haji Hasan Balatif, Head of Kampung Alor and Muslim communities in Dili. Establishment was sanctioned by the Head of the Arab tribe at that time, Hamud bin Awad Al-Katiri. In its development , then formed the township of Islam are like now.

In the early 1980s, the mosque was renovated and re-opened by the Regional Commander of IX / Udayana Major General Dading Kalbuadi on March 20, 1981. An Nur Mosque has two floors, first floor for praying while the second floor is used as a school. In the middle of the mosque there is a garden that might mean is used as a natural space Conditioning. In the right corner where there is a simple mosque library.

Since it was founded in 1955, this mosque has a long history on the presence of Muslims in East Timor. When East Timor under the Portuguese,the people in Kampung Alor used An Nur mosque as one of the political struggle to expel the Portuguese. This mosque has also become one of the base of the struggle of the integration process of East Timor with Indonesia. Ambarak A Bazher mentions the role of Muslim figures in East Timor such as H. Salim Bin Said Al-Katiri, and Ramadhan Abdullah Bin Hedung Joaqim in asking for help from Indonesian people and government.

When East Timor finally became Timor Leste, Muslims  from Indonesia had unpleasant experiences associated with their citizenship status. In 2004 for example, although according to the court of international judges led by Emiliano dos Reis, they are not considered to violate the Law of the Immigration and Asylum number 9/2003, approximately 247 Muslims from Indonesia remained deported and using violence to get out from Timor Leste.  Unfortunately when the incident took place, some Indonesian human rights defenders who speak out against integration,  in this case being silent.

Now, six years after the expulsion of the above, the life of Muslims in East Timor back to normal. This is at least visible from Friday prayers and crowded schools run by An Nur mosque board. Indonesian community living in the village of Alor was already able to run again their trading activities, and some of them have become citizens of Timor Leste. Further, from the statement  of the President of Islamic Community Center of East Timor, Arief Abdullah Sagran, “No intimidation because of religion in East Timor even though we were a minority.”  Hopefully

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