Abadan Rangoon Mosque and the suffering of the Burmese Muslims

Tuesday, September 12, 2017Abadan Rangoon Mosque and the suffering of the Burmese Muslims

On the sidelines of nearly 70 years of foreigners dominance over the Iran’s oil industry and pursuing their long term interests, the Anglo-Persian Oil Company also noticed peripheral issues including urban development in Abadan, which resulted in building residential houses, stadiums, clubs, big shops for its workers and employees, construction of roads and railway, transportation terminals and garages.

These facilities were established under the company’s economic and cultural plans with the aim of meeting recreational and welfare needs of foreigners, without taking into consideration the local people’s requirements.

 Despite this, it could be said that building mosques was the most interesting part of utility services the company provided for its workforce because these religious monuments were intertwined deeply with the spiritual needs of its workforce and their establishment was rarely rooted either in political incentives or cultural tricks of the colonialists.
Mosque No.1, Nafte-sefid Mosque and many other existing mosques in the southern oil-rich region of Iran have been built by the help of the oil company staff and believers, but we should remember that the company was in charge of the cost and provided many materials and equipment for their construction.
Rangoon mosque is apparently the oldest mosque which was built in the oil-rich areas of Abadan with unique features in terms of architecture, strength, decoration and artistic façade. the mosque was built around 1921 on the southwestern side of Abadan oil refinery and the edge of Arvand River by Muslim workers and architects from Burma.

The exterior of the building is influenced by the architecture of the Indian subcontinent and is somehow like the Hindu temples and Buddhists.

 In the interior, stucco and embossed paintings is a continuation of the outer surface decoration, but in terms of using the space, building the altar and the use of multiple columns, it seems that similarities to the subcontinent structures and even the structure of other Muslim countries mosques fade. Painting and flowering around the altar, which has replaced tiles for decoration in Iranian mosques, is another distinguishing feature of the mosque.

In the arrays of the mosque,  stucco designs and embossed paintings have been used and one of the hallmarks of the monument is its altar that was created in a special way. The altar has been decorated in a massive array of geometric shapes with various colors and embellished designs on the walls symbolizing Paradise.
The mosque was registered in March 2000 as national heritage and opened in January 2010 as the Museum of Historical Documents And Manuscripts.

Now that tens of thousands of Rohingya Muslims have been forced to flee their homes due to unprecedented violence in Burma, it will be very meaningful, if it is to support them, a kind of memorial service to be held in Rangoon Mosque in Abadan which was built by those Burmese Muslims who worked in Iran’s oil industry.

Alamdar Motevalli