The Muslim garrison were the pioneers in arranging a place for “Salat” (worship) while stationing in Kowloon Peninsula, for they requested their superior commanders for a site large enough to hold gatherings of several hundred worshippers especially for the “Eid” and “Juma” prayers, and that request was granted to them with a temporary site allotted inside the Whitfield Army Barracks between Austin Road and Nathan Road.
The first Mosque in the Kowloon Peninsula was built on Nathan Road, Kowloon on a 16,000 sq. ft. (approximately 1,500 sq. m) plot of land in 1896 by the Muslim garrisons of Hong Kong Regiment of the British Army with assistance from their respective commanders for the “- Mohammedans of Upper India -” who had arrived in Hong Kong on May 7, 1892 to serve in the Regiment and were accommodated in nearby Whitfield Barracks.
Its foundation stone had the following inscription: — “The Hong Kong Regiment built this Mosque in 1896 under the kind supervision of Col. E. G. Barrow and repaired and repainted by the help and permission of Major Berger in 1902.”
The foundation stone also states that the builder of the Masjid was Mir Asadullah and it was built with the money of the Muslim soldiers. Its Imam was Maulvi Gulab Shah and its renovation was completed on January 22, 1902.
Besides the Mosque the garrisons also constructed a large concrete pool for storing up water for worshippers to make “Wudhu,” and water plants and large gold fish were put inside the pool to prevent the water from pollution. Quarters were also erected for the Maulvi and Mussafir Khana (Rest House for wayfarers). The Muslim garrisons also brought their own Maulvi from Campbellpur (Attock) in Pakistan
It remained a place of worship for the Muslims for over 80 years but in 1976 construction work for a Mass Transit Railway station adjacent to the Masjid caused extensive damage to the building and the Public Works Department declared the building a dangerous structure on October 11, 1978. In anticipation of these developments the Incorporated Trustees had requested Government permission to construct a new Mosque in place of the old one. This permission was granted on December 3, 1977. The plans of the new Mosque were submitted to the Government on July 14, 1978 and approved on October 13, 1978.
The old Mosque was demolished in January 1980 and construction work on the new Mosque commenced on March 6, 1981. The new Mosque was completed with a total cost of HK$25 million and was opened for daily prayers on Friday, May 11, 1984. It can accommodate 3,500 worshippers. Five times daily prayers are held at the Mosque and large congregations are present during Fridays and Eidain. During the month of Ramadan Travih prayers held and Iftar is arranged for approximately 2,000-2,500 people on a daily basis. Nearly 1 Million people come to the centre every year.
The building houses three prayer halls, boys & girls madrassas, library and a community hall. The community hall is also used by BOT and other Muslim Organizations to hold their programs on special occasions.
In the Madrassas the Holy Quran is taught to the students, Arabic is taught as a language. Students are also taught Quran in English and Urdu. Dawah Courses (Intermediate Course on Islam) for Non Muslims are held on a regular basis.
In 2004 & 2005 the Kowloon Masjid & Islamic Centre was renovated with a cost of HK$14 million and the facilities were extended to include a library, conference room, management office, two (2) office rooms for Imams and a big kitchen. The old ablution area on the mezzanine floor was converted into two (2) new Madrassas for girls and boys. The new madrassas are centrally air-conditioned and can easily accommodate up to 200 students each. On Fridays it is also used for the Jumma prayer congregation.
Located at 105 Nathan Road, today the Kowloon Masjid and Islamic Centre, with its distinctive white marble finish, is a major landmark in Tsim Sha Tsui and a true identity of the Muslim Community in Hong Kong.