The Islamic Union of Hong Kong was founded more than 100 years ago by Muslims from the Subcontinent and the Malay Archipelago whose primary purpose for coming here was to enter into trade and commerce with China. Because of their enthusiastic spirit, they finally settled in Hong Kong to pursue their trading activities.
Since its establishment as an institution, the Islamic Union has undergone many changes, the last one in 1980 when its Constitution was revised to fulfill the requirements for incorporation as a legal entity under The Companies Ordinance of the Hong Kong Government.
The Islamic Union has on its membership list over 700 Muslims of different nationalities such as Indians, Pakistanis, Chinese, Malays and British. The non-discriminatory nature of the Union is in line with the teachings of the Holy Qur’an which stress that racial discrimination should not be practiced in Islam and which stress also the need for unity among Muslims.
Up to 1981, the activities of the Muslims were undertaken in old and confined accommodations. However, with a generous endowment from the late Osman Ramju Sadick, the first Islamic Center in Hong Kong was constructed. The Islamic Center is appropriately known as the Osman Ramju Sadick Islamic Centre and is situated at No. 40, Oi Kwan Road, Wanchai, Hong Kong. The land for the Masjid-cum-Islamic Center came from a government grant made in the name of BOT. By a special arrangement between BOT and The Islamic Union of Hong Kong the entire building therein is to be managed by the Islamic Union as a special arrangement under delegated authority from the Incorporated Trustees of the Islamic Community Fund of Hong Kong.
The Osman Ramju Sadick Islamic Center consists of a praying area on the second floor, separate wuthu/ablution areas for men and women on the first floor, an air-conditioned masjid with two levels (one for men and one for women). A classroom for conducting Qur’anic and Arabic lessons on the fourth floor, a Muslim Canteen on the fifth floor, a Community Hall which can be used for prayers and other functions on the sixth floor, a library of over 180 square meters on the sixth floor, a Conference Room, Medical Clinic, General Offices and Imam Room on the seventh floor and an office for the Islamic Youth Association, BOT Management Office on the eighth floor and an open podium of over 150 square meters which is also open for activities.
The working arms of the Islamic Union also extend to Macau where a small masjid and cemetery is managed by the Macau Muslim Association. The Islamic Union assisted the Association financially so as to enable it to look after the interests of the Macau Masjid and Cemetery and the local Muslim community.
The Muslims then found themselves without a club house or a representative body as the Indian Muslim Society had ceased to exist. They themselves formed the Pakistan Muslim Society in 1950. They used to meet in the old Ho Man Tin Mosque.
The Pakistan Trade Commission opened its office in Hong Kong in 1957 and its first Senior Trade Commissioner played a very important role in uniting the Pakistani community. The Pakistanis officially registered themselves with the Hong Kong Government in 1960 as the Pakistan Association of Hong Kong.
The Association applied and was granted a plot of land situated at the junction of Gascoigne Road and Wylie Road with a total area of 22,110 sq. ft. to build a club house. The building was completed in 1969 and since then a lot of improvements has been made to the “club” with the addition of two international standard squash courts which were opened in September 1985.
A wide variety of activities including celebration of Pakistan Day on 23 March, Independence Day on 14 August and dinner gatherings on the occasions Eidain are held at the club house every year for the benefit of the members. Special arrangements are made during the Holy Month of Ramadan to hold Taravih prayers. The club house also has the honour of hosting functions marking the visits of renowned religious scholars and famous personalities to Hong Kong. Regular activities include meetings of Pakistan Students Association, ladies programs and sports training sessions by the official cricket & hockey teams representing the association in different competitions.
In the middle of the 19th Century, the Bohras, being traders came with the foreign traders to the shores of China and set up their businesses in the coastal settlements where the foreigners were permitted to trade. Indeed, some of the well established and well known trading firms of Hong Kong still existing today belonging to Dawoodi Bohras trace their establishment from the earliest days of the formation of Hong Kong.
Whilst the majority of the Bohras reside in the sub-Continent, there is a discernible settlement of Bohras in East Africa, South East Asia, North America and United Kingdom. The immigration of younger Bohras to the latter countries is indicative of the gradual shift from a trading community to a community of professional people such as doctors, engineers, lawyers etc.
The Bohras have been conscious of their obligation as part of the Muslim Community of Hong Kong and from the very beginning of their existence in Hong Kong have supported the concept of Muslim unity in all its aspects. Though small in number, their community has been a solid pillar of cooperation, unity and advancement of the Muslim Community of Hong Kong.
It was mainly for their religious worship that mosques were built in Tsim Sha Tsui and Ho Man Tin on the Kowloon Peninsula and Stanley on the Hong Kong Island, while the Jamia Masjid at Shelley Street was built by an Indian businessman and philanthropist from Bombay, Haji Mohammed Eshaq in 1905.
The partition of the Indian sub-continent in 1947 all but obliterated this small, active and illustrious Indian Muslim Community, at least on paper and in statistics, since most of these Muslims acquired a new nomenclature with the establishment of a new Muslim Nation.
The Indian Muslim Community was reborn in the mid-fifties with the arrival of more Muslim traders from the Indian Republic as well as from Indochina, Singapore, Malaya (now Malaysia), Ceylon (now Sri Lanka), Burma etc. The beginning of the 60s saw the nucleus of these Muslims, most of them settling down in the Tsim Sha Tsui district and a few of them in Happy Valley area on the Hong Kong Island.
These Muslim businessmen with international dealings were conservative and orthodox by nature. They arranged activities such as the conducting of Rathib, Zikr and Maulud; the initiating of the recital of the entire Holy Qur’an at Taraweeh prayers by eloquent Hafiz; the arranging of Iftar during the whole month of Ramadan in conjunction with the local Chinese, Pakistani and Sri Lankan Muslims, contributed in attracting more Muslims to visit the Mosque more frequently. Two learned Imams, Moulvi Haji Yusuf Baquavi (the present Imam) and Haji Syed Yasin Moulana (who passed away in H.K. in 1981) were brought down from India, to lead the five times daily prayers, to hold Qur’anic classes for children and to deliver Tarjumathal Qur’an, Hadith, Bayaan etc. Initiatives were also taken in organizing the celebration of the birthday of the Holy Prophet Muhammad S.A.W., and in arranging Eid gatherings.
When the idea of reconstructing the Kowloon Mosque was mooted, the Indian Muslims took major part in this noble cause through the Kowloon Mosque Reconstruction Committee and the Fund Raising Committee; they also contributed generously and wholeheartedly to this cause, individually and collectively. They were also instrumental in collecting substantial funds from various Middle Eastern Countries.
All this time, the Indian Muslim community did not have any formal organization of their own. Many were in fact, members of the Islamic Union of Hong Kong. But soon the occasion arose for such an official body and THE INDIAN MUSLIM ASSOCIATIQN (JAMAATH) LIMITED was founded and incorporated under the Companies Ordinance in September 1979 as a non-profit making organization. The contribution of the Indian Muslims to the cause of Islam in Hong Kong was duly recognized by brother Muslims and were honoured by being invited to join the Board of Trustees of the Incorporated Trustees of the Islamic Community Fund of Hong Kong.
The main objectives of the Indian Muslim Association are: To promote Islamic Brotherhood among all Muslims of Hong Kong and abroad; to unite and promote better understanding among the Muslims of Indian origin; to promote Brotherhood with all Indians in Hong Kong and abroad; to assist and co-operate with other organizations like the Incorporated Trustees of the Islamic Community Fund of Hong Kong, the Islamic Union of Hong Kong etc.; to lend support to all Islamic bodies on religious and educational matters; to help the needy people in distress from natural causes or otherwise whatsoever and where so ever regardless of colour, religion or nationality; to promote Islamic and other modern teachings among Muslims; to help set up schools etc., and to help establish scholarship funds for studies where so ever; to set up free or subsidized clinics for all Hong Kong people; to hold Eid celebrations and any other Islamic functions.
The affairs of the Indian Muslim Association are managed by the Governing Committee which consists of 15 members: a President, three Vice-Presidents, an Honorary Secretary, an Honorary Assistant Secretary, an Honorary Treasurer and 8 other Committee members who are elected annually. The Governing Committee meets once a month to plan, deliberate and execute its stated objectives. The Association, though young, has proved itself once and again to be one of the main pillars of the entire Muslim community of Hong Kong, and will continue to extend its support for the welfare of the Muslims at all times.
Mention must also be made of all local Muslims, as well as Muslims from Pakistan and Sri Lanka, who have stood shoulder to shoulder in all activities in which the Association has been involved in, without any difference or reservations, proving that Islam does not recognize man-made national boundaries and that our Brotherhood is universal. Thus the Indian Muslims have become an indivisible part of the Hong Kong Muslim Community and will strive with other brethren for the betterment of Muslims, the propagation of Islam and above all, for maintaining the unity of the Brotherhood. Insha Allah.