The Penang Islamic Museum houses an exhibition detailing the role and contribution of Malay leaders in the growth and spread of Islam in Penang and Malaysia. Set on Armenian Street, the gallery also provides details on key 19th and early 20th-century public figures and their cultural influence on Penang.
The Penang Islamic Museum also has a beautiful collection of 19th century furniture plus a life-sized diorama of a dock scene, which depicts a maritime-oriented haj (pilgrimage to Mecca). Also known as the Syed Alatas Mansion, the gallery is housed in a restored villa that was once the residence of powerful Acehnese pepper merchant, Syed Mohammed Al-Attas. Later, it was used as a recycling depot for Penang’s Indian Chettiar community.
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History of Penang Islamic Museum
A defender of Acheh against the Dutch, Syed Alatas provided support to the Acehnese resistance in the form of firearms and his mansion was a clandestine base. He had two wives: the first was of Malay descent, while his second (daughter of a member of the Khoo Kongsi) afforded him a connection with the Khoo Kongsi. In his time Syed Alatas was the leader of the Red Flag secret society (of which Khoo Kongsi was a part of) which fought against the White Flag society in the Penang Riots of 1867.
As a result of the rioting, a fatwa was issued outlawing Malays, Achenese, and Indian Muslims from being involved in secret society activities and Syed Alatas’ mansion eventually became the property of the Municipal Council.
Design of Penang Islamic Museum
Similar to the Teh Bunga Mansion on Hutton Lane, the Penang Islamic Museum features mid-19th century Straits style and was built in 1860. The mansion remains one of the few buildings from that era in Penang with Islamic elements in its architecture. Restoration work on the mansion was carried out in 1996 and it was awarded a Best Project award in 1999 by Badan Warisan Malaysia.
Rapid Penang Bus number 10, 301, 302, 307, 401 and U502 run routes past the Penang Islamic Museum: disembark at Lebuh Carnavon and the mansion is a short walk past the Lebuh Acheh junction, to the left.
Penang Islamic Museum
- Opening Hours: 09:30 – 18:00 Wednesday – Monday
- Address: 128 Lebuh Armenian, 10200 Penang
- Tel: +604 262 0172