Shillong: India will have its first
glass mosque - in the country's northeast. Madina Masjid, an imposing and
resplendent structure of glass dome and glass minarets, will
formally open doors to devotees Thursday in Meghalaya's capital.
"It is an architectural marvel," Congress legislator Sayeedullah
Nongrum, who helped in the mosque's construction, told IANS.
"It took us one and a half years to complete the only glass mosque
in India and the largest one in the northeastern region," said
Nongrum, who is also general secretary of the Shillong Muslim
The four-storey building - 120 feet high and 61 feet wide --
stands inside an Idgah Complex in the city's Lahan area and is
close to the garrison grounds along the Umshyrpi river. At night,
the mosque's glasswork glows and glitters.
The mosque houses a new orphanage named Meherba, a library and a 'markaz'--
an Islamic theological institute.
Nongrum said the new theological institute would impart Islamic
teachings and the library there would have books on comparative
Madina Masjid has a capacity of around 2,000 people and has
separate space for women to offer prayers.
"This place will be open for everyone, but one should maintain the
mosque's sanctity," Nongrum said, adding that the mosque was set
to become a tourist attraction.
Around Rs.2 crore was spent on the building, with fund from SMU
and well-wishers, he said.
Nongrum said most of the people who built the mosque were Hindus.
The mosque was completed in July and SMU will maintain it.
Union Law and Minority Affairs Minister Salman Khurshid is
scheduled to inaugurate Madina Masjid, along with Union Minister
of State for Minority Affairs Vincent H. Pala, Oct 18.
Nongrum said 51 boys and girls are already in an orphanage in the
complex and go to a primary school in the Idgah complex
established in 1942. The complex also has a minority
co-educational institution, Umshyrpi College, set up in 1994.
In 2008, the Idgah was the first in the region to open doors to
"I have seen Muslim women offering prayers with great difficulty
in the absence of space and privacy, especially while at work or
out of home.
"When our women go to market, which is considered to be the worst
place for a Muslim women under Sharia, we men do not object. So,
why can't women go to a 'masjid' and offer prayers? Why fanatics
object to it?" he said.
"I don't believe in the interpretation of fanatics. 'Purdah' means
inner shyness of women. If the shyness is retained, she can go
anywhere. There's nothing forbidden in going to a place and
The Shillong Muslim Union was formed in 1905 in erstwhile East
Bengal, which stretched from Siliguri to Cox's Bazar and
Chittagong to Dibrugarh. After India's partition in 1947, SMU
narrowed down its activities to Assam. Since Meghalaya's formation
in 1972, its activities have been limited to the state.
India has about 165 milllion Muslims, the third largest Muslim
population in the world after Indonesia and Pakistan.
(Raymond Kharmujai can be contacted at email@example.com)