Happy Eid Al-Adha 2014!

Wishing everyone a blessed Eid Al-Adha. May we continue to pursue greater piety through our personal sacrifices to better ourselves and the world, inshaAllah (God willing). Let us strive for unity, understanding, world peace and prosperity for all.


From Behind the Curtains…

We’ve been a little quiet lately but promise to ‘come out from behind the curtains’ soon, just as Berty, Al-Musafir’s resident cat and very reluctant mascot has done here (she would rather be sleeping).

Stay tuned.


Help Us Make The Al-Musafir App Awesome!

We’ve been working hard on the Al-Musafir App and have come up with ideas we think you’ll love.

We don’t want you to take our word for it though. We want you to be involved in the development process from the very beginning.

So if you are a smartphone user and traveller and want to join us on this shared journey to make the Al-Musafir App awesome, register at http://awesome.al-musafir.com to become a pre-development test user.

We’re looking for a limited number of pre-development test users. We promise you an exciting start to the Al-Musafir App along with first peek into how the Al-Musafir App is shaping up, so be quick to register and don’t miss out!

Thanks and peace!

Screen shot 2013-09-06 at 11.01.37 AM

A Mosque That Floats?

There’s the Blue Mosque in Turkey and then there’s the Tanjung Bungah Floating Mosque. Both are beautiful mosques with the latter a lesser known one but unique in its own right.

The Tanjung Bungah Floating Mosque is situated in the northern suburb of Tanjung Bungah, Penang, a small island in north-east of peninsular Malaysia. Although the name suggests that the mosque is floating, it is actually built on steel pilings driven into the seabed approximately 50 metres from shore so it appears to float on the sea when the tide is high.

The mosque was built to replace the old mosque near it which was too small for the increasing congregation due to the population growth in Tanjung Bungah. It was completed in early 2005 at a cost of approximately USD5 million and can accommodate a congregation of 1,500 at any one time. Architecturally, it is inspired by West Asian architecture with Turkish influences throughout.

The mosque has become a very popular tourist attraction with foreign tourists from among others, Korea, Japan and Europe having visited the mosque. Locally, the mosque receives many interstate visitors and recently, even students from an international school as part of an inter-faith educational field trip.

All are welcome to the mosque with simple tours conducted free of charge. Visitors are required to be properly attired i.e. longs for both men and women with the additional requirement that women cover their heads with a scarf. The mosque also provides robes, scarves and sarongs if you’re not properly attired. Insider tip: ask the person giving you the tour if you can go to the top of the mosque’s sole minaret which stands 7 storeys high for a breathtaking view of the sea and surrounding hills. We’ve been told that some tourists have been allowed to do that.

Not to be missed!

Address: Jalan Tanjung Bungah, 11200 Penang
Phone: +60 4 899 0838
Hours: If you’re there just for the tour, we recommend going between 10am – 1pm or 2.30pm to 4.30pm daily to avoid the times when the congregation observes their prayers. Approach the person at the front desk.

Umrah – The Other Pilgrimage to Mecca

Everyone would know that the Hajj is the pilgrimage to Mecca in Saudi Arabia performed by Muslims globally during a specific time of the year (in the Islamic month of Zulhijjah to be exact) but not everyone would know what the Umrah is. For the benefit of our non-Muslim readers in particular, the Umrah is the lesser known pilgrimage to Mecca that may be performed at anytime of the year. While it is a religious duty for every able-bodied and financially capable Muslim to perform the Hajj at least once in his or her lifetime, the Umrah is not obligatory but highly encouraged. The Umrah includes some of the rituals of the Hajj but there are fewer of them so it tends to be less demanding. In addition to performing the rituals, Muslims also take the opportunity to visit sites of Islamic historical significance including those in Madinah, the city where the early Muslim community (Ummah in Arabic) developed under the leadership of Prophet Muhammad (Peace Be Unto Him).

There’s so much more to the Umrah and Hajj but we leave you to search more on the subject should you be inclined. For now, here are some photographs taken by friends of Al-Musafir who were there recently performing the Umrah.

This Cafe Has It Going On

LoveOn Cafe is just about the strangest name we’ve come across of any cafe. It is also likely the only Halal cafe in Australia, for now at least. Whilst the coffees in cafes around Australia are perfectly fine to drink but the food almost always is not Halal. Here’s a place where you can actually have coffee and eat the food too. Tasty, generous portions of typical cafe fare (some not so typical like the Banglar Promise – capati & dhal curry) and even better coffee. Reasonably priced too. Can’t ask for more.

By the time we finished our meal, we didn’t get to try the baked goods because we were so full. Fig and dark chocolate muffins, orange and chocolate slices, and mango and passion fruit cupcakes among others. Next time then.

We got a chance to chat with owner and passionate barista Rashed Kabir who told us that his vision was to not only dish out great coffee and food but make it accessible to everyone including Muslims who would normally not be able to enjoy cafe food. Looks like he has succeeded and we thank him for that.

Address: 39 Gladstone Road, Mile End 5031, South Australia
Phone: +61 8 8234 5395
Hours: 7am – 5:00pm daily except Tuesday

The Long and Short of Travel Preparation

Our Connecting Musafirs conversation series taps into eminent Malaysian corporate and community figure Dato’ Seri Nazir Ariff’s broad travel experience for ultimate preparation advice before a trip.

Credit his training in accountancy, or the fact that he has served multiple organisations and bodies over the years, but when it comes to travel, eminent corporate figure Dato’ Seri Nazir Ariff is one meticulous, thorough planner.

Admitting to being extremely particular about his preferences and creature comforts, Dato’ Seri turns to his vast library of travel books and his two trusted checklists before embarking on a journey, be it for work or leisure.

“I have a big collection of books on eating places, best spots to visit of pretty much every destination I’ve spent some time in or had interest to learn more about. I turn to them, as well as the Internet, to make sure I know where I’m going and what I’m doing,” Dato’ Seri explained.

Sweat the small stuff, yes!
A firm believer in making reservations at restaurants before his trips, Dato’ Seri also consults his checklists to ensure he remembers exactly every minutiae for the duration of the trip.

“There’s nothing like forgetting your favourite razor or toothbrush and arriving at your destination, having to settle for substitutes. It could make or break your trip!” he avidly declared.

Dato’ Seri Nazir Ariff, President of Football Association of Penang (FAP) flanked by Lawrence Loh, Vice President of FAP (right) and an ardent fan

Dato’ Seri Nazir Ariff, President of Football Association of Penang (FAP) flanked by Lawrence Loh, Vice President of FAP (right) and an ardent fan.

There is no doubt that it is this exact approach of passion, care and precision that has led to his active involvement in many different interests, across both commerce and community. His present leadership as the Chairman and Executive Director of Aspen Group of companies sits alongside an illustrious list of positions, past and present in various corporate bodies and voluntary organisations, including Football Association of Penang (FAP), Penang City Council (MPPP), Kuala Lumpur Tin Market, Ivory Properties Group Berhad, Texchem Group, Datuk Keramat Holdings Berhad, Kuala Lumpur Commodities Exchange, Penang Heritage Trust, to name but a few.

And to add to the list, Dato’ Seri confessed to also donning an apron and cooking up a storm when he finds the rare window of spare time at home.

His specialty? “Italian! I enjoy making different pastas, much to the enjoyment of my children,” he smiled, adding that he enjoys sourcing for fresh local produce such as cheeses and olives at farmers’ markets when he travels.

Keep the Faith
Even when his working travel schedule takes him to far and foreign lands, Dato’ Seri makes it a point to observe solat. He relies on his smartphone compass to estimate prayer directions where markings are not available.

“I strongly believe that God is forgiving and if you’re praying where you believe you should be, God accepts. God is forgiving,” he expressed with sincerity, adding that he believes the practice of religion should be easy, open and welcoming.

Next up (at time of our conversation) for Dato’ Seri: London, Lisbon and Barcelona. And yes, he had completed his research before departure, right down to the detail of pictures of his hotel rooms and what to expect in those cities.

And while Dato’ Seri finds himself retracing his journeys back to his favourite destinations where he is familiar, such as Barcelona, there is no room for error with the amount of preparation and homework to become disorientated anywhere.

Have you got your checklist written yet, fellow Musafirs? I know I’ll be getting mine down and tucked away in a safe place!