April 14, 2021

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Pirojpur is the only wooden mosque in South Asia

The only wooden mosque in South Asia is located in Mathbaria upazila of Pirojpur. Maulvi Momin Uddin Akon of Burirchar village in Udayatara of the upazila built the mosque in the early nineteenth century. The mosque has been named Momin Mosque after his name. He was a follower of Pir Badshah Mia, a male subordinate of Haji Shariatullah. However, the mosque is locally known as ‘Wood Mosque’ as it is made entirely of wood. According to a UNESCO report, it is one of the 30 most notable mosques in Bangladesh. The family of Maulvi Momin Uddin Akan claims that such a mosque was a long time ago in Kashmir, India. The Momin Mosque is the only complete wooden monument in South Asia since it was destroyed in the 1855 earthquake. Momin Uddin Akan’s grandson Mohammad Shahidullah, an expatriate from the United States, has written a history of mosques in his book ‘Momin Mosque: Memories of Forgetting’.

Construction of the exquisitely decorated wooden mosque began in 1913. It ended in 1920 after seven years of work by 22 masons. Harkumar Nath of Nesharabad upazila of Pirojpur was their chief artisan. Momin Uddin Akon hired him with a monthly salary of 40 rupees. Momin Uddin Akon himself supervised the work of the craftsmen and inspected the craftsmanship meticulously.

Iron wood and teak wood are used to build the Momin Mosque. The timber was collected from Myanmar, Tripura and Assam. Iron nails were not used to build the structure of the mosque. It is 24 feet long and 16 feet wide. The deck is made of chauchala tin shed. Another dochala tin canopy has been built in the deck to allow light and air to enter. The mosque has a total of 12 windows, two on the north and south and four on the east and west. The only entrance has two pillar doors, which show the fine workmanship of the mosque. On the upper left of the entrance are the names of the four caliphs of Islam in Arabic letters and on the right are the holy names of the Prophet (peace be upon him). In the middle part is written Tauhid in Kalima. There are interesting crafts in the wooden fence. He has found a place in the motifs of his craftsmanship in the form of miniature forks, iceberries, vases, stalks with stylish calligraphy, nostalgic calligraphy etc.

On April 17, 2003, the government’s Department of Archeology took over the maintenance of the Momin Mosque in accordance with the Antiquities Act. Momin Mosque was renovated for the first time in 2006 under the supervision of Khulna Museum. During the renovation, some changes were made in the design, including the use of iron. Traditionally conscious citizens have expressed concern over the recent news of the mosque’s dilapidation in various media. They are seeking the attention of the local administration and the concerned ministry.

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