National Mosque of Malaysia in Kuala Lumpur: pink robes and comparisons

by Dave from The Longest Way Home ~ August 1st, 2011. Updated on October 5th, 2013. Published in: Travel blog » Malaysia.
The National Mosque of Malaysia

The National Mosque of Malaysia in Kuala Lumpur

The National Mosque in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia

I enjoy visiting Mosques. And, while half the world instantly seems to seize up at the notion that someone would actually like to visit a mosque.

I don’t visit for religious reasons. I visit because architecturally, they are, usually, quite beautiful buildings. Will the National Mosque in Kuala Lumpur live up to the others I’ve visited?

Visiting Malaysia’s National Mosque in Kuala Lumpur

Built in 1965 it can hold 15,00 people and is deemed as architecturally unique. Interestingly, in terms of religion, the Mosque was built on the site of an old church.

While many look at the national mosque in terms of architectural importance, I see it as something of a “60’s/70’s” style concrete block. So, for me personally, I don’t find it as architecturally beautiful as say Kota Kinabalu’s City mosque, in Sabah, Malaysia. Nor a patch on Badshahi Mosque in Lahore, Pakistan.

Many will argue that architecture is not the point of Mosques, or visiting them. Yes, I know, that’s why I wrote what I did earlier.

Inside the National Mosque of Malaysia

Inside the National Mosque of Malaysia

Inside Malaysia’s National Mosque

Hoping that the inside of the Mosque would offer up something new, and or unique, I went in. Marble, concrete and straight lines are the main themes of the day here. Multiple tall straight angled pillars run throughout much of the building. The main prayer area, is, as usual, off-limits for any non-Muslim to go into. It’s also pretty standard in terms of design.

Tourists in purple robes at the national mosque of Malaysia

Tourists in purple robes at the national mosque of Malaysia

There are office blocks here, downstairs, and a Mausoleum for past politicians. The Mausoleum itself is quite nice, with a large golden looking 7 pointed star roof. Several water fountains, pools of water, and cleansing areas run throughout the Mosques internal infrastructure.

Dressing to enter a Mosque

Tourists are allowed to visit the mosque during non-prayer times for free. There’s usually a flock of tourists by the main entrance all queuing up to remove their shoes, and don bright purple/pink robes to cover up legs and arms.

While many didn’t object to this, a few dressed in short sleeve shirts, and long pants did walk away and refused to wear the robe.

Some, tourists really did need to cover up, even if not entering a Mosque.

I knew the rules, removed my shoes and greeted the first man with a “Salaem malekum”. Wearing long pants, and a long-sleeved shirt I managed to slip by without a robe. Thankfully.

Wearing a robe to cover up out of respect, religious reasons etc is one thing. But being forced to wear a bright purple cloak reminiscent of a “camp” Jedi Knight seems a little much. This has been the only mosque in the world I’ve visited that enforces this. Though the old Jame Mosque also seems to be doing the same. Again, on a previous visit I went early, was covered, and wasn’t asked.

Minaret of Malaysia's National Mosque

Minaret of Malaysia’s National Mosque

Rules for visiting a Mosque:

  • Remove shoes (socks not necessary)
  • Women should have their hair covered
  • Both men and women should not be exposing any skin other than hands, feet and face
  • Take note of any signage, as a few mosques seem to enforce different rules.

Is the National Mosque in Kuala Lumpur worth visiting?

Depends on you. If you’ve never visited a mosque before, then sure. But my advice is not to think of it like the vast majority of the mosques in the world in lieu of the robes and architecture.

If you are not pushed, or not visiting anything nearby I wouldn’t go out of my way to visit it.

That said, it’s easy to get to. Close to Central Market, the post office and across the way from the old railway station. It’s worth the visit if you are nearby and seeing the sights.

Moving on …

Kuala Lumpur, much like Bangkok is no place to get away from it all. The city has some of the worst high speed drivers on the planet, with little regard for rules. Nor would it seem any regard to wanting to care about them either.

Walking in Kuala Lumpur? Be prepared to be used by high speed drivers as target practice!

When I first arrived in Kuala Lumpur I had high hopes, but the problems in West Malaysia meant it didn’t take long to realize it’s not for me. Again, just a stepping stone.

Moving on, I now get to revisit a greener pasture.


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16 Great responses to National Mosque of Malaysia in Kuala Lumpur: pink robes and comparisons

  1. iamthewitch says:

    Too bad we missed out on meeting each other! Great information on the National Mosque, I didn’t know that women were allowed inside! But I certainly hope you’ll be back again even if it meant braving through those high-speed drivers who don’t follow rules. ;)

  2. Palawan Martin says:

    To enter a mosque, do you have to get anyone’s permission ? Or walk straight in like in a church ?
    Once i tried to go in the Kuala Lumpur city mosque, but it must have been during prayer time and an agressive man told me to go away.

    Another point, i have read your blog for a few months now, you seem to hate security checks in shopping malls etc. but don’t you equally hate changing clothes at religious places like at the mosque (purple robes) ?

    • Generally it’s a good idea to ask someone around the entrance, or where you must remove your shoes. Many mosques have this “thing” about non-muslims not being able to stand in the prayer area. Though, I must say in places in Iran and Pakistan I had no problems in entering these areas too.

      And yes, during prayer times one is not allowed to go in unless you are going to pray. This, I understand.

      I’ve found mosques in the west to be less friendly than those in the places I’ve mentioned.

      Yes, I do find bag checks and pat downs annoying. Not for securities sake, but inefficiencies sake. Take the Philippines bag poke with a stick at the malls, a waste of time. Thailand’s metro security is a bit better, they use a working scanner and a torch instead of stick. But still, ultimately, if someone is going to blow up, or shoot through one of these places, it would not be at all hard.

      I never donned a purple robe to enter the mosque. I wore long pants and a long sleeved shirt. No issues :)

      Nope, never saw a “ping pong” game in Bangkok! I’ll be looking forward to reading your own reports on that! ;)

  3. Palawan Martin says:

    To enter a mosque, do you have to get anyone’s permission ? Or walk straight in like in a church ?
    Once i tried to go in the Kuala Lumpur city mosque, but it must have been during prayer time and an agressive man told me to go away.

    Another point, i have read your blog for a few months now, you seem to hate security checks in shopping malls etc. but don’t you equally hate changing clothes at religious places like at the mosque (purple robes) ?

    Also, did you get to see any “pingpong” games in Bangkok ? ;-)

  4. Nathan says:

    I visited this Mosque last year, I think the architecture is stunning. A “modernist” mosque!

  5. Marnie Alvez says:

    Loved the Masjid Negara and loved that purple robe too! =) My conversation with some elders (I don’t know how they’re called) inside the mosque about the Muslim faith was surprisingly enlightening. Too bad it was cut short since prayer time was about to start then. This mosque is really beautiful. Highly recommended to visitors of Kuala Lumpur!

  6. Ivy says:

    Beautiful mosque! It’s certainly worth the travel!

  7. hayadith says:

    this is national mosque in Malaysia..On Friday, for Friday prayer, the King of Malaysia will come and pray here. Khutbah (religious lecture) will be shown live on tv (TV1)..

    even muslims, no matter you’re malaysian or not, if you are not wearing proper clothes, you’ll be asked to wear the purple robes..hehe

    Anyway, have you been to Putrajaya? KL is so packed, that’s why former prime minister, dr mahathir change his office n other ministries to putrajaya..u should visit..One of my favourite place..

  8. Nisha says:

    I have passed thru that area but never visited it. Didn’t know non-muslim women are also allowed though I know Masjid Jamek invites visitors, of course with a robe. :)

    On my next visit, I will visit this mosque.
    What is the significance of color pink/purple?

    • No idea about the pink/purple color significance. Other than to make a tourist stand out?!

      Yes women can enter freely. To avoid a colorful robe, just wear long pants, long sleeved shirt to the neck, and cover your hair. Sound’s more annoying than it is. But, better than a purple robe in my book :)

      • Nsha says:

        I don’t think I will remember to wear full sleeved shirt etc. My exploration of any place is mostly unplanned. So, I think i’ll have to wear a pink robe. :D

        Not annoying if I treat it as a fancy dress. :P

  9. Jason says:

    I also enjoy visiting Mosques for their architectural significance, and really enjoy taking photo’s of these great buildings. I’ve seen many great examples around the world and always feel most welcome during my visits. The national Mosque certainly has a touch of that 60’s architecture to it, but to house 15,000 at prayer, now that would be an impressive sight.

  10. Nestor says:

    I liked this mosque. It was my first visit to a mosque. It is walking distance from the central market. I got the following photo when I was there when a group of tourists were all wearing black sunglasses.
    http://www.flickr.com/photos/nestorlacle/2701230740/

  11. melvin says:

    I’d love to visit a mosque.although i’m from the southern part of the philippines where majority of the muslim population is located i ve never seen a mosque.