Taiping Old Mosque (Masjid Lama Bandar Taiping in Malay), also known as the Malay Mosque or Masjid Melayu is the oldest mosque in Taiping. It was originally a wooden building that served as a madrasah for the Hanafi Indian Muslim community in Taiping at the time and was given over to Ngah Ibrahim. Ngah Ibrahim’s father, Long Jaafar is credited as the original founder of the tin mines in Klian Pauh and Klian Bahru (which would later become known as Taiping and Kamunting after the Treaty of Pangkor). Ngah Ibrahim bore the title Orang Kaya Mantri, which would be equivalent in stature to a feudal lord England. The word Mantri is a Sanskrit word that has evolved to the word Menteri in modern Malay, which means Minister. The mosque was rebuilt as a stone structure by the family of Ngah Ibrahim, with architecture inspired by Dutch and English themes, the two most prominent foreign influences in sultanate-era Perak. The building’s architecture is unique in that it is a hexagonal structure, with 6 sides. The building’s information plaque states that it was constructed in 1893, while other sources state that the stone structure mosque was constructed in 1897. These differing accounts require some further investigation. What is definite is that it is the oldest stone mosque in the state of Perak.
Several prominent Malay figures from Taiping’s early history were buried here, including the wife of Ngah Ibrahim, Toh Puan Halimah (the first person buried in the mosque’s graveyard in 1899), Ngah Ibrahim’s sons Tengku Menteri Wan Mohammad Isa and Wan Mohammad Nasir, Dr. Burhanuddin al-Helmy, and Sheikh Makhbuli, a renowned local ulama, or holy man.
The mosque has undergone several restoration works in the past, and there were periods when the mosque was in disuse. Today, the mosque is still in use and holds regular prayers 5 times a day. Non-Muslim visitors are encouraged to seek permission or guidance from mosque caretakers or persons-in-charge prior to entering, as it is considered polite to do so.