Stepping back in time

Olden day glory: The 200-year-old Acheen Street Malay Mosque is one of several new heritage sites on the non-competition route

THOSE searching for retired primary schoolteacher Mohamed Yahaya’s house in George Town, Penang, may have a difficult time.

Though located in Acheen Street, the house cannot be seen on either side of the unique road that has one-way streets in two different directions.

Instead, the home of Cikgu Mohamed, as he is popularly known, is nestled in a corner of the compound of the two-century-old Acheen Street Malay Mosque.

One of six houses built around the mosque after its establishment in 1808, Mohamed’s wooden abode still bears its traditional louvre shutters and timber staircase.

“My great-grandfather Sheikh Omar Basheer Hamid was the first to stay in this house.

“In the beginning, the houses were allotted to people who contributed something to the mosque,” Mohamed, 74, said, adding that Sheikh Omar had been a religious teacher.

By many accounts, Mohamed was being modest about his predecessor.

Sheikh Omar, a noted Muslim intellectual, was considered an authority on Islamic affairs during his time and has been credited with curbing the involvement of Muslims in secret societies during the 1967 Penang Riots.

Mohamed, who is fluent in Jawi and also sporadically bursts out in English poetry, said two of the original houses on the mosque’s wakaf (bequeathed) land were now in disrepair.

“In the old days, there used to be many generations living under one roof but some things have changed,” he said.

The Acheen Street Malay Mosque is one of the heritage sites on Penang Starwalk’s new non-competition 6km route.

Other sites include Pinang Peranakan Mansion, the Clan Jetties, Tan Kongsi, Wisma Yeap Chor Ee, Customs Building (formerly Malayan Railway Building), Logan Heritage and The Whiteaways Arcade.

Penang Yang di-Pertua Negri Tun Abdul Rahman Abbas will flag off the walk at Birch House, Penang Times Square, at 6.30am on Sept 17, a replacement public holiday for Malaysia Day that falls on Sunday.

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