Masjid Al Azim is Malacca’s State Mosque which is located in Melaka Tengah, approximately 3 kilometres from Melaka City. Built between 1984 and 1990, the mosque was officiated by the Yang Di- Pertuan Agong at that time, Sultan Azlan Shah, in July 1990 (Islamic Tourism Centre, 2013). The architectural style of Masjid Al Azim is an outstanding Neo-Vernacular revivalism (or more precisely Sino-Eclectic revivalism) of the heritage of Melaka’s historical mosques. Today, it has become the landmark that acknowledges the historical roles of Melaka during the Melaka Sultanate period (from 1400 AD to 1511 AD) as a centre for the spread of Islam in the Malay Archipelago and to also commemorate Melaka as a significant ICOMOS Historic City in Southeast Asia.
The term Sino-Vernacular Eclectic indicates that there is Chinese influence in the vernacular architectural style used to express a mosque in the region at that time. The Sino-Vernacular Eclectic revivalism style of the Masjid Al-Azim is showcased by its soaring three-layered pyramidal roof style similar to any Sino-Eclectic mosque style found in Melaka. Instead of the use of a common crown at the apex of the roof, a dome is used to cap the top of the roof. This small hemispherical yellow-coloured dome differs significantly from the mastaka (crown) top of bulbous pointed sculpture that is commonly used to crown the three-tiered pyramidal roof of many historical mosques in Melaka. Another unusual element that is found in relation to the mosque’s roof is its cement ridges, which are not the commonly, organic-curved Chinese-influenced sculptured ridges. Instead, these ridges start at the top near the apex as half eight-shaped saucers before running down as consistent thin straight ridges, and only upon reaching the edge, they bend at an angle to flare upwards and finish at the eaves with a sculpture of a native riverbank plant known as sulur bayung. The carvings of the eaves were also intentionally made to
resemble the shape of a human fist with a pointed index finger that is the common hand gesture made in the tahiyat stage during solat (prayer). The same dome style of the main roof can also be found topping the mosque’s 57 metres (188 feet) high minaret. This minaret is pentagon-shaped to connote the five obligatory tenets of Islam.
The layout of the floor plan of the main building that houses the prayer hall is of a square shape similar to the original form of the Masjid Al-Nabawi, the Prophet’s Mosque in Madinah, Saudi Arabia. The overall majestic form of the mosque was also intentionally made to reflect the spiritual composition of the four main elements of Islam. Apart from the main prayer hall as the biggest block, the Al-Azim Mosque also consists of six other small blocks, which caters for different purposes. Three of the small blocks have taken the form of a square and built with a roof treatment similar to the architectural style of the main prayer block. The ground floor is approximately 57,600 sq. ft. (5,350 sq. m.) in size and has the capacity to accommodate 9,700 worshippers. The first floor area is designed as the women’s praying space and is about approximately 4,125 sq. ft. (383.21 sq. m.) and has the capacity to accommodate 700 people. This upper level is girded with intricate Islamic pattern metal screens to provide maximum safety, and yet allows a clear view of the prayer area below. During the peak prayer times especially during Friday prayers, the corridors surrounding the left, right and rear sides of the main prayer hall together with the entrance porches are used for prayers and are able to accommodate another 1,300 worshippers (Aziz, A. A., 2016)