Masjid Al-Bukhary is a realisation of its benefactor’s vision, Tan Sri Syed Mokhtar Al-Bukhary, the founder of the Al-Bukhary Foundation and a prominent entrepreneur. His intention was to build a mosque in Alor Setar – where he hails from – to become his legacy and his sincere contribution to the city. The site chosen was next to the old mosque of Alor Malai along Jalan Langgar. The old mosque was built by his grandfather and in this respect; he was carrying on the tradition set by his family by building several mosques as acts of charity and good deeds.
This mosque is central to many other facilities he intends to build, comprising of an old folks’ home, an orphanage, a hospital and classrooms, thus making it an integrated complex. He also wanted the mosque to be the ‘jewel in the crown’ of the development, and if possible, to be a showcase of Islamic architecture for the local community. It was fortuitous then, that the architect, Ar. Abdul Harris Othman had just travelled to the Silk Road and Middle-East at the time, in his pursuit to broaden his knowledge and understanding of Islamic art and architecture and hence, was appointed to carry out the design of the mosque.
This quest enabled the architect to put together many of Tan Sri Syed Mokhtar Al-Bukhary’s wishes in the mosque; it resulted in an assembly or a pastiche of various architectural styles from different Islamic countries that were mixed to become a unique architectural design. The composition is a myriad blend of architecture designs established through understanding of the differing styles, their application and suitability, functions and the site context. This development approach subsequently gave the impetus
and had set the direction for the architectural master-planning of the Al-Bukhary International University campus which was designed by a few selected architects. It was built a few years later as part of the complex.
Located on a site neighbouring a flat plain of paddy fields, the Northern town of Alor Setar experiences a much hotter and drier climate than the rest of the country. Thus, in many local dwellings, open spaces with vegetation are a frequent sight for communal and social purposes. To adapt to the site context and climate, the Masjid Al-Bukhary was designed to maintain this tradition, albeit in more modern times and its current environment. The main courtyard unifies the outdoor spaces. Designed with the use of local green shrubs, it lends formality and is considered part of the mosque or vice versa. Surrounding the courtyard are ancillary facilities – classrooms, library, indoor ablutions and toilets and the like.