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Surti Sunni Jamah Mosque



The oldest original mosque in the city, the Surti Sunni Jamah Mosque was built in 1852 by the Sunni community from Western India. It’s apparently on the site of the first ever mosque in the city, built around 1826 but destroyed in the second Anglo-Burmese war. Surti Sunni Jamah sits on what was then Mogul Street, now Shwebonthar, at the heart of the traditionally Indian section of downtown.

Indian immigrants to Burma tended to form groups based on their place of original. The Soorti were Muslims from around the city of Rander, in Gujarat state, and it was their association that funded the construction of the mosque. The Soorti were a wealthy group made up of merchants and industrialists, and built mosques, a market, residential and office buildings, and also funded a school on Mogul Street. Their name (in various spellings) can be seen on several surviving buildings around the city.

Rander House, Soorty Mansion, Surtee Mansion

The Muslim community was very active in the various political intrigues prior to the British conquest of Burma, pushing back against British attempts to ingratiate themselves with the Burmese court. They (accurately) asserted that the example of India showed that trading with the British would inevitably be followed by military conquest. Pre-colonial British visitors regularly wrote of being undermined and politically sabotaged by influential Muslims (and as always, they frequently complained about the French).

The majority of photos I’ve found of the mosque date to the 1920s, when it would have been the dominant piece of architecture on the street. According to nearby residents, the replacement of part of the original mosque with the office-style section in the foreground was done in 2003 as part of renovations. There are some shops in the lower floors, and the larger space above is rented out as a source of income for the mosque. It’s currently being used by a school.

The rightmost minaret now sits quite awkwardly against the flat side of the new section

Some photos from around 1900 show shops operating out of the now removed section of the mosque, so there is continuity there. But the new upper section of the building is perhaps a bit of a shame, as it has both replaced the original, quite beautiful design, and also obscures more of what remains.

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  1. k03l k03l

    A beautiful mosque. Didn’t notice it until I see this post.

  2. Wow this is amazing!! We will share your website with our customers. We really think that it is one of the best way to show them how Myanmar is changing to become a modern country. Thanks for it!

    • Omar Omar

      As Salam alykm

      I am looking for some information on who built and found the mosque. I believe it was a certain Moolla Hashim. If you have any information please do share with me.

      Thanks in advance

  3. M. Surtee M. Surtee

    This surtee mosque was built in 1852. Not in1860s as you mentioned. Please correct this. I have all the records and proofs.M

    • Will Will

      Thanks for getting in touch, and thanks for the correction! The Architectural Guide to Yangon has some sources referring to a formal opening in 1871, which seems late if it was built in 1852. I wonder if that was actually for a different event, perhaps a secondary phase of building or renovation. I would also be really interested to hear what kind of records you have.

    • Mizan Mizan

      I need some information about Surtee bazaar, Rangoon.
      I have some documents too.

  4. Nana Nana

    salam, im here a student who studied about the architecture of this mosque. i hope u can give some refences to help my studies

    • Will Will

      Salam! I’ll send you an email to follow up.

  5. Zuby Saloojee Zuby Saloojee

    Dear Mr/Ms Surtee

    I am an Indian Muslim South African Canadian whose great great grandfathers were Imans from early 1800s in Rangoon. There is mention in some brief notes that in1850 they bought shares in the Surtee Bara Bazaar Co that were tranferred in 1885.

    My great grandfather Hafez Amod Haffejee Moosa ( previously Seedat but for some reason required to change their name to emigrate arrived in South Africa in 1894.

    Im wondering where i may find any historical records of where they may have been Imams in that time in Rangoon or any other related information

    with kind regards

    Zuby Saloojee (

    • M. Mizan M. Mizan

      Take my salam.
      My grandfather had also shop in Surtee bazar. I have much curiosity to know the some authentic information of the Surtee Bazar.
      I will be glad if you would be kind enough to communicate me via email.

  6. John Doe John Doe


    I don’t have that information but I’m on a journey to learn more about the Surte history. If you could share the source of your information about the Soorty bazaar co, it would help me on this journey. In exchange I can share my findings with you.

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