HANOI - Taking care of the only Muslim worship place in northern Vietnam, Doan Hong Cuong stands a symbol on the Muslim presence in the atheist Asian country.
We get up at 4.15 every morning and pray for the new day, Cuong told VietNamNet newspaper on Sunday, November 11.
Cuong is taking care of Al Noor mosque, the only Muslim worship place in Hanoi in northern Vietnam.
When the sun rises, every family member starts work, he said.
My son tends his own small shop and as our grandchildren go to school, the women in the family do the housework.
Born in Hanoi, Cuong is the son of a Pakistani father who married a Vietnamese woman and settled down to in the northern Vietnamese city in 1940.
He formed a small Muslim community in the capital city, and then later became the mosque's caretaker.
When most Muslims chose to leave for the South in 1954, Cuong's father decided to stay in Hanoi to take care of the mosque.
When their father died in 1963, Cuong and his eldest brother decided to take care of the mosque.
Al Noor mosque, the only one in northern Vietnam, was built in 1890 by Indian Muslims who originally went to Vietnam to do business.
It is fairly small with a limited space of only 700 square meters.
Yet, the worship place was built in the typical Islamic style of mosques that can be seen all over the world, especially in India, with a dome, arched door and pointed tower.
The mosque's design is simple and airy, with large high arched doors in the main praying hall and the whole building painted white.
Muslims pray five times throughout the day and Cuong opens the doors of the mosque at pre-ordained times to welcome worshippers in.
On the weekly Friday prayers, around 200 Muslims arrive at the mosque to pray.
Cuong says he will continue his mission of taking care of the mosque until the end of his life.
The most important thing is belief and to want to do good for the world at large, the Vietnamese Muslim said.
Our religion does not ban people from enjoying themselves or insist they must live austere lives.
Built more than 100 years ago, Al Noor mosque has fallen into disrepair.
Cuong says the Muslim community in Hanoi will hold the first congress in December to discuss ways of restoring the mosque.
Vietnam is home to a tiny Muslim minority of 73,000, who make up nearly 0.1 percent of the country's 91 million population.
Muslims of Cham ethnicity account for one-third of the Muslim community in Vietnam, while the remaining are of Khmer, Malay, Viet, Chinese and Arab origins.
Most Muslims live in southern Vietnam.There are nearly 79 mosques in Vietnam, most of which are in the south.
Reproduced with permission from OnIslam.net