A Chinese man escaping mainland China was found shipwrecked in the Straits of Malacca - he was near dying. He was brought to safety by Malay fishermen who were at sea in the area. Upon landing, the Chinese man heard the sound of the Islamic azan (call to prayer).
It could be either Zohor, Asar, Maghrib or Isya'. Since Malay fishermen often return to land before dark, he could have landed during azan Maghrib. The surau or masjid would therefore be by the sea or Straits of Malacca. Which surau or masjid existed by the sea in this area?
He asked what the sound was and they explained to him that it was the sound of azan. Upon hearing the explanation he converted to Islam and took the name Haron bin Abdullah (call name Arom as 'H' is often silent is Melakaspeak).
Haron was well-respected and appointed the first Dutch East India Company (VOC) Kapitan of the Chinese peoples in Malacca. He was a Chinese Muslim Kapitan. His life prospered and he became wealthy. He was a philanthropist and bequeathed a large track of land for his faith. The VOC Government in Malacca allowed for a masjid to be built and he was chosen as the builder. So he built Masjid Kg Hulu in 1670 with the help of locals. The initial masjid/surau was a wooden one and with attap roof.
Haron married and had a son named Shamsudin bin Haron. He too was a clergy and became Imam of Masjid Kg Hulu. Soon the old wooden masjid had to be replaced.
The masjid was rebuilt between 1720 and 1728 by Shamsudin bin Haron, and by which time Masjid Tengkera came into use. Since Shamsudin bin Arom was of Chinese decent, it is not surprising to find colourful Chinese tiles in Masjid Kg Hulu and other masjids of this era during the VOC rule in Malacca.
Masjid Tengkera was built by Hj Muhammad Saleh in 1728. He was a Sumatran Sufi and Imam. Someone from Masjid Tengkera married to the daughter of Bilal Jazan of Masjid Kg Hulu.
The original masjid was modified by the viser, Wazir Sheikh Omar Hussain Al-Attas and the masjid structure was strengthened with bricks in 1892.
I visited Masjid Kg Hulu for the first time on 5 June 2016. It was day before Ramadan fasting. There were many people at the masjid.