Clichés du fin fond du grenier: From Toulngok to Ta Ngok – A Journey Of Islam Across Cambodia


Title :
Aek Rangsi Mosque, Toulgnok

Nature of the document:
B&W picture

Toulngok Village, Kandal Province, Cambodia. Nearby the former royal capital Udong.




The Aek Rangsi Mosque (nowadays renamed “Nurul Islam”) was build between 1961 and 1965 in Toulngok, a village of Jveas (Muslims who probably arrived from ”Java” to Cambodia centuries ago). The village itself was named after Ta Ngok, a mighty ancestor, famous for his deep knowledge of Islam and ascetic practice. Also known as Imam Semadin, Ta Ngok was a disciple of Imam San, one of the most popular Muslim ‘saint’ among Cambodian Muslims.

If it is possible to trace the pious journey of Imam San and a few other disciples, Ta Ngok left behind him a fade memory and almost no concrete information. We know that he established the village of Toulngok and stayed there between 1860 and 1905, while King Norodom reigned after his father Ang Duong, who gave land to Imam San to settle an anchorites community on the royal mount Udong.

Then Ta Ngok disappears … The track in Toulngok is lost…

Or is it really ?…


Thanks to Kok Kop from Toulngok who provided the picture.

What about today?

The remains of Ta Ngok’s tomb, Chumnik, Kompong Cham, January 2007. 
The stone within the colour frame is marking the head of Ta Ngok tomb.

What about this stone, head of a tomb which is now almost forgotten by the villagers of Chumnik village, in Kompong Cham province? If the offerings are not made any more to this mighty ancestor, the name of Ta Ngok is still remembered.

Coincidence ? Not much, when we know that Imam San was originally from Chumnik. After a disagreement on religious practices with another famous disciple – Haji Solem who came back from Mecca with other views on how to perform Islam – Imam San left Chumnik with a few disciples for the Udong region. Moreover, the Ta Ngok buried here is clearly remembered not only for his pious and austere life but also as a follower of Imam San…

Yet, if these two ‘Ta Ngok’ are indeed only one person, one question remains: why would the pilgrim come back to Chumnik after settling down in Toulngok? Beside the link to the homeland – still very strong among Chams – the answer could be found in other versions of the story, telling that the Imam Semadin (Ta Ngok), gave up Imam San to the Khmer king, accusing him of rebellion. As the king gave his absolution to Imam San, maybe Ta Ngok had to chose his own affiliation, back to Chumnik joining Haji Solem may have been a way to connect to other views and other networks…


To learn more on Ta Ngok, also called Imam Senadin:

COLLINS William 1996: ‘’The Chams of Cambodia’’, Interdisciplinary research on ethnic groups in Cambodia, Center for Advanced Studies, Phnom Penh, p 66-67.

Phnom Penh, February 11, 2013, Emiko Stock.

Those little field-notes are reminiscences of the past blogs and shares. While they are not proud of their flaws, I thought they shouldn’t be punished for it. Hopefully you will forgive them to be just as they come, just as they will remain.

* Originally published on the former Du Fin Fond Du Grenier website, October 2007.

Creative Commons License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivs 3.0 Unported License.


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