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Wikipedia | Google | Google Images | FlickrSultan Mosque, or Masjid Sultan as it is popularly known, is located at Muscat Street in the Kampong Glam district in Singapore. The largest mosque in the exciting city state, it has been recognized as the national mosque of Singapore and had been declared as a national monument in 1975. That the small city state is largely tolerant of different religions is evident in the national status awarded to the mosque and other monuments like it. Populated with 70% Chinese, largely Buddhists, Singapore recognizes Malay and Tamil as national languages along with Chinese. It also lists the holidays of the ethnic groups as national holidays.
LocationThe mosque faces the North Bridge and is located at 3 Muscat Street. Because the orientation of the mosque is towards Mecca, it is not aligned with the layout of the streets. It is the most important landmark of Kampong Glam, where communities of Malays, Chinese, Arabs as well as Indians, predominantly Muslims, live.
HistoryThe Sultan Mosque is very much a part of the history of Singapore. In 1819, the chief of the island of Singapore, Temenggong Abdul Rahman and the Sultan of Johor, Sultan Hussein Shah ceded the island to Sir Stamford Raffles of the East India Company. In exchange, they received concessions including some fortune, an annual stipend, and the district of Kampong Glam to build their abodes.
The Sultan shifted to Kampong Glam with his family and a large entourage, and built a palace there. The areas nearby Kampong Glam were settled by Malays from Riau Islands, Sumatra, and Malacca, most of them Muslims. Sultan Hussein Shah requested Sir Raffles for permission to build a mosque close to the palace. Raffles not only agreed, but contributed $3,000 towards the construction of the mosque. The mosque was constructed between 1824 and 1826.
The mosque was managed by the Sultan’s family until the reigns were handed over to his grandson, Tungku Alam Sultan Alauddin Alam Shah in 1879. In 1914, the government agreed to renew the lease for the estate for another 999 years and Alahuddin Shah conceded the administration of the mosque to a committee of five community leaders.
By 1924, the mosque, a century old, was in a dilapidated state and was too small to accommodate the local worshipers. The local community, along with the trustees, voted to have the mosque rebuilt. The rebuilding of the mosque was completed at the cost of $ 20,000 USD in 1932. The majority of the funds were collected by the local Muslims and the rest was contributed by King Fahd of the Republic of Saudi Arabia. The work was done in phases so that the worshipers were not put to any hardship. The mosque is now managed by Majlis Ugama Islam Singapura (MUIS), an organization that manages several mosques in the city state.
ArchitectureIn 1928, Swan and Maclaren, an architectural firm based in the United Kingdom, was commissioned to rebuild the mosque at the cost of $ 200,000 USD , 70 percent of which was donated by the local Muslims, and the rest was donated by King Faisal of the Republic of Saudi Arabia. Denis Santry, an architect employed by the firm, adopted the Saracenic style of design, a mixture of the Indian, Arabic, and Gothic principles of architecture. He incorporated minarets and balustrades into the design of the mosque.
The influence of Mogul architecture is amply evident in the two very prominent, golden, onion-shaped domes topped with pinnacles and crescent-shaped moons and stars. An amazing fact is that each dome rests on a base made of broken bottle necks, collected by the poor of the community, who realized that they could not vie with the affluent financially, but wanted to do their bit.
Minarets on each corner of the mosque have staircases leading up to the balconies of the tower from where the imams call the faithful to prayer. The prayer hall is two storeys high supported by 12 octagonal columns. The hall can accommodate 5,000 worshipers at a time and has galleries on the second floor. The mihrab, or the pulpit, is ornately decorated with floral motifs which are gold-plated and has a panel of classical calligraphy at the top.
The complex, spread over more than 4,100 square meters, also houses an atrium that can seat 425 people, two multi-purpose halls, and a conference room that can seat 200. The infrastructure plays an important role in hosting local social activities.
Visiting the Sultan MosqueSingapore is one of the major commercial hubs in the world. Equipped with one of the five busiest airports in the world, the city state is well connected to all the major cities in the world. The MRT (mass rapid transit system) is the best way to get around the city. Less than 15 kilometers away from the Changi International Airport, Bukit MRT Station is just a 10 minutes’ walk away from the mosque. There are buses and taxis too.
The mosque is open to visitors from 9:25 AM to 12:45 PM., and from 2:00 PM to 4:00 PM on all days except Fridays. On Fridays, because of the prayers held, the mosque is open only from 2:30 PM to 4:00 PM. Guided tours and talks meant for non-Muslims are held daily. For the timings and further information, tourists can call the Sultan Mosque office at (+65) 629304405.
When a visitor visits the mosque, he or she should be appropriately dressed. Register at the Tourist Register Counter where you will get garments to cover yourself in case you are scantily dressed. Remove your shoes and maintain a respectable silence within the mosque. Only those who want to pray are allowed within the prayer hall. Photography within the mosque is allowed but visitors carrying video cameras will need prior permission before using them.
In the month preceding the Feast of Hari Raya (Eid ul-Fitr ), the streets around the mosque comes alive with numerous stalls serving an assortment of delicacies to Muslims who break their fast after sunset, after fasting through the day.
Singapore is one of the costliest cities as far as accommodation goes. There are however, many budget hotels available in the city. Being a small city state, you are not too far away from any place of interest.
Other Places of InterestNearby is the Royal Palace, once the home of the Sultan and the tombs of the princes who succeeded him. Walking through the Muslim quarter is also worth the while. Stalls selling Jamu remedies for every conceivable ailment abound in the streets.
Singapore as a whole is a tourist’s delight. The eco-friendly state has many monuments and places of historical interest as well as parks and modern buildings that deserve a visit.
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Author: jackmartis. Last updated: Jan 26, 2015