For a beautiful insight into Singapore’s cultural heritage, do not forget to visit the Abdul Gaffoor Mosque Singapore. Set in the ethnically exotic and vibrant district of Little India, this recently restored mosque was name after its founder Sheikh Abdul Gaffoor Shaik Hyder, a South Indian legal clerk.
A bit of history
The Abdul Gaffoor Mosque Singapore was completed in 1910 by Indian Muslims living in Singapore during the time Singapore was under the auspices of the Indian administration. The area it is set in now, Little India was a vibrant business center for Indian Merchants.
The mosque was assigned to be built in 1881 as a center of Singapore’s Muslim community. Before it was built, Sheikh Abdul Gaffoor also appealed for the construction of various shops and sheds on the area around the mosque, and the area developed accordingly well into the early 1900s. The rent generated from those shops added to the funds for the completion of the mosque. The result of several decades of development results in the role of the mosque today as a center of Muslim trade, community, and education.
Because of its architecture as well as its significance in Singaporean history, the Abdul Gaffoor Mosque was designated as a national monument in 1979. It has recently been restored, which is why in spite of its age its colors appear bright and fresh.
As you stand there
When you stand before the mosque, you will see that this mosque truly has a distinct look of its own. Its main entrance has an ornate pediment, with the Islamic crescent and the star in the center. The sunburst emerging from the center has 25 rays. On each ray is inscribed, in Arabic calligraphy, one of the 24 chosen prophets. What makes this artistic feature particularly fascinating is that this is the only mosque known to portray this kind of a pagan symbol, reminiscent of pre-Christian Roman times.
A unique architecture
Although the mosque took quite a while to complete because of various funding and construction issues, it still boasts its own distinctive set of architectural features. Here are some features to look out for as you explore this mosque:
- Its prayer hall is an extended elevated platform surrounded by verandas at its entrance and sides.
- On the left of the prayer hall, a framed family tree outlines the lineage of the Muslim prophets. To make sense of this lineage and see how it comprises Christian prophets as well, you can refer to the information cards around the mosque.
- The sundial above the entrance of the hall is flanked on both sides by several miniature columns and pilasters. Above the sundial is a pediment in the shape of an onion dome.
- Several kinds of calligraphic inscriptions continue well into the interior of the cupola at the centre of the prayer hall. The columns holding up the cupolas are not square or even round, but form semicircular arches.
- The mihram, or the area where the imam leads the prayers, is not ornate, but completely simple, consisting of a narrow panel with a verse from the Qur’an above it.
- Originally, the area for ablutions in the southwest area of the mosque consisted of a pool, which was later drained and replaced with modern plumbing facilities.
Places of worship are always reflective and peaceful to the intuitive travel. This mosque’s designation and rich history make it one of the primary places on the sightseeing agenda for tourists.
Please note that since the Abdul Gaffoor Mosque is a place of worship, you should dress modestly before visiting it: make sure your bottoms are long and that you are wearing no sleeveless tops.
Abdul Gaffoor Mosque Singapore
41 Dunlop Street,
Tel. (+65) 6295 4209