An unusual gift of a mosque

An unusual gift of a mosque
(Sunday, October 4, 2015) 10:06

Geylang is better known as Singapore's red-light district.

But the neighbourhood also draws devotees of various religions to the numerous places of worship dotting the area.

The Khadijah Mosque at 583 Geylang Road, one of the oldest mosques in Singapore, can draw an 800-strong congregation, made up of locals and foreign workers, each week.

Ustaz Dr Mohamed Ali, a member of the Khadijah Mosque management board, says: "It's an interesting neighbourhood. We have many Chinese clans and temples in the area and they are good neighbours."

Aside from its location, the mosque is also known for its unique origins a century ago.


In 1915, Indian trader and philanthropist Khatijah Mohamed drew up a will with instructions to use $54,521 - the amount today based on inflation - to buy land and build a mosque and two shophouses as part of her wakaf, or endowment to the Muslim community.

She died a year later and two of her relatives carried out her will. Little is known about her personal life.

In 1920, the mosque and two shophouses next door were built on a 1,735 sq m plot. They are used today as an office for the mosque and a restaurant.

Mr Kelvin Ang, director of conservation management at the Urban Redevelopment Authority, says: "That the mosque was built in the South Indian style is very rare. And that a woman's will was carried out at that time was even more of a rare occurrence."

The mosque was gazetted for conservation in 1991 as part of the Geylang conservation area.

Over the years, the soft, marine clay foundation started affecting the building structure, which made the mosque unstable and tilt a little, says Dr Mohamed, who is also an assistant professor at the S. Rajaratnam School of International Studies at Nanyang Technological University.

There were also cracks in the floor and walls and the timber roof structure was eaten away by termites.

So the mosque raised $9 million to preserve the structure and update its amenities, such as installing air-conditioning.

An attic in the prayer hall was also built for female worshippers, as was an annex with offices, computers, a library and a multi- purpose hall. This was completed in 2003.

Aside from welcoming worshippers, the mosque grew in prominence for housing the gallery of the Religious Rehabilitation Group, which was formed in 2003.

The space, which was completed last year, has training and workshop facilities. It also has counselling rooms for those who have been influenced by extremist terrorist ideology and their family members.

Asia One
Email is required
Characters left: 500
Comment is required