Al-Abrar Mosque



Al-Abrar Mosque is located at 192 Telok Ayer Street, in the historical Chinatown area.1 It was established in 1827 for the Chulias – Tamil Muslims from south India, and was thus also known as Masjid Chulia or Chulia Mosque.2 The present mosque building was built between 1850 and 1855, and it was declared a national monument on 19 November 1974.

History
The Chulia (Tamil Muslims from south India’s Coromandel Coast) were among Singapore’s earliest immigrants. Mostly small traders and money-changers, they had a strong presence in the Telok Ayer Street area.3

Al-Abrar Mosque was established in 1827, probably as a simple thatched hut, which gave rise to its other Tamil name, kuchu palli (which means “hut mosque” in Tamil).4 The existing brick building was erected between 1850 and 1855.5 It stands on land that was originally granted a 999-year lease to Hadjee Puckery Mohamed Khatib bin Shaik Mydin as a trustee for the Tamil Muslim community.6 On 21 November 1910, a court order was issued, under which new trustees were appointed to look after the mosque. The new trustees were K. Mohamed Eusope, Thambyappa Rarooter, S. Kanisah Maricayar, V. M. Kader Bux and J. Sultan Abdul Kader. These men were also trustees for the Nagore Durgha on the same street and Jamae Mosque on South Bridge Road.7

The mosque was featured in an 1856 painting of Singapore by artist Percy Carpenter, as viewed from Mount Wallich.8

Prior to the 1980s, the mosque underwent minor repairs and repainting works.9 The building’s architecture changed significantly after extensive additions and alterations costing an estimated S$1 million were undertaken between 1986 and 1989.10

A man credited with the development of the mosque is Haji Mohamed Yusoff Hameed, a volunteer with the mosque since 1972 and its secretary since 1974.11 The mosque was designated a national monument on 19 November 1974 and is now under the care of the Majilis Ugama Islam Singapura.12

Features
Al-Abrar Mosque stands on a land area of 448.7 sq m that aligns with the urban planning grid while also facing Mecca.13 Set in a row of shophouses, it is estimated to be the width of three shophouses, and the front of the building incorporates the five-foot walkway.14

The building is a simple architectural design.15 The central bay is framed by two large octagonal minarets topped by a crescent moon and star. Between the two octagonal minarets are two smaller circular minarets with a small dome and spear mounted on the top.16 Flanking the extreme ends of the mosque’s facade are two small square minarets with a small dome and spear mounted on its top.17 The dome effect is echoed along the façade with its latticed, vent-style balustrade.18 The Islamic merlon cresting is similar to that found on Sultan Mosque in Kampong Glam.19 The building interior features French windows topped with fanlights and coloured glass.20

Originally a single-storey structure, the renovations from 1986 to 1989 added a second storey where the mosque’s imam now resides. In addition, a large jack roof was added, the prayer hall was enlarged, and the addition of an upper gallery enclosed the courtyard. The details on some columns were also simplified.21

The mihrab was also enlarged during the renovations.22 The calligraphic inscription above it was taken from Surah Al-Fatihah of the Holy Quran. It reads: “In the name of Allah, most gracious, most merciful, Praise be to Allah, the Cherisher and Sustainer of the Words, Most Gracious, Most Merciful Master of the Day of Judgement”.23 Overall, the refurbishment increased the capacity of the mosque,24 which is currently 500.25

In 1998, the mosque acquired a neighbouring two-storey shophouse and turned it into a madrasah and a place for prayers.26



Authors
Vernon Cornelius-Takahama & Joanna Tan



References
1. Hooi, C. (1982). National monuments of Singapore. Singapore: National Museum, pp. 12–13. (Call no.: RSING 722.4095957 NAT)
2. Liu, G. (1996). In granite and chunam: The national monuments of Singapore. Singapore: Landmark Books and Preservation of Monuments Board, p. 99. (Call no.: RSING 725.94095957 LIU); Lee, G. B. (2002). The religious monuments of Singapore: Faiths of our forefathers. Singapore: Landmark Books and Preservation of Monuments Board, p. 88. (Call no.: RSING 726.095957 LEE); Edwards, N., & Keys, P. (1988). Singapore: A guide to buildings, streets, places. Singapore: Times Books International, p. 439. (Call no.: RSING 915.957 EDW-[TRA]); Keys, P. (1981, December 27). Grand buildings... with food and medicine too. The Straits Times, p. 10. Retrieved from NewspaperSG.
3. Liu, G. (1996). In granite and chunam: The national monuments of Singapore. Singapore: Landmark Books and Preservation of Monuments Board, pp. 89, 99. (Call no.: RSING 725.94095957 LIU)
4. Hooi, C. (1982). National monuments of Singapore. Singapore: National Museum, p. 13. (Call no.: RSING 722.4095957 NAT); Lee, G. B. (2002). The religious monuments of Singapore: Faiths of our forefathers. Singapore: Landmark Books and Preservation of Monuments Board, p. 91. (Call no.: RSING 726.095957 LEE); Liu, G. (1996). In granite and chunam: The national monuments of Singapore. Singapore: Landmark Books and Preservation of Monuments Board, p. 99. (Call no.: RSING 725.94095957 LIU)
5. Lee, G. B. (2002). The religious monuments of Singapore: Faiths of our forefathers. Singapore: Landmark Books and Preservation of Monuments Board, p. 88. (Call no.: RSING 726.095957 LEE); Hooi, C. (1982). National monuments of Singapore. Singapore: National Museum, p. 13. (Call no.: RSING 722.4095957 NAT); Beamish, J., & Ferguson, J. (1985). A history of Singapore architecture: The making of a city. Singapore: G. Brash, p. 58. (Call no.: RSING 722.4095957 BEA)
6. Liu, G. (1996). In granite and chunam: The national monuments of Singapore. Singapore: Landmark Books and Preservation of Monuments Board, p. 99. (Call no.: RSING 725.94095957 LIU); Hooi, C. (1982). National monuments of Singapore. Singapore: National Museum, pp. 12–13, 20. (Call no.: RSING 722.4095957 NAT); Lee, G. B. (2002). The religious monuments of Singapore: Faiths of our forefathers. Singapore: Landmark Books and Preservation of Monuments Board, p. 88. (Call no.: RSING 726.095957 LEE); Edwards, N., & Keys, P. (1988). Singapore: A guide to buildings, streets, places. Singapore: Times Books International, p. 439. (Call no.: RSING 915.957 EDW-[TRA]); Samuel, D. S. (2010). Singapore’s heritage: Through places of historical interest. Singapore: Author, p. 184. (Call no.: RSING 959.57 SAM-[HIS])
7. Urban Redevelopment Authority. (1991). Al-Abrar Mosque preservation guidelines (Vol. 1). Singapore: The Board, p. 4. (Call no.: RSING 363.69095957 ALA)
8. Taking their place in history. (1974, December 4). The Straits Times, p. 8. Retrieved from NewspaperSG; Lee, G. B. (2002). The religious monuments of Singapore: Faiths of our forefathers. Singapore: Landmark Books and Preservation of Monuments Board, p. 88. (Call no.: RSING 726.095957 LEE)
9. Urban Redevelopment Authority. (1991). Al-Abrar Mosque preservation guidelines (Vol. 1). Singapore: The Board, p. 21. (Call no.: RSING 363.69095957 ALA)
10. 19th century mosque to get $1m extension. (1986, July 14). The Straits Times, p. 11. Retrieved from NewspaperSG; Liu, G. (1996). In granite and chunam: The national monuments of Singapore. Singapore: Landmark Books and Preservation of Monuments Board, p. 99. (Call no.: RSING 725.94095957 LIU); Lee, G. B. (2002). The religious monuments of Singapore: Faiths of our forefathers. Singapore: Landmark Books and Preservation of Monuments Board, p. 88. (Call no.: RSING 726.095957 LEE); Urban Redevelopment Authority. (1991). Al-Abrar Mosque preservation guidelines (Vol. 1). Singapore: The Board, p. 22. (Call no.: RSING 363.69095957 ALA)
11. Key man behind mosque’s growth. (2000, September 17). The Straits Times, p. 46. Retrieved from NewspaperSG.
12. Lee, G. B. (2002). The religious monuments of Singapore: Faiths of our forefathers. Singapore: Landmark Books and Preservation of Monuments Board, p. 88. (Call no.: RSING 726.095957 LEE); Republic of Singapore. Government gazette. Subsidiary legislation supplement. (1974, November 29). The Preservation of Monuments Order 1974 (S 339, p. 898). Singapore: [s.n.]. (Call no.: RCLOS 348.5957 SGGSLS)
13. Liu, G. (1996). In granite and chunam: The national monuments of Singapore. Singapore: Landmark Books and Preservation of Monuments Board, p. 99. (Call no.: RSING 725.94095957 LIU); Hooi, C. (1982). National monuments of Singapore. Singapore: National Museum, p. 13. (Call no.: RSING 722.4095957 NAT)
14. Lee, G. B. (2002). The religious monuments of Singapore: Faiths of our forefathers. Singapore: Landmark Books and Preservation of Monuments Board, p. 88. (Call no.: RSING 726.095957 LEE)
15. Beamish, J., & Ferguson, J. (1985). A history of Singapore architecture: The making of a city. Singapore: G. Brash, p. 58. (Call no.: RSING 722.4095957 BEA); Edwards, N., & Keys, P. (1988). Singapore: A guide to buildings, streets, places. Singapore: Times Books International, p. 439. (Call no.: RSING 915.957 EDW-[TRA])
16. Lee, G. B. (2002). The religious monuments of Singapore: Faiths of our forefathers. Singapore: Landmark Books and Preservation of Monuments Board, p. 88. (Call no.: RSING 726.095957 LEE); Liu, G. (1996). In granite and chunam: The national monuments of Singapore. Singapore: Landmark Books and Preservation of Monuments Board, p. 99. (Call no.: RSING 725.94095957 LIU)
17. Lee, G. B. (2002). The religious monuments of Singapore: Faiths of our forefathers. Singapore: Landmark Books and Preservation of Monuments Board, p. 88. (Call no.: RSING 726.095957 LEE)
18. Liu, G. (1996). In granite and chunam: The national monuments of Singapore. Singapore: Landmark Books and Preservation of Monuments Board, p. 99. (Call no.: RSING 725.94095957 LIU); Beamish, J., & Ferguson, J. (1985). A history of Singapore architecture: The making of a city. Singapore: G. Brash, p. 58. (Call no.: RSING 722.4095957 BEA)
19. Lee, G. B. (2002). The religious monuments of Singapore: Faiths of our forefathers. Singapore: Landmark Books and Preservation of Monuments Board, p. 88. (Call no.: RSING 726.095957 LEE); Liu, G. (1996). In granite and chunam: The national monuments of Singapore. Singapore: Landmark Books and Preservation of Monuments Board, p. 99. (Call no.: RSING 725.94095957 LIU)
20. Lee, G. B. (2002). The religious monuments of Singapore: Faiths of our forefathers. Singapore: Landmark Books and Preservation of Monuments Board, p. 88. (Call no.: RSING 726.095957 LEE)
21. Lee, G. B. (2002). The religious monuments of Singapore: Faiths of our forefathers. Singapore: Landmark Books and Preservation of Monuments Board, p. 88. (Call no.: RSING 726.095957 LEE); Liu, G. (1996). In granite and chunam: The national monuments of Singapore. Singapore: Landmark Books and Preservation of Monuments Board, p. 99. (Call no.: RSING 725.94095957 LIU)
22. Lee, G. B. (2002). The religious monuments of Singapore: Faiths of our forefathers. Singapore: Landmark Books and Preservation of Monuments Board, p. 88. (Call no.: RSING 726.095957 LEE)
23. Lee, G. B. (2002). The religious monuments of Singapore: Faiths of our forefathers. Singapore: Landmark Books and Preservation of Monuments Board, pp. 88–89. (Call no.: RSING 726.095957 LEE); Ahmed Ali. (1994). Al-Qurʻān: A contemporary translation. Princeton, N.J.; Woodstock, England: Princeton University Press, p. 11. (Call no.: R Others 297.122 ALQ)
24. 19th century mosque to get $1m extension. (1986, July 14). The Straits Times, p. 11; Key man behind mosque’s growth. (2000, September 17). The Straits Times, p. 46. Retrieved from NewspaperSG.
25. Majlis Ugama Islam Singapura (MUIS). (2015). Mosque directory. Retrieved 2017, June 2 from Majlis Ugama Islam Singapura website: http://www.muis.gov.sg/mosque/mosque-directory/mosque-al-abrar.html
26. Key man behind mosque’s growth. (2000, September 17). The Straits Times, p. 46. Retrieved from NewspaperSG.



The information in this article is valid as at 2017 and correct as far as we are able to ascertain from our sources. It is not intended to be an exhaustive or complete history of the subject. Please contact the Library for further reading materials on the topic.

 

Subject
Architecture and Landscape>>Building Types>>Monuments
National monuments
Arts>>Architecture>>Religious buildings
Architecture and Landscape>>Building Types>>Religious Buildings
Religious buildings
Historic buildings--Singapore
Mosques--Singapore
Monuments--Singapore