An iconic landmark in historic Kampong Glam, golden-domed Sultan Mosque is the centrepiece of Singapore’s Muslim community. If you’ve never been inside a mosque before, Sultan Mosque is very welcoming, with friendly guides on hand to greet non-Muslims and answer any questions you may have.
Built by local merchants and philanthropists, Sultan Mosque, with its mix of Arabic, Mogul and Indian architectural styles was designed by Swan and MacLaren, one of Singapore’s oldest architectural firms. The four-year construction was completed in 1928, replacing the original tiered roof, Javanese-style mosque built in 1824 by Sultan Hussein Shah (hence its name), funded by the East India Company. In 1975 Sultan Mosque was declared a national monument. A January 2016-completed restoration project gave the mosque a paint job, a new customised Axminster carpet in the prayer rooms and a lift for less mobile worshippers.
An interesting feature of the dome is that the base is decorated with glass bottles that were donated by poor locals so that not just the rich could feel that they had contributed to the construction (you can’t really see this from the street). An open and airy prayer hall, embellished with shades of green, white and gold, is adorned with chandeliers and Islamic calligraphy and cooled by ceiling fans. The large hall can accommodate up to 5,000 people.
A visit to Sultan Mosque offers the opportunity to get a little insight into the diverse ethnic groups make up Singapore’s Muslim community, including Malays, Bugis, Javanese, Arabs, Tamils and Northern Indians.
As with all mosques, you must be properly attired and remove your footwear. Don’t worry if you’ve turned up in shorts — robes are available at the counter before you enter. Non-Muslim visitors are not allowed onto the carpeted area. Taking photos is fine, but video is not permitted. Guests are welcome during non-prayer times. If you visit during Ramadan, the surrounding streets come alive with food stalls in the evenings as the faithful break their fast.
Nearby Hajjah Fatimah Mosque can be visited as part of the Kampong Glam Heritage trail.
By Sally Arnold
Last updated on 27th May, 2016.