Abdul Gafoor Mosque

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Weather:

Time Required: Less than 1 hour

Timings:

Fridays: 8:00 AM - 12:00 PM, 2:30 PM - 8:00 PM
All other days: 8:00 AM - 8:00 PM

Entry Fee:

No entry fee
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Abdul Gafoor Mosque, Singapore Overview

With its bright yellow and green facade and minarets, Abdul Gafoor Mosque is one of Singapore's most important mosques. Originally built in 1859, it exudes immense beauty and grandeur, thus earning the distinction as being one of Singapore's national monuments. However, the mosque is very different from the simple wooden building that the early Indian Muslims of the area put up. Today, it shows an eclectic mix of Southern Indian, European as well as Mughal styles in its unique architecture.

The mosque is named after its founder, Sheik Abdul Gafoor, a South Indian lawyer's clerk, who felt the tremendous need to replace the dilapidated Al Abrar Mosque which once stood in the same place. The mosque primarily served as the place for worship for Indian Muslim migrants who settled in the vicinity. The Abdul Gafoor Mosque was renovated to its present form in 1907. When here, be on the lookout for the sundial crowning the main entrance. Each of its 25 rays is decorated with Arabic calligraphy denoting names of 25 prophets.

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The Kampong Kapor area was a business hub in the mid-19th century thriving with South Indian Muslim merchants, and Bawanese horse groomers who worked at the old racecourse at Farrer Park. To serve the religious needs of the community, a mosque by the name of Masjid Al-Abrar (Al Abrar Mosque) was built in 1859 at the same site of the present Abdul Gafoor Mosque. This building had a wooden structure with a tiled roof and was made of brick and Madras chunam- a mixture made from shell lime without sand, egg white, coarse sugar or jaggery, and water in which coconut husks had been added later.

In 1881, when the Dunlop Street Mosque Endowment was established, Sheik Abdul Gafoor was appointed as one of the trustees of the mosque. A Muslim Tamil, he was the chief clerk at a law firm at the time. As a trustee of the mosque, Abdul Gafoor obtained permits to construct several shophouses around the mosque. The mosque, today is sheltered amidst these very shophouses.

As the income from these shophouses accumulated over time, the construction of a new mosque began in 1907, when the wooden mosque began to break down. Upon its completion three years later, the old mosque (Al-Abrar Mosque) was no longer used for religious purposes. From the new church's early decades up to 1980s, the mosque was at times referred to as Dunlop Street Mosque. However, in the subsequent decades, it became predominantly known as Abdul Gaffoor Mosque.

Abdul Gafoor Mosque is set apart from other mosques by its unusual symmetry, layout, a fusion of several architectural styles, and incorporation of Moorish details. Modelled initially after Saracenic and Roman designs, the mosque also features Islamic detailing and Western classical motifs in its architectural design. With its area of 2,449 sq. m, it can accommodate up to 4000 worshippers at the same time. A panel with calligraphic inscriptions is present just above the entrance.

A sundial that emits 25 rays of the sun decorated in Arabic calligraphy with names of 25 prophets lies just above the panel. Above the sundial is an onion-shaped dome, with a square minaret and a series of miniature columns and arches on each side. The prayer hall is raised above the ground level and surrounded by verandas on all sides. Fine Arabic calligraphy and stained glass windows flaunt the interiors.

In the middle of the prayer hall is a cupola, a hexagonally shaped tower (called cupola) protrudes from the centre of the prayer hall and protrudes from the roof deck. At the top of the cupola is a large, onion-shaped dome with a star and crescent moon at the pinnacle, accompanied by minarets at the corners. Large Corinthian columns support the four corners of the building.

  • Non-muslims are not allowed in the prayer hall at all times.
  • Shoes must be removed before entry.
  • Photography is allowed inside.
  • Proper dress code and etiquette must be maintained while on the premises. Robes are available in case of inappropriate clothing. The recommended dress code is Sleeved Tops & Long Pants, for men, Long-sleeved Tops, Bottoms Down to Ankle for women, and Sleeved Tops & Track Pants for students. Please make sure the clothes are not see-through.
  • Visiting during Jumuaah (Friday congregational prayer) can be an enlightening experience.

The mosque is a 10-minute walk from Little India or Bugis MRT (Mass Rapid Transit) stations.

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