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Singapore’s iconic Sultan Mosque completes restoration, upgrading works

The facelift and addition of new amenities started in August 2014 and cost over S$3 million.

SINGAPORE: After over a year of restoration and upgrading works, the iconic Sultan Mosque - located at the heart of Kampong Glam - now comes complete with a rejuvenated look as well as new and expanded amenities.

Some of these include elderly friendly features such as two new lifts, each located at the south of the mosque's main building and the other at its annex building. This will enable elderly congregants as well as those with special needs to gain access to its higher floors.


(Photo: Ngau Kai Yan)

Works to restore and upgrade the mosque started back in August 2014, and cost an estimated S$3.65 million.

To mark its completion, Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong on Saturday (Jan 16) unveiled a plaque at the mosque's main building. He was accompanied by Communications and Information Minister Dr Yaacob Ibrahim, who is also the Minister-in-charge of Muslim Affairs.


(Photo: Faris Mokhtar)

"It's a historic structure. It's beloved not only by the Muslim community in Singapore but by all Singaporeans," said PM Lee. "A landmark which is one of the places we think of when we think of home."

Other upgrading works done include expanding the ablution areas flanked at both sides of the mosque's main building. The mosque's annex building also now houses a new auditorium which can accommodate 390 people.


(Photo: Ngau Kai Yan)

Meanwhile, part of restoration included restoring broken doors and windows to their origin design and colour. The mosque was also given a fresh coat of paint, with special attention given to the colour of the golden domes to give it a "shine".


(Photo: Ngau Kai Yan)

Declared a national monument in 1975, the Sultan Mosque is protected under the Preservation of Monuments Act. Under it, alterations to the building cannot be made without authorisation from the National Heritage Board (NHB).

To defray some of the costs of the restoration works , the mosque was given a S$1.02 million grant under the NHB's Nation Monuments Fund, the second largest funding ever given out.

(Photo: Ngau Kai Yan)

First built in 1826, the mosque has served the Malay-Muslim community here for close to two centuries, and a new book was also launched on Saturday to document its history and heritage.


(Photo: Ngau Kai Yan)

"A mosque is more than just minarets and carpets," said chairman of the Sultan Mosque Haji Mohamed Salleh Patail in his speech at the launch ceremony. "A mosque brings a community together. And such is the history of the Sultan Mosque, which was born out of the coming together of various communities."

HISTORY OF A NATIONAL MONUMENT

The original Sultan Mosque was conceptualised in 1824 by Sultan Hussain Shah and completed two years later.

But it did not always look the way it does today. It was a brick structure, and had a multi-tiered roof reminiscent of the mosques found across the Malay Archipelago. The mosque was then torn down in 1924 to make way for its current incarnation, which features architecture inspired by the Islamic Saracenic style, inspired by Classical, Persian, Moorish and Turkish themes.


(Photo: Ngau Kai Yan)

The mosque has since remained relatively unchanged, with the exception of the major addition of the Annex Building in 1993.

And in August 2014, under the Mosque Upgrading Programme led by the Islamic Religious Council of Singapore or MUIS, it underwent a major facelift.


(Photo: Ngau Kai Yan)

“The upgrading works in Masjid Sultan is a planned Addition and Alteration works as part of the Mosque Upgrading Programme Phase Two that MUIS works with several mosques in Singapore, of which Masjid Sultan is one of them,” said Mohamad Helmy Mohd Isa, Director of Mosque at the Islamic Religious Council of Singapore (MUIS).

“Being a national monument, it has its challenges. We have to adhere by the regulations and the policies that is spelled out by the Preservation of Sites and Monuments, which among others means that we cannot add or change any of the parts of Masjid Sultan without their approval and their concurrence.”


(Photo: Ngau Kai Yan)

This, for example, meant that broken doors and windows had to be restored in their original design and colour. Other restoration works include rewiring, retiling, and replacement of appliances like fans and chandeliers.

Apart from minor repair work, this is the mosque's first major facelift in years to restore it to its original grandeur.


(Photo: Ngau Kai Yan)

Mr Helmy said: “I thought that gives a sense of rejuvenation and refresh that it quite holistic in that manner, so that took a bit of time, because a lot of negotiation and planning that needs to be done within the various agencies.”

“As it is, this is a national monument. It is something which the community and Singapore society is proud of, so it took a bit of time for this negotiation work.”