SINGAPORE: A mosque named after Singapore's first President Yusof Ishak was officially opened on Friday (Apr 14) by his widow Noor Aishah.
The ceremony was witnessed by Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong and Minister-in-Charge for Muslim Affairs Dr Yaacob Ibrahim.
Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong and Minister-in-Charge for Muslim Affairs Dr Yaacob Ibrahim tour Yusof Ishak Mosque. (Photo: Liyana Othman)
The Yusof Ishak Mosque in Woodlands will serve not only the needs of the Muslim community, but will also reach out to non-Muslims in a bid to foster multiculturalism - a value the former head of state stood firm on while he was in office.
Back in 2014 – the same year when plans for the mosque were first unveiled by Mr Lee in his National Day Rally speech – Dr Yaacob urged the mosque to hold as many programmes as possible to bring non-Muslims closer, instead of just serving the socio-religious needs of the Muslim community.
For instance, non-Muslims will be able to use some of the mosque’s new facilities, such as the multi-purpose hall and the conference room. There are also features that are signs of inclusiveness, including lifts and ramps for older worshippers, a dedicated praying area for women and more spaces for families to pray.
Members of Parliament Ong Ye Kung, Khaw Boon Wan and Masagos Zulkifli, along with several members from the Inter-Racial and Religious Confidence Circles (IRCCs), representatives from nearby schools, and Mr Yusof’s family members and friends from Singapore, Malaysia and Brunei were also at the opening ceremony.
Naming the mosque after the former head of state pays tribute to his contributions and is in line with the nation’s efforts to honour its pioneers, said the Islamic Religious Council of Singapore (MUIS).
The prayer space of the mosque was consecrated by Singapore’s Mufti Dr Mohamed Fatris Bakaram. It will be able to accommodate 4,500 people and will help ease the crowd situation at An-Nur Mosque, which was previously the only mosque serving the Woodlands and Admiralty areas. The new mosque will also help meet the increasing demand for prayer spaces.
What’s unique about this mosque is its look – it breaks away from the grand domes and instead, has the feel of a Malay house. The design of the mosque drew inspiration from Mr Yusof’s official and private residences, and blends traditional mosque characteristics with the heritage of the "Malay world", the Nusantara.
The colours used on the stained glass windows in the mosque represent Islamic and Malay art heritage. (Photo: MUIS)
The Yusof Ishak Mosque, which cost S$18 million to build, is one of 71 mosques in Singapore and the 26th to be funded by the Mosque Building and Mendaki Fund, which all working Muslims in the country contribute to.
Posting pictures of the new mosque on his Facebook page, PM Lee thanked those who worked on the project, including the mosque management board, MUIS, donors and the Muslim community.
Mr Lee also noted that the mosque's opening coincided with Good Friday as well as the first day of the Tamil calendar. "So three different groups of Singaporeans – Christians, Muslims and Tamils – are all commemorating or celebrating different special events on the same day!"