Home Articles Marvellous Masjid Sultan – A Beacon of Light

Marvellous Masjid Sultan – A Beacon of Light

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By Vaishnavi Pumynathan

Sultan Mosque
Credit: Amsyar Ashaary

Sultan Mosque, also known as Masjid Sultan, is the focal point for the Muslim community in Kampong Gelam and the oldest mosque in Singapore. Deeply rooted in our historical narrative, it has witnessed the ethnic enclave’s cultural and business growth since the early development of the nation. Its surrounding Bussorah Mall is a charming street lined by colourful shophouses of cafes, hostels and eclectic shops. Symbolising the strength and pride of the Muslim quarter, it serves as a beacon illuminating light.

An Architectural Marvel

Old Sultan Mosque
Credit: Sultan Mosque

Built in 1824, the original mosque was a single-storey brick structure with a two-tiered pitched roof, an architectural feature typical of traditional Southeast Asian mosques. The mosque you see today was rebuilt in 1932 by Irish architect Denis Santry of Swan and Maclaren.

Designed in the Indo-Saracenic style that blends traditional Indian and Islamic elements with European features, a style celebrated by British architects in the late 19th century. During the construction, North Bridge Road was extended beyond Arab Street and curved around the mosque. The majestic structure of 4,109 sqm is angled in the direction of Mecca instead of the urban planning grid.

Visible from any part of the neighbourhood, marvel at the two large gold ogee-shaped domes, each topped by a crescent moon and star. The base of each dome is adorned with glass bottle caps collected as donations. The mosque is fenced off by a low wall of cast-iron railings, and front and back facades are covered in mesmerising arabesque mouldings.

Exquisite Islamic merlon cresting lines the roof parapet, broken by miniature minaret-like structures. The corners of the mosque are staircases leading up to calling towers with balconies. Separated from the mosque by a courtyard and an old bunga tanjung tree is the new annexe housing modern facilities.

Sultan Mosque Night
Credit: Yenni Ng

Modern Facilities to Minimise Carbon Footprint

The Sultan Mosque was gazetted as a national monument in 1975. Over time, the mosque underwent various upgrades and in 1993, a 1,184 sqm annexe building was officially opened–housing an auditorium, a multi-purpose hall, classrooms and meeting rooms.

In January 2016, Singapore Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong officiated completion of the refurbishment and restoration project. Later that year, it became the first mosque to be awarded the ISO 9001:2015, and won the prestigious Architectural Heritage Award from the Urban Redevelopment Authority.

Further upgrades were introduced progressively. This included the installation of a glass lift for the elderly, mobile-charging points, Wi-Fi, solar panels, and state-of-the-art water-saving taps for worshippers’ ablution.

Customer service survey touch screens are also installed at strategic locations to better facilitate the experience for visitors and congregants. In response to COVID-19 restrictions on group gatherings, the mosque adapted to organising prayer calls online.

The Heart of Kampong Gelam

Mosque Prayers
Credit: Sultan Mosque

An important hub for religious, cultural and social activities through the years, the Sultan Mosque also served as a stopover for Muslim pilgrims from the region on their hajj. Those who lived near the Sultan Mosque were involved in the upkeep of the mosque for prayers and food distribution

Today, it plays host to many visiting dignitaries and religious scholars, and welcomes a steady stream of locals and tourists every day, many of them non-Muslims. To communicate more effectively with non-English speaking visitors, some staff members have taken up foreign languages such as Japanese to facilitate tours.

The mosque also provides community services: from food distribution and blood donation drives to social outreach programmes such as providing Indonesian domestic workers opportunities to study the Quran and learn English.

Every year, during the fasting month of Ramadan, a night bazaar with numerous food stalls line the vicinity of the mosque, where Muslims gather to await the prayer call to break their fast at sunset. It is the only mosque in Singapore with outward loudspeakers used for calls of prayer.

‘The Light of Gelam’ Light Show 2022

Light of Gelam
Credit: Amsyar Ashaary

This year during Cahaya Ramadan, be spellbound by the light show projection on Sultan Mosque alongside fairy lights illuminating Kampong Gelam. Specially designed to showcase Malay and Islamic elements with a nod to the precinct’s historical landmarks and traditional footprints.

A beautiful display of stimulating roving lights with illustrations of the mosque’s architectural motifs sync perfectly with original music compositions by Rifa’ah Ridzuwanulhakim. Conceptualised by the cultural theme ‘Ramadan’ & ‘Eden’, the light show will showcase two segments for four minutes each on the exterior of the mosque.

The first showcases the element of water which symbolises purity. The call for prayer is infused with music and waterfall sounds which represent ablution. Followed by Eden, drawing inspiration from the Malay Muslim culture, be mesmerised by a floral fantasy sequence depicting “heaven”.

Join us from 1 April to 8 May 2022 and immerse yourself in the bustling nightlife and iconic precinct of Kampong Gelam as we pay tribute to the marvellous Sultan Mosque. For more information, visit Cahaya Ramadan at Kampong Gelam.


Sultan Mosque
3 Muscat Street, Singapore 198833


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