Al-Abrar Mosque

Al-Abrar Mosque (11)

In the centre of Chinatown, at 192 Telok Ayer Street, you will find one of the oldest Indian Muslim places of worship in all of Singapore: the Al-Abrar Mosque, also known as Kuchu Palli or Masjid Chulia.

Kuchu Palli is its Tamil name and it means "hut mosque”.  The original building, which dates back to 1827, was made of straw. Its other name, Masjid, means mosque in Malay. The word Chulia, on the other hand, refers to the first Chuli Indian immigrants who came from the southeast coast of India. Thus, the diverse Singaporean population has combined its languages to create different names for this building, whether it is Al-Abrar, Kuchu Palli or Masjid Chulia.

The structure you see now was built in the 1850s and it is interesting to note that, not only does it face Mecca, it also fits right in with the orientation of the surrounding streets. Already in 1856 a painting by British artist Percy Carpenter entitled Telok Ayer Street viewed from Mount Wallich showed the mosque looking very much like it does today. Over the years the mosque has had very little added or repaired.

The mosque was declared a national monument in November 1974, while in the    1980s it was finally restored in keeping with its original sober style.

As you can see, it is the width of 3 shop houses and was built in a typical Indian Muslim style. The decor is so simple and elegant that the inside houses little more than a prayer room with several round columns. Except for their bulb-shaped domes, even the minarets lack the usual decorative elements.

At present, it serves the spiritual needs of the residents of Shenton Road and, unlike other mosques, it is only crowded when it gives workshops on the interpretation of the Koran.

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