One thing I love about Singapore is that people from all races and religions live harmoniously together. Because of the diversity of our citizens, we have public holidays to celebrate significant days within the different religions and cultures. The most recent holiday we celebrated was Hari Raya Aidilfitri on 27 July 2014.
Hari Raya Aidilfitri is a celebration that comes right after Ramadan, a month of fasting for all Muslims who are physically and emotionally able to. To learn more about Ramadan, I decided to pay a visit to one of the most prominent mosques in Singapore, the Sultan Mosque. The Sultan Mosque regularly welcomes guests to teach them more about the history of the mosque as well as share a little bit about Islam.
One of the most distinguishing features of the Sultan Mosque is its golden dome. Its golden dome glistens in the sunlight, enhancing its beauty. Another unusual feature are the rows of soya sauce bottles that line the building. Soya sauce bottles? Yes, indeed! When the mosque was built in the early 1800s, the villagers nearby wanted to donate something to the construction of the mosque. However, they did not have much money and decided instead to donate soya sauce bottles. These soya sauce bottles were readily accepted and formed a unique decorative feature of the mosque!
The inside of the mosque is as beautiful and as distinctive as the outside. Dark green ornate carpets cover the prayer hall. The moment I entered the mosque I felt a sense of peace and serenity. I appreciated how simple the prayer hall was.
At the entrance of the prayer hall was a digital signboard filled with a row of numbers. When I asked my guide what the numbers meant, my guide shared that the numbers were actually times. The time Muslims must say their prayers everyday, the time of sunrise and the times Muslims must start and stop fasting. It was very interesting.
When we finished our tour of the prayer hall, my guide brought me up to the roof. This was a very special experience, offered only during Ramadan. The view from the mosque’s roof was breathtaking, the experience itself was truly unforgettable. While we were on the roof, I had the rare opportunity to listen to the beautiful Azan (call to worship) from the neighbouring minarets, watch the fiery orange sun descend into the grey-blue sky and feel the gentle evening breeze wrap itself around me. It was truly a moment I will never forget.
The Sultan Mosque is open to visitors daily until 4:00 pm. They have local guides that will be delighted to share more about the history of the mosque and Islam. If you do plan to visit Sultan Mosque, I suggest spending a day walking the streets of Kampong Glam where you can enjoy delicious authentic Malay food, visit the Malay Heritage Centre and browse the shops selling authentic Malay clothes, perfumes and accessories. Capella Singapore’s Personal Assistants will be more than delighted to arrange for local tours of Kampong Glam for you or perhaps recommend a good restaurant in the area. They can be reached at +65 6591 5034/35 / firstname.lastname@example.org.