Masjid Jamae (Masjid means "mosque" in Arab; Tamil: ஜாமியா (சூலியா) பள்ளிவாசல், Chinese: 詹美回教堂) is one of the earliest mosques in Singapore, and is located in the Chinatown district within the Central Area, Singapore's central business district. The mosque was established in 1826. This mosque is also known as Chulia Mosque, Maideen Mosque and the Big Mosque among the Tamil Muslim community in Singapore. Together with its neighbour, Sri Mariamman Temple, the mosque stands out in its predominantly Chinese location. Its presence might well have been the inspiration for the name of the street that runs beside it — Mosque Street.
Jamae Mosque was set up by the Chulias, who were Tamil Muslims from the Coromandel Coast of South India. They came to Singapore mostly as traders and money changers and set up three mosques within a short time; Jamae Mosque was the first. The other two are Al-Abrar Mosque and Nagore Durgha, both of which are on Telok Ayer Street.
In 1894, Jamae Mosque and Nagore Durgha were placed under a panel of court-appointed trustees, under which they remained until 1961. The Muslim and Hindu Endowment Board then took over the management of the mosque until 1968, when it handed the reins over to Majlis Ugama Islam Singapura (MUIS).
Despite two efforts to rebuild it, the present structure has remained more or less unchanged since it was completed in 1830. Jamae Mosque is skewed towards Mecca although the mosque's compound is aligned with the street grid.
Worshippers enter the mosque through a gateway framed by two octagonal minarets topped by onion domes and a miniature four-storey palace façade. Rising out of solid bases, each minaret comprises seven levels embellished with a miniature mihrab motif and deep recesses. The palace façade sits on top of the gate, between the minarets. Intricately designed, it features tiny doors and cross-shaped windows.
In the mosque compound are a covered foyer, the main prayer hall, the ancillary prayer hall and a shrine to a local Muslim religious leader, Muhammad Salih Valinvah. From the foyer, a stairway leads to the parapet from which calls to prayer would have been announced. Beyond the foyer is the ancillary prayer hall, a square airy room with arched openings in its brick walls. Timber fanlights and bars decorate each opening, as do patterned Chinese green glazed tiles. Inside the ancillary hall is the main prayer hall. Also a square airy room, it is supported by two rows of Tuscan columns with elaborate mouldings. Verandahs lie on the north and south sides, separated from the hall proper by timber doors.
The mosque's architectural style is eclectic. While the entrance gate is distinctively South Indian, the two prayer halls and the shrine are in the Neo-Classical style typical of George Drumgoole Coleman. This unique appearance has made Jamae Mosque a well-photographed landmark, seen in postcards from the 19th century to the present day.
- Timeline of Islamic history
- Islamic architecture
- Islamic art
- List of mosques
- List of mosques in Singapore
- National Heritage Board (2002), Singapore's 100 Historic Places, Archipelago Press, ISBN 981-4068-23-3
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