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Abdul Gaffoor Mosque

Abdul Gaffoor Mosque (10)

The beautiful Little India neighbourhood is not only known for its stores and restaurants but also for beautiful and important places of worship such as the Abdul Gaffor, also known as the Dunlop Street mosque or the Indian mosque. If you are here on a Friday, you're in luck. If not, we recommend you come back on that day of the week for a better understanding of the lives of Singapore’s Muslim community as many of the  faithful come to this area.

As you can see, the complex covers almost 2,500 square feet and not only houses a mosque, but a large number of shop houses, giving it even more life. It is an idyllic setting not only imbued with spirituality but also the hustle and bustle of everyday life.  The overall architecture is similar to the mosques in Muslim India, with certain details of Hindu temples such as the inclusion of shops within the worship area.

The exterior is white with cream and green accents, giving the building a great deal of personality and colour. The first details that strike you when you see it from far away are the beautiful minarets and pillars with small moons reaching up to the sky as well as its star covered walls. After taking off your shoes and climbing 6 steps, the front of the mosque welcomes you with its beautiful five-leaf Moorish arches. Above the arches, the pediment shines with delicate Arab calligraphy, as well as a sun with 25 rays, also decorated with calligraphy, symbolizing the 25 prophets of Islam. Do not forget that this is a place of worship, so if you want to visit it, you need to dress appropriately. No short skirts or pants and no sleeveless blouses. Both your shoulders and your ankles must be covered.

Once inside, you will be amazed at the luminous main prayer hall.  It not only receives natural light through arches, balconies and windows, but also through a beautiful glass dome, which in turn creates a colourful lightshow with its spectacular hanging chandelier. We recommend that you always be respectful and that you take time to quietly observe the spiritual life taking place here.

At first, in the nineteenth century, there was a wooden structure here, built, among others, by Sheik Abdul Gaffoor. As the Indian Muslim population increased, the small space became inadequate and it was therefore decided to erect the present structure, completed in the early twentieth century. As you can see the structure is so important that it was declared a national monument in 1977 and few years ago, in 2003, it underwent a major restoration. Today this mosque can accommodate up to 4,000 faithful.

Sheikh Abdul Gaffoor was an Indian Tamil Muslim who worked as a clerk in a law firm and was the main person responsible for the construction of the mosque and the surrounding shop houses.  Over time, these shop houses became the real financial backing for the Mosque as well as the main centre of activity for the Muslim community in the area.

To complete the visit, we recommend that you go to a small and friendly shop selling Indian snacks, located just behind the mosque. Ask for some samosas, triangular pastries stuffed with peas and potatoes or other vegetables, all seasoned with curry, of course.  You could also opt for a vadas, a salty snack, usually made of lentils and potatoes. Don’t forget to try a teh-tarik, a tea served hot or preferably cold that you are sure to love.

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