Mosque opens new facility to cope with prayer space crunch

Even as the Al-Istighfar Mosque in Pasir Ris opened a temporary prayer facility yesterday to cater to the large number of Muslim worshippers for its Friday prayers, the bigger than expected turnout resulted in the mosque laying out extra sheets besid
Even as the Al-Istighfar Mosque in Pasir Ris opened a temporary prayer facility yesterday to cater to the large number of Muslim worshippers for its Friday prayers, the bigger than expected turnout resulted in the mosque laying out extra sheets beside the new facility.ST PHOTO: SEAH KWANG PENG

Al-Istighfar Mosque in Pasir Ris has built a temporary prayer facility to accommodate its growing congregation.

The mosque in Pasir Ris has a capacity of 3,500 but worshippers fill up almost every inch of space there, with many standing on the pavement when attending weekly Friday prayers and during the Hari Raya periods.

The temporary prayer facility, which can house 500 people, is a sheltered structure with large fans hanging from its ceiling. It is about 15m across the road from the mosque.

Even with the opening of the temporary facility yesterday, blue sheets were laid out for worshippers, who could not fit into the facility, to kneel on.

Before building the facility, the Office of the Mufti realised that constructing the prayer facility separate from the mosque building might violate the Islamic principle of saf.

Saf is a religious requirement where congregants must be connected in continuous rows. Breaking this connection may render the congregational prayer invalid.

Islamic scholars of the Office of the Mufti, which is part of the Islamic Religious Council of Singapore, discussed it with reference to religious texts and eventually concluded that the new facility would not break the saf rule.

Islamic scholars of the Office of the Mufti, which is part of the Islamic Religious Council of Singapore, discussed it with reference to religious texts and eventually concluded that the new facility would not break the saf rule.

The congregation in the smaller facility, they said, could still follow the Imam directing the prayers through loudspeakers in the facility, and was no more than 150m apart.

The Office of the Mufti, however, added that congregational prayers should be held in the temporary prayer facility only when the main mosque is completely filled.

Minister-in-charge of Muslim Affairs Yaacob Ibrahim, who was at the opening of the facility yesterday, said the extension will provide an interim increase in prayer space at the mosque.

This, along with the upgrading of Masjid Darul Ghufran in Tampines and the construction of a new mosque in Tampines North, will help to alleviate the prayer space crunch in the eastern neighbourhoods of Singapore, he said.

Jose Hong

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on January 28, 2017, with the headline 'Mosque opens new facility to cope with prayer space crunch'. Print Edition | Subscribe