194-year-old Masjid Bencoolen to undergo $4 million renovation

The 194-year-old Masjid Bencoolen will undergo a 15-month-long upgrading programme to provide more prayer spaces to accommodate a growing number of congregants.

The project was announced at the mosque yesterday evening, as members of the Indian-Muslim community and the mosque joined Minister for the Environment and Water Resources and Minister-in-charge of Muslim Affairs Masagos Zulkifli during iftar, the evening meal that Muslims break their daily fast with.

The mosque was originally built between 1825 and 1828 by Indian-Muslim workers who were brought from India to Bengkulu in Indonesia by the British.

Work on the upgrade, estimated to cost $4 million, will start in the fourth quarter of this year. The Mosque Building and Mendaki Fund will provide $1 million, and the mosque will raise the rest.

"There is not enough space for worshippers on Fridays and during the Ramadan period. There is also a growing number of madrasah students and we have not enough space to accommodate them," said Masjid Bencoolen vice-chairman Mohamed Rafeeq Mohamed Yusoof. "For this reason, we decided to upgrade."

After works are completed, the prayer spaces will be able to accommodate 1,450 worshippers, compared with the current capacity of 450 congregants.

The mosque is located in a building that also houses offices and shops. The upgrading works will see the second, third and fourth floors of commercial space renovated to expand prayer halls and classrooms.

The commercial space will be relocated to a new four-storey building adjacent to the mosque.


The mosque will undergo a 15-month-long upgrading programme to provide more prayer spaces for a growing number of congregants. ST PHOTO: GIN TAY

Female congregants can expect a new, dedicated prayer space on the first floor that will include its own ablution areas and washroom.

Amenities such as lifts, ramps and handrails will also be installed to aid the movement of less mobile congregants.

"The current rooms are very small and narrow. I'm very happy to hear about the renovations to make it more spacious," said 48-year-old Khader Ali Noor Mohamed, who has been worshipping at the mosque for 24 years.

During the renovations, the mosque will remain operational to serve the community, and Muslim workers and students from the vicinity of Dhoby Ghaut, City Hall and Selegie.

 

"With the support of the community, we should be able to raise the funds," said Masjid Bencoolen treasurer Ajmal Khan.

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on May 15, 2019, with the headline '194-year-old Masjid Bencoolen to undergo $4 million renovation'. Print Edition | Subscribe