Wednesday, December 23, 2009

Assyafaah Mosque

(Clockwise from top left: the front facade; the prayer room; the view from the entrance hall towards the prayer room with a praying boy standing)

Fourteen percent of Singaporeans are Muslim Malays. As a result, you frequently encounter mosques throughout the city (often next to Hindu and/or Buddhist temples). Assyfaah Mosque (pictured above) is probably the most innovative among those.

The mosque is located in the northern part of Singapore, off the beaten track for tourists. Take the MRT North South Line (the red route on the Singaporean metro map) and get off at Sembawang station. Walk a bit to the east from the station and turn left to go up along Canberra Road. After a five minute walk, the Road starts curving towards right. The back facade of the mosque will then appear on your left. (As of December 2009, Google Map's location for the mosque is 250 meters off, by the way.)

The arabesque front facade may attract the most attention, but personally, the beauty of this mosque lies in the prayer hall. After taking off your shoes and walking through a rather low-ceiling entrance hall, a vertically spacious room appears with an inward-sloping pitch-white wall inscribed with Arabic letters as if they were part of contemporary minimalist furniture design. The space creates a tranquil atmosphere, letting visitors remember that Islam is a tolerant religion. As a non-Muslim, I still feel comfortable to stay inside the mosque for a while.

Although in front of the building rises a stand-alone brown spire with the crescent moon and star symbol, there is neither a minaret in the traditional form nor a dome. People in Switzerland may be happy with this mosque.

The mosque is designed by Forum Architects from Singapore. Who talks about lack of creativity among Singaporeans?

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