The most famous and biggest mosque in Singapore is the Sultan Mosque, or Masjid Sultan (Masjid is the Arabic word for mosque). Masjid Sultan and its imposing gold dome are immediately recognisable and noticeable when you stroll around the Kampong Glam area. The mosque was constructed from 1824 to 1826 by Sultan Hussain Shah of Johore with funds from the East India Company, and was constructed in a style reminiscent of buildings in the Middle East.
An interesting feature of Masjid Sultan can be seen just under the large gold dome, which sits on a circular structure made up of glass bottles. In the 1920s, when the local community was gathering money to rebuild and enlarge the mosque, funds were pouring in from the wealthy. However, less wealthy people wanted to contribute as well, so they collected and sold used glass bottles to raise money. These glass bottles are a reminder of the humblest efforts that went into preserving and building this national monument.
Masjid Malabar is a testament to Singapore’s diverse Muslim community, built by Malabar Muslims from the state of Kerala in South India. The mosque’s construction began in 1956, funded by donations from people all over Singapore. It's a testament to Singapore's founding values of tolerance and diversity that these donations which funded the building of Masjid Malabar came from both Muslims and people of other faiths.
The designer and builder of the mosque, A.H. Siddique, had come to Singapore from India in the 1920s and had become a prominent architect. He designed this mosque for no fee, as it was his practice to refuse a design fee for any religious structure or place of worship.
When visiting any place of worship in Singapore, it is advisable to dress conservatively, covering the shoulders and knees. Some religious sites may ask that you remove your shoes before entering. Many allow photography but not in all parts of the site, so check to ensure that photography is permitted. Some sections of religious sites are reserved for praying or ceremonies so it’s best to remain in public areas. Most people you meet at places of worship in Singapore will gladly answer your questions.
With such a mix of religious traditions and faiths, Singapore is an ideal point to experience the religions of Asia and visit unique sites. Check out the island's Chinese temples, Hindu temples and Christian churches, too.