An architecture masterpiece, a place for communal gathering and a place of worship is just the many ways to describe the Jamae Mosque. Located at the middle of Chinatown, Jamae Mosque is evident of the prominent Tamil Muslim community that took residence around the area at the time.
The location of the proposed mosque was already regarded as a venue of particular significance to the Tamil Muslims as it housed the makam, or grave, of a well-respected local religious leader, Muhammad Salih Valinvah.
While the building was constructed as early as 1827 by Chulia Muslim merchants led by Anser Saib, the building standing today was only completed somewhere from 1830 to 1835 hence inheriting its other colloquial names, Masjid Chulia or Chulia Mosque.
Building a mosque at the time relied heavily on land donations made by individuals or various committees to the Muslim community. This practice was called wakaf, a Malay term for ‘benefaction’. The early founders of Jamae Mosque also placed rental revenues under wakaf to go towards the mosque’s maintenance. This much-loved site was later put under the Islamic Religious Council of Singapore, the Majlis Ugama Islam Singapura (or MUIS) in 1968.
Jamae Mosque is also one of the few religious sites in Singapore which was practically designed as a national monument. Architecturally, the Jamae Mosque is truly a sight to behold with a host of Islamic, South Indian, Chinese and Western styles coming into play.
The exterior consists of an intricately designed four-storey palace facade features tiny doors and cross-shaped windows and framed by two octagonal minarets topped by onion domes at the gateway. While the entrance gate is distinctively South Indian, the two prayer halls are in the Neo-Classical style built by famed colonial architect, George Coleman.
The entrance foyer which leads into the ancillary prayer room features rows of Tuscan columns as well as large windows with Chinese green-glazed tiles at the base as a means of providing good ventilation. Timber fanlights and bars can also be seen at each opening. The double-leaf timber doors lead into the main prayer hall, which consists of a series of Doric columns.