Jamae Mosque

Jamae Mosque is located at 218 South Bridge Road, on the corner with Mosque Road in the historic Chinatown area. One of several mosques built by Tamil Muslim migrants from south India, the present mosque was built between 1830 and 1835. Jamae Mosque was designated a national monument in 1974.

As early as 1827, south Indian Tamil Muslim migrants led by Anser Saib built a mosque on the site where the Jamae Mosque now stands. Prior to the 1830s, the site already had a makam (Malay for grave, tomb or shrine) of a local religious leader, Muhammad Salih Valinvah. The garden was laid out to accommodate other tombs on his death.

Also known as Masjid Chulia or Chulia Mosque, the building that stands today was not completed in its present form until between 1830 and 1835. Mosques at the time were constructed by individuals or committees on land donated by them and placed in trust for the Muslim community, a practice known as wakaf (Malay for benefaction or donation for a religious purpose). The founders also placed rental properties under wakaf and revenues collected went towards mosque maintenance. Trusteeship passed from generation to generation in the same family or community.

By the late 1800s, most of these early benefactors had died or left the country. In 1881, a lease was granted to five trustees, Mohamed Syed, K. Nainah Muhamed, Meydin Suleiman, K. Peer Sahib and K. Mohamed Eusof, to manage Jamae Mosque. New trustees were named in 1894, namely M. Mohamed, V. Hameed, S. Saboo Ghany, K. Mohamed Ismail and T. Chinny Tamby, who were also appointed to manage the Nagore Durgha Shrine. In 1910, Jamae Mosque, Al-Abrar Mosque and Nagore Durgha Shrine all came under the same trustees, namely K. Mohamed Eusope, Thambyappa Rarooter, S. Kanisah Maricayar, V. M. Kader Bux and J. Sultan Abdul Kader. Subsequently, complaints about the mismanagement of religious trusts led the British colonial government to establish the Mohammedan and Hindu Endowments Board in 1906. Jamae Mosque came under the board in 1917, and has been under the care of the Majlis Ugama Islam Singapura (MUIS) since 1968.

Considered one of the oldest mosques in Singapore, Jamae Mosque, together with Nagore Durgha Shrine and Al-Abrar Mosque, is one of several Muslim religious monuments built by the Tamil Muslim Chulias. The mosque features prominently in many illustrations, photographs and postcards of early South Bridge Road. Sri Mariamman Temple, a historic Hindu temple that is also a national monument, is located along the same road, reflecting the religious and cultural mix of early Singapore. It is believed that adjacent Mosque Street was named for Jamae Mosque.

Plans to rebuild the mosque were drawn up in 1897 and 1911 but, for unknown reasons, were never carried out. In 1986, plans to add a second storey above the toilets were rejected. In 1996, the mosque underwent repair and repainting works.

The mosque was gazetted as a national monument on 19 November 1974. On 24 November 1981, the land lease was renewed for 999 years.

Jamae Mosque stands on a land area of 4,809 square metres. While the gate and compound follow the urban planning grid, the buildings within the compound are oriented to face Mecca. The exterior of the building does not have the street façades and walkways characteristic of buildings of later years.

Similar to the Nagore Durgha Shrine but simpler in design, the building architecture exhibits the influences of both East and West. The distinctive front gate is of South Indian design, framed by a pair of stepped minarets topped with onion-shaped domes. Above the gate and between the minarets is a decorative miniature palace façade of four levels. The entrance foyer leads into the ancillary prayer room, featuring rows of Tuscan columns as well as large windows with Chinese green-glazed tiles at the base that provide good ventilation. Double-leaf timber doors lead into the main prayer hall, which has a series of Doric columns. The ablution area is located in a courtyard to the side of the prayer halls.
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