194-year-old Masjid Bencoolen to be upgraded, Latest Singapore News - The New Paper

194-year-old Masjid Bencoolen to be upgraded

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The 194-year-old Masjid Bencoolen will undergo a 15-month-long upgrading programme to provide more prayer space 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 for iftar.

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

Work on the upgrading project, estimated to cost $4 million, will start in the fourth quarter of this year.

The Mosque Building and Mendaki Fund will provide $1 million for the project and the mosque will raise the rest.

Said the vice-chairman of Masjid Bencoolen, Mr Mohamed Rafeeq Mohamed Yusoof: "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. 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 which also houses offices and shops above it.

The upgrading works will see the second, third and fourth storeys of commercial space renovated to expand prayer halls and classrooms.

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

"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.

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