SINGAPORE — Community leaders from different races and religions gathered to witness the opening of Yusof Ishak Mosque in Woodlands on Friday (April 14), named after the first President of Singapore.
The opening ceremony was officiated by the former president’s widow, Madam Noor Aishah, accompanied by her three children and their spouses, and joined by guests including Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong, Minister-in-charge of Muslim Affairs Yaacob Ibrahim, Members of Parliament, grassroots leaders, and inter-religious confidence circle (IRCC) leaders.
Earlier in the day, the rain did not dampen the spirits of around 5,000 congregants attending the inaugural Friday prayers at the mosque after Mufti Mohamed Fatris Bakaram consecrated the space. The mosque is the Republic’s 71st mosque and the 26th to be funded by the Mosque Building and Mendaki Fund.
The naming of the mosque after Mr Yusof was announced by Mr Lee in his National Day Rally in 2014, as a way to honour his contributions to the country. Built at a cost of around S$18 million, the mosque can accommodate some 4,500 worshippers, and primarily serves the Woodlands and Admiralty areas.
The Islamic Religious Council of Singapore (Muis) said the mosque is designed with unique architecture, blending traditional mosque characteristics, with elements of the Nusantara culture, or the Malay world.
It also boasts a dedicated female praying area, and elderly-friendly facilities like lifts and ramps. Other facilities include an auditorium, a conference room and an interactive corner with IT access.
Speaking to reporters after the ceremony, Mr Yusof’s son Dr Imran Yusof said the family was happy and grateful for the gesture.
Dr Imran said his late father “was very keen to spread the spirit of the pillars of nation building”, anchored in values such as unity, diversity, love and merit. The 67-year-old said Mr Yusof would emphasise the importance of being “united however diverse you are” and that the spirit should be underscored by love. “This unity, brotherhood, diversity, and tolerance — if it’s not (built) on the foundation of love, there will be no permanence to it,” said Dr Imran, who is an Accident and Emergency consultant in a Brunei hospital.
In his speech, mosque chairperson Haji Mohd Ayub Johari said that Mr Yusof was “a firm believer in promoting the values of multiracialism and multiculturalism”.
To that end, the mosque “welcomes our non-muslim friends to join in future activities”, he added.
Speaking to the press, Dr Yaacob said the mosque “must play an important part for us to remember what (Mr Yusof) stands for”.
Multiculturalism is an important value that must pervade all institutions in Singapore, he added.
“It does not mean that just because you step into a mosque or church you are no more in Singapore. So we have an important responsibility that this ethos continues to prevail, even in our private spaces,” said Dr Yaacob.
Mr Vincent Chia, who is a ministry staff at Covenant Evangelical Free Church and secretary of the Admiralty IRCC, welcomed having another partner to work together with in serving the community.
“There are a lot of programmes that we can understand each other’s cultures and religious beliefs. It’s a way of us learning from one another,” he added.
Mr Chia said that on Saturday, the mosque and church, along with the upcoming BW Monastery, will jointly organise a walk, bringing congregants across faiths to each of the places of worship.