109-year-old Al-Huda Mosque to be upgraded

109-year-old Al-Huda Mosque to be upgraded
Muhd Ilman Tabrani, eight, snaps away at the model of the upgraded Al-Huda Mosque at the launch of the first phase yesterday. The mosque was built in 1905 and has not been upgraded since 1966.

SINGAPORE - A mosque in Bukit Timah, which goes back 109 years, will undergo a long-overdue refurbishment from Monday, with the $1.1 million cost to be reimbursed from the sales of private residential units to be built on adjacent land.

Located near Sixth Avenue, Al-Huda Mosque was built in 1905 and has not been upgraded since 1966, when its wooden structure was rebuilt in concrete.

The mosque and the private property that will come up next to it stand on about 2,830 sq m of wakaf land - land bequeathed or willed by a Muslim towards religious or charitable uses.

Their redevelopment will be staggered. Work on Al-Huda Mosque will start in the project's first phase, which was launched yesterday by Minister-in-charge of Muslim Affairs Yaacob Ibrahim, the guest of honour.

With the upgrade, worshippers will get to say their prayers in a larger and airier mosque.

It will have new facilities, such as an office and a proper women's prayer area. Currently, the office operates out of a container, and female devotees pray in a temporary area cordoned off with curtains.

Al-Huda will have 350 prayer spaces - almost twice the current 200, another entrance to improve traffic, and a gallery to showcase mosque and community heritage.

Worshipper Kamsin Pamer, a 75-year-old retired taxi driver, said: "The redevelopment is great. It makes the mosque more attractive for the congregation."

Work is expected to be done by year end, which is when the second phase of the project - the development of private property with a 99-year lease - is expected to be launched.

More details will be released at a later date, said Warees, the property arm of the Islamic Religious Council of Singapore (Muis), which is behind the project.

Both phases are part of its Wakaf Revitalisation Scheme launched in 2012. This aims to refurbish high-potential assets in Warees' portfolio to generate steady streams of income for its beneficiaries.

Al-Huda is the scheme's second project. The first was a $24.5 million revitalisation of a Katong plot launched last June.

For the new project, Warees is advancing the $1.1 million cost of the mosque upgrading from the anticipated proceeds of the development of the residential units, which should be ready in 2016.

Warees chief executive Zaini Osman said: "The community is able to benefit from the mosque enhancements without having to wait for the construction and sales in the second phase."

Dr Yaacob added: "There will be risks involved... as it depends on the market, but this is District 10, so I'm sure the property here will be profitable, in terms of our ability to sell.

"The most important thing is the mosque will benefit from its own assets."

This article was first published on May 31, 2014.
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