The new Yusof Ishak Mosque in Woodlands will embody the same values that the former president often stressed: racial harmony and multi-culturalism.
Besides serving as a place of worship for the Muslim community, it will also hold programmes that reach out to other communities and enhance understanding and social cohesion.
The proposed design of the mosque in Woodlands Drive 17 was unveiled at a roadshow yesterday at the An-Nur Mosque in Admiralty Road, after its name was first revealed by Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong at the National Day Rally on Sunday.
Describing Singapore's first head of state as an outstanding member of the pioneer generation, PM Lee said Mr Yusof had been a president for all Singaporeans and stood for enduring values that underpinned Singapore's success: meritocracy, multiracialism and modernisation.
At yesterday's event, Minister-in-charge of Muslim Affairs Yaacob Ibrahim said the mosque will work to carry on this legacy.
"The primary function of a mosque is obviously to serve the needs of a religious community, in this case the Malay-Muslim community. But having named the mosque after him, it's also important that we try and encourage as many programmes as possible to bring non-Muslims closer to the mosque. I'm sure he will want that to happen, because having his name there, it's almost a national institution," he added.
The design of the $15 million mosque, which sits on a 2,500 sq m site and has capacity for 4,200 worshippers, draws inspiration from Mr Yusof's official and private residences and will feature eaves, a verandah and balustrades that are distinctive of a tropical Malay house. It will also have a pitch roof instead of grand domes, an auditorium, a cafe and an IT corner.
Mufti Mohamed Fatris Bakaram, Singapore's highest Islamic authority, added that he hopes the mosque will instil the values that the former president held dear: piousness, community spirit, and the motivation to do better.
"(These are) values significant in the life of Yusof Ishak that need to be developed further and instilled in the hearts and minds of the next generation," he said.
Together with the 4,500-capacity Maarof Mosque in Jurong West that was announced in June, the Yusof Ishak Mosque will ease overcrowding at the An-Nur Mosque, which is currently the only mosque serving Woodlands and Marsiling. Both new mosques are expected be ready in 2016.
Woodlands resident Mohammad Hisham Hairi, 46, said the Yusof Ishak Mosque will be more convenient for him to worship at because it will be closer to home.
The taxi driver, who has lived for 14 years in the area, now alternates between An-Nur and mosques in Sembawang, which he said are packed at peak timings.
"I'm sure more Woodlands residents will go (to the Yusof Ishak Mosque) instead of Sembawang or Marsiling, so there will be less spillover," he said. "It's nice that we've got another place for us to pray and get near to Allah."
This article was published on Aug 23 in The Straits Times.
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