Punggol mosque named Al-Islah

(From left) Former mufti Syed Isa Semait, Dr Yaacob, Mufti Fatris, DPM Teo and Muis chief executive Abdul Razak Hassan Maricar gathering round a theodolite surveyor used to determine the direction that Muslims pray towards.

SINGAPORE - Al-Islah, which means to transform and reform in Arabic, was unveiled on Saturday as the name for the upcoming Punggol mosque.

Mufti Mohamed Fatris Bakaram said the name was chosen to symbolise the role of the new mosque in changing and uplifting the lives of those around it.

Minister-in-charge of Muslim Affairs Yaacob Ibrahim said he was confident the mosque would be able to run programmes, both religious and welfare-based, to benefit the community in Punggol.

"I think it's a good choice of a name because it shows that the mosque will also play a role in transforming the Punggol estate," said the minister. "This is a good challenge for us to show that the mosque is not just a building but it can be used as a means of bringing about good... for the whole community."

Dr Yaacob was speaking at the ground-breaking ceremony for the mosque at the junction of Punggol Place and Punggol Field. Deputy Prime Minister Teo Chee Hean and other MPs from Pasir Ris-Punggol GRC were also present at the event.

The mosque's "back to basics" design was unveiled in February, following a six-month review. The committee behind the review found that mosque-goers want their places of worship to have stronger elements of tranquillity and solace, among other things.

The Al-Islah mosque, to be built on a 2,500 sq m site, will have three open blocks with natural ventilation.

The mosque can take up to 4,500 worshippers. An elevated garden will cover almost the entire site, with dedicated spaces for women and the elderly and a multi- purpose room overlooking the garden that can be used for weddings.

The Kiblah - the direction of the Kaabah in Mecca that Muslims pray towards - was also determined at Saturday's ceremony by Mufti Fatris.

The new mosque is scheduled to be completed by early 2015.

Construction was previously estimated to cost between $17 million and $19 million but the Islamic Religious Council of Singapore (Muis) lowered the estimate to $16.5 million on Saturday.

Chairman of the mosque's building committee Wan Rizal Wan Zakariah said $3.1 million in donations has been raised for the mosque's interior furnishing and fittings. The initial target of $1.5 million for furnishing works had been revised to $3.5 million, taking into account rising costs.

The amount will also allow for a sum to be set aside for initial operational costs of the new mosque, added Mr Wan Rizal.

Muslim residents in the estate told The Sunday Times they eagerly await the mosque's completion.

Mechanical and electrical coordinator Hairul Isham Ismail, 37, said he was pleased with the "Islamic motifs and natural design".

"The new mosque will be just five minutes from where I live, and as a couple my wife and I can now go for classes there too. It's been a long time waiting to have a mosque built in Punggol, so I'm really excited for it to be ready," said the father of three.

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