Hawzah News Agency (Singapore) – The 194-year-old Masjid Bencoolen will undergo a 15-month-long upgrading program to provide more prayer spaces 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 during iftar, the evening meal that Muslims break their daily fast with.
The mosque was originally built between 1825 and 1828 by Indian-Muslim workers who were brought from India to Bengkulu in Indonesia by the British.
Work on the upgrade, estimated to cost $4 million, will start in the fourth quarter of this year. The Mosque Building and Mendaki Fund will provide $1 million, and the mosque will raise the rest.
"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," said Masjid Bencoolen vice-chairman Mohamed Rafeeq Mohamed Yusoof. "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 that also houses offices and shops. The upgrading works will see the second, third and fourth floors of commercial space renovated to expand prayer halls and classrooms.