As the first mosque to be built with the help of the Mosque Building Fund (MBF), Masjid Muhajirin is a significant marker of community action in Singapore. The construction of the mosque in the mid-1970s was funded through community efforts and through the MBF, which saw contributions from every Muslim employee in Singapore.
Masjid Muhajirin derives its name from the Muhajirun (Arabic for emigrant), a group of early Muslims who followed the prophet Muhammad on the hijrah, his journey from Mecca to Medina in the seventh century.
The mosque’s roots lie in the Muslim Benevolent Society (Persatuan Kebajikan Muslim Toa Payoh) formed in Toa Payoh
in the late 1960s. At the time, it was estimated that there were around 1,200 Muslim families residing in the area, and the society provided funds for funerals, assistance for disadvantaged families and held Qur’an
classes at various homes. The society also reached out to other communities and non-Muslims with invitations to events such as Hari Raya celebrations.
On 31 May 1970, the Toa Payoh Mosque Building Committee was formed. Among the fundraising efforts the committee undertook were house-to-house fundraising and food sales, and they managed to raise more than half of the Masjid Muhajirin’s eventual cost of nearly S$900,000.
In December 1974, then-Prime Minister Lee Kuan Yew
, then-Minister for Social Affairs Othman Wok
and Malay Members of Parliament met with eight leaders from the Islamic Religious Council of Singapore (Muis). Mr Lee
suggested creating a fund derived from the monthly Central Provident Fund contributions of workers, and directing these funds towards mosque building.
The Mosque Building Fund (MBF) was thus set up in September 1975, with 50 cents from the wages of each Muslim worker per month at the time going towards the fund. Individuals could choose to opt out of the scheme, but very few did so. In fact, many contributed more than 50 cents each month.
Construction of the Masjid Muhajirin began on 19 October 1975 and the mosque was opened by Minister for Social Affairs Othman Wok
one and a half years later on 8 April 1977. The original mosque featured an onion-shaped dome of the Persian-Indian architectural style atop its minaret, and also bore influences from traditional Minangkabau design.
The mosque you see today features a floral arabesque motif – a hallmark of Islamic design – on its exterior wall claddings, glass panels, aluminium grilles and indoor carpets. Other facets of the mosque inspired by architectural styles from across the Islamic world include arches incorporated into its windows and external walls, as well as arabesque geometric designs on its barricades. The double-tier pointed roof of the mosque also features ochre tiles, a traditional Malay style.