A two weeks ago, I was visiting the area near Sultan Mosque. While I was in the area, I saw a banner that caught my eyes. It reads: "Come experience Ramadan Trails!"
The finer prints on the banner informed that each of the Ramadan Trails will cover three components. These were:
- Presentation: What is Ramadan all about?
- Guided Mosque Tour (with demonstration of the prayer)
- Buka Puasa (Breaking of the fast with Muslims)
This year, the dates of the Ramadan trail were on 23, 25, 27, 30 July and 1, 3, 6, 8 Aug 2012. It was necessary to make bookings in advance. Email: firstname.lastname@example.org
I have had a positive experience when I attended a similar tour during Ramadan at the Sultan Mosque last year. As such, when I learnt that the Sultan Mosque will be organizing similar tours this year, I asked if a few of my friends would be keen to join me for one of the Ramadan Trails. We signed ourselves up for the Ramadan Trail on 8 Aug 2012, which happened to be the last of such tour for this year. Special mention to Belinda Tan and Brother Jason Wilson for putting together a Facebook events page to provide another means to sign up for this Ramadan Trail at Sultan Mosque.
Finally, the much anticipated day came. At about 5.30 p.m., I headed to the registration counter near the auditorium of the Sultan Mosque to register myself and my friends for the tour. Since the tour started at 6 p.m. and we were a little early, I suggested that my friends could browse through the nearby Ramadhan food bazaar. This food bazaar will take place from 21 Jul - 17 Aug 2012, from 3 p.m. - 8 p.m. at Bussorah Mall and Muscat Street. There are many interesting stalls at the food bazaar.
|Ramadan Bazaar. Taken on 21 Jul 2012.|
Brother Jason was the presenter for the presentation. During this enlightening presentation, I learnt more about the significance of the month of Ramadan which begins with the sighting of the new moon in the ninth month of the lunar calendar.
The presentation also gave the guests on the Ramadan Trail an introduction to the following:
1) The history of the mosque. This can be dated back to the time when Sultan Hussein Shah, the appointed ruler of Singapore, proposed to build a mosque within his Sultanate Compound.
2) The architectural style of the current Sultan Mosque building which was designed and built by the architectural firm, Swan and Mclaren.
3) The use of the arabesque to decorate the mosque.
4) What is Islam?
5) Who are the Muslims?
6) The importance of Ramadan.
7) Why do Muslim fast?
I looked around and saw that the participants of the Ramadan Trail are from different faiths and races. There was a group of Muslim female youths who attended the Ramadan Trail too.
After the presentation, the participants grouped ourselves into smaller groups. Guides led each group on a guided tour of the mosque.
Our very kind guides explained to us about the many interesting features of the mosque. For example, the dark-green-colour base of the mosque's dome is decorated with glass bottles that were donated by the poor. The significance is possibly that the Sultan Mosque has been made possible with the contributions from everyone in the community: young and old, rich and poor.
|A device in the Sultan Mosque that informs the times for prayers.|
Our guide was mindful to ensure that everyone in the group would be ushered to the auditorium of the mosque before the call to the evening (Maghrib) prayer. We were to break fast together with the Muslims at the auditorium. While waiting for the call to the evening prayer, learning points from the presentation earlier the evening flashed through my mind. It would have required a considerable amount of self-discipline and faith to fast.
When the call to the evening prayer was heard, I observed the Muslim friends breaking their fast. I understand that it was recommended that one break his fast with dates or water, so I started the meal with eating a date. I tried to imagine that if I had abstain from food and drink for 12 hours or more, I would feel the sense of gratitude when it was time to break fast. Each bite of food and each drop of water would have been precious because I would have learnt not to take them for granted.
The organizers were very accommodating. I observed that at the mosque, the males and the females were usually seated separately when it was time to break fast. My friends and I were allowed to be seated together during the "Buka Puasa" (breaking of the fast with the Muslim) experience. Special thanks to the organizers for their thoughtfulness.
At the end of the tour, our hospitable and kind hosts gave everyone who took part in the tour a goodie-bag. I appreciated that in the goodie-bag, there was a brochure that explains about fasting in Ramadan, a note-book with a brief history of Sultan Mosque printed in the inner cover, and a pocket guide on the Prophet of Islam.
Here, I would like to express my heartfelt gratitude to the generosity and kindness of the community at Sultan Mosque for making the Ramadan Trail possible. It was an insightful cultural appreciation experience. I was very pleased to know that my friends enjoyed the experience too.
Sultan Mosque, Singapore
3 Muscat Street
Tel: 6293 4405/ 6293 4043
Fax: 6293 2463
Nearest MRT train station: Bugis.
Also read: Ramadan Trails at Sultan Mosque by Sengkang Babies.