Masjid Ba'Alwie Hot
Built in 1952 by a prominent and well-respected imam from the Al -Attas family, this old generation masjid has served the needs of university undergraduates in Bukit Timah before the campus was relocated to Kent Ridge.
Today, the one-storey masjid can accommodate up to 400 worshippers for daily and Friday prayers. It is also crowded during Hari Raya prayers. On Thursday evenings, many Muslims gather for recitation of praises to Allah.
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Place of solace
If there has to be one mosque that people immediately think of when they speak about mosques here in Singapore, Ba'alwie would be it. A close second might be Masjid Sultan. People would probably think of Masjid Sultan for its majesty but when Ba'alwie comes to mind, it's probably because of a deeper connection with the mosque.
By way of majesty, Ba'alwie has none. The building itself could be described as humble, just like the mosques that were built in the kampong areas of Singapore decades ago. There has not been any major renovation or expansion works done which means that the building you see now is pretty much the same building that existed in the 50s. That would go a long way to show just how affluent the family who built this mosque was and still is. Most mosques back then were built with wooden walls and foundation but this mosque was built in stone and mortar.
To me Masjid Ba'alwie is more than just a house of worship. It is, to me, a place where I seek solace and comfort when I am in turmoil. I had gone thorough some really rough patches in my life and there were times when I would not be able to set foot home, Ba'alwie gave me refuge. Now, this is where it is special. Other mosques would lock their gates after 10pm and would forbid anyone from staying within their compounds.
Ba'alwie never locks its gates, Ba'alwie never turns away people at their gates seeking help or refuge. I have spent a whole night there, spending part of the night praying and supplicating in the main prayer hall until I felt some measure of peace and when I was tired, I would sleep in a space in the mosque where there are actually cushions for you to lie down! Mosquitoes may be a slight issue but if you come prepared, you can have a peaceful sleep. Nobody would wake you up and compel you to leave. All that is needed of you is to treat the mosque with the due respect and care.
In one corner of the mosque, there is a little gallery of artifacts that belongs to the Al-Attas family. You would find many old photos of Mecca and other holy places, antique copies of the Al-Quran, Arabian swords and daggers and even banknotes.
Every Thursday night is an experience with the weekly Ratib session. It is like a devotional recitation of passages glorifying Allah and the Prophet Muhammad. It should start after dusk and then after Isya' prayers there would be a feast open to everyone.
I'd go back to Ba'alwie on a whim, anytime.