An eye-opening visit to the
The Ba’alwie Mosque, at Lewis Road near Bukit Timah Road, is an interesting mosque that provides an area for the exhibition of an impressive collection of ancient copies of the Qur’an and other holy scriptures.
Among those who learned much about Islam from the Imam of the mosque himself is Reverend Song Cheng Hock from the Amazing Grace Presbyterian Church. He was in the group of 21 people who visited the mosque on Saturday, 4 November (2017). In the group, 13 were non-Muslims.
Mr Yacob Hussain, Chairman of the Malay Activity Executive Committee (MAEC) of the Siglap Community Centre, said that the visit was organised by the Siglap Inter-Racial and Religious Confidence Circle (IRCC) whose Chairman is Dr Daniel Tan.
He added: “Specifically, this trip is to give an opportunity to understand Islam better to the non-Muslim members of the Siglap IRCC, and also to see the collection of ancient copies of the Qur’an exhibited at the mosque’s museum.”
Mr Syed Hassan Bin Muhammad Al-Attas, the Imam (prayer leader) of the mosque, popularly-known as “Habib Hassan” (“Habib” is the title for a learned Islamic personality in Arabic), personally briefed the visitors on some aspects of Islam, especially the importance of friendship and trust, drawing samples of focus from his own past experiences.
Habib Hassan, prominent amongst inter-faith leaders of Singapore, also elaborated on “bad Muslims” who tarnished the good name of Islam by involving in violence, reiterating the fact that Islam does not condone violence and killings. Pointing out that the Qur’an strongly condemns the killings of the innocent, he quoted a verse that says that if anyone killed a person it is as if he had killed the whole of mankind. [This verse is: “Whoever kills an innocent person, it is as if he had slain mankind entirely. And whoever saves one, it is as if he had saved mankind entirely.” (Qur’an, 5:32)]
Praising Habib Hassan, Reverend Song said: “He is indeed very knowledgeable on Islam and we have learned much from him. He is a kind and hospitable person and very friendly, possessing a good-humoured personality.”
Habib Hassan has even established a small museum in a section of the mosque to showcase some Islamic artefacts and a collection old copies of the Qur’an printed on materials of those times from different countries. There were also ancient copies of the Torah and the Bible.
The Imam himself took us into this museum area to explain about this valuable ancient scriptural collection.
Ms Suryani Nasiruddin, who came with her son, Muhd Shukran, 9, to make him meet Habib Hassan and hear him talk about Islam, admitted: “I, too, have learned more about the importance of trust and respect for each other irrespective of race and religion.”
Amazed by the exhibits, she remarked: “I find it interesting to see so many ancient copies of the Qur’an here. I’ve never seen such a good collection. I’ve taken many photos of these Qur’an exhibits to show to my friends.”
When the azan (prayer call) for the Zohor (second prayers of the day) was called out, the Muslims in the group went to take their wudhu (ablution) and then headed into the prayer hall for the Zohor prayer.
The congregation, led by Habib Hassan, stood behind the Imam shoulder to shoulder in straight rows, all facing the Ka’aba in Mecca for unity in the Islamic ummah (world Muslim community) and consciousness and faith in the One God.
The prayer (called solat) took not more than a few minutes while the non-Muslim visitors stood just a few metres away to watch the prayer being performed. [Yes, “performed prayer”, not entirely “said prayer” as various body postures, like standing, bowing, prostrating and sitting, are instituted in the solat, and finally a doa (supplication.) is said as a conclusion to the solat.] The non-Muslim visitors, including Reverend Song, had never seen Muslims at prayer at such close range.
The group was treated to a hearty lunch, and everyone received a goodie-bag containing souvenirs, including a booklet and three pamphlets on aspects of Islam written by the Habib.
We thank Habib Hassan for the hospitality accorded to us, and we must admit that we learned much from the visit. We shall cherish it.
4 November 2017