If we look at the history of Singapore’s establishment, this mosque in all trueness was the result of the political contract between Thomas Stanford Raffles and Sultan Hussein Shah. Therefore, Singapore’s oldest mosque was also an important mosque in the narration of this nation. Why so?
In 1818, Sir Stamford Raffles persuaded the British East India Company to build a new base in East India. On 29th January 1819, Raffles arrived in Singapore and there he befriends with Temenggong Abdul Rahman. At the time of his arrival, Raffles knew of a political tension in the Siak sultanate that ruled over Johor at the time, including the Singapore Island. Raffles wanted to take advantage of the situation. He then asked the smuggling of Temenggong Hussein Shah from Riau to Singapore to make him the ruler, as his puppet of course. Temenggong Abdul Rahman helped Raffles in this cause. Raffles then made a deal with Hussein Shah. The British would recognise Hussein Shah as the Sultan of Johor, and paid subsidy to Hussein Shah and Temenggong Abdul Rahman. In return, Hussein Shah would allow Raffles to establish a trading post in Singapore. This agreement would then be signed on 6th February 1819. This agreement was the beginning of the establishment of Singapore as the bookie of free trading as designed by Raffles.
Let’s go back to the Sultan Mosque. This mosque is located in the Kampong Glam district, between Muscat Street and North Bridge Road to be exact. This mosque was built in 1824 for Sultan Hussen Shah. In its’ construction, it was noted that Raffles donated 3000 dollar.
Today, this mosque, which had been settled by the Singapore government as a national monument, had become one of the main destinations for tourists in Singapore. Many tourists, especially from out of the country, who visited Kampong Glam also took the time to see the historical mosque. Even though the main building had suffered heavy damage and was restored in 1932.
I recorded this sound during maghrib azan on 27th March 2019. The atmosphere was much more calm in the transition from afternoon to the evening. Approaching maghrib prayer, the worshippers came one by one and went inside the mosque. In one moment the sound of maghrib azan could be heard from the horn speakers installed on top of the mosque’s tower. What caught my attention, the muazin recite the azan in a slow tempo. The pause between phrases were also quite long. Just hear the recite. My friend, Victor Pradipta who helped me during the mixing and mastering process of this research’s soundscape recording said the same thing when he heard the recording for the first time. To me, the muazin really had a feeling for time/moment. In other words, he had a really good sense in tempo and silent. Slow but it didn’t feel dragged. Furthermore, even though I am not a moslem, the voice sounded beautiful. I could say so because during this research, I had recorded many azan in Malaysia, Singapore and also Thailand. That evening, the atmosphere around the historic Sultan Mosque was so solemn.