Back then, Woodlands was made up of Kampong Woodlands Laut, Kampong Lorong Fatimah, Kampong Mandai Kechil, Kampong Kranji, Kampong Hock Choon, Kampong Marsiling, Kampong Lim Boon Keng, and the Barracks and Naval Bases of The Malaysian Royal Navy at Marsiling and Admiralty Road. However, the Muslim community there was without a mosque. Every surau within each village was the only place of worship and had limited capacities. The nearest mosque was at Sembawang, and when there were needs for larger congregations, they had to cross the Straits of Johor to attend the Sultan Abu Bakar Mosque in Johore Bahru. These conditions spurred the Muslim community to have their own mosque, and thus in 1961, the first Mosque Building Committee was born.
It was only 3 years later in 1964 that the Registry of Society (ROS) approved of this mosque building activities. Never looking back, the Woodlands Muslim community went all out to make this dream come true. Finally, in the year 1980 on the 20th of April, the Muslim community of Woodlands rejoiced the opening of a new mosque in the northernmost part of Singapore, officiated by Abdul Rahim Ishak, Senior Minister of State for Foreign Affairs. An-Nur Mosque, also popularly known as the Blue Mosque of Singapore, had a total cost of about $2.1M including interior furnishings. What was then a dream to build a modest kampong mosque with a budget of about $25 000, probably with a mix of concrete and wooden structures, turned out to be a sprawling 4-storey, blue-tiled, fully concrete structure with one of the highest minarets in Singapore, if not the tallest still standing now.
The growing population and changing landscapes in the Woodlands estate not only made the mosque a place of worship – but also a social, educational, and a communal centre making it the focal point for the Muslim community. Acute challenges arose when the facilities and infrastructure could no longer support the ever-increasing demands. In the late 1990s, the management board came up with an upgrading plan. The plans were firmed up by MUIS and were put on the drawing board. In 2008 with fundraising plans raised, there was no looking back. Between 2011 and 2013, the mosque underwent major upgradings.
Daily mosque operations continued in a temporary mosque, residing between the Marsiling Community Centre and An-Nur Mosque itself. In 2013, the Muslim community of Woodlands rejoiced again. This time with the opening of the newly upgraded An-Nur Mosque. Included in the upgrading was an added new floor, making the mosque now 5-storeys high with elevator facilities. This provided bigger prayer halls to accommodate the ever increasing congregation and other added facilities to better serve the Woodlands’ Muslim community specifically, and also Singaporean Muslims at large. Minister-in-charge of Muslim Affairs, Dr Yaacob Ibrahim, officially reopened An-Nur Mosque on Friday, 31st May 2013. The cost of the newly upgraded mosque is $7.2 million excluding interior furnishings.
Mosque and Community
The mosque can now accommodate up to 6000 worshippers. This is nearly double the 3,500 people it used to hold before. The mosque maintains most of its unique features like its iconic blue facades and the tall blue minaret. As the elderly made up most of the mosque’s congregation, new features such as ramps, a lift, toilets for the handicapped, and entry into the main prayer hall now has no stairs, in contrast to having had to walk up a few risers while entering the main hall prior to the upgrading. This accommodated well to their needs. Also, both pre-school and Alive madrasah classes were refurbished with new technologies, promoting better access to teaching and learning facilities. Till today, An-Nur Mosque continues to be one of the important landmarks in Woodlands.
Living up to its motto of 'Memasyaratkan Masjid dan Memasjidkan Masyarakat' (A Community for the Mosque, A Mosque for the Community), An-Nur Mosque is a vibrant mosque known for its strong outreach programmes. The mosque has long been accustomed to its wide networking, not only with Malay/Muslim institutions but also among the Non-Malay/Muslim organisations and government agencies. In 2008/2009, An-Nur Mosque received Distinction Awards from MUIS for being a Community and Youth-Friendly Mosque.
Congregants have always been the essence of the mosque's ‘Light’ (Nur). Creative and intense efforts through diversification of programmes continue to be integral in attracting different groups within the community. An-Nur Mosque has not stopped receiving people from all walks of life comprising the young and old. With strong support from the community, An-Nur Mosque has been able to give back to the community and until today, this partnership grows wider and stronger, year to year, narrowing gaps and strengthening bonds.