Monday, 29 June 2015

Iftar in the Little Red Dot down south

I have previously written that the most significant event by which I mark the passage of time is the coming of the holy month of Ramadhan. Not my birthday or my wedding anniversary, but the arrival of the fasting month every year.

Tonight we are already entering the 13th day of Ramadhan of the Hijri year 1436. I have yet to put up a post to mark the occasion. So I guess I'd better squeeze in something before the month of June leaves us. Otherwise this effort of blog revival would not seem serious enough.

Last Saturday, I made a trip across the Causeway to the Little Red Dot to visit my parents. That's what some people call the tiny island nation of Singapore. I kid you not... just google those 3 words and the search engine will give you the city-state as the top result.

My mother is actually at the National University Hospital, recovering from a heart attack that occurred the previous Saturday. She is now in the normal ward after being in the ICU for 6 days. Alhamdulillah, she seems to be getting better although, for such an ailment to befall any senior citizen of her age, the overall effect of the attack is yet to be ascertained. Nonetheless, there is much we can be grateful for and to continue with our prayers.

Since mom is not at home, I had to look for somewhere to break my fast. Small matter actually. After about two hours of keeping mom company, I headed out to the old Masjid Hajjah Fatimah at the Beach Road area of downtown Singapore. My father is presently there on part-time duty as a muezzin (bilal, in Malay). In fact nowadays, he spends most of his time at this particular mosque, which is quite a distance from where he lives in Bukit Batok. There is another mosque just across the apartment block of his house, Masjid Ar-Raudah, but he still prefers the travel to Hajjah Fatimah, even though it means taking two different bus routes to get there. I don't have to ask him why, because I can well guess the answer. Sentimental reasons. Beach Road (or more accurately Kampung Glam) is the area where he grew up. No doubt, the kampung house of my late grandmother is no longer there but I'm pretty sure nothing beats the feeling of being in familiar surroundings of one's childhood days.

Masjid Hajjah Fatimah was built in 1846. Wow, that is a really long time ago. It is fairly small in size by modern standards but has unique architecture and historical connection. It is now a national monument of Singapore. One of the famous characteristic of this mosque is its leaning minaret, which is off-centre by 6 degrees.

While my father made the call for Maghrib prayer, which is also the indicator for the end of the daily fast, I sat down in the verandah together with other muslim brothers to break our fast. It was a simple meal of rice porridge plus mutton briyani served in a tray, to be shared at 4 persons to a tray. The meal was cooked in the mosque compound and paid for by donations from anonymous well-wishers. Simple and humble communal feasting at its best.

An old minaret surrounded by modern towers
Waiting for the time to break fast
Mutton briyani rice to be shared, with rice porridge for starters