Temporary void deck prayer spaces a boon for Muslims
Temporary void deck prayer spaces a boon for devotees during month of Ramadan
For one month each year, the usually empty void deck of Block 724 in Jurong West Street 72 is transformed.
Its pillars are draped with cloth, the floors are covered with carpets, and the space is lit up with overhead lights.
Every Ramadan, this void deck functions as a pop-up prayer area.
For the past 20 years, a group of six residents have turned this public space into a temporary surau (Malay for prayer hall).
Their leader, Mr Yusoff Subri Abdul Ghafoor, tells The New Paper on Sunday: "This place is more than just an area for us to pray, it represents how during this holy month, we as a community can come together to take stock and be devoted to our religion."
Muslim residents in the area gather at the surau every night to perform the special terawih prayers, which are unique to the fasting month.
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Terawih can be done individually, but devotees are encouraged to perform them in large groups.
According to the Islamic Religious Council of Singapore's website, there are more than 40 such makeshift prayer areas here in void decks and multipurpose halls.
Mr Yusoff Subri says these prayer areas are especially helpful to those who do not live near mosques.
The surau at Block 724 can accommodate about 200 people.
"Terawih are special, and it is a shame if those who are ill or old cannot perform them with others because they cannot travel," he says.
"Since mosques are hard to get to for them, we bring the prayer areas to the people here."
The surau has a permit from the town council to conduct these sessions till 10.30pm every night for the whole month of Ramadan.
But the space is used for more than just prayers.
The residents also use it to distribute food, drink tea and have communal meals.
The surau will also be used for Hari Raya Aidilfitri prayers on Wednesday morning.
After that, while most Muslims will be visiting and celebrating, Mr Yusoff Subri and his committee will be packing up because the surau has to be cleared by the next day.
His son, Mr Muhammad Ashraf, who is part of the organising committee, will be helping out.
The 24-year-old facilities manager, who has been praying there almost every night during Ramadan since he was four, does not mind it at all.
He says: "It is important to have this sense of continuity that people can depend on, I am happy to share the reins with my father."