3 Things You May Not Know About Hajjah Fatimah

Many of you may have heard of the Hajjah Fatimah Mosque, but have you ever wondered who is the person that the Mosque is named after?
by Siti Syakirah Binte Ali 2022-08-10 • 7 min read
Siti Syakirah is an alumni of Madrasah Wak tanjong Al-Islamiah. She is currently an undergraduate students at International Islamic University Malaysia (IIUM) majoring in History and Civilization.
2022-08-10 • 7 min read

Who is Hajjah Fatimah?

Without a doubt, many of the Muslim pioneers in Singapore have left various contributions to the development of Singaporean Muslims today. Hajjah Fatimah was one of the first notable Singaporean Muslim female historical figures known for her contributions to Singapore. Furthermore, one of the Mosques in Singapore is named after her, Hajjah Fatimah Mosque.

In this article, let us dive into the story of Hajjah Fatimah, a philanthropist who has contributed her wealth to the betterment of society. 

1. A Wealthy Merchant from Malacca

Fatimah Binte Sulaiman, or Hajjah Fatimah (The term "Hajjah" indicates that she has made the pilgrimage to Mekkah), was a wealthy merchant who travelled from Malacca and married the prince of Bugis. With this marriage, she was then crowned and known as the Sultanah of Gowa in Celebes. (Now, it is known as Sulawesi). 


Image source: www.swhf.sg

Unfortunately, the marriage was cut short due to the passing of her husband. She then inherited his wealth and continued her husband's business with support from her wealth in the journey to becoming a successful businesswoman.

With the wealth that Hajjah Fatimah gained, she used it for a good cause. She was and is still recognised today as a philanthropist who advocated the welfare of the needy through charity and donations. 

2. A Philanthropist of Singapore

Hajjah Fatimah lived in the residence of Kampong Glam, where she built several houses for herself and those in need. The location of the place was under the act of Wakaf (an Islamic perspective of a voluntary charitable endowment from an individual's belonging or wealth) made by her for the community.

Read: Wakaf Heritage Trail

At one time, burglars broke into her house and set it on fire. It was fortunate enough that she was not at home when it all happened. Despite the misfortune that befell her property, she felt grateful to be able to breathe and for being blessed with another day to live. As a sign of gratitude, she allocated her residence site for a mosque to be built for the community.

After she passed away, Hajjah Fatimah's legacy as a philanthropist was continued by her daughter, Raja Siti. In commemorating her late mother, she annually provides a feast for the needy. She divides the profits of her rental houses, including with her late mother, accordingly - One part for her family and another for charity.

3. A Local Mosque Named After Her

The mosque was named after her and is now known as Hajjah Fatimah Mosque. It is located along Beach Road within the Kampong Glam neighbourhood, which is famous for its rich heritage. Furthermore, it is remarkable as it is the first local mosque named after a benefactress.

Image credit: Masjid Hajjah Fatimah

The architecture of the building is unique as it was built with the influence of Eastern and Western design. One of the notable features of the mosque is its minaret. The position of the minaret can be seen slightly tilted because it was built on sandy soil. Subsequently, the mosque received the nickname 'Leaning Tower of Singapore'. 

In 1973, the mosque was recognised as one of the national monuments in Singapore. A mausoleum was built behind the prayer hall where the tomb of Hajjah Fatimah and her descendants is located. 

Today, the ownership of the mosque has been passed down from her family to the Alsagoff family and then to the Islamic Religious Council of Singapore (MUIS).

An Inspirational Figure

The generosity and bravery of Hajjah Fatimah have inspired many Singaporeans, especially the future generations. Her willpower and sacrifices to help the less fortunate have motivated others to do the same.

In addition to her philanthropy and role in establishing a Mosque named after her, she was inducted into the Singapore Women's Hall of Fame's inaugural year in 2014. She was also one of 5 women who shaped Singapore as featured in the SG Bicentennial. Her inspirational life creates many opportunities and inspires society to contribute back to the nation.

Read: 5 Muslim Pioneers of Singapore and Their Contributions
 

 


References: 

[1] Edian Azrah & Aisyah Hamid. (n.d.). Hajjah Fatimah. Retrieved from Singapore Infopedia:
https://eresources.nlb.gov.sg/infopedia/articles/SIP_685_2005-01-12.html?s=Hajjah%20Fatimah 

[2] Masjid Hajjah Fatimah. (n.d.). About Us. Retrieved from Masjid Hajjah Fatimah website: 
https://www.masjidhajjahfatimah.sg/aboutus 

[3]  National Heritage Board. (n.d.). Masjid Hajjah Fatimah. Retrieved from National Heritage Board:
https://web.archive.org/web/20151123030110/http://www.nhb.gov.sg/places/trails/kampong-glam/trail-ii/trail-sites/places-of-worship/masjid-hajjah-fatimah 

[4] Liyana Sulaiman, Siti Hajar Zainal & Farhana Mohamad Saad. Malay Pioneer Series. Retrieved from The Malay Heritage Foundation: https://mhf.org.sg/malay-pioneer-series-5/

[5] Simon vincent. (2019). Female pioneers (p.19). Retrieved from Philanthropy in Singapore: A Heritage of Peoples and Places: https://www.sg/Assets/Bicentennial/Images/wp-content/uploads/2019/07/eb-topical-philanthropy.pdf 

[6] Singapore Tourism Board. (n.d.). Hajjah Fatimah Mosque. Retrieved from Singapore Tourism Board:
https://www.visitsingapore.com/see-do-singapore/architecture/historical/hajjah-fatimah-mosque/  

[7] Singapore Women’s Hall of Fame. The Honoured Inductees to the Singapore Women’s Hall of Fame: Hajjah Fatimah Binte Sulaiman Businesswoman and founder of Masjid Hajjah Fatimah. Retrieved from Singapore Women’s Hall of Fame: https://www.swhf.sg/profiles/hajjah-fatimah-binte-sulaiman/   

[8] SG Bicentennial. Personalities: 5 women who shaped Singapore. Retrieved from SG Bicentennial: https://www.sg/sgbicentennial/stories/5-women-who-shaped-singapore/
 

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