Monday, November 2, 2009

keramat habib noh

learning journeys do not have to end with your school days. each and every day, you can learn something new. most of us know about the ancient tomb at fort canning, the keramat iskandar shah. today, i found out that the most famous and best ordered of the malay keramat(s) on singapore island is on a hillock at palmer road.

we had thought the tall structure was the mosque; it turned out that the prominent structure was the keramat. the mosque known as masjid haji muhammed salleh was much less conspicious. in fact, you cannot make out the mosque in this picture and we did not even step into it.

as we were about to enter the building, we met a devotee who had gone to pay his respects. he told us that the mosque and the keramat were supposed to be demolished to make way for the east coast expressway. according to him, the contractor and his workers encountered all kinds of problems. finally, it was decided to leave the building alone and so, the expressway curved at this point.

the maqam sits on top of a flight of 49 steps. the long flight of steps is marked by yellow and green railings on both sides, and lined with potted plants. yellow is the colour of holiness and green that of paradise. the steps lead to a building that houses the maqam of habib noh. the entrance of the building is adorned with yellow curtains and green tie-backs. it leads into an inner room where the maqam lay.

the maqam is elaborately framed with yellow curtains hanging from a four-post frame, and the tombstones are also wrapped with yellow cloth. a chandelier hangs over the tomb. lining the perimeters of the tomb on the floor are bottles of drinking water placed by visitors who hope to have them blessed by the soul of habib noh.

the tomb of sayid abdur rahman bin salim al-habshyi, a cousin of habib noh's, rests behind the maqam. abdur rahman was singapore's first qadhi and died in 1867. from his tomb, one could previously see the tomb of sayid abdur rahman as-saqaf sited on a hilltop at kusu island.

keramat habib nor - this is the most famous and best ordered of the malay keramat on singapore island. habib nor bin mohammed al-habshi is said to have been born in penang and to have come down to singapore shortly after the (straits) settlement was founded. he died at an advanced age at the end of july 1866, in the house of a relative of temenggong abu-bakar, at telok belanga. while he was alive, habib nor who was reputed to be a man of great piety was credited with the possession of supernatural power which would enable him to transport himself anywhere a will and to visit mecca every friday. the chamber now surrounding his tomb was built by syed mohammed bi ahmad al-sagof about 1890, and the site is still maintained by members of the al-sagoff family. (extract from singapore guide and street directory 1969)

1 comment:

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