Overview

In the time when an increasing number of Indian Muslim business men traveled from India to Pettah, the area grew considerably as a trade hub. These Indian Muslim businessmen, however, needed a place to worship and thus decided to build a mosque close to the port. It has become the biggest and one of the most peculiar mosques in Sri Lanka, because of its red and white mosaic-like pattern, a fusion of traditional Islamic and English architecture; in English it is called the Red Mosque. The Jumiul Alfar mosque dates back to 1908; it is a design of H.L. Saibo Lebbe, who designed a similar mosque in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia. Originally the mosque was constructed to house 1500 worshippers, but only 500 worshippers visited the mosque by its opening time. The years 1920, 1933, 1950, 1958 and 1976 were special years for the Red Mosque, because the entire Quran was recited by a Hafiz in only two ‘rakaths’, while thousands of Muslims were in prayer who wanted to be part of this event. The Jumaul Alfar mosque is a famous landmark in Pettah and popular with tourists, positioned on a corner of the Main Street and a side street. Currently the mosque is undergoing its latest massive restoration, which has started in 2007 and is due to accommodate up to 10,000 devotees. Although the expansion will be massive, the original characteristic style will be maintained. The project is funded for a large part by the Hadji Omar Trust and is estimated to cost US$ 2,4 million. 

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