Red Masjid ( Red Mosque )


This historical place of prayer known as JAMIUL ALFAR JUMMAH MASJID is referred to as SAMMAN KOTTU PALLI in Tamil, RATHU PALLIYA in Sinhala, and RED MASJID in English is located in the Muslim intensive business area of PETTAH (PURAOKOTTAI - Second Cross Street) Colombo.
If the obligation is the mother of invention, so be it with the establishing of this MASJID. The devoted Muslims needed a place to pray five times a day; that began constructing a commonplace of worship in 1908; the travelling business Muslims, our forefathers from India, recognised the need came forward to fulfil this by building this the MASJID in the city. It is essential not to forget our forefather's dedication and contribution towards building a place of worship that has only expanded the number of fellow Muslims in the city and the spirit of Islam, essentially making a stamp of our religion in the city. We pray to Allah to accept these pioneers, our ancestors, within the heavenly aboard Aameen, Aameen Ya Rabbal Aalameen.

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Construction of the Jami-Ul-Alfar Mosque

The inception of the Jami-Ul-Alfar Mosque began in 1908 when the local Indian Muslim community in Pettah decided to build a mosque that could accommodate their daily prayers and the Friday Jummah congregation. The community was in need of a space that would bring them together in worship, fostering unity and spiritual growth.

The architect and the design inspiration

Habibu Lebbe Saibu Lebbe, an architect with no formal education but a remarkable talent, was entrusted with the design and construction of the Red Masjid. He drew inspiration from details and images of Indo-Saracenic structures provided by South Indian traders who commissioned him for this prestigious project. The result was a magnificent blend of native Indo-Islamic and Indian architectural elements, infused with Gothic revival and Neo-classical styles.

Architectural style and features

The Jami-Ul-Alfar Mosque stands as a testament to the unique architectural style known as the Indo-Saracenic style. The mosque's distinct red and white candy-striped exterior makes it a striking landmark in Colombo. Its two-storey structure encompasses a clock tower, which adds to its grandeur. The mosque bears a resemblance to the Jamek Mosque in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia, constructed in 1910, and is said to have been recognized as the landmark of Colombo by sailors approaching the port before other landmarks were built.

Importance to the local Indian Muslim community

The Red Masjid holds immense significance for the local Indian Muslim community residing in Pettah. It serves as a spiritual center where Muslims come together to fulfill their five-times-daily prayers and congregate for the Friday Jummah prayers. The mosque acts as a unifying force, fostering a sense of belonging and religious devotion among the worshippers.

Recognition as a landmark in Colombo

Over the years, the Red Masjid has earned recognition as a prominent landmark in Colombo. Its distinct architectural style and vibrant color scheme make it stand out amidst the cityscape. Sailors approaching the port of Colombo once considered the Red Masjid as a recognizable symbol, a beacon of faith and culture.

Purchase of adjoining properties

In 1975, with the assistance of the Haji Omar Trust, the mosque acquired several adjoining properties to facilitate its expansion. This strategic move allowed the mosque to address the growing needs of the Muslim community and provide a larger space for worshippers to gather.

Increasing the mosque's capacity

The expansion project aimed to increase the capacity of the Red Masjid significantly. With the additional space, the mosque now has the capacity to accommodate up to 10,000 worshippers. This expansion ensures that the mosque can accommodate the increasing number of worshippers during the Friday Jummah prayers and other religious occasions.


1. How long did it take to construct the Red Masjid? Construction of the Jami-Ul-Alfar Mosque commenced in 1908 and was completed in 1909.

2. Who was the architect of the Red Masjid? Habibu Lebbe Saibu Lebbe, an unlettered architect, designed and built the Red Masjid.

3. What architectural styles influenced the design of the Red Masjid? The Red Masjid is a hybrid architectural style that draws elements from Indo-Islamic, Indian, Gothic revival, and Neo-classical styles.

4. How many worshippers could the Red Masjid originally accommodate? Originally, the mosque had the capacity for 1,500 worshippers, although only around 500 attended prayers at that time.

5. When did the Red Masjid undergo expansion? In 1975, the Red Masjid, with the assistance of the Haji Omar Trust, purchased adjoining properties and began expanding to increase its capacity to 10,000 worshippers.



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