Hajjah Fatimah Binte Sulaiman
Businesswoman and founder of Masjid Hajjah Fatimah
Hajjah Fatimah binte Sulaiman was a tradeswoman and philanthropist. Her year of birth is estimated to be 1754, making her one of the earliest traders in the history of modern Singapore.
Hajjah Fatimah was born in Malacca to a well-known and wealthy trading family. After her first marriage failed, she married a Bugis merchant-prince, Daing Chanda Pulih, from Celebes (South Sulawesi) who had a trading post in Singapore. She was often referred to as the Sultana of Gowa, South Sulawesi. She had a daughter, Raja Siti, with her second husband.
Unfortunately her husband died not long after they married. She then took over his business. She already had several boats of her own, and making good use of her late husband’s extensive network, she expanded the business significantly.
Hajjah Fatimah built herself a large house in Kampong Glam but, as was common during those times, thieves ransacked her house twice. On the second occasion, they burned it down. Fortunately, she was away at the time and was not harmed.
Thankful that her life had been protected, she donated the land where her house had stood, as well as provided funds, for the construction of a mosque. Masjid Hajjah Fatimah, gazetted as a National Monument in 1973, was built between 1842 and 1846. Hajjah Fatimah also funded the building of several houses for her own family and the poor on land adjacent to the mosque.
It is believed that Hajjah Fatimah passed away at the age of 98. As specified in her will, she was buried behind the mosque in a mausoleum. In a separate mausoleum lie the remains of her son-in-law, Syed Ahmad Bin Abdul Rahman Alsagoff, and her grandson.
Some 40 graves in the compound of the mosque are those of descendants of Syed Ahmad. Hajjah Fatimah’s daughter Raja Siti died in Mecca in Saudi Arabia and is buried there.
Annual feasts are held to commemorate the anniversary of her death at Masjid Hajjah Fatimah.