World Bulletin / News Desk
From the 8th century until the 15th century Islam spread rapidly amongst the Chinese by the actions of the Muslims who worked in various fields like commerce, agriculture and civil services. Kuang-taise Mosque in Kanton and the mosques in Chang-an, Ch'uanchou, Hang-chou and Yang-chou are the oldest mosques in China that reached until today.
By Islam spreading in China over a long period of time and being embraced by different ethnic groups, it effected the architecture of the region as well as the political, economic, belief and cultural life of it. Islam entered China by the Arab and Iranian traders settling in the south and the eastern coasts of the country. Then in the periods of the Yuan (1271-1368) and the Ming (1368-1644) dynasties it spread into the interior regions of China by primarily the Turks and some Central Asian societies converting to Islam. Therefore, on several occasions like this the Muslim population has rapidly increased and reached a large number.
The Muslims settled especially in the cities like Kanton, Zeytun, Yang-chou and Hang-chou. Chinese people gave the name “Ta-shi” to the Muslims from the 7th century and in one of the ancient Chinese sources Hsin T'ang Shu the Muslims are described as follows, “Ta-shi occupied the Iranian land before. The men has black beards and carry a silver dagger, they do not drink wine or listen to music. The women cover their faces when they leave their homes. Every Friday in their large temple the sultan on a high chair will appeal to the public with the following sentences: Who ever eliminates the enemy will be happy. So the Ta-shies are valiant warriors. They worship god five times a day.”
In the riots Huang Ch'ao in 876 and then Tien Shen-Kung after it, thousands of Muslims have been massacred, although this has effected the development of Islam in China negatively, it couldn't stop it. In the period of the Yuan dynasty the Muslims have settled in all of the regions in China formed separate communities and was able to freely practice their islamic traditions and worships. Even protected by some governments and emperors in the period of the Yuang and Ming dynasties between the 8th and 15th centuries. It was alleged that the first emperor, T'ai-tsu, of the Ming dynasty in 1368 became a Muslim and in the same year built a mosque in Nanking named Chin-Chiao-shih. Some of the emperors of the same dynasty took the edict to protect Muslims.
From the 8th century until the 15th century Islam has spread rapidly amongst the Chinese by the actions of the Muslims, that were led by the sheikhs appointed amongst them by China. Being a religious-cultural-social centres, mosques also had its share in this. Built in the mentioned centuries, Hui-sheng-se as known as Kuang-tai-se Mosque was one of the first mosques built in the world at the beginning of the Islamic era. Apart from this one, Kuang-taise Mosque in Kanton, the mosques in Chang-an, Ch'uanchou, Hang-chou and Yang-chou have reached until today as being the China's oldest mosques. Here are some of the mosques that have played an important role in the spread of Islam in China and are still standing today with its properties:
Hui-sheng-se Mosque (627)
Being one of the oldest mosques in the world and China “Hui-sheng-se Mosque”, was built by the first Muslims that came to China. Built in 627, this mosque is also called “Memories of the Prophet Mosque”. Being in Chinese architecture, it is alleged that it was built by the companions of the Prophet that came to call people to Islam and that the grave of Saad Bin Abi Waqqas is here. As well as calling the Muslims to prayer the minaret of the mosque has also served the sailors as a lighthouse. The Guangdong Province, where it is built was one of the China's major trading ports in history and the first region it the country that Islam began to be recognised.
Chang-an Mosque (742)
According to the records, built in 742 during the Tang dynasty in the first capital of China Chang-an, Chang-an mosque is the expression of Chinese and Islamic art and architecture. It was expanded during the Song, Yuan, Ming and Ch'ing dynasties. This mosque is one of China's most ancient structure is also known as “Big East Masjid”. Open for worship and tourist visits today, the mosque didn't lose its function for thirteen centuries till now. Covering an area of 13 thousand square meters together with the additional buildings the mosque is 2272 years old and all of its walls are carved wood with writings from the Holy Quran, so for this reason the value of the mosque is priceless.
Niu-Jie Mosque (926):
Built in the year 926 in the city of Beijing Niu-Jie Mosque is one of the oldest and biggest mosques in the country. Carrying the characteristics of the Chinese architecture the building has gone under several repairs and arrangements. Covering ten thousand square meters of area including the additional buildings, Niu-Jie is one of the historic buildings under the government protection today. Located in the capital city being spiritual centre, inside of the mosque is decorated with the finest examples of the Islamic decorative arts. Hosting the graves of Ahmed Burdani and Molla Ali that came China at the end of the 13th and the beginning of the 14th centuries, the mosque is continuing to serve intensively today.
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