Xi'an Hua Jue Grand Mosque, China
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Grand Mosque at Hua Jue Xi'an
The Mosque is a major spot for religious activities of over 60,000 Moslems in Xi'an, likewise, an important cultural relic protected by the province's government.
The Mosque here in Xi'an possesses much Chinese traditional touch in both its design and artistic outlook: besides the style peculiar to Islamic mosques, this Mosque also holds characteristics of Chinese pavilions with painted beams and engraved ridgepoles.
However, any further discussion about the Mosque will be futile unless brought up something about the introduction of Islam into China.
The Mosque at Hua Jue is the largest in Xi'an, and at the same time, it is one of the earliest built on a relatively large scale, and the well-preserved mosques in China.
According to "the Stele on the Building of the Mosque", the mosque is said to be built in the Tang Dynasty (618 ~ 907A.D.). However, the architectural style of the mosque suggests a possible building dating back to the Ming Dynasty (1386 ~ 1644A.D.).
The four courtyards of the mosque cover an area of more than 12,000 square meters, out of which about 4,000 were occupies by various structures. There is a wooden memorial arch in front of the entrance. Arch built at the turn of the 17th century, with glazed tiles on the top, spectacular corners and upturned eaves, is about 9 meters high, and has a history of about 360 years.
Memorial arch in the center of the second courtyard, with carved stone dragons on each, recording the repair work ever since the building of the Mosque. On the back of the steles are engraved characters by the master calligrapher Mi Fei: "May Buddhism Fill the Universe", on the other, "Royal-Bestowed" by Dong Qichang, another master of the same art of the Ming Dynasty. They are treasures in Chinese calligraphy.
At the entrance of the third courtyard is an imperial hall, where a entry tablet, stored a Hui Calendar in Arabic, which help Moslems calculate full moon when is dark and cloudy. It was compiled by a man in charge of the mosque called Xiao Xining in the early period of the Ch'ing Dynasty (1644~1911A.D.).
A three-storied octagonal wooden structure called "Retrospection Tower" also stands in the center of the courtyard, which has the same function as the minaret in Islamic temples in Arabic countries. In addition, a place where orders are relay to the Moslems is time for worship.
Respectively, on the south and north wings of the tower, are a reception chamber and a Scripture Chamber. Both elegantly lay out. There are five wooden houses, called "Water Houses" in the southwest section of the Mosque, are the place where the believers bathe themselves before they attend their services.
Inside the fourth courtyard there is a structure called "the Pavilion of Phoenix", is a place where the worshipers used to wait for the services. The Pavilion, in fact, is a compound structure of three smaller buildings.
The six-gabled structure of the central part, adjoining the two three-gabled gabled buildings on each side looks very much like a flying phoenix, and hence its name. Just at the back of the Pavilion, there is a fishpond, beyond which is a platform occupying an area as large as 700 square meters. Across both ends of the platform stands the 1,300 square-meters service hall, holding over a thousand worshipers at once. There are over six hundred sunken panels and canopies in the hall.
The walls of the hall, as well as the sunken panels, were decorates with patterns of painted trailing plants and Arabic lettering. The "Shrine" at towards the west of the hall is the place where the imam leads his group of worshipers, while facing in the direction of Mecca, to chant in Koran and to pay their religious homage.
The Moslems in China share very much the same customs with their brothers and sisters elsewhere in the world. They worship five times a day: at dawn, at noon, in the afternoon, at dusk, and at night. Ever since The Grand Mosque at Hua Jue Xi'an opened in 1978, there has been more than 500,000 people visited this mosque. If Xi'an is one of the stop during your trip to China, do not miss this colorful mosque and it will deepen your knowledge of Chinese Moslems' life as well.
Islam as a religious order was founded in the early period of the 7th century AD and was introduced to China in the mid-600s. At that time, Arabian merchants and travelers came to the northwest of China by way of Persia and Afghanistan and thus established diplomatic, trade, and military contacts with China.
In the meantime, another route saw a batch of sea voyagers through Bangladesh Bay and the Malacca Strait to China Guangzhou, Quanzhou, Hangzhou, Yangzhou, and other cities. Many of them settled down and married the local women who later gave birth to babies who then became Moslems.
However, massive immigration of the Moslems took placed in the early 13th century. When Genghis Khan, as a result of his expedition against the west, had conquered vast expanses of land stretching from Central Asia to Eastern Europe, including the north of Iran. Many of the Moslems in the conquered areas were forces to enlist and later settled in China.
Among the enlisted, many were soldiers, and some were smiths and officials who were called the Hui people in the history books on the Yuan Dynasty (1277~ 1367A.D.). The people of Hui hater followed Kublai Khan down to the south, helping him unify China and then establish the Yuan Dynasty. In the wake of the conquest, Islam spread all over China and mosques began to appear everywhere.
In the Yuan Dynasty, many Moslems held positions both in the military and civilian organs of the country. In addition, many the Moslems took part in Zhu Yuanzhang's (founder of Ming Dynasty) uprising in the early 14th century and made great contributions to the founding of the Ming Dynasty. Therefore, all the emperors of the Ming Dynasty issued mandates to protect Islam, and to set up mosques for their feats.
In the early 16th century, Xinjiang was predominated by many Islam and they spread its influence throughout China. From Gansu, Ningxia and Qinghai on the minority nationalities including the Huis, the Uygurs, the Kazaks, the Kirgizes, the Tajiks, the Tartars, the Ozbeks, the Dong Xiangs, the Salars and the Bonans. The Moslems in Xi'an are mainly the Huis, being a small portion out of the ten million in China.
In China, female worshipers attend their services in a separated place from their brothers, usually at home. Moslems pay special attention to their health and see that they always wear clean clothes. They are teetotalers not only of wine, but also of pork and animal blood, in Koran mentioned pigs four times as being ‘unclean'.
According to Koran, a man can have four wives and women should wear veils when they go out. However, except a few places in Xinjiang, the Chinese practice monogamy and women do not ware veil when they go out.