Friday, June 21, 2013

Crescent Chi | China (Part 1)

Maghrib at Xiguan Mosque in Lanzhou, the capital city of Gansu province, China

Bismillah.

Alhamdulillah wa shukrulillah. I don't know how and where to start. There's just too many lovely photos and wonderful experiences to share about Muslims in China, particularly those in Lanzhou, Linxia, Zhaotong and Kunming. We took a strikingly different route than most people - no Beijing, no Guangzhou and the likes. Next time maybe InshaAllah. Our journey started via Shanghai but we just saw a glimpse of Shanghai, or rather a blink of Shanghai. 

Because we meant business, we went straight to Lanzhou which is about 4 hours by flight to the west of Shanghai. Situated in the Central/West of China, Lanzhou was one of the Silk Road stops during the old days.

Nestled in the busy Lanzhou downtown is the Xiguan Mosque of Lanzhou (above and below pic). Yes, I too found it hard to believe to see so many of the men wearing turban/head gear in Lanzhou - a place I never knew existed. If you were to look carefully at the photo, people actually stand on the narrow carpet and make sajada (prostration) on the wooden floor i.e. the gaps in between the long/narrow rugs which formed the saf.

Xiguan Mosque of Lanzhou, China
The first Muslim complex in Lanzhou we visited was Ling Ming Tang Gong Bei. If a Muslim complex is known as Gong Bei, that essentially means the complex also houses a tomb of a shaykh or a prominent scholar or founder of the madrasah. There is a total of four Gong Bei in Lanzhou, a city which appeared bigger and busier than KL. It is also the only city that is blessed to have the Yellow River passing through it. 

Ling Ming Tang Gong Bei has two tombs of its first and second spiritual leader - Mahim Mim who died in 1925 and Shan Tse Jiao died in 1955. We were lucky to be able to visit the entire complex including the two tombs which are usually closed for public. Its current resident scholar, Wang Shou Tiang, 94, treated us to sumptuous snacks which comprised of sweet Lanzhou honey dew, melons, local dried fruits and nuts.

Main gate of Ling Ming Tang Gong Bei in Lanzhou, China
The mosque inside the Ling Ming Tang Gong Bei complex
Entrance to one of the two maqam (Gong Bei)
Wang Shou Tiang - the current (third) leader at Ling Ming Tang Gong Bei
was kind enough to spend some time with us and make a prayer for us.
To be continued InshaAllah. Until then, here are some photos for you.

Abu Baker - the Principal of the YaXing Pre-School at Linxia - a world class institution aiming to produce hafiz who are well rounded in arts and sciences. (I will tell you in a separate posting why it is truly world class.)
Abu Baker or Lan Ming Zhong is a hafiz and so are his three children whom he had sent to learn the Quran in Pakistan when they were between 3 to 7 years old. He was awarded a gold medal by the International Islamic University of Islamabad for having scored 4.0 GPA in Usuluddin.
Students at one of the private Muslim schools we visited.
The principal of this school is an active NGO woman who has been involved in charity work since she was 28. The school is now 10 years old and is in need of support to finance teachers' salaries and meals for orphans. Can your little son slaughter a chicken?
Aminah - a happy single mother and her 10 year old daughter Wang Xiu Mei. Her smile hides her sorrow. She is diagnosed with cancer. Her landlord has asked her to move out soon for missing her rent - a 7 by 10 feet room - cost 250 RMB per month (Ringgit Malaysia 125)
You can see women in gai tou (head scarf) and men with pai mao (white hat) almost everywhere in Lanzhou especially in Xiao Xi Hu - a Muslim area in the suburb of Lanzhou where 1 million of its 5 million population are Muslims. The above pic was taken as I stepped out of our hotel on the first morning. A pleasant sight indeed. The King House Hotel is owned by a Muslim (Jin Ao bin Guan).
Hassan cafe is famous for beef noodle (lamian) a popular dish of Lanzhou. A short walk from our hotel.

More soon, InshaAllahJummah Mubarrak people! Hope you have missed me as much as I have missed you :)
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Credit: Sis. Mariah Mah and Sis. Hophia our travel guide/interpreter



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