Saturday, June 22, 2013

Nur Islam in Lanzhou | China (Part 2)


Alhamdulillah wa shukrulillah, we were able to visit many Islamic institutions and initiatives of various kinds in Lanzhou, China. Many thanks to Sister Mariah Mah who organized everything thoroughly and thoughtfully for us. Sister Mariah Mah is one outstanding personality of Muslim Chinese descent. She is based in Singapore and visits China every two months as she actively channels funds for plenty of charity work for Muslims in China. She was named one of the world's 500 influential Muslims in 2009. This amazing lady deserves a special posting.

You may want to check out her activities on and just keep in mind that everything you read about this trip to China, all credits pertaining to travel coordination and local contacts, go to Sister Mariah Mah.   

On our second day in Lanzhou, after visiting the grand Ling Ming Tang Gong Bei hilltop complex, we visited six sites which exposed us to unsung charitable personalities and the initiatives they lead and/or support.

A section of the Ling Ming Tang Gong Bei complex

1. Wu Shin Ping Mosque | Private schools for orphans and pre-schoolers

Entrance to Wu Shin Ping Mosque/Primary School
Madam Ma Gui Hong - the leading woman behind the schools at Wu Shin Ping Mosque. It is common for mosques in Lanzhou/China to have private schools within its compound. This lady oversees the needs of 90 less fortunate kids.  
University students (Muslims & Non-Muslims) volunteer at the schools on weekends to teach orphans and help primary school students with their homework. [Wonder what the uni students in Malaysia are up to on weekends?]
Extra lessons on weekends
Within the Wu Shin Ping mosque compound there are classrooms, teachers' quarters and dorms for kindergarten pupils to stay back during weekdays. Sister Mariah Mah sponsored this neat dorm and living expenses for 13 students.
2. Arab Primary School | Lanzhou Muslim Women School

Entrance to the Arab Primary School/Lanzhou Muslim Women School in  Lanzhou
On weekdays this school trains illiterate women on basic religion, Arabic language and selected vocational skills. It also offers different courses for various groups and backgrounds i.e. primary school, high school, adult classes. It is a private school funded by zakat and donations from local communities. It has 11 teachers and staff, 4 classrooms and 3 dorms. It has been in operation for 14 years. They have just moved to this new premise 3 months ago. Previously, their activities were based at a private home.
On weekends, the school offers free Islamic lessons to uni students and provide them with complimentary lunch and dinner. The students are mostly from Lanzhou Uni, Northwest Uni and Lanzhou Community Uni.
Hilaludeen (or Mah Kung Yueh) is an Al Azhar graduate who serves as imam at Yen Tan mosque in Lanzhou. He had bought two houses to make the Yen Tan mosque and together with another 8 teachers, he trains 70 students to become imam and da'ie. On weekends, he volunteers at this school, teaching religion to university students. The other two ladies are permanent teachers/staff of this school.
Lunch hosted by the school. In fact, all our meals throughout the intensive China tour were sponsored by someone. Yes all, except two breakfasts. I always thought the Thais are the most hospitable people but Chinese Muslims top the list for me now.
 Hophia (left) is our interpreter in Lanzhou.  Ma Xue Fang (right) is Hophia's ever so chirpy friend. Because we didn't have time to shop in Lanzhou, she made an effort to get the traditional chinese gai tou (head scarf) I wanted. 

3. Private Muslim kindergarten 

This private Muslim kindergarten provides free education to 250 students. It has 8 air-conditioned classrooms and dormitory for 37 students.   
Teachers and staffs at the kindergarten which mainly serves under privileged kids from the surrounding poor neighborhood. Some of the orphans attending this kindergarten lodged at a nearby private orphanage (Cho Teng Orphanage).

4. Cho Teng Orphanage

Standing in the back row are volunteers and staffs at Cho Teng Orphanage which houses 41 orphans in the slums of Lanzhou. This center is too small and lacks proper facilities. It has 16 beds and only 1 small classroom where students are given free lessons on religion, maths and science. It does not even have a blackboard, no fan, no PC and no TV. Children, aged between 3 to 14 would gather at this center as soon as they come back from the public day-schools around the area.
Dolahi, 3, is the youngest orphan who lives at Cho Teng Orphanage.  He is seen here with Li Qing Nang who is volunteering at this center in Lanzhou for 2 months while he is on semester break. Li Qing Nang is from Xing Ging province in China. He is a student at the Multimedia University in Cyberjaya, Malaysia. 
One of the two dorms at Cho Teng Orphanage. Cramped but very neat. Notice the stack of prayer mats? 
5. Ai Xin private Muslim school at Pai Shu Xiang

Ai in the Chinese language means love. Love is the foundation at Ai Xin private Muslim school in Pai Shu Xiang, Lanzhou. It was set up by Mr. Wu Ming Run in 2003. His Muslim name is Nuha. The school has just moved to its current premise as seen in this picture. Brother Nuha is the one standing fourth from left. He is flanked by teachers and volunteers - both Muslims and non-Muslims from nearby universities. From Monday to Friday, Ai Xin school provides free education and meals to 150 students from four Muslim minority groups i.e. Hui, Dong Xiang, Sala and Paoan. Some of the students are orphans or come from poor families.
Brother Nuha, 65, is a retired teacher. He has been managing Ai Xin school for 10 years now and  is also one of the editors for the popular Islamic magazine Kai Tuo. He has been involved in this free quarterly magazine for 20 years. Brother Nuha is seen here holding the magazine's latest draft copy.
Brother Nuha is one loving and dedicated principal. While we were chatting about the school, he suddenly ran off to get bread and hard boiled eggs for the kids. As can be seen in this picture the school is in need of a bigger space. The courtyard needs leveling so that children could run and play about safely. The school could also benefit from a safer staircase. 
6. Kai Tuo Publishing House

Mr. Han Hai Chao, Chief Editor of the Kai Tuo Muslim magazine, welcomed us to the publishing house.
At Kai Tuo Publishing House. From left: Miss Halimah (Teacher at Ai Xin school in Lanzhou), Brother Nuha (Principal at Ai Xin school cum editor of Kai Tuo magazine), Mrs. Hophia (Our ever so helpful interpreter and travel guide. She is with the Chinese Naqshbandi/Jahriyya group based in Lanzhou) and Miss Eza (Servant at Lisan al-Din blog. She is on this trip to China courtesy of a charity foundation based in KL)
Left: Kai Tuo - Quarter 1, 2013 issue. Kai Tuo in the chinese language means pioneer. It features articles on tauhid,  seerah etc. contributed by Muslim writers from universities all over China including Prof. Na Gua Chang, a prominent Muslim scholar from Kunming. The magazine which costs about 80,000 Yuan to publish per quarterly issue, is funded by donations from individuals and organizations. Each contributor's name and donation amount are clearly printed on the back page of the magazine. All expenses are also declared in the magazine which is distributed freely at mosques in Lanzhou.
Right: All four Kai Tuo issues in 2012 compiled in one book.
Some of the chinese Islamic magazines. Most of which come from 3 out of the total 30 provinces in China, namely Yunan, Henan and Gansu. Lanzhou is the capital city of Gansu where Kai Tuo is published.

7. Naqshbandi/Jahriyya tariqat group in Lanzhou, China

Entrance to the Naqshbandi/Jahriyya Zawiya  in the middle of Lanzhou downtown. At the time we arrived, the jemaah had just finished special recitals for haul commemorating the passing of the second Naqshbandi leader of China - Mu Xian Zhang. The current tariqat leader is the 8th since Naqshbandi/Jahriyya established its presence in China. Apart from Naqshbandi/Jahriyya, Chinese Muslims belong to either Hufiah, Qadiriyyah or Khufiyya tariqat groups. 

Inside the Naqshbandi/Jahriyya courtyard is a mosque and tomb of the first Naqshbandi/Jahriyya leader in China, Mah Ming Xin who died 230 years ago. Mah Ming Xin was orphaned at a young age. When he was 9 years old, he set off with his uncle to study in Yemen.  He got separated from his uncle during the long arduous journey and was adopted by a Yemeni family. After Yemen, Mah Ming Xin went on a pilgrimage to Mecca and returned to China at the age of 25. His tomb at the Lanzhou Naqshbandi/Jahriyya zawiya is open to public.
Inscribed on the front of his tomb:
Man zal lazi yash fa'u 'indahu illa bi iznih
"Who is it that shall intercede with Him, except with His permission."

Next posting will be about nur Islam in Linxia which is known as the "Little Mecca of China". To get to Linxia from Lanzhou, one needs to travel 3 hours by road through rugged and somewhat precarious mountains.

Praise be to Allah for this opportunity, for keeping us safe and for providing us with rizq throughout our journey. Alhamdulillah wa shukrulillah. And may Allah purify our intentions and forgive our sins. Ameen.


  1. Assalamualaikum Sister, thank you for sharing :)

    1. AlaykumSalam Sister,
      Thank you!
      Alhamdulillah, one person hits me with a brick but 10 kind hearted people like you send the best of doa - greetings of Salam.
      Sometimes we'll never know how much our Salam and a smiley can soothe a person :)

  2. bila akak nak ke sana lagi

    1. Salam Muaz,
      Belum fix date lagi but as soon as possible InshaAllah. Jom kita pegi beramai-ramai :)

  3. I'm so happy reading your writings mashallah!