Whenever I travel around the world, I love to get to know the Muslim community, which leads me to visit local mosques. I would expect to see ‘Islamic architectural designs’, containing a dome, minarets and Arabic calligraphy all over the mosque. Whether it be in Turkey, Spain, Jordan, or anywhere else. That’s how I used to think about the concept of a mosque. But along my journey of exploring the world, I realized that the physical mosque can be in a form of everything.
In China, unlike south-facing Buddhist temples, all the mosques are facing Makkah, the holy land of Islam. I have seen the unique architecture of the Chinese mosques that are the blend two cultures: Arab and Chinese. How about you? Have you seen Arabic calligraphy blending with Chinese calligraphy in a mosque?
Here are some beautiful Chinese mosques around the world that you might want to visit!
1. Muhammadiah Mosque, Malaysia
The Muhammadiah Mosque is located in Ipoh, Malaysia and is one of the places that attract tourists, especially among non-Muslims tourists. After a documentary about the Muhammadiah Mosque aired on Malaysian TV channels, the mosque received requests from non-Muslims who wanted to visit the mosque. The mosque is open for the public on Chinese New Year, Chinese national days and a few days before Eid al-Fitr.
Tourists from China have also visited the mosque. The mosque committee said, “we welcome any non-Muslim who wants to visit the mosque, provided he or she abides by the rules set by us.”
2. Huasheng Mosque, China
The main mosque of Guangzhou in China, called the Huaisheng Mosque, also known as the ‘Lighthouse Mosque’ is the Great Mosque of Canton. Huaisheng mosque’s minaret features the Chinese style of the Tang dynasty. Its unique architecture and story make it very attractive for both tourists and local inhabitants.
It is originally built over 1,300 years ago, thus the Huaisheng Mosque is one of the oldest mosques in China, if not in the world. It was reported that Sa’ad ibn Aby Waqqas, one of the prophet’s companions, was one of the first Muslims to set foot in China in the 630’s. He then began to build a mosque, with other Muslims, in Guangzhou, which is known as the Huiasheng Mosque. Yet, modern historians cannot find proof of this.
3. Niujie Mosque, China
The Niujie Mosque, literally “Street of Ox Mosque”, because it is situated in the Niujie Street (Ox Street) in the city’s Xicheng District, Beijing, China. The Niujie Mosque is the oldest and largest mosque in Beijing. The Niujie Mosque is also an Islamic centre and social gathering place for Beijing’s Muslims. It was built during the Liao dynasty, and it is Beijing’s most historical and majestic mosque.
The Chinese government has been using the Niujie Mosque as a visiting site for delegations coming from Islamic countries. Meanwhile, Han and Hui Chinese, both tourists and Muslims often visit the Niujie Mosque for tourism reasons, besides to pray.
4. Cheng Ho Mosque, Indonesia
Cheng Ho, also known as Zheng He, was a Muslim explorer. He was born with the name Ma Ho, Ma as in representations of the word Muhammad, in China’s southwestern Yunan Province around 1371. He used to be a servant to Prince Zhu Di and he renamed Ma Ho as Cheng Ho.
At the beginning of 1410, Cheng Ho and many Chinese from Yunan Province started to spread Islamic teaching in Indonesia, especially in the island of Java. As a form of honour and respect to Cheng Ho, Indonesians use his name for the mosque. Cheng Ho Mosque is located in Surabaya and open for tourists to visit.
These are the remarkable Chinese mosques that can be visited!