The roots of Islam in China can be traced to 650 CE during the Tang Dynasty (618 – 907), only eighteen years after the death of Prophet Muhammed. The third caliph of Islam, Uthman Ibn Affan had sent an envoy led by Sa’d Ibn Abi Waqqas, the maternal uncle of Prophet Muhammed to invite Emperor Gaozong (also known as Yung Wei in some sources) to embrace Islam. The emperor held Islamic teachings in high regard due to many similarities with the teachings of Confucius. Showing further respect the emperor allowed the establishment of the first mosque in China, which was the Huaisheng Mosque.
With the spread of Islam, more mosques in Beijing had being built so that Muslims in Beijing could practice their faith. Muslims who travel to China simply have to visit these 5 mosques in Beijing at least once, as each mosque has their own rich history and reflects another period in time.
The Niujie Mosque was built in 996 during the Liao Dynasty and is situated on Ox Street in the Xicheng District (previously the Xuanwu district). This is one of the largest and oldest mosques in Beijing. The Niujie Mosque is built from timber and covers 6000 square meters with the main prayer hall covering 600 square meters. The construction is influenced by Islamic and Han architecture, making the exterior resemble a Buddhist temple. The interior sections are decorated with Islamic calligraphy and Chinese writings too. If you are looking for Halal food in Beijing, Ox Street has a selection of street food and restaurants unique to the Muslim community in China.
This mosque was built during the Yuan Dynasty in 1356 and is located in Dongsi Street in the Dongcheng District. The Beijing Dongshi Mosque is one of the oldest mosques in Beijing as well and is the headquarters of the Islamic Association of Beijing. The library is located in the southern wing and contains different versions of the Quran including many other valuable manuscripts. The prayer facilities include the main prayer hall large enough to hold 500 people and a separate area for women.
The Madian Mosque located in the Madian South Village in the Haidian District covers 3800 square meters and is constructed in the style of a traditional Chinese courtyard. It was built during the Qing Dynasty by Emperor Kangxi in 1662 for the Hui Muslim community, the Madian area is still one of the largest communities of Muslims in Beijing. This mosque is complete with a prayer hall, teaching halls, and a hall for women.
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Located in the Chaoyang district, this mosque is named after the village of Changying where it is situated. It was built in the Zhenge period during the Ming Dynasty and is one of the largest mosques in Beijing situated in a suburban area. There is a separate prayer hall for women too.
Image Credit: Muslim2China
The Jinshifang Street Mosque was built during the reign of Emperor Xuande during the Ming Dynasty. The architecture of the mosque resembles a classic Chinese palace of the Ming Dynasty style and is considered one of the four most important mosques in Beijing. It covers a total of 1,533 square meters. There are 150 volumes of Arabic classics and 100 volumes of Persian classics preserved here. This mosque is the center of the Islamic Association of Xicheng District.