By: Daniel Otero
There are things well hidden along the inner streets of Nanjing… Mysteries and venues unnoticed which hold centuries of history.
Near the Sanshanjie Metro station there is no exception on what mysteries people can find. Pubs are here, back business alleys and those cultures amongst the sea of people. Those that few really know about… Then, with a quick walk to number 28 Shengzhou Lu (Qinhaui District) it makes the environment even better.
As a group of Muslims from Xinjiang Province sell their backed goodies. After all, their culture is still a mystery, even for most Chinese… However, then there is a path identifying an old mosque; this architecture signaling a place of worship for this singular group of minorities whom could or could not be considered a part of China. Although, these Muslims are Chinese, their culture and language are simply different. This is a group whom hasn’t integrated and hasn’t been allowed to integrate properly into this amazing Chinese society—who has been here for centuries.
Hanging around the mosque, then there are these sudden sounds. They ask themselves to be excused. As they walk head covered, women with a Hajib and men with white-rounded hats covering the crowns of their heads. They enter through separate sections of the mosque, one for men and the other for women.
The sound comes out loud again like through a sort loud speaker, “Allah akbar! Allah akbar!” It’s like a soulful hymn saying, “God is great! God is great!” And for those Muslims who live nearby, it’s a quickstep and marching motion into the structure. It’s the call to prayer!
At the entrance there is a pagoda and Chinese architecture to showcase the simplicity in beauty and the mosque itself. This reflects a history going back six centuries to a world which came from the Middle East through the Silk Road. As Muslims came more and more into China, they were later allowed to establish themselves and do business thanks to the Ming Dynasty here in Nanjing.
The mosque as its worshipers point to the west, it’s their holy direction for prayer—towards Mecca, Saudi Arabia.
They are now doing Ramadan (Holy Muslim celebration on the ninth month of the Islamic calendar, 18th June to 16th July, 2015). All Muslims have to fast from sunup to sundown.
Presently with more Chinese traveling around the world, those whom are devout Muslims have to travel. Once in their lives they’ll have to do a pilgrimage to Mecca. But for now, it is for the faithful followers of Allah to gather at Jingjue Mosque (627 years since it was established) and pray. And after, in the evening it’ll be food when they get back home. These are the goodies of lamb, rice, veggies and breads.
One of the unique and mysterious cultures of China, Muslims and they are here in the city.