Great Mosque

The Great Mosque is located in Huajue Lane, which branches of from the West Street. It is the major spot for the religious activities of over 60,000 Moslems in Xi'an. Unlike Arabian mosques with splendid domes, skyward minarets, and dazzling patterns, this mosque possesses much Chinese tradition in both design and artistic outlook. It assumes the striking features of Chinese pavilions, with painted beams and engraved ridgepoles.

Islam, as a religious order, was founded in the early period of the 7th century and was introduced into China in the mid-7th century by some Arabian merchants and travelers. Many of them settled down and married the local women. Their children became the first generation of Chinese Moslems. In Yuan Dynasty, Islam spread all over China and mosques began to appear everywhere.

The Great Mosque is the most sizable of its kind in the city of Xi'an, and also one of the oldest and best-preserved mosques in China. The Stone Tablet on the Building of the mosque says that it was built in the Tang Dynasty (618-907AD). However, judging from its architectural style, it was possibly built in the Ming Dynasty (1368-1644AD) or the early years of the Qing Dynasty. The imposing buildings were orderly arranged in the garden style complex. The Wooden Arches, Phoenix Pavilion and Retrospection Tower and a service hall capable of accommodating a thousand worshipers are obviously foreign in architectural style. More than six hundred sunken panels and canopy paintings, all carry distinct Arabic patterns, subtle and vividly variable. Wooden panels on the wall are engraved with the Koran and trailing plants. These colored wooden carvings constitute a rare treasure.

The Great Mosque is one of the four great mosques in china and locates the Islamism Association of Shaanxi and the Islamism Association of Xi'an. It is also the only one Mosque that opens to visitors in the country. But non-Muslim visitors are not allowed to enter to the main prayer hall. The Great Mosque was added to the UNESCO Islamic Heritage List in 1985.

The Moslems in China share much the same customs with their brothers and sisters elsewhere in the world. They worship 5 times a day: at dawn, at noon, in the afternoon, at dusk, and at night. The Constitution of China acknowledges that each citizen has freedom of religion, and that each ethnic group has the freedom to preserve its own customs which are respected everywhere in China.

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