Muslims and mosques in Fujian

Updated: 30 Sep 2009
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During the time of Tang, Song and Yuan Dynasty, many Muslim merchants from Central and West Asia travelled to Fujian by the Maritime Silk Route to establish trade contact with China. They settled down, married local Chinese, and eventually formed a new ethnic group--Hui, which truly carried out the mission of spreading the Islamic teachings.


Muslims in Fujian

Muslims in Fujian mainly lived in coastal cities, especially Quanzhou. As a coastal city in the southeastern Fujian Province, Quanzhou was one of the four ports open to foreign merchants in the Tang dynasty (618-907).


After the Ming dynasty (1368-1644), Chinese names were widely adopted by the Arabian merchants, who travel from the Muslim world to Quanzhou and settled down. The most famous Muslim clans in Quanzhou were Ding and Guo.


Around 1350, a Ding Muslim clan migrated to Chendai Town of Jinjiang to escape ethnic violence. And in 1376, a Guo Muslim clan escaped from Quanzhou to the remote Baiqi in Huian County near Quanzhou.


They maintained their religion for five generations until another period of social unrest destroyed their mosques and made it difficult to follow their faith without persecution.


Nevertheless, the Hui tribe in Quanzhou has reverted to Islam due to China’s policy towards nationalities during the nineteen seventies and early eighties.


Although having undergone 600 years of historic changes, Ding and Guo clans still preserved their historical memories and identified with their religion. Through recompiling the genealogical tree, rebuilding old and bulding new mosques, and visiting ancestral graves,  in order to discover and preserve  Islamic ties. Thanks to this re-invention of old beliefs their love for their nationality has deepened.


In recent years, many young Muslims have left their hometowns to receive formal Islamic education overseas. Different from the elder generation, the new generation of the Muslim population is not merely working to preserve their faith and identity, but also actively communicating with the Muslim world.


Every year, local Muslims celebrate Mawlid, Ramadan and Corban Festival with the Arabian Muslims who run business in Fujian. Religious identity has strengthened their communication with the outside Muslim world and boosted the culture and economic development in their areas.




Mosques built in Fujian can be traced back to as early as the ten century. Fujian now has four mosques, one in Quanzhou and the other in Fuzhou, Xiamen and Shaowu.


Qingjing Mosque in Quanzhou




The Qingjing Mosque, also known as the Ashab Mosque, is located in the center of Tumen Street in Quanzhou. Throughout the Song Dynasty (960-1279), Quanzhou City was one of the key ports of foreign trade and attracted many Arabs. The mosque, built and repaired by Arab Muslims, reflects the friendship and cultural exchange between China and Arabic countries.


Imitating a mosque in Damascus, Syria, it was initially built in 1009 and today is the oldest Arab-style mosque in China. This magnificent mosque covers an area of 2,500 square metres (0.62 acre) and features a gate, the Fengtian Hall, and the Mingshan Hall.


Facing south, the gate is made of diabase and white granite and consists of four conjoined archways. Many of the gate's domes are carved with hanging lotus, symbolizing respect for sanctity and purity. Each carved lotus is surrounded by a web of liernes, which add depth to the carvings. A platform on the roof of the gate allows worshipers to watch the moon and decide when Ramadan begins.


To the east of the gate are two stone tablets recording the reconstruction of the mosque in the Yuan (1271-1368) and the Ming (1368-1644) dynasties. Another stone tablet is located just near the gate, engraved with the imperial edict of Zhu Di - the third emperor of the Ming Dynasty. He spread this edict to protect the Mosque and the followers of Islam in China.


Fuzhou Mosque


Chinese style Fuzhou Mosque


The mosque, which located under the Ankang Bridge in Fuzhou, used to be a royal Buddhism temple belonging to a King in the Five Dynasty (907 – 960) and owned by Muslims after the Yuan Dynasty.


It was rebuilt in the Ming Dynasty because of devastating fires. According to an investigation in 1950, the mosque covered an area of 2300 m² with a Chinese traditional square construction.


Though the gate of the mosque was converted into street shops during the Republican period, it still maintains the architectural style of Ming Dynasty and the stone balustrades in front of the hall are even the same as those made 1000 years ago.


Shaowu Mosque



In the Yuan Dynasty, some Hui Muslims followed Genghis Khan’s troops down to the south and settled in Shaowu town of Fujian. The Shaowu Mosque was firstly built by the descendants of these Muslims in 1372.


But it was destroyed by big fires during the Ming Dynasty. Five years later, a local Muslim called Yang donated his house and turned it into a mosque.


With foursquare building structure and double deck peaked roofs, the buildings of this mosque are in traditional Chinese style. And the garden which is widely planted with grapes vines and other flowers is designed in the Arabic style.


Xiamen Mosque 


The Xiamen Mosque which is located in Gongyuan Nan Road was built in the Qing Dynasty (1616-1911). It is a small mosque and only covers an area of 500 square metres.


Of the four mosques in Fujian, this one is the smallest with the shortest history. After Xiamen was opened to foreign trade, more and more Muslims started coming into this city. As the formal wooden structure mosque couldn’t fulfill their needs, so, they converted it into a concrete mosque with tea room, washing room and a three-storied Minaret.



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