The Ox Street Mosque was originally constructed in the year 996 AD of the Northern Song Dynasty, in an effort to house the most important islamic Clergy then in China. Its founder, one Nasruddin, was the son of an Arabic priest who had become the Head Mullah of the Xuanwu (and thus Beijing) flock.
Both had traveled to China along the ancient Silk Road to preach and spread the Islamic faith. By 996 AD, Xuanwu was in desperate need of a mosque, and relations with the Imperial Court had grown well enough to gain this important imperial favor, establishing in fact, an officialy recognized muslim enclave. Since then it has been the most important Mosque in the City of Beijing, only gaining in importance through time.
This page was last updated on: June 7, 2017
A sub-gate giving entrance to the Mosque Garden. Not much of the mosque can be glimpsed from the outside, a high and solid wall blocking the view.
The Entrance Passage leads through a small wooden Gate into the Mosque Grounds . From here it is obvious where to go and the Main Prayer Hall is immediately in view. Walk around inside to get a better look. Usually you are free to roam around and no entrance fee is required or collected. During prayer times, of course, visitors are somewhat less welcome, depending on their intentions and level of respect. If you came down for prayers yourself you are most welcome. If you are not islamic, or female, please do not venture around inside the Main Prayer Hall. Take your shoes off if you do.
The Front of Ox Street Mosque small but historically important Main Hall. The Interior of the Hall is a small architectural wonder.
A well-protected stone inscription in the Mosque Garden. The upright tablet of an emperor's decree proclaimed in 1694 AD during the early Qing Dynasty.
Islamic women-folk leaving the Main Prayer Area at prayer times. In islam women pray and worship in separate spaces from the Men.
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The Beautifully shaped large copper pot (vessel) dating back to the year 1702 AD, and the reign of Emperor Kang Xi , is one of the original Mosque Treasures. Find it on display in the back of the Temple Garden.
Side-view of the Main Prayer Hall at prayer time. Due to the small size of the Mosque and large size of Xuanwu Flock, refreshed by new migrants to the City, Men are seated outside (in 2005 before expansion of 2006).
Walk along the passage past a huge board or sign, carrying some kind of islamic sentence or expression. It is an impressive sight.
There are also several notes and announcements on Mosque Activities and upcoming festivals. Other depictions warn for gruesome road-kill incidents involving bicycles, cars and even heavy traffic. Not a very pleasant sight, but mind you - with the advent of mass car ownership in China, the number of injured and dead due to road collisions has sky rocketed.
An islamic expression, no doubt of holy meaning, advertised in the passage into the Mosque.
On both sides of the Main Hall are the northern and southern lecture rooms used to lecture about the scriptures and the Kuran Islamic Holy Book. Behind and away from the Main Prayer hall there are several other pavilions and structures used as classrooms and small musea of relics. There further is a small bathouse located somewhere on the grounds, an ancient conference Hall and last but not least a central small tower, directly across from the Main Hall, which is the mosque's minaret (Xuanli Tower) from which the Imam calls the flock to Prayers 5 times a day, beginning at dawn. The minaret or calling tower, according to sources is a "two-storey obelisk in the centre of the courtyard, was originally built as a script depository". From the outside however, it does not look like anything special and strongly resembles an ordinary temple bell- or drum-tower found as an essential part of any temple in the city. The square construction stands directly across from the Main Prayer Hall.
Gardens with steles are interspersed to make the right composition and athmosphere for a Temple. As mentioned the Ox Street Mosque with its 10 century long history is the Burial Grounds for some important islamic clergy. In fact two Silk Road travelers, one from Iran and one from Uzbekistan are enshrined and buried here. The tomb for Ahmad Burdani was built in 1320 AD, and the one for Ali in 1283 AD. The tombstones bear Arabic inscriptions and have been set into a nearby wall.Their tombs however are difficult to locate, especially without any knowledge of arabic script. Find them in the a seperate court in the south-east corner of the Mosque grounds. They are regarded rarely well preserved relics.
Further decorations to the Garden are minimalistic in comparison to some other chinese temples, especially the taoist ones. As the teaching of the Koran forbid the portrayal of human or animal forms, the designs and patterns
There is not much data on the history of the Ox Street Mosque after its foundation in 996 AD during the Northern Song Dynasty. In the 10 centuries past several reconstructions have transformed the original mosque into a chinese looking Temple. Major renovation projects were carried out in the year 1442 AD of the Ming Dynasty. Another repair was done during the time of Emperor Kangxi (1662-1722) the longest reigning Emperor of the Ching Dynasty, both being times of prosperity. Lastly, after the founding of the People's Republic of China in 1949 the mosque
almost personally responsible for the saving of many cultural relic in the City and beyond. In 1966 AD new renovations were even undertaken where elsewhere in China religious relics were attacked and wiped out in the middle of political crisis.
After the ordeal of the Cultural Revolutions new repairs were necessary and undertaken in 1976 AD. More recently, in April 2006 renovations have started on the small complex, with the city Governement making Ox Street Mosque a Cultural Relic under State protection. The total area of the Mosque has expanded mainly to the North and East from a previous 4,700 square meters to 10,000 square meters. In the process a
In islamic tradition women pray in seperate quarters from the Men. Previously the women's prayer hall was housed in a very small room in the back of the complex, but it was not a worthwhile visit until recently. With the new expansion of the complex in 2006, the new women's prayer hall is not a historic
Hall at all, but a brandnew
The exact date depending on the phasing of the moon. Inside the Pot porridge and meat would be prepared to hand out to the muslim faithful in celebration at the ending of Ramadan.
structure. Pleasant Gardens have been added in the same year. Dwell around the small complex a little more studying the halls, artefacts and native muslim folk, or be done with your visit and return outside to the streets of Xuanwu District.
After passing south and adjacent to the Main Ceremonial Archway with directly behind it the Moon-Gazing Tower one enters a narrow passage, leading up to a minor entrance of the Mosque. The visiting faithful flock, mosque keepers and even the Imam park their bicycles here, and there are some offices along the alley and beyond. This is not your correct direction however. Please don't venture around these area's.
During the politically over-correct upheavals of the cultural revolution era in which many of finest chinese religious relics were damaged, smashed and destroyed, the Ox Street Mosque was saved by none less than Premier Zhou Enlai himself. An intelligent man , raised above any suspicion as a founding revolutionary and veteran, with a great feel for china's history and culture he was
Somewhere inside a pavilion in this vicinity is an inscription dating
to the year 1496 AD, during the midst of the Ming Dynasty, but
wear and tear of ages has made it unintelligable, even with
knowledge of islamic script. Another treasure is a big copper pot
or cauldron displayed centrally in the garden. The Pot was
used during the Main Islamic Festival (sugar feast) usually starting
around the 27th of October
An interesting relic when decoded and recognised as such is the the upright tablet of the Emperor's decree proclaimed in 1694 during the Qing Dynasty. Through the receiving of the Stele the Ox Street Mosque was once again officialy recognized and had the court's favors bestowed on it. As such it is one of the most important treasures of the Mosque.
buildings were entirely repainted and redecorated, again winning favors with the minorities and gaining important political support. In 1955 there were still further renovations.
The main part of the original Temple Complex is The Prayer Hall which takes up more than 600 square meters (of the now 10.000 total). Before renovations of the Mosque in 2006 AD the small but splendid Hall could shelter more than 1000 persons at one time for mass congregation and consisted of three spacious enclosing corridors. The original internal all-wooden architecture includes 18 posts forming 21 arches to support the roof-beams of the Hall. Parts of Alcoran are carved on two of the arches. In the middle of the Hall is a tablet of scriptures written in letters of gold. As a result, the interior of the Hall is very colorful and bright, and seems to radiate towards the incoming visitor. The new situation with the enlarged Prayer Hall is, as yet, unkown to us (chinareport.com).
public bathroom for pre-prayer washings was set up and natural gas pipelines for heating inside the complex were added. A 50 KV substation has been built, unspecified illegal building within the Mosque was demolished and a new and more official hall for female worshippers to do religious services was set up.
are mainly geometrical in all of the decorations and/or are composed of Arabic letters. There is not much color except from the surrounding newly renovated halls and the visiting locals.
This page was last updated on: June 7, 2017
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