Islamic worship


Islamic worship
Lived Muslim praxis emphasizes halal food, daily prayer and ritual highlights, such as saints’ days, naming rites, wedding ceremonies and funeral rites. Festivals common to all Chinese Muslims are Kaizhaijie (Id al-Fitr), the Festival of Fast-Breaking, and Zaishengjie (Id al-Adha). All Muslim communities hold grand ceremonies on Kaizhaijie, also known as Da’erde (‘most important festival’). Muslim men worship in mosques, and women wherever they are permitted. In areas where women’s mosques exist, they are as crowded as the men’s. Before prayer, Muslims give alms (Sadaqah al-Fitr, also known as maiziqian) in support of the poor. After prayer, worshippers exchange seliamu (blessings) and families partake in youxing (Islamic food). Some believers go to the ancestral grave, chanting the Koran and mourning the dead. Muslim minorities in Xinjiang give special attention to Zaishengjie.
Shengji is a feast-day observing the Prophet’s birthday and day of death. All Chinese Muslims honour the occasion except for Islamic Brotherhood (Yihewani) and Sailaifiye Muslims. Muslim women observe Nüshengji (Fatima taitaijie), with prayer at their mosque to commemorate Fatima, the Prophet’s daughter (see Islam and women).
Three important religious rites are observed in the life of every Chinese Muslim: baby naming, weddings and funeral rites. The ritual of naming a new-born is known as Qijingming, presided over by an ahong (religious leader). Boys are given names of great Islamic prophets, while the names of girls are commonly derived from female members of the Prophet Muhammed’s family.
The wedding ceremony is also performed by an ahong, chanting the Koran and pronouncing in both Arabic and Chinese on the legitimacy of the wedding. While the ritual is unvaried, bridal dress, banquet and ornamentation reflect changing times and regional tastes. Similarly, funeral rites, known as Zhenazi (Janazah), are similar in the various Islamic orders, but mourning, filial dress and prescribed mourning periods reveal diversity. Like Han Chinese, Gedimu Muslims cover their head, waist and shoes with white cotton cloth, crying loudly and chanting the Koran to mourn the deceased (after seven days, forty days, one hundred days and one year). Islamic Brotherhood and Sailaifiye Muslims only wear white prayer caps at the funeral and do not observe the mourning period. Since the 1990s, some Gedimu Muslims have chosen to mourn in a manner more akin to the Islamic Brotherhood.
Special qingzhen (Islamic) plates marked in Arabic and carrying pictures of a traditional ablution kettle (tangping) are seen on windows or above the gate of Halal restaurants and food stalls offering Islamic goods (qingzhenshipin). Deep-fried dough cake (youxiang) is a common religious food made and eaten during Islamic banquets (jingtangxi), religious festivals, weddings and funerals. But Muslims in different regions have their own distinctive foods, such as zhuafan (made of mutton, carrots and rice) popular in Xinjiang.
See also: Islam in China
Dillon, M. (1999). China’s Muslim Hui Community: Migration, Settlement and Sects. Richmond: Curzon.
Ma, Q.C. and Ding, H. (1998). Zhongguo Yisilan wenhuade leixing yü minzu tese. Beijing: Zhongyan minzu daxue chubanshe.
SHUI JINGJUN

Encyclopedia of contemporary Chinese culture. . 2011.

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