Niujie Mosque The Ox Street Mosque (牛街清真寺) is the oldest mosque in Beijing, which could be traced back to about 1.000year ago. In the course of several reconstructions, the Chinese architectural features have supplanted the original Islamic influences.
From the outside, the mosque could be mistaken for a Chinese Taoist or Buddhist temple until you notice that it is laid out on an east-west axis. This is because Moslems face Mecca when praying Mecca lies to the west, compared to China.
Inside the front gate is the Mon Watching Tower. This is where the imam observes the waxing and waning of the moon in order to decide when the fasting month of Ramadan begins and ends. In front of the tower is a memorial archway and a screen wall covered with carved murals. Beyond is the main prayer hall.
To the rear of the main prayer hall is a group of smaller halls, some of which are used as classrooms, and stele pavilions. There is also a bathhouse. The wall decorations consist of Arabic letters and geometrical patterns. There is an inscription in Arabic and Chinese dating from 1496, but over the centuries it has become illegible. In the center of this section there is a minaret from which the muezzin calls the faithful to prayer five times a day, beginning at dawn. In the grounds are the tombs of two travelers, one from Iran and the other from Uzbekistan.
Islam was probably introduced to China in the Tang Dynasty ,and now four percent of China's population is Muslim. Beijing has some 210,000 Muslims. Relations between Muslims and non-Muslims have been strained in the past. During the cultural revolution, when religious buildings were under attack, the personal intervention of the late Premier Zhou Enlai saved the Ox Street Mosque from destruction.
Add.: No.88, middle road, Niujie, Xicheng District
Ticket Price: free
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