Colin visited Xinjiang five times, in 1982, 1994, 1999, 2007 and 2010. He has taken an interest in the situation with Islam. Although there are many restrictions, mosques operate openly and freely but can run into serious trouble if their clergy opposes the state or takes actions that look like threatening secession.
Almost all of these pictures were taken during his 1999 and 2010 visits. In Xinjiang there are about 25,000 mosques, and the pictures are of only a few of them. In general, Islam is very much stronger in southern Xinjiang than elsewhere in the Region.
The Sinic Muslims called Hui worship in Chinese-style mosques, while the Uygurs normally worship in mosques in Central Asian style. The reason for this is that the sermons are in different languages, Chinese for the Hui, Uygur for the Uygurs. The former are Chinese in style, and have something in common with Buddhist temples. The latter are quite Central Asian in style, the prayer-halls open to the outside, although covered.
In contrast to Buddhism or the main branches of Christianity, Islam does not permit images of people, which means that the interiors of mosques are quite stark by comparison with Buddhist temples of Christian churches in the sense that they lack the pictures or statues that are so common in the worshipping places of Christianity or Buddhism. However, Islam does encourage quotations from the Qur’an, which are prominent.
Some explanation of the Golden Mosque in Yarkant
The Golden Mosque was first built in 1533 but has been restored many times. It is one of the most beautiful ancient mosques in Xinjiang.
One of its special features is that the king who presided over its construction Abdurixithan is buried there. Also very interesting is the tomb of his wife Amanisahan (1526-60), who died in childbirth. Despite her comparatively short life she is credited with collecting and editing what has become the standard version of the “Twelve Muqam”. In song and dance form, these are the most famous and outstanding examples of traditional Uygur performing arts.
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