Mosques first appeared in China during the Tang Dynasty (618–907), when Islam was introduced to China by Arabic traders. The first mosques were built in the places where the Arabic traders settled down, including Beijing, Shanghai, Guangzhou, Hangzhou and Quanzhou. The Huaisheng Mosque in Guangzhou, Qingjing Mosque in Quanzhou, Zhenjiao Mosque in Hangzhou and Libai Mosque in Yangzhou were the oldest four mosques in China.
Mosques set up before the Ming Dynasty (1368–1644)) followed the Arabic architectural styles. However, during the Ming and Qing (1644–1911) dynasties, elements of traditional Chinese architecture began to be added to mosques. Mosques built during these periods such as Niujie Mosque in Beijing, the Great Mosque in Xian and Songjiang Mosque in Shanghai are mixtures of Chinese garden and Arabic style.
Islam developed fast during the Qing Dynasty, and a lot of mosques were set up across the country. Nowadays, there are around 20,000 mosques in China. Below are four of the most architecturally stunning.
It is the largest and one of the most important Islamic places of worship in China. The construction started in 742 AD, and is a combination of traditional Chinese architecture and Islamic art. The Great Mosque was constructed at that time to honor the founders of Islam in China. Since then many other mosques have been erected across the county.
The building complex is in a grand Islamic style with strong religious features, which consists of a gate tower, a courtyard, a doctrine-teaching hall and a big Hall of Prayer. "Idgar" means festival worship and assembling place in the local dialect. Over years, the Idgar Mosque has become a sacred religious place as well as a place for celebrating important festivals.
Architecture of the mosque combines traditional Chinese style and the local features, with grand appearance and delicate, dazzlingly inside ornaments. The mosque has a prayer hall which can hold up to 3,000 people. Now this mosque serves as an educational center and institution of higher learning for Islamism, and also is the leading mosque in Qinghai.
The Kowloon Mosque and Islamic Centre is a big and beautiful square building with a pink roof and a dome on the top. It is the biggest Islamic mosque building in Hong Kong, and is located in Tsim Sha Tsui where there is a big population of people from Muslim countries. The building was designed by architect I.M. Kadri. It can accommodate about 3,000 people at one time.
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