Written by Junaid's Pen

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Posts Tagged ‘History

Sitting with Old Uetians

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I believe we learn more from experienced person, than from books. It is always great to be surrounded with men, or women for that matter who have the world of experiences. And who can have experienced the world or reality of life than the older people. I really enjoy sitting with them who have worked, lived and experienced this world. I enjoy listening to them and just listen without saying anything. This is can be because I didn’t get much time to be with my grandparents. They left this world very early, when I was young and had no idea of life. May Allah bless all of them and give them highest place in Heaven.

So, what can be more educative sitting than with your old universities fellows? We surely can share some stories or experiences. I graduated from oldest and largest engineering university of Pakistan, which is University of Engineering and Technology Lahore. Historically, Lahore has been a centre of cultural heritage for many civilizations. It successively served as regional capital of many empires; the Shahi kingdoms in the 11th century, the Ghaznavids in the 12th century, the Ghurid State in the 12th and 13th century, the Mughal Empire in the 16th century, the Sikh Empire in the early 19th century, and it was the capital of the Punjab region under the British Raj in the mid 19th and early 20th century; and my university, short as UET is located at the heart of this cultural city.

Just like Lahore, the history of UET goes way back. It was initially Railway Workshops which was built in 1890s. Then for the training of its employees classes were also built. The technical education started in 1921 as the ‘Mughalpura Technical College ’, later it became the ‘Maclagan Engineering College’, a name given to it in 1923. In 1932 it was affiliated with another old University, the Punjab University and started awarding Bachelors Degrees. After independence of Pakistan in 1947 university grew more and in 1961 it was named “West Pakistan University of Engineering Technology, Lahore” with it’s another campus in Dhaka (now Bangladesh). After 1971 university was officially named University of Engineering and Technology, Lahore; abbreviated as UET Lahore which still exists.

You can guess that just like its history, university must have produced great scholars and professional with various experiences over the period of time. I had a chance to meet some of them, all together at one place. I was once invited to dinner at one of my relatives and to my surprise every person sitting there was ex-student of UET Lahore and had studied there at different times. They were sharing their university experiences with each other, it was blessing in disguise.

One of them graduate from UET in 1953, I wasn’t even born at that time. He spent most of life in Pakistan Railways and even after his retirement he is still respected in his field, still visiting and providing consultancy even outside Pakistan. One of them graduated in 1987, I was 3 years old at that time. It was time when political tension was high in Pakistan and politics have entered in universities. He talked about protests, boycotting of exams which led to delaying of his degree.

But most interesting experience was from the one who graduated from UET in 1971, the time when East Pakistan was separated and became Bangladesh. He was bright student; though he was admitted in UET Lahore but was transferred to UET Dhaka as exchange student on scholarship. According to him, his provisional passing certificate says East Pakistan University of Engineering and Technology Dhaka but his degree is awarded by University of Engineering and Technology Lahore.

He shared while reminding his past, when he took his final exams in UET Dhaka; the 1971 war broke out between Pakistan and India, which ended with creation of Bangladesh. At war-time Pakistan Air Force took all the Pakistani students from Dhaka in C130; the large cargo airplane used by air force which flew them to Srilanka as India was not allowing Pakistan to use its air-space. After couple of days he was taken to Lahore. Then University of Engineering and Technology Lahore decided them to award degree with its new name.

Amazing! I was surprised to learn that time make you experience so many things which we never imagined of. One day may be, I will be retired 70 years old engineer and sharing my university life experiences with my juniors. Who knows!? Life is a big university of its own teaching you at every step.

Written by Junaid

March 9, 2011 at 10:07 AM

Pakistan 2011- Democracy or Dictatorship

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It is very unfortunate that after 63 years of creation of Pakistan added to the 200 years of struggle against foreign intruders, we are still debating over Democracy and Dictatorship is Pakistan. We were able to get an independent state but failed to give freedom, equality, tolerance, social justice and democracy to its people. Iqbal’s Pakistan was never achieved; we got Jinnah’s Pakistan but lost part of it in 1971. It’s up to us whether we blame it on failed democracy or thriving dictatorship; but truth is that we lost the identity of largest country achieved for Muslim minority of Indian subcontinent.

Going through the pages of political history of Pakistan; rather take out just a moment of your time to remember the names of all the “Democratic Premiers” and all the “Democratic Presidents” who ruled us over the period of time. I am emphasizing on “Democratic” because we have seen dictators also produced their own presidents and ministers; I bet you can’t remember them, at least I can’t. On contrary if we start naming dictators; not only names, their time of rule, their duration of rule, even we can write books on their personal lives; why is that? It is not criticism on our general knowledge, rather it is the reminder sad truth we have been living all our lives.

I can talk on behalf of today’s generation, the first news we ever heard about politics was the 1999 military coup over democratic government. And then we spent our age of growth and learning under military rule. The other day I was discussing with my father and he told me that when he was in school, Ayub Khan ruled Pakistan; at his professional age Zia-ul-Haq ruled our country and when they got more senior Musharaf came. Just look at history of all the major events or major achievements we ever got were at the time of dictatorship.

Don’t think that I am in favour of Dictatorship … no … never ever ever … its not possible; my mind refuses to accept the basic and fundamental concept of dictatorship. How can a country like Pakistan, with its population of more than 18 crore, where more than 70 languages are spoken, where people belonging from various religions, cast and nations be ruled by ONE person with its whole sole powers. Experience has shown that in a working democracy mistakes can eventually be corrected before the society breaks down. The history of dictatorships on the other hand shows that they end all in violent and bloody mess. We have seen in Tunis, in Egypt and now witnessing in Libya. Dictatorship is not made for Pakistan.

But the Pakistan’s most successful 5 year plan of 1960-1965 was during time of military dictator Ayub Khan. This plan earned Pakistan 200% profit and it was copied by countries like South Korea. USSR lost its respect as super power at the time military dictator Zia-ul-Haq, that’s separate debate what we got in return but we did it. So-called freedom of press was awarded in another military dictator’s time i.e: Pervaiz Musharaf. On contrary democratic governments failed to give us any constitution for 9 years after creation of Pakistan, we got but it was brutally torn apart many times. Democratic government played with it by making silly amendments. It was during democracy when we lost East Pakistan in 1971. It was democratic government who ordered police to open fire on protestors rallying against electoral fraud of 1977. Army action was taken place in Balochistan during democratic government and city of lights had blood bath because of so-called democratic government claiming to be representing majority. And now during democratic time we are still arguing whether Pakistan needs democracy or dictatorship.

So this means, something is wrong and has always been wrong which made Pakistan to see the times in which we are living today. May be we never really understood the meaning of democracy. Seems like just completing your count to show majority is democracy, it’s just a number game for us to have the might of majority; whoever they may be and whatever they do. The objective resolution is 1949 states that Pakistan is a sovereign independent state “Wherein the principles of democracy, freedom, equality, tolerance and social justice as enunciated by Islam shall be fully observed”, the classic example of Dasti with fake degree and winning election confirm the democracy as number game. My point is we got the democracy but we were not able to create any democratic system in which democracy flourishes and don’t remain mere number game.

What about an example to make it more understandable. A murderer kills someone and was then caught by lets say 20 men. Voting was held to decide the fate of the killer, 15 among 20 votes in favour to hang him and 5 opposes the decision. If democracy is just game of numbers to favour majority then according to this definition of democracy he will be hanged. On contrary if democracy is a system to govern the country where principles of freedom, equality, tolerance and social justice prevails, the murderer can claim it rights and ask the Judicial system, part of democratic system to prosecute him and decide his fate.

Let me put forward to you what I believe real democracy is and what it requires to flourish. Concept of democracy existed in 508 B.C with Greeks, but there has been no final definition on which political science students agreed. That’s why we see many different kind of democratic systems with its own way of selections came over the period of time; famous being presidential democracy and parliamentary democracy, wikipedia can list other for you if interested. But there has been points, some basic structures and some basic requirements everyone have agreed upon; the most important being “Separation of Powers”.

The state is divided into branches, each with its separate and independent powers and areas of responsibility so that no one branch has more power than the other branches. The normal division of branches is

  • Executive
  • Legislature
  • Judiciary.

In parliamentary democracy like Pakistan the responsibilities of executive is done by Prime Minister along with his cabinet, legislation is done by Parliament with its two houses of National Assembly and Senate whereas Judiciary is definitely a complete system of its own. In Presidential form of democracy the executive is President with his whole power, legislature is Congress and judiciary is judicial system. But we can see in Pakistan cabinet with its large number and corruption, parliament with its fake degrees and suppression of judiciary over the years destroyed and derailed democracy from time to time. Which confirms that whole bunch of other systems has to be defined to ensure proper governance with its real democratic system.

I want to put forward the components, rather sub-systems of any democracy but first there are some other basic points of on which different studies have agreed upon. The real democratic system should ensure Shared Respect and Shared Power within its citizens.

  • Shared Respect

Because we all are human and contribute to the society, we should be respecting each other point of view with tolerance and treat everyone equally. Everyone should be given fair chance to learn and develop some skills in order to be useful for the society. And we should all be recognising each other rights irrespective of profession, cast, creed or religion. Thus shared respect ensures thriving democracy.

  • Shared Power

A working democratic system ensures shared power between its citizens representing different group of societies. Students unions, factory labour unions, farmer unions and many others represent their respective community thus playing important is democracy of the country. Every citizen voluntarily votes for election of its representative without interference, thus every citizen is sharing bit power indirectly. And most importantly the opposition voices are respected and heard thus ensure their share of power.

Beside shared respect and shared power, some conditions of democracy are agreed upon by different political science students’ i.e: Economic balance and Enlightenment. Aristotle believed that the middle-income men contribute more to the society thus providing economic balance. Enlightenment is freedom of getting information which is done my public education, books, magazines and most importantly free media.

For shared respect, shared power, economic balance and for enlightenment different other systems are put forward in-order to have proper working democratic system which grows and amend itself. I will try to put forward some common and rather most important factors for working democracy.

Constitution is the most sacred document in any democratic country. The set of rules put forward by different group of society and agreed upon by the selective representative of society is very important for any successful democratic system. But constitutional history of Pakistan as we all know is very dark and dramatic. For 9 years since the creation of Pakistan we had no constitution, once we had it was brutally raped by dictators. And even last 1973 constitution has been disrespectfully treated by making 19 amendments to it and unfortunately mostly done by democratically elected men.

Judiciary should be independent, free from any outside interference. It’s no news for us that how judiciary has been treated. Social Justice is ensured by the judicial system and how it can ensured until unless judiciary is having trouble of its own.

Social Security is vital important in any democratic country and is ensured by the security forces or police. Unfortunately in Pakistan the political parties have been assigned different quota to hire its own policemen in-order to confirm the power which totally violates the fundamental concept of democracy.

Education system ensures the enlightenment condition of any democratic system. Citizens should be well-aware of laws, constitution and their right. The educational institution should also work as political institution where future leaders or political activist should be created. Student politics should be legal and well-governed by the institution itself, otherwise the Family politics will never in country like Pakistan.

Election Commission should independent of any political influence and is responsible for free and fair election. The voters list should be error free and encourage its citizen to take part in electoral system. Not only education system, election commission should also be involved in educating the citizens and realising them the importance of voting to decide their future.

Last but not least the Accountability. Umer bin Abdulaziz, who was caliph of Ummayid Dynasty and was famously called the fifth caliph once said, “Rulers usually appoint people to watch over their subjects. I appoint you a watcher over me and my behaviour. If you find me at fault in word or action guide me and stop me from doing it”. The accountability or the check and balance have vital importance in democratic system. This rules out the might of majority and ensures that democracy should not be considered as number game. NAB (National Accountability Bureau) of Pakistan is supposed to responsible for that but unfortunately this institution has never been given its deserved power and been played in hands of politicians.

Democracy or democratic system is not heavenly devised system; it is system of government of the people, by the people, for the people; which can have loopholes and can be played with, but proper democratic system grows with time differently from nation to nation. We Pakistanis as independent nation living in independent and sovereign country can, shall and will produce such a democratic system with justice for its citizen, rights of the people, accountability of empowered, education to its youth and proper economic system. No wonder Pakistan can become the country which Allama Muhammad Iqbal wished for. LONG LIVE PAKISTAN

Blueness of Red Sea

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I have seen many beaches and seen many waters ways, rivers and seas around the world, but none of them compares to beauty and aggressiveness of Red Sea. Red Sea is located in Arabian Peninsula and borders Saudi Arabia, Yemen, Egypt, Sudan, Eriteria. The historic city which resides on Red sea shores is Jeddah.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Excavations in the old city suggest that Jeddah was founded as a fishing hamlet in 500 B.C by the Yemeni Quada tribe, who left central Yemen to settle in Makkah after the destruction of the Marib Dam in Yemen. Other archaeological studies have shown that the area was settled earlier by people in the Stone Age, as some Thamudi scripts were excavated in Wadi Briman west of the city, and Wadi Boweb, northwest of the city. It was visited by Alexander The Great (356 B.C. – 323 B.C.).

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

This city rose to its importance when the third Caliph of Islam Uthman bin Afan made it the gateway to Holy city of Makkah. Now Jeddah has the largest and oldest King Abdul Aziz Sea Port which is the business hub and stay point for the ships crossing the red sea going towards Suez Canal. This is also the entrance point for the pilgrims trying to enter Makkah through Sea.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

I have got chance to visit and view the beautiful corniche of Jeddah; it was adventurous and mesmerizing experience. Sitting on the rock in the middle of sea and cold splashing waves of water trying to push you on the ground was the never forgetting experience.

Written by Junaid

January 25, 2011 at 10:39 PM

Historic Town of Badr

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The small town of Badr, located 130 km south-west of Holy city of Madina in Kingdom of Saudi Arabia. Though it only covers a couple of square kilometres of area but enjoys great historic significance.

When Last Prophet of God Muhammad (Peace Be upon Him) left Makkah in 622 AD, towards Madina making it the first Welfare state of Islam, it was obvious that He would face resistance from his opponents. This opposition took the shape of war in 624 AD, which came to be known as Battle of Badr. That’s why this small town stores 1400 years long history.

Thanks to my job, I got a chance to visit this town. After visiting sites in Madina we left towards Red Sea town of Yanbu, we took small detour on our way to Badr.  The Battle field is still preserved where all the martyrs are buried. Because of intense security we were not able to take pictures of graveyard, but there proudly stands a monument with the names of martyrs engraved on it. I am honoured to have visited this historic place

Badr Monument

Written by Junaid

September 11, 2010 at 12:00 AM

The Great Mosque of Xi’an – History of Islam in China – Part 1

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The hut shaped articulate structure with bilateral symmetry is an eye opener for everyone. If this fantastic structure is of any Historic Mosque; this leaves no choice besides praising it from heart. This was my feeling when I visited The Great Mosque of Xi’an in China.

Last year I got a chance to visit China for the first time. This was a business trip which turned into the most memorable trip of my life. My stay was in Eastern city of Xi’an; it was just for couple of weeks but it was worth it.

Before going there I tried my level best to study as much as I can before going there. There were many magnificent facts I came to know about this centuries old city which I never heard of. Xi’an is the capital city of Shaanxi province. It is also among the Four Great Ancient Capitals of China. It has been capital under Zhou, Qin, Han, the Sui and Tang dynasties but this city is believed to exist for 1 million years. Two human skeletons believed to be 500,000 years old were discovered and not only that, two villages named Banpo & Neolithic were also discovered in outskirts of Xi’an which are believed to be 6,500 years old. Just these couple of facts tells you how important this city has been over period of time.

When I arrived in Xi’an, I was joined by very good group people arrived from different part of the world. My blog would be worthless if I didn’t mention my new friends. Zaid was from Iraq, Muhannad also from IraqMuzaffar was Tajik, Bakhoudir Uzbek, Surgey Ukrainian, Naran Mongolian, John Zambian, Jane from Lesotho & I being Pakistani made the best multinational group one could imagine. Not only that; our team was lead by Miss ZhangHuanHuan; rather Miss Ashley (Chinese National) and she was the best support we could wish to have. It was just because of her that our trip turned into a memorable trip.

In our small stay of just two weeks, we went to see many historic places and not only that we all being crazy about soccer also got a chance to play a soccer match with Chinese university Soccer team. It was leveled by 0-0, just because of our two Iraqi forward players; otherwise you could imagine the result when the match is between group of lazy engineers and professional university soccer team.

Among the historic places we visited were Terracotta Warriors and Horses of Emperor Qin dated about 210 BC. Secondly we visited Giant Wild Goose Pagoda which Buddhist worshipping place dated back 652 AD during Tang Dynasty. This Pagoda is also surrounded by very large fountain which plays every night at 08:00 PM with different kinds of music. But our really trip started when we entered the old central city of Xi’an; more like Androon Lahore. This old city of Xi’an is surrounded by City Wall of Xi’an. This existing wall was started by Ming dynasty in 1370. The city wall stands 12 meters, 12-14 meters across the top, 15-18 meters thick at bottom and 13.7 kilometers in length with deep moats surrounding it. You can also enjoy walking or by cycling on the wall, which can be rented from the wall. We almost walked half the wall as after that our legs started getting angry with us.

Entering into this old city takes you back to old Chinese civilization for which they are very proud of.  The first thing you will see after crossing very crowded market on both sides of the road is The Bell Tower. This is 40m height square tower proudly built in 1384 by Ming dynasty. It also contains many bronze caste bells from Tang Dynasty. This tower is perfect example of Chinese architecture; it rings every morning at 08:00 AM in the morning to wake up the whole city. By passing through the famous tunnel under the Bell Tower you are welcomed by huge tower, The Drum Tower. It was erected in 1380 again in Ming dynasty. If Bell Tower announces the start of day then it is duty of Drum Tower to indicate the end of day by beating of huge drums on its first floor.

Just to north of Drum Tower you will enter into most crowded, most exciting and most hustle bustle part of Xi’an. “Welcome to Muslim Street” is proudly hanging on the entrance of this street. This street represents the very existence of the Great of Islam is every corner of the world, this street makes you feel you are at home and the hospitality of the people assures our unity. Residents are almost 100% Muslims; its very existence is proven by writing on the walls, by names of restaurants, by food which is being served, by white caps on men and scarf on women heads.

This street is the busiest market of Xi’an. You will see shops on both sides of the road and even two lanes of carts in the middles. Everything is being solved here, from cheapest to most expensive one, from clothes to souvenirs and from chicken roast to famous Chinese tea.

When you entered the streets you are welcomed by overwhelming smell of chicken tikka being grilled in front of every restaurant; and one every restaurants an Arabic text is written very boldly saying “Mat’am Al-Islam”, meaning Islamic Restaurant; and every worker on these restaurants were wearing white caps proudly showing their Islamic identity to everyone. In country of majority non-Muslims population, this was blessing for us. We had Chicken Tikka, Naan, Pulao Rice to our full; no doubt it was the refreshing for us as for long time we were stuck with white rice and fish only.

After filling our tummies we went to look around. We saw every kind of people from all around the world, but we were also saddened by conditions of Muslims their. They mostly seemed poor and living in small apartments; but they didn’t look sad for it. We saw one very old guy singing song for us just for small amount of money, we went to one shop filled with souvenirs which was run by one Muslim women wearing scarf. While working she was also teaching his little kid who was at the shop doing his homework. After seeing all this; I really felt myself at home and praised to Allah for making me part of largest united society of the world, known as Muslims.

As the shops on this street are about to end you will turn left, which will lead you to the centre of the market. There you will again find many shops. The hospitality and marketing strategy of the shopkeepers will force you to buy anything from them. On our small trip to this market, I almost spend 3000 yuan. Sounds excessive, but I couldn’t help it. But I don’t think it was waste of money as I bought many cool Chinese traditional things for example Chinese famous Kungfu shirts like the one worn by Master Sheefu in Kungfu Panda and bought packs of famous Chinese Jasmine and green tea.

At the end of this street we again turned left to a very narrow street, hardly to the width of one person. Here we found some of the very old homes, giving me the feeling of Androon Lahore streets. Most of the residents here were Muslims, we met many people sitting outside and greeting us with Islamic greetings of Asalam-o-Alaikum, means Peace be upon you. We also one home, on top of its front door it was boldly written with golden ink on Black background, La Ilaah Ha-Illah hu Muhammad Ur-Rasool Allah; “There is no god but ALLAH and Muhammad (PBUH) is the last messenger of Allah”. As the street was about to end and there were no shops around you, we went to the place for which we have come that far; which made me right this whole blog; we saw a big board saying “Jam’ia Al-Kabeer Bi-Shian”, The Great Mosque of Xi’an.

As we went near the big wooden brown gate of The Great Mosque of Xi’an we were welcomed very graciously by two elderly men and women wearing white cap and scarf; showing their identity as Muslims. They asked us, “Muslim?” as we nodded yes they immediately greeted us with Asalam-o-Alaikum and let us without any Ticket.

As we entered the mosque; we were amazed by size and marvelous structure of the mosque. As I wrote in the beginning, when Chinese architecture is mixed with any religious worshipping place like Mosque, it becomes a site worth seeing and worth admiring. This Mosque is built east to west so worshippers can pray toward Ka’aba which is towards the western side of Xi’an.

First thing we saw was the Wooden Memorial Archway. This archway which is believed to be built in beginning of 17th century has special upturned eaves, many layers of brackets and glazed roof tiles makes it a magnificent historic architecture. On both sides of this archway there are two North and South Exhibitions Halls which exhibits some old furniture from Ming and Qin dynasties.

As we move forward; we see one hall of rectangular shape with articulate pointy hut structure, known as The Five – Room Hall. On both sides of this hall there are two rooms assigned to The Islamic Association of Xi’an. Just behind The Five – Room Hall, there stand three connected gateways supported with four pillars, they are now known as The Stone Memorial Gateways. On top of middle main gate there is a title carved in Chinese calligraphy. It says: “The court of heaven”. These gateways are also surrounded by stone carved fences with two passages for entering and exiting on both sides. This stone complex is believed to be built in the Ming Dynasty.

Behind these gateways there stand two high towers or tablets with decoration of carved dragons. Both of them are also carved with inscriptions about the repairing of mosque at the imperial orders of Ming and Qin Dynasties. On the both sides of the stone gateways and stone tablets there are two rooms assigned for reception of different guests visiting the Mosque.

The next building which will welcome you as you move forward is The Imperial Hall, which is supposed to be the oldest building inside the mosque. As you enter inside the hall after couple of stairs, there will be almost six tomb stone like tablets erected with many text inscribed in Chinese and Arabic. It is said that one of the tablet inside The Imperial Hall is called “The Moon Tablet”, with Arabic text on it which is believed to be written one of the old Imam of this mosque by which people use to calculate the Hijri calendar.

Just next to The Imperial Hall, in he middle of very vast courtyard is the most amazing structure we saw, it is The Minaret or tourist call it The Introspection Tower. I would definitely call it The Minaret as a Mosque is incomplete without a minaret. The courtyard in which this minaret stands is called Qing Xiu Dian (“Place of Meditation”). This minaret which is tallest structure of the mosque is also known as the Xing Xin Ting (“Pavilion for Introspection”) or Sheng Xin Lou (“Tower of the Visiting Heart”). It is octagonal articulate structure which has three vast floors. Unlike earlier mosques, this tower combines two functions into one: the moon watching pavilion (or bangke tower) and the minaret. It is designed in traditional Chinese style: the exterior is decorated with blue glazed tiles and dragon heads. Inside, the carved ceiling is brightly painted with lotus flowers. On the southern side of minaret is the official reception hall which is The Domestic and Foreign Visitors’ Reception Hall of Great Mosque, while one the northern side is one lecture hall where we saw little kids learning how to read Quran. This hall has old written copy of Quran of Ming Dynasty and map of Makkah City from Qin Dynasty which are well preserved. To the east of reception hall there are baths and ablution areas where Muslims were washing themselves for the prayer.

This is courtyard is separated by the next courtyard via stone wall. This stone separation wall has three doorways. On top of every doorway Arabic text is written, on one doorway it is written in Arabic Al-Masajid Biyuut Ill-Al Mutaqeen, translated as Mosques are home for Pious and on top of middle door it says La Ilaah Ha-Illah hu Muhammad Ur-Rasool Allah; “There is no god but ALLAH and Muhammad (PBUH) is the last messenger of Allah. As we pass through we see three connected doorways decorated with fine brick carvings. This is called The One God Pavilion. It is a very special building with a combination of the Chinese traditional archway and pavilion. The whole architecture is also called The Phoenix Pavilion, there is also hung one small board with says One God in Chinese. On both sides of this pavilion there are two rooms which serve as small museums.

Next to this pavilion you will step on very big and vast platform through stone gateways. There were many old fountains, trees and chairs in the middle and side of the platform. This also holds the magnificent The Worship Hall. As we entered this worship hall we were stunned by the magnificent decorations and interior of the mosque. There were many Muslim men praying and reciting Quran inside. On the worshipper stood after seeing us and immediately greeted and asked, “Pakistani?”. After telling him that I am Pakistani, I loved to see the excitement on his face and how happily this person welcomed me to this mosque. That time I felt proud to be the citizen of only country created as on the name of Islam.

After entering this hall, one can very easily guess how old this mosque can be. Inside is decorated with beautiful colorful patterns of grass and flowers. We also see many old and beautiful light chandeliers still maintained very well. The walls are made of wooden boards in which whole Quran is carved, on top in Arabic and on lower part with its Chinese translation. As we move little bit forward, we saw wooden Mimbur where Khateeb delivers his sermon every week. On right side of Mimbur there is very old painting which seems to be old painting of Holy Mosque in Makkah. Then we entered the second part of the hall which is the farthest most part of Mosque. There we saw most beautiful, magnificent and marvelously decorated front wall which holds Mahrab, where imam stands and leads every prayer. This wooden wall is carved with flowers and leaves. Many Quranic Verses are also written on top most part of the wall.

After touring around and taking as many pictures as we can, we prayed Two Nawafil and then sat there for a while thinking what people of that time would have done to make this magnificent mosque and done the decorative work inside this hall. After that we went towards exit to leave the mosque, there we were met by one person, he asked from me some Coins of Pakistan. He told me whenever anyone comes to this mosque, I ask them coins of there respective countries which is his hobby. Well I didn’t have Pakistani coin at that time but I promised him next time when I will visit this mosque Inshallah; he also replied Inshallah very loudly and smiled. Then he gave one small Guidebook of Xi’an Great Mosque which turned out to be very informative for us. All the historic fact I entered above about the mosque is mostly from this book. As I started reading this book, the thing which fascinated me is the time when this Mosque was constructed.

This mosque was built in 742 A.D in Tang Dynasty. 742!!! … Holy Prophet Muhammad (PBUH) was born in 570/571 A.D, he received his first revelation in 610 A.D, meaning Islam arrived in 610 A.D and Islam got its strength when HE (PBUH) migrated to Madina in 620 A.D. So just with 132 years of arrival of Islam a magnificent mosque came into existence on farthest east of the world. This historic fact inspired me to do research how and when Islam came to China.

(stay tuned for part 2 …!!)

Written by Junaid

April 4, 2010 at 10:35 AM