Pict. 1 A chocolate halal pastry purchased from the food vendors
Pict. 2 Some of us in front of one of the temples!
Pict. 3 An essay commemorating the reconstruction of the mosque written by a Chinese Muslim scholar, Prof. Wu, who is going to take us to a halal breakfast tomorrow morning!
Pict. 4 entrance gate of Jingjue Mosque
Pict. 5 & 6 Dialogue with Mr. Jiang, the secretary general of the Nanjing Islam Association, and Ms. Yang, the woman imam working in the mosque
Pict. 7 Mr. Jiang and Ms. Yang at the mosque
Everyone survived Week One of classes! Compared to the past few days, today seemed like a breeze since we did not have to follow the Language Pledge or meet with our language partners. From 8-12 we had classes. Many students had an exam in one of their classes but I was lucky enough not to! In one of my classes we even had a small party because it was a girl’s birthday. She made an Armenian style cake for us all to try that was delicious!
After classes got out we all headed to the Nanjing Metro. For many of us it was the first time using public transportation in Nanjing. The station was extremely innovative. Instead of getting a paper ticket, you received a reusable plastic token. The carts are all air conditioned and as you pass through tunnels commercials and advertisements play on the wall. It was much nicer than the T in Boston! I was surprised how full the train was at one in the afternoon. After a few stops we got off; thankfully we did not have to change lines.
It was just a short walk to the Jingjue Mosque. The street to the Mosque was lined with food vendors selling halal food. When we entered the Mosque the midday prayer had just ended so we were able to explore. We learned that on Fridays roughly 400 foreigners come to the Mosque to pray. After walking around for a bit we headed to the restaurant next store where we experienced authentic, Chinese halal cuisine. Dong Laoshi had ordered a feast for us! We had pot stickers, vegetable noodles, and wonton soup just to name a few. The pot stickers were the biggest hit!
After filling up on the halal food we started our tour of the Mosque. Islam was brought to Nanjing nearly nine hundred years ago when the founder of the Ming Dynasty gained power by the help of Muslim generals and 100,000 Muslim soldiers. The Jingjue Mosque is over six hundred years old! It was established during the Ming Dynasty in 1405 when the Emperor at the time ordered it be built. You can tell that it was sponsored by an Emperor because the entrance gate has five dragons on it. The Mosque’s design was exquisite. It is an elegant blend of two different cultures; the architecture comes from the Ming and Qing Dynasty which is why the Mosque has a courtyard setup unlike a traditional Islamic mosque.
In our dialogue we learned that Chinese Confucianism and Islamic belief were integrated smoothly. Unlike other religions in China, Islam has had very few hurdles to overcome largely because Confucianism and Islam are so cohesive. This is due to Liu, a Chinese Muslim scholar, who studied at the Jingjue Mosque. He translated the Koran into Chinese and solved the problem of assimilating two very different cultures and religions. From our tour and dialogue we learned an enormous amount of information about Islam in China and halal food. Before getting back on the metro we all bought halal bread from the food vendors. There were many options like scallion bread, sesame seed and red bean that were all delicious.
Without class tomorrow we are all looking forward to going out and experiencing the Nanjing nightlife!