1,000-year old mosque to get facelift

THE Beijing municipal government plans to renovate a more than 1,000-year-old mosque in downtown Niujie Street with an investment of 10mil renminbi (RM4.56mil) in the next two to three years. 

The Niujie mosque, the largest among the 68 mosques in the Chinese capital, was built in 996 AD during the Liao Dynasty (916-1125AD).  

It is now one of the major mosques in north China. According to the renovation plan, besides the renovation of the existing major building inside the mosque, more facilities such as a relics exhibition hall and a foreign guests reception room will be built. The renovation would also cover improvement and construction of water, electricity and heating supply systems of the mosque.  

The mosque was expected to expand from the current 6,000sq metre to 8,900sq metre upon the completion of the renovation, according to Yang Wenbo, director of the Ethnic, Religious and Overseas Chinese Affairs Office of the Xuanwu District People's Government.  

The Niujie mosque has undergone three renovations since the founding of New China in 1949, the latest in 1996. More than 200 Muslims go to the mosque each day and the number rises to 700 to 800 on prayer days, said Bai Zengfu from the Xuanwu District Islam Association.  

“Over 2,500 Muslims went to the mosque during the fast-breaking festival (Hari Raya) last year,” Bai added. The Niujie Street in Xuanwu District, where the mosque is located, is the largest area inhabited by Muslims in Beijing.  

At present, more than 10,000 out of the over 50,000 people living in the area are Muslims. Beijing has about 250,000 Muslims.  

At the same time, projects to improve the nearby environment are going on smoothly. A grassland has been built and the road in front of it has expanded. – People’s Daily 

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