Islamic Archaeological Remains in China
By: T. Zayn al-'Abidin B.Bus
China's city of Quanzhou is situated at the mouth of the Jinjiang River, across the Taiwan Strait from Taiwan. As it once was the largest port in the world, it has enjoyed a strong international community, with strong connections in Southeast Asia, India, Western Asia and the African coast as well as Korea and Japan.
Mosques and Arabic Inscriptions
Among the Archaeological Remains of Quanzhou, were found seven mosques, one of which has been excavated, over 150 Islamic tombstones, and several important Arabic inscriptions. The volume of findings indicate the scale, location and acculturation of past Muslim communities in that region. While few of the mediaeval archaeological remains of the Quanzhou region have been scientifically excavated, the area's archaeological resources are very important sources of information. Few people know that after Xian and Beijing, Quanzhou has the third largest number of historic sites in China.
The location of the Shengyousi or Ashab Mosque was confirmed by a test excavation in 1979 in which Song remains were found about 2 meters below the present ground surface. The identification of a second mosque, the Qingjingsi, located at the southern gate of the Southern Song City, has been identified by the finding of a stele, with Chinese inscription, describing its rebuilding. Its first builder came from Shiraf, situated on the Persian Gulf (Chen 1984).
The Shengyousi was refurbished in 1983, funded by the state, when 8 gravestones and 2 carved lintel fragments (one of which may indicate a seventh mosque) which had been buried in the mosque area or incorporated into its walls, were recovered. The tombstone of the son of the Persian prime minister whose father was killed in 1312 was also discovered. Two other tombstones belonged to individuals from Tabriz, and one dated back to 1271, belonging to an elite person (Khan) from Khorazm. An undated tombstone belonged to a woman from Nabrus, Eastern Mediterranean (Wu et al 1986).
150 Islamic Tombstones Recovered
Over 150 Islamic tombstones have been recovered. Most were found when the city walls were dismantled in the first half of this century. They had been gathered and used for the refurbishment of the walls and gates from the late 14th and 15th centuries. The stone remains associated with burial can be grouped into four categories: inscribed gravestones with inscriptions concerning the deceased, grave covers, grave vaults or structures, and lintels from the cupolas thought to be constructed over the graves. They were made mostly of a local hard, grey diabase, or occasionally, local granite. Rarely was limestone or a mixture of lime, sand, and clay employed. Inscriptions appear in ancient Kufic script, large and small regular script, and cursive, fancy, Persian, and square styles (Chen 1984: xvi).
While the inscriptions mention individuals from Yemen, Hamdan, and al Malf in Turkestan, Khalat in Armenia, most of the individuals recorded are from Persia--Shiraf, Shiraz, Jajarm, Bukhara, Khorazm, Khurasan, Isfahan, Tabriz, and Gilan (Chen 1984:xvi).
China was one of the first countries to receive Islam from the earliest Muslims, but during the Mao Tse Tung regime in 1960's millions of Muslims were killed, for which no official explanation has yet been given. The holocaust saw only 6 million deaths, said to be a lesser number than those of the Muslims.
The recent visit of China's Prime Minister to Pakistan, a Muslim country, alerts ones attention to the fact that Pakistan has, in the past, been employed to slaughter other Muslim groups, such as during "Black September" which saw 2,000 deaths of Palestinians in Jordan. Reports on the visit to Pakistan have been contradictory, however it does seem that President Musharaf of Pakistan, is one of the willing leaders to "clamp down" on the "Muslim rebels" from Xianjiang, formerly known as Eastern Turkestan.
The world has never seen a greater slaughter of Muslims than there has been since the beginning of the 1960's until now.