The Muslims in Shadian
It was about 4 hours bus ride to Shadian from Kunming. We passed interesting landscape of undulating land, vast vegetable farms, orchards and small towns. I have a lot of admiration with the Chinese Muslims I met, in Shadian and in Kunming. I salute their dedication and love for the religion and practice Islam as a way of life. Shadian is a small town with Muslim population. Shadian is noted with richness in minerals and many wealthy Chinese Muslims are involved in mineral trade here. The narrow roads seemed difficult to cope with our large tourist bus but the driver was marvelous, maneuvering the bus with ease. We stayed at Hotel Xing Yue, quite new, clean and spacious with sitting toilets.
Early next morning, the Imam of the Big Mosque of Shadian, Imam Omar Nasir came to see us at the hotel. With tiny notepad and a pen, I looked like reporter interviewing the Imam. This young 37 years old Imam is a humorous and friendly individual, fluent in Arabic and good in English. So conversation with him was not a problem. He has been an Imam for 8 years at the Big Mosque. He graduated from Medina University and Islamabad University (before Medina) and has also spent about 4 months in Chiengmai, Thailand learning about Islam.. Malaysia is quite a familiar place to him as he has come to Malaysia several times. At the Grand Mosque, he gave a briefing about the Mosque and Islam in China. There are about 11 mosques in Shadian area. During the Moa Tse Tong era, Shadian was much left alone and they were allowed to have more than 2 children but wearing hijjab was prohibited. Islam flourished undisturbed there.
The Grand Mosque of Shadian is a replica ( small version) of Nabawi Mosque in Medina, Saudi Arabia, beautiful and intricate. It costs RMB40 million to build the Mosque financed by donation and zakat. not from the government.
But the Chinese government gave RMB 8.9 million to the building of the Madarasah which costs RMB50 millions and it's still under construction. The Grand mosque is a must see spot in Shadian but unfortunately it is not on the tourist map.
The most impressive place that we visited in Shadian was the Nuler Kindergarten. We thought it was just like any ordinary kindergarten, it's not!. It's a beautiful place and buildings with modern facilities. May Allah bless Hi. Yusof Mu and his family for his dedication to providing basic Islamic education to young kids, especially the under-privileged. He spent RMB15 millions of his own money to build the kindergarten (he sold his own house). It was difficult at first but now Nuler Kindergarten is one of the best in China. The ground is large, equipped with children's playground, animal barn and the walls are decorated with beautiful murals for the children.
It pulls my heartstrings when I learn that the Kindergarten is also a hostel for these children, age 3-6 years. They come from all over China mostly from disadvantage background. The teachers are young totally dedicated to these children even though their salary is very modest. I was engrossed at the 3 year old classes. These rosy cheeks children remind me so much of Rania and wonder how she would be if she were taken away from her parents and live among strangers, far away from home. They are so well-behaved, dewy eyed and curious to see so many strangers, I felt like enveloping all of them in my arms. They are simply adorable. They enjoy 2 months school holidays per year to go back to their villages and parents. The parents come to see the children about 3 days a month and stay with the teachers. Every teacher takes care about 6 - 7 kids, 24 hours a day. Their classrooms are big where they rest, study, play etc. Their cute beds are neatly piled at the wall. Every kid has a locker with neatly arranged clothes, blankets etc. The teacher as their carer, makes sure they are well taken care of. The Founder of the Kindergarten, Hj. Yusof Mu's dream and aspiration seem to materialize, and now his concern is the continuation of his aspiration of Islamic education once they leave the kindergarten to go to government schools. May Allah bless him and his family and continue to make his dream a reality.
I always thought China would sell Muslim attire and head scarves or tudung to Malaysia but the opposite is happening. One of the group members is the owner of Bawal Exclusives, Liza, selling tudung to Muslim ladies. She has a store near Sogo in KL. Her head scarves are popular in China. Having business contact in Shadian, she plans to expand her business. I wish her the best. We were very warmly received and treated to a sumptuous Chinese dinner.
We returned to Kunming the next day,