Two Valuable Legacies In China

Beijing Hamidiye University, Founded At The Behest Of Ottoman Sultan Abdulhamid Ii, And Niujie Mosque, China’s One Of The Oldest, Are Our Close Friends In A Faraway Place.

Relations between Turkey and China, opposite ends of the Silk Road, one of the world’s oldest and busiest trade routes, go way back. China and the Far East literally teem with fascinating mementos of those relations, in late-period Ottoman foreign policy especially. Beijing Hamidiye University and Niujie Mosque are two outstanding examples of that long-standing relationship. THE BOSPHORUS-CHINA SEA CULTURAL CONNECTION The joyous demonstrations by Chinese Muslims had long since begun when the nine-member Turkish delegation that set sail on the Nemçe in 1901 at the behest of Sultan Abdulhamid II arrived safe and sound in Shanghai harbor following a long journey. The purpose of the delegation’s risk-fraught voyage was to strengthen ties between China’s Muslims, who numbered about sixty million at the time, and Istanbul, seat of the caliphate. Following that first delegation, a religious scholar by the name of Muhammed Ali Bey was dispatched in 1902 to sustain the relations without interruption. IMAM HAOREN IN ISTANBUL As a result of these developing relations, Imam Wang Haoren, a leading Chinese Muslim scholar and social leader, came to the capital Istanbul following a Hajj pilgrimage he made in 1906 and was received in audience by Sultan Abdulhamid II. Studying the Ottoman educational system closely during his stay in the city, Imam Haoren was gifted a large number of books and a significant amount of aid on his departure. A founder of specialized schools in the Ottoman educational system, Sultan Abdulhamid II revealed to his guest his plan to found a university in China. Wang Haoren, an enlightened man who appreciated the importance of modernization in education, heartily supported the sultan’s proposal. OTTOMAN ACADEMICS IN CHINA In 1907, two well-known Ottoman astronomers, Muallim Ali Rıza Efendi and Muallim Hafız Hasan Efendi of Bursa, arrived in China to visit Imam Wang Haoren and bring Sultan Abdulhamid II’s project to fruition. With the arrival of these two Ottoman men of learning, concrete steps began to be taken to establish a cultural bridge that would bind together the two peoples despite their separation by thousands of kilometers. POINT OF DEPARTURE: NIUJIE MOSQUE Ali Rıza Efendi and Hafız Hasan Efendi and their Chinese colleagues finalized the project at the Niujie Mosque, in whose back garden the construction was to be undertaken. Following a year of feverish activity, Beijing Hamidiye University, which still stands today, opened its doors to students eager to learn in China. A modest edifice, the university, known originally as ‘Dar’ul Ulum’el Hamidiyye’, continues to be a bridge of culture between two close friends in faraway places today. THE OLDEST MOSQUE IN BEIJING Niujie Mosque is one of the oldest centers of the Islamic religion in China. A place of worship, construction of which began in 996 during China’s Liao Dynasty, it was expanded and rebuilt during the Qing Dynasty, becoming Beijing’s oldest and largest mosque when it was completed in 1722. The building, which stands with its annexes on a 10,000-square meter piece of land, is one of the finest examples of traditional Chinese architecture. THE MOSQUE MUSEUM Extant artifacts that keep the memory of the past alive in memory are exhibited at the Niujie Mosque’s modest museum. A MOSQUE COMPLEX Niujie Mosque is a complex. Together with the venues that house the complex, which is surrounded by walls, it fosters social and cultural exchange between Chinese Muslims. WHEN DID WE NOTICE? Discovered by Prof. Dr. İhsan Sırma, Hamidiye University’s location today inside the Niujie Mosque Complex was first brought to light by the Anatolian News Agency’s China correspondent, Ali İhsan Çam. DETAILS OF Niujie MOSQUE 1 Panel showing the daily prayer times. 2 A noteworthy framed calligraphic inscription of the ‘Besmele’. 3 Shades of red and blue are the mosque’s predominant colors. 4 Typical Chinese decoration comes together with Islamic calligraphy in the mosque. 5 Niujie Mosque presents a unique synthesis with its calligraphy and illumination on wood.