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Historical Narratives Embedded in Stone: Analyzing the Inscription on Xi’an Ancient Mosque Steles

Ayesha Qurrat Ul Ain and Lu Jianyou

Published: 2014/12/01

Abstract

Islam in China has been known as Q?ngzh?n jiào for many centuries. With this name granted by imperial decree, Muslims were given freedom to practice their religion like other Chinese inhabitants. Mosques were established with the imperial decrees inscribed on the stone steles kept in the mosques. The inscriptions on these steles produced a unique kind of literature, specific to the Chinese context and voicing both Chinese state policies and Muslim aspirations. The inscriptions follow the Qura’nic principle of presenting Islam to others by calling them towards Kalimah sawa, or ‘the common word’. The research presented in this article shows how the authors of the stone stele inscription on the Xi’an Great Mosque adhered to this principle by highlighting the commonalities between Islam and Chinese religious traditions.

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