The Islamic faith was introduced to China in the Tang dynasty (618-907AD) and the oldest and largest mosque in Beijing, the Niujie Mosque, is located in the center of the city’s Muslim district. The mosque was built in 966 by Nazruddin, son of an Arab priest and it was styled after a Buddhist temple. The mosque was subsequently renovated under emperor Kangxi (1622-1722).
Behind the entrance of the mosque is the hexagonal Tower for
Observing the Moon (wangyuelou) and it is here that special
Muslim rites are performed. Behind this structure is the Main Hall
of Prayer where religious ceremonies and prayers are offered. This
building faces west towards Mecca and is decorated in bright red
The Mosque is an important center for the study
of the Islamic faith and operates a Koran school. Important relics
can also be found here including two tombstones inscribed in Arabic
that date back to approximately 1280 and a stone tablet with notes
on the mosque written in Arabic and Chinese.