Recorded by Ruard Absaroka, 2pm, 28 March 2014.
The Qadiriyya were the first of the Sufi menhuan to be established on Chinese soil in the late 17th century. The order’s founder, Qi Jingyi, is buried in Linxia’s great shrine where these recordings were made. The Qadiriyya emphasise meditation and are seen as unworldly; their sheikhs do not marry.
Friday noon prayers at the mosque of the great shrine attracted hundreds of men, women and children. Many came early to burn huge sticks of incense, both inside the main courtyard of the mosque, and before the huge communal shrine where the tomb of Qi Jingyi is flanked by generations of the Qadiriyya sheikhs. Row of huge incense burners stand before the tombs; men, women and children burned their incense sticks there and prayed, touching their heads to the silk covers over the tombs. Min Renfang, sheikh of the neighbouring Taizi shrine, told us:
“People come here to pray to solve their problems. They also come thinking about the afterlife, to help their souls go to heaven. They ask the ancestor because he succeeded in his meditation. The mystery of Allah has manifested in the saint, so they can reach Allah through him. The saint is a conduit. They pray to him, in order to get closer to Allah”.
A young imam recited solo zansheng in a distinctively local style, heavily mic-ed, before the sermon. More group zansheng followed the sermon. Several hundred men crowded inside mosque and in the courtyard to pray, while a few dozen mainly older women prayed in a separate hall to the left.