Traders’ Ramadan in China

Source:Global Times Published: 2015/7/12 18:18:01

Chinese and Arab Muslims sit together on the carpeted floor of Yiwu's mosque, waiting for the sunset. Photo: Yang Hui/GT

Businessmen from the Middle East stroll in Yiwu's wholesale market, seeking products to ship back home. Photo: Yang Hui/GT

Chinese and Arab Muslims gather together to break their fast during Ramadan in Yiwu. Photo: Yang Hui/GT

An Arab Muslim places his forehead on the ground while praying. Photo: Yang Hui/GT

Arabs wearing white robes are a common sight at Yiwu's night market. Photo: Yang Hui/GT

Muslims from around the world are quietly celebrating Ramadan together in Yiwu, a small city in East China's Zhejiang Province.

Over the past decade, the city, home to the biggest wholesale market in China, has attracted an estimated 20,000 traders from Arab countries who come to trade, buy products and then ship them back to their home countries. The influx of foreign Muslim traders has in turn attracted large numbers of Hui and Uyghur people from Northwest China, who open restaurants and shops in the city or find a living as interpreters. The city has the fastest growing Muslim community in China.

Yiwu's mosque, built in 2004 in the city center and revamped several years ago, is currently the third largest mosque in China, according to the Yiwu authorities. Each Friday, when believers go to pray, it houses over 7,000 Muslims, with nearly two thirds of them hailing from Arab countries, including Egypt, Yemen, Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates. Police often have to implement special traffic controls to manage the huge number of Muslims heading for the mosque.

Ramadan, the ninth month of the Muslim calendar, is a month of obligatory daily fasting and spiritual reflection. This year's Ramadan started on June 18 and will last until July 17. When the Global Times visited, most Arab Muslims had gone back to their home countries for the annual observance. Those who have stayed in Yiwu pray in the mosque every day and seek religious guidance from the mosque's imams.

After the Muslims end their daily Ramadan fast at sunset, many Arab traders spend their evenings at a Middle Eastern night market, where they smoke hookahs and play chess at their leisure.

Global Times

An imam leads prayers in Yiwu's mosque one afternoon during Ramadan. Photo: Yang Hui/GT

A Palestinian businessman enters Yiwu's mosque to pray. Photo: Yang Hui/GT

Muslim women gather together before iftar, the breaking-fast meal, during Ramadan in Yiwu. Photo: Yang Hui/GT

Two Arab men smoke hookahs at a night market in Yiwu. Photo: Yang Hui/GT

A Yemeni businessman bargains with a Chinese shop owner in Yiwu's wholesale market. Photo: Yang Hui/GT

A Yemeni Muslim man and a Chinese imam. Photo: Yang Hui/GT

Prayers in Yiwu's mosque one afternoon during Ramadan. Photo: Yang Hui/GT

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