Xinjiang Speaks: Freedom of religious belief thriving

Source:Xinhua 14-12-21 09:51 Updated BJT
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URUMQI, Dec. 13 (Xinhua) -- Wearing a white gown and plastic gloves, Yulidus Abulimit was carefully checking the condition of a collection of tomes. From those wrinkled, yellow pages, it is not hard to tell that some of the books are older than any living human.

This is her daily routine working at the ancient books office of the Ethnic Affairs Commission of northwest China's Xinjiang Uygur Autonomous Region. The office has collected more than 2,000 ancient copies of Islamic classics in Arabic, Persian and other languages.

"This manuscript dates back to the end of the 19th century," said Yulidus Abulimit holding a copy of the Quran. "The paper is Hotan mulberry bark and the cover is made of cowhide."

She then showed the oldest book in their current collection -- a 230-year-old "The Biography of the Prophet," which has been included in the Catalog of National Rare Books of China.

Xinjiang has made great efforts to conserve and protect religious texts, with special government funds allocated. In 1983, a steering group was set up in the region for the collection, collation, and publication of ancient books of ethnic minorities.

Yulidus Abulimit said that the central and the regional governments have attached great importance to their work over the years. "We have organized more than 200 experts and scholars to collect, sort and restore antique religious books in over 60 trips across Xinjiang," she added.

A special library with constant temperature and humidity has been built in Urumqi for conserving fragile and precious religious books, and an initiative to digitalize antique religious books has also been launched to make them more accessible.

Xinjiang fully protects legitimate religious activities and ensures the public's freedom of religious belief in accordance with the law. Channels for believers to gain religious knowledge are guaranteed. Facilities and conditions of venues for religious activities have been improved, according to a white paper issued in July.

Substantial support has been provided to the training of young religious personnel in the region. A group of high-caliber Islamic clerics have been trained to ensure that Islam is practiced and carried on in a sound and orderly manner.

Subatjan Semi, 22, dreams of becoming an Imam, just like his grandfather. In 2019, he graduated from high school and was admitted to the Xinjiang Islamic Institute, which is regarded the best Islamic school of the region.

Subatjan Semi takes a variety of courses including Quran reading, religious affairs, basic Arabic, Mandarin, history and culture. "There are Uygur, Kirgiz and Kazak students in our class. Teachers and students get along well with each other," he said.

Covering an area of more than 10 hectares, the institute has a library, gymnasium, a prayer hall and a washroom where students and faculty perform wudu before prayers. Hot water is supplied all year round.

According to Kamaldin Ahmat, an associate professor at the institute, there are currently more than 1,100 students in the institute, with new students enrolling every year.

In 2021, more than 160 high school graduates from across Xinjiang were admitted. Upon graduation, they are expected to become religiously accomplished and morally accountable clerics, said Kamaldin Ahmat, adding that the students pray every day and listen to Waez's Speeches on Fridays.

Similar scenes are taking place across the region's mosques, as the freedom of religious belief is guaranteed by law, said Abdurekhip Tumniyaz, head of the Xinjiang Islamic Institute.

As more people in Xinjiang are employed nowadays, some of them choose to offer prayers at home and there are not as many young people in the mosques as before. "But fewer people going to the mosque doesn't mean less freedom of religious belief," Abdurekhip Tumniyaz stressed

"It is a good thing for people to have jobs and lead their own way of life. They can pray at home just like at a mosque. It is protected by law," he added.

Editor: zhangrui
14-12-21 09:51 BJT
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