Muslim advisers made to feel at home

Updated: 2013-03-09 03:33

By Zhao Shengnan (China Daily)

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Taking off his shoes and joining a line of other worshippers on a strip of white cloth, Bakri Mamut began his Friday prayer just as he would have back in his hometown in the Xinjiang Uygur autonomous region.

The committee member of the China Islamic Association, along with dozens of other Muslims, completed the religious ceremony in a simply decorated but incense-filled room of around 20 square meters shortly after lunch.

The only difference from home is that they were not in a mosque, but a transformed dining room in the Beijing Friendship Hotel, where 67 religious CPPCC members are staying and having panel discussions during the 12th National Committee of the CPPCC.

"I came here for Friday prayer for two years, and the room is equipped with everything I need, including an imam, who leads the Islamic worship services," said Bakri, 62, a member of the country's top political advisory body.

"Friday prayer is an inseparable part of me. If there was no such a space for the assembly of the Muslims, I would have no choice but to go to a mosque, but that would waste too much time traveling there and upset the meeting's regular schedule," he said.

Each week on Friday, Muslims are required to take a bath, dress in their best clean clothes, wear perfume and assemble in a mosque for religious worship.

Wang Shuli, head of the Shandong Islamic Association and a new member of the CPPCC, said he was touched to find an altar, a plate printed with the Quran and special bathing materials in his room the moment he entered it.

"It is so considerate of the committee and hotel to do so many preparations for Muslims. We even have a special ewer for bathing," said Wang.

"Sharing the same faith with them, I want to try my best to help the Islamic CPPCC members feel at home in Beijing and contribute more ideas during the political advisory meeting," said Gai Jingmin, a hotel manager who is in charge of the reception of Muslim CPPCC members.

Gai, a member of the Hui ethnic group, has been working for Muslim CPPCC members since the group was first stationed in the hotel more than a decade ago. He can still name many of them.

Wang, from Shandong province, said it actually does not matter where Muslims pray in a congregation on Friday as long as a strong faith is borne in their hearts.

When asked about the wishes he made during Friday prayer, he said, "I hope our country would become more and more strong."

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