Sokendai Review of Cultural and Social Studies


Human Relationships Among the Hui in Funeral Rites:
The case of Xi’an Huajuexiang Qingzhendasi’s funeral rites

IMANAKA, Takafumi

(The Graduate University for Advanced Studies,
School of Cultural and Social Studies, Department of Regional Studies)

Key words:

Hui, Mosque, Funeral rite, Human Relationships

This paper, focusing on Huajuexiang Qingzhensi in Xi’an City, Shaanxi Province, China, attempts to describe the process of funeral rites held for one Hui man, and analyzes the relationships that the Hui attending the funeral have with the deceased.

The Hui were known to live in close proximity to mosques (Qingzhensi in Mandarin) which formed the heart of their communities. Recent investigations have demonstrated that Hui communities face significant changes; some of their communities have been reorganized while others have disappeared. However, the Xi’an Hui are known for preserving their traditions and customs in the face of such challenges.

Local Hui scholars argue that the family members of the deceased assume a key role in funeral rites, because they are involved in the process from when the deceased takes his last breath to the transportation of his body to the mosque. However, through my participant observation of funeral rites in Huajuexiang Qingzhensi, it was found that members of one of the mosque’s volunteer groups, of which the deceased was one of the founders, were actively involved in the funeral rites under the mentorship of some religious leaders. This group is not actively involved in all funeral rite performing at this mosque, but became involved due to their particularly close relationship with the deceased. This shows that although they belong to same mosque, they may or may not be actively involved in funeral rights, depending on the context of their relationships.

In addition, not only funeral rite but also daily worship, it is rare to find young Hui in a mosque. They work in company managed by Han, who, due to a lack of understanding or consideration of Islamic customs, cannot offer sufficient time for young Hui to go to a mosque. There has been some criticism of the situation from elder Hui, however, this new lifestyle among young Hui men, in which they give priority to work when young in order to save money for their future and after amassing sufficient life savings devote themselves to religion, has become the norm.

Finally, in this case, almost every Hui who attended the funeral rite belongs to Huajuexiang Qingzhensi. However, in other funeral rites I researched, there were some Hui belonging to another mosque. After the deceased takes his last breath, another mosque may be informed through his relatives. We can often find another mosque’s Hui at Huajuexiang Qingzhensi’s funeral rite hot foot after worship in own mosque.