Five major religions in GansuUpdated: 2013-10-09
( chinadaily.com.cn )
Islam was introduced to Gansu from Xinjiang in the mid-seventh century. The religion became more widespread with the immigration of Persians and Arabs in Gansu and Qinghai during the Yuan Dynasty (1271-1368). The formation and development of Gansu's several Islamic ethnic groups is thanks largely to the religion.
Islam is the main religion in Gansu. A variety of Islam sects have spread within the province. Gedium is the most ancient Islamic sect in China. It is a non-Sufi sect in the Sunni tradition. With a history of 1,300 years in China, the followers of Gedium can be found throughout the province.
There are four major menhuan including Jahriyya, Chufiyya and Kubrawiyya in Gansu.
The Ikhwan, also known as the “New Sect,” was founded by Ma Wanfu after his pilgrimage to Mecca in 1888. The sect was spread in Gansu and Qinghai provinces, especially in the Linxia Hui autonomous prefecture. The Xidaotang sect is also one of the main sects in Gansu.
There were 2,882 mosques, 152 qubbah and seven khanqah served by about 7,800 imams in Gansu after the establishment of the People’s Republic of China.
The Gansu Islamic Association was established at the first Gansu Islamic Congress in December 1957. By 1985, Gansu had a total of 2,732 mosques with about 1 million believers.
Buddhism was brought into Gansu during the former Qin (351-394), a state of the Sixteen Kingdoms in China. The province boasts a group of well-known cultural relics including the Mogao Grottoes in Dunhuang, the Bingling Temple Grottoes in Yongjing and the Maiji Mountain Grottoes in Tianshui. All of them were symbols for the development of Buddhism in Gansu during the former Qin and Northern Wei Dynasty (386-534).
There are two major traditions of Buddhism in Gansu, Esoteric and Exoteric Buddhism. Esoteric Buddhism was mainly spread in the areas where the Han lived. It can be divided into a group of schools.
Exoteric Buddhism is Tibetan Buddhism, also known as Lamaism, which can be divided into: Nyingma (red), Kagyu (white), Gelug (yellow) and Sakya (flower) sects. Gelug Buddhism has the most followers.
Buddhism can be divided into Chinese-language Buddhism and Tibetan-language Buddhism. The Buddhist practitioners of Gansu totaled 8,400, including 72 living buddhas and more than 8,000 lamas, monks and nuns. About 350,000 people were Buddhists, according to statistics in 1982.
In 1957, the first Buddhism Representatives Meeting was held, and the branch of the Buddhist Association of China in Gansu was set up. In 1985, the province had a total of 278 monasteries, which were mainly located in the Gannan Tibetan autonomous prefecture and the Tianzhu, Sunan and Subei autonomous counties. Labrang Monastery in Gansu’s Xiahe county is one of China's six major monasteries of Tibetan Buddhism.
The introduction of Catholicism to Gansu dates back to 1665, first spreading in Wuwei and then Zhangye, Jiuauan and Lanzhou. The dioceses of Lanzhou, Tianshui and Pingliang were set up after that.
Catholics in Gansu participated in the anti-imperialism campaign under the leadership of the Party and the people’s government in 1950. Archbishop Buddenbrock was expelled in May 1952, and the province welcomed a new era with independence in governance, finance and operation.
The Gansu Catholic Patriotic Association and Catholic Academic Committee were established in May 1984. According to statistics, the province had more than 30,000 Catholics, 22 churches and 51 religious practitioners by 1985.
Christian was introduced into Tianshui from Shaanxi in the early 20th century. It then spread into Yuzhong and Lanzhou in 1914. A variety of educational and medical institutions were built in Lanzhou, including Jincheng Middle School, Sanyu Primary School and Fuyin Hospital.
There were 171 churches served by more than 200 priests and missionaries in the province, with no less than 10,000 Christians.
Gansu had many Christian sects. A unified Christian church was established by uniting the sects in Lanzhou, Tianshui, Lintao, Wudu and Wuwei. . Christians in the province played an active role in the anti-imperialism campaign and fought for independence in governance, finance and operation in December 1950. In March of 1958, the Gansu Christian Congress was held in March 1958, and the preparatory committee of Gansu’s patriotic movement was established. By the end of 1985, the province had a total of 18 Christian churches, nine priests and more than 30,000 Christians.
The Kongtong Mountains in Northwest China’s Gansu province is one of the origins of Taoism in China. According to the legend, an immortal named Guangchengzi once lived in a stone cave in the mountain, and the Yellow Emperor once came here to hear him preach.
The most ancient Taoist site in Lanzhou is Jintian Temple. Donghua Temple, Ningxi Temple and Chenghuang Temple were built successively after. Xinglong Mountain near Yuzhong county is also an important place for Taoism activities.
There were 1,054 temples and more than 690 Taoists during the establishment of the People’s Republic of China. The two major schools of Taoism, the Quanzhen school and Zhengyi school, have developed in the province.
The province had 27 Taoist temples and 138 practitioners, including 50 nuns, by 1985. The first Gansu Taoist Congress was held in 1985, when the Taoism Association of Gansu province was set up.