Islam in Mongolia Peoples Republic and Inner Mongolia

Islam in Mongolia Peoples Republic and Inner Mongolia

Igor V. Gerasimov

(53rd Annual Meeting of the PIAC, St. Petersburg 2010)

Part of non-Mongolian ethnic community professes Islam in spite of the fact that in Mongolia and Inner Mongolia dominating doctrine is Buddhism. This mostly concerns the Turkic language peoples who had to move to Mongolian lands driven from their native places by political or economic reasons.

In Mongolian Peoples Republic the most concentrated Muslim area is Nalaih — a town-satellite of Ulan-Baator. The Muslims appeared there more than 150 years ago. Altogether there are 800 Muslims; there is the mosque and the cemetery. Local adapts of Islam regard themselves as Kazakhs and keep connections with their brothers in faith from western parts of the country. In Mongolia all together there are 20 mosques. The adapts are studied mostly in Pakistan. Recently the other countries like Indonesia, India, Turkey and the Arab countries start to be interested in relations with Mongolian Muslims.

One of the Muslim centers of Inner Mongolia is Huh-hot – the capital of the province. Like in Outer Mongolia the Muslim people are those Turkic peoples who transferred there one and a half centuries ago running away from the Jungar khans. There is a monument in the city which commemorates that event. Local Muslims live in the Chinese traditional houses and their mosques are built like Chinese temples often with the Buddhist omamention and decoration. The modern buildings imitate the architectural style of Iran and Pakistan. Local Muslims try to preserve their mother tongue, while the in the other provinces of China, for example, in the nearby Shanxi speak only Chinese. Practically, the Muslims do not speak the Arab language, but they can study it in the other cities of China where Arabic is tought. There are many official places in Huhhot, where we can find Arabic inscriptions — offices, bureaus, schools, restaurants.

Among Muslims there are native Mongols either. They live in the Alashan desert and do not often visit Huh-hot.