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Mazar -- the Place of Paying Homage

Mazar (tombs) is a special religious system with strong regional characteristics practiced by Muslims in China's Xinjiang Uygur Autonomous Region.

Mazar means places of paying homage in Arabic, which refers to tombs of the saints. Muslims here believe that Mazar has sacred position and immortal power, and that every Muslim should pay homage to it and pray to the soul of the saint buried in Mazar so as to obtain fortune in this life and next life, and that if one prays before Mazar, he will gain spiritual freedom and happiness.

There are three types of Mazar. Mazar of the first type is that of those who made great contributions to the dissemination of Islam in the Xinjiang Uygur Autonomous Region; the second type is that of their religious leaders; and the third is named after a plant or an animal rather than a person. The first two types are large in area with usually luxurious tombs and a series of buildings attached to each tomb while the third type of Mazar is the most common, and it is numerous in number and simple in design. There are many ornaments in each Mazar, such as strips, flags, horsetails and ox horns hung from long poles.

It is very important for Muslims in the Xinjiang Uygur Autonomous Region to pay homage to Mazar. There are many Mazars scattered in the vast area of Xinjiang. May and June or September and October in every year are the busiest months, when Muslims from various regions come to pay homage, which constitutes a prominent characteristic of the Islamic religious system in Xinjiang.

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