How did the Salar people get from their homeland in present-day Uzbekistan to China? Every Salar knows that story — it’s passed down from generation to generation. Here are the basics:
During the Ming dynasty in 1370, one of two brothers followed a camel, searching for a new homeland. The brothers carried a bag of their native soil, a bottle of native water, and a copy of the Qur’an with them. They stopped only when the camel drank from a certain pool — the current location of the village of Jiezi in Xunhua County. Today, there is a park at the exact spot and a stone camel next to the famous pool.
But as for the details, that’s where the stories differ.
In one account, the two brothers, Haraman and Ahman, are fleeing King Galamang. Following the lead of a white camel with a Qur’an strapped to its head for guidance, the two brothers led a group of Salar people and escaped eastward into China in search of “a land of happiness.” As they migrated across the mountains of central Asia, one of the brothers asked Allah to guide them to the place where they should make their new home. That night the brother had a vivid dream of a beautiful waterfall, and the next day the camel-led expedition came to that very waterfall. The camel stopped to drink the water and turned into white stone at that very spot.
Another version of the story has Galamang as one of the brothers fleeing because he was framed for killing another tribe’s livestock. Joined by 18 from his tribe, he set off with another group of 45 friends and neighbors following behind. Galamang and his group went north of the Tianshan Mountains while the group following went south. Both groups met at Ganjiatan in Gansu Province and continued following the camel over Mengda Mountain until they reached Tangfangzhuang in Xunhua. That night the camel went missing, and when they found it the next day it had turned to stone next to the pool just east of Jiezi.
These legends not only teach new generations of their identity as Salar people, but also of the supposed necessity of Islam to the Salar people. They believe Allah led the camel that guided them to China. More than 600 years later, Islam is still very closely tied to the identity of Salar people.
- Pray that this legend and the close ties between Islam and the Salar identity will not be a barrier to Salar people responding to the gospel and following Jesus.
- Pray that God will give Salar believers wisdom on how they can contextually continue to identify themselves as Salar but be biblical followers of Jesus.
This post was re-posted from Pray4Hui.com. For more information about and prayer requests for Chinese Muslims, visit Pray for the Hui and follow @pray4hui on Twitter.