The Id Kah Mosque was originally built in 1442 by by Shakesimierzha who was the ruler of Kashgar at the time. He built it as a cemetery so he could pray for the souls of his deceased relatives.
Later in 1538 the Id Kah Mosque was expanded and converted to a greater mosque for worshipping. The mosque has since undergone a number of expansions and renovations with the last major renovation in 1999.
Structure and Layout
The Id Kah Mosque is on Kashgar’s main squre, the Id Kah Square, and faces east. The total area of the mosque is 16,800sqm which includes a large courtyard, 36 lecture halls (used by Imans to expound the texts of Islam and for students to learn Korlas), the worship hall, the main gate and several auxiliary buildings.
Gate and Minarets – The main gate is flanked by two 18 meter tall minarets built out of yellow bricks that each have a crescent moon on top.
Worship Hall – The main worship hall is divided into the inner hall and the outer hall. The inner hall is the heart of the mosque with a shrine in the center that contains a throne and 7 clocks. The Iman reads versus aloud in the shrine area during prayer sessions.
Capacity – On a normal day 2000-3000 people worship at the mosque and up to 10,000 people on a Friday. The mosque can hold a maximum of 20,000 worshippers and is at capacity on key days of the Islamic calendar.
Tips for Visitors
Women Visitors – Women are allowed to visit the Id Kah Mosque if they have special permission but are not allowed during prayer sessions or on a Friday. Women are not normally allowed to enter a mosque but women are allowed in the Id Kah Mosque because it is a key tourist attraction.
Dress Code – Women should wear clothing that covers the head such as a scarf and the arms and legs need to be covered. Men should wear clothing like jeans or trousers that fully covers the legs and at least a shirt or t-shirt, not singlets or tank tops.
Photos – Be very careful about taking photos in general and only take photos of people from behind if they are praying.
Be Polite and Respectful – The Id Kah Mosque is an active center of worship first and a tourist attraction second in an area where people take their beliefs very seriously.
Giving Alms – There are five pillars of Islam that are the foundations of Muslim life. The fourth pillar is Zakat which is the giving of alms or charitable giving. There will often be beggars at the entrance of the mosque and they need to be treated with respect not treated like pests as they are in many other parts of China.