Recorded by Rachel Harris, 6.40am, 28 March 2014.
The Gedimu, literally “old teachings” from the Arabic qadim, represent the loose set of ‘traditional’ practices (Hanafi and Sunni) which were present in China before the arrival of the Sufi menhuan in the 17th century, and are unified only in opposition to the “new teachings” of the organised Sufi menhuan and Wahhabis. In contemporary practice, however, they seem to have absorbed many aspects of Sufi ritual from their neighbours.
At Friday morning prayers (帮目达, from the Persian bomdat namaz), a large group of men perform a form of dhikr in which the declaration of faith: lā ʾilāha ʾil ʾallāh is recited repeatedly by the assembled worshippers who are seated in a large circle (dayir , 坐圈). The recitation is progressively speeded up and shortened until it climaxes in a repeated ‘hu, hu’, representing the final syllable of Allāh.
(Place on map at: 城角寺, 甘肃省临夏回族自治州临夏市西关路)