Recorded by Guangtian Ha. Kunming, Yunnan Province. August 2015.
The rapid development of the Internet in China has made a large amount of Islamic recitations, both of the Holy Qur’an and of numerous praises of the Prophet, readily available to an unprecedented number of Hui Muslims in China. Voices from Saudi Arabic, Egypt, Indonesia, and Malaysia, among others, are daily changing how ordinary Muslims in China recite their religious classics. However, despite such passion for new voices, in recent years there has been a renewed enthusiasm about more traditional styles of recitation, preserved primarily by older strains of Islamic practice such as the Qadim. Its name meaning “old” in Arabic, Qadim is less a particular branch of Islam among the Hui than a loose designation that covers a wide range of heterogeneous practices prevalent in more traditional Hui societies. Most of these practices came under heavy attack in the early twentieth century by Muslim reformers who returned from their studies and pilgrimage in the Middle East.
The recording shows a recital of a particularly popular excerpt in praise of Allah and the Prophet that is normally called “classics for the begging of rain,” chanted, as this name suggests, in order to invite rain to alleviate draught. Such ritual practice has become rare nowadays, but the melodic recitation continues to be cherished, appreciated, and as this video has shown, memorized and practiced. The local interest in traditional melodic recitation has been steadily growing. Classes such the one recorded are given on a regular basis, with the teachers and students largely in their sixties and seventies.