Tuyuq Khojam Mazar

By the Editors of the Madain Project

The Tuyuq Khojam Mazar also known as the Ashabe Kahf (اصحاب الکهف‎), [people of the cave], is a tomb located in a mountain valley in Mazar Aldi village, Tuyuq township. The location of the cave of the Ashab al-Kahf (Seven Sleepers) has been an issue of much conflict amongst the Ulama and researchers. Other sites include Jordan, Ephesus,

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The most prominent feature of mazar architecture of Central Asia, Xinjiang, and Turkey is the domed top and gumbaz, most likely influenced by the Buddhist stupa. Worship at the mazar here centers on a cave as it does in Khotan’s Kokhmarim (Snake Mountain) mazar, where people go to pray for rain. The local population combined local history and custom with the legend of the Seven Sleepers (Ashāb al-kahf) in order to transform the Buddhist holy land into an Islamic one and in the process greatly increase the influence of the mazar. The lower domed-structure in a small mosque dedicated to Ashab e Kahf (Seven Sleepers).

circa 250 CE

Visitors perform pilgrim rituals under the guidance of the custodians. Muslims, both Uyghur and Hui, from throughout Xinjian and even from Gansu and Ningxia provinces come here every year between May and October to perform the pilgrimage. Even though the Tuyoq Mazar is an important site among Uyghurs, it was not opened o public until 2003, when a Han-owned private company bought the development rights to the whole Mazar Aldi village, including the shrine.

circa 250 CE

The activities at mazars not only adapted their form and content from Buddhism but also adapted the form of the offerings. Even the architecture of the mazars may reflect the influence of Buddhism.

circa 250 CE

There are no reliable sources on when the Tuyuq Mazar was established, or on its history. The site is comprised of a compound containing a small mosque, a gumbaz ([dome] structures built over a shrine). The gumbaz are located near the foot of the mountain about 35 meters above ground level, before the entrance to the sacred cave. The small cave can only accommodate five-six people at a time. The small compound in encircled with a mud-brick wall.

Religious Tradition

circa 250 CE

"The Seven Sleepers of Ephesus Discovered by Alexander the Great", Folio from a Falnama (Book of Omens) or The seven sleepers of Ephesus, Folio from a Dispersed Nuzhatnama, 1550 CE. In Christian and Muslim tradition, the Seven Sleepers (اصحاب الکهف), aṣḥāb al kahf, the 'People of the Cave' is the story of a group of youths who hid inside a cave outside the city of Ephesus around 250 CE to escape a religious persecution and emerged some 300 years later. The earliest version of this story comes from the Syrian bishop Jacob of Serugh (circa 450 – 521), which is itself derived from an earlier Greek source, now lost. The story appears in the Qur'an (Surah Al-Kahf 9–26) and thus is important to Islam. The Islamic version includes mention of a dog, who accompanied the youths into the cave and appears to keep watch. In Islam, these youths are referred to as the People of the Cave.

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