Female students

Reimagining the Silk Road

Female students

Ningxia, 2012

This private girls’ school is supported by Vast Ridge Mound (Honggang gangzi 洪岗岗子), a Khufiyya Sufi order in Tongxin. Approximately two hundred girls study at the school. Establishing a private school for Muslim students in northwest China is no small feat. The shaykh, or master, of the Vast Ridge Mound Sufi order has founded and financed four of them. Girls learn Arabic, the revealed sources of Islam, and the rudiments of Islamic law. Most graduate and marry, often becoming the heads of Islamic instruction in their household. Only a few go on to college, and an even smaller number become female clerics. Teachers are mainly local and sometimes circulate throughout the northwest. Only rarely are foreign teachers from the Middle East or North Africa permitted to teach in such private schools.