Islam during the Qing dynasty

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Qing dynasty (1644–1911). The Qing rulers were Manchu, not Han, and were themselves a minority in China. The Qing dynasty witnessed five Muslim rebellions.

Anti-Qing rebellions[edit]

Ming loyalist Muslims[edit]

When the Qing dynasty invaded the Ming dynasty in 1644, Muslim Ming loyalists led by Muslim leaders Milayin, Ding Guodong, and Ma Shouying led a revolt in 1646 against the Qing during the Milayin rebellion in order to drive the Qing out and restore the Ming Prince of Yanchang Zhu Shichuan to the throne as the emperor. The Muslim Ming loyalists were crushed by the Qing with 100,000 of them, including Milayin and Ding Guodong, killed.

In Guangzhou, the national monuments known as "The Muslim's Loyal Trio" are the tombs of Ming loyalist Muslims who were martyred while fighting in battle against the Qing in the Manchu conquest of China in Guangzhou.[1]

Early revolts in Xinjiang, Shaanxi and Gansu[edit]

From 1755–1757, the Qianlong Emperor was at war with the Zunghar Khanate in the northwest. With the conquest of the Dzungaria, there was attempt to divide the Xinjiang region into four sub-khanates under four chiefs who were subordinate to the emperor. Similarly, the Qing made members of was a member of the Ak Taghliq clan of East Turkestan Khojas, rulers in the western Tarim Basin, south of the Tianshan Mountains. In 1758-59, however, rebellions against this arrangement broke out both north and south of the Tian Shan mountains. Then in the oasis of Ush to the south of Lake Balkash in 1765.

In Gansu, disagreements between the adherents of Khafiya and Jahriya, two forms of Sufism as well as perceived mismanagement, corruption, and anti-Muslim attitudes of the Qing officials resulted in attempted uprisings by Hui and Salar followers of the Jahriya in 1781 and 1783, but they were promptly suppressed.

Kashgaria was able to be free of Qing control during an invasion by Jahangir Khoja who had invaded from Kokand, which lasted from 1820–1828. The oases of Kashgar and Yarkand were not recaptured by the Qing until 1828, after a three year campaign. In Kashgaria, this was followed by another invasion in 1829 by Mahommed Ali Khan and Yusuf Khoja, the brother of Jahangir. In 1846, a new Khoja revolt in Kashgar under Kath Tora led to his accession to rulership of Kashgar as an authoritarian ruler. His reign, however, was brief, for at the end of seventy-five days, on the approach of the Chinese, he fled back to Kokand amid the jeers of the inhabitants.[2]

The last of the Khoja revolts was in 1857 under Wali Khan, a self-indulgent debaucherer, and the murderer of the famous German explorer, Adolf Schlagintweit. Wali Khan had invaded Kashgar from his base in Kokand, capturing Kashgar. Aside from his execution of Adolf Schlagintweit, his cruelty found many other reflections in the local legends. It is said that he killed so many innocent Muslims that four or six minarets were built from the skulls of the victims (kala minara); or that once, when an artisan made a sabre for him, he tested the weapon by cutting off the artisan's son head, who came with his father and was standing nearby, after that with words " it's a really good sabre " he presented artisan with a gift. This reign of tyranny did not make Kashgarians miss the Khoja too much when he was defeated by Qing troops after ruling the city for four months and forced to flee back to Kokand.[2]

Panthay Rebellion[edit]

Main article: Panthay Rebellion

The Panthay Rebellion lasted from 1855 to 1873. The war took place mostly in the southwestern province of Yunnan. Disagreements between Muslim and non-Muslim tin miners was the spark that lit the tensions that led to war. The Muslims were led by, for the most part of the war, by Du Wenxiu (1823–1872), a Muslim from a family of Han Chinese origin which had converted to Islam.[3] Du Wenxiu raised the banner of his revolt in the name of driving the Manchus out of China and establishing unity between Han and Hui. The insurgents took the city of Dali and declared the new nation of Pingnan Guo, meaning “the Pacified Southern Nation”. The rebellion found support among China's aboriginal population and Burma.[4]

Dungan Revolt[edit]

The Dungan revolt by the Hui from the provinces of Shaanxi, Gansu, Ningxia and Xinjiang, broke out due to a pricing dispute over bamboo poles which a Han merchant was selling to a Hui. It lasted from 1862 to 1877. The failure of the revolt led to the flight of many Dungan people into Imperial Russia.

Muslims in Beijing during the Rebellion[edit]

The Hui Muslim population of Beijing was unaffected by the Muslim rebels during the Dungan revolt.[5]


During the mid-nineteenth century, the Muslims revolted against the Qing dynasty, most notably in the Dungan revolt (1862–1877) and the Panthay rebellion 1856-1873) in Yunnan. The Manchu government ordered the extermination of all rebels, killing a million people in the Panthay rebellion,[4][6] and several million in the Dungan revolt[6][6]

However, Muslims in other parts of China proper like in the east and southern provinces who did not revolt, were not affected at all by the rebellion, and experienced no genocide, nor did they seek to revolt. It was reported that Muslim villages in Henan province, which was next to Shaanxi, were totally unaffected and relations between Han and Hui continued normally.

Elisabeth Allès wrote that the relationship between Hui Muslim and Han peoples continued normally in the Henan area, with no ramifications or consequences from the Muslim rebellions of other areas. Allès wrote in the document "Notes on some joking relationships between Hui and Han villages in Henan" published by French Centre for Research on Contemporary China that "The major Muslim revolts in the middle of the nineteenth century which involved the Hui in Shaanxi, Gansu and Yunnan, as well as the Uyghurs in Xinjiang, do not seem to have had any direct effect on this region of the central plain."[7]

Many Muslims like Ma Zhan'ao, Ma Anliang, Dong Fuxiang, Ma Qianling, and Ma Julung defected to the Qing dynasty side, and helped the Qing general Zuo Zongtang exterminate the Muslim rebels. These Muslim generals belonged to the Khafiya sect, and they helped Qing massacre Jahariyya rebels. General Zuo moved the Han around Hezhou out of the area and relocated them as a reward for the Muslims there helping Qing kill other Muslim rebels.

In 1895, another Dungan Revolt (1895) broke out, and loyalist Muslims like Dong Fuxiang, Ma Anliang, Ma Guoliang, Ma Fulu, and Ma Fuxiang suppressed and massacred the rebel Muslims led by Ma Dahan, Ma Yonglin, and Ma Wanfu.

A Muslim army called the Kansu Braves led by General Dong Fuxiang fought for the Qing dynasty against the foreigners during the Boxer Rebellion. They included well known Generals like Ma Anliang, Ma Fulu, and Ma Fuxiang.

In Yunnan was noted that the Qing armies only massacred the Muslims who had rebelled, and spared Muslims who took no part in the uprising.[8]


The dome of Qi Jingyi's Gongbei (shrine) seen over the wall of Hongyuan Park in Linxia

In the Qing dynasty, Muslims had many mosques in the large cities, with particularly important ones in Beijing, Xi'an, Hangzhou, Guangzhou, and other places (in addition to those in the western Muslim regions). The architecture typically employed traditional Chinese styles, with Arabic-language inscriptions being the chief distinguishing feature. Many Muslims held government positions, including positions of importance, particularly in the army.

A rare catch: Christian missionaries baptizing a 79-year old Chinese Muslim. (No later than 1908).

Sufism spread throughout the Northwestern China in the early decades of the Qing dynasty (mid-17th century through early 18th century), helped by somewhat easier travel between China and the Middle East.[9] The most important Sufi orders (menhuan) included:

In the 19th century, Chinese Muslims also became the first Muslims in New Zealand (See Islam in New Zealand). They came as golddiggers to work in the Dunstan gold fields in Otago in 1868.[10]

Christian missionary activities[edit]

As the presence of Christian missionaries of various sects increased in China after the Opium Wars, they became interested in converting China's Muslims to Christianity. A significant amount of research was dedicated to the Muslim "problem", as Marshall Broomhall called it, but the effort resulted in no large-scale conversions.

Under the "fundamental laws" of China, one section is titled "Wizards, Witches, and all Superstitions, prohibited." The Jiaqing Emperor in 1814 A.D. added a sixth clause in this section with reference to Christianity. It was modified in 1821 and printed in 1826 by the Daoguang Emperor. It sentenced Europeans to death for spreading Christianity among Han Chinese and Manchus (tartars). Christians who would not repent their conversion were sent to Muslim cities in Xinjiang, to be given as slaves to Muslim leaders and beys.[11]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ Ring & Salkin & La Boda 1996, p. 306.
  2. ^ a b Kim, Hodong. Holy War in China: The Muslim Rebellion and State in Chinese Central Asia, 1864-1877. 
  3. ^ Forbes, Andrew ; Henley, David (2011). Traders of the Golden Triangle. Chiang Mai: Cognoscenti Books. ASIN: B006GMID5K
  4. ^ a b Damsan Harper, Steve Fallon, Katja Gaskell, Julie Grundvig, Carolyn Heller, Thomas Huhti, Bradley Maynew, Christopher Pitts. Lonely Planet China. 9. 2005. ISBN 1-74059-687-0
  5. ^ Hugh D. R. Baker (1990). Hong Kong images: people and animals. Hong Kong University Press. p. 55. ISBN 962-209-255-1. 
  6. ^ a b c Gernet, Jacques. A History of Chinese Civilization. 2. New York: Cambridge University Press, 1996.ISBN 0521497124
  7. ^ Allès, Elizabeth (September–October 2003, Online since 17 January 2007). "Notes on some joking relationships between Hui and Han villages in Henan". French Centre for Research on Contemporary China. p. 6. Retrieved 2011-07-20. 
  8. ^ Michael Dillon (1999). China's Muslim Hui community: migration, settlement and sects. Richmond: Curzon Press. p. 77. ISBN 0-7007-1026-4. Retrieved 2010-06-28. 
  9. ^ Gladney (1999)
  10. ^ Muslim Community in New Zealand
  11. ^ Robert Samuel Maclay (1861). Life among the Chinese: with characteristic sketches and incidents of missionary operations and prospects in China. Carlton & Porter. p. 336. Retrieved 2011-07-06. 


  • Forbes, Andrew ; Henley, David (2011). Traders of the Golden Triangle (chapter on Du Wenxiu, the Panthay Rebellion and the founding of Panglong in Burma). Chiang Mai: Cognoscenti Books. ASIN: B006GMID5K
  • Kim Hodong, "Holy War in China: The Muslim Rebellion and State in Chinese Central Asia, 1864-1877". Stanford University Press (March 2004). ISBN 0-8047-4884-5.
  • Keim, Jean (1954). Les Musulmans Chinois. France Asie. 
  • Gernet, Jacques. A History of Chinese Civilization. 2. New York: Cambridge University Press, 1996. ISBN 0-521-49712-4
  • Ring, Trudy; Salkin, Robert M.; La Boda, Sharon, eds. (1996). International Dictionary of Historic Places: Asia and Oceania. Volume 5 of International Dictionary of Historic Places (illustrated, annotated ed.). Taylor & Francis. ISBN 1884964044. Retrieved 24 April 2014.