Islam in China
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Islam in China has existed through 1,400 years of continuous interaction with Chinese society. Currently, there are Muslims living in every region of China. Various sources estimate different numbers of adherents with some sources indicating that 2% of the total population in China are Muslims. Of China's 55 officially recognized minority peoples, ten groups are predominantly Sunni Muslim.
- 1 History
- 2 People
- 3 Religious practices
- 4 Representative bodies
- 5 Culture and heritage
- 6 Famous Muslims in China
- 7 See also
- 8 Footnotes
- 9 Notes
- 10 References
- 11 External links
Chinese Muslims have been in China for the last 1,400 years of continuous interaction with Chinese society. "Islam expanded gradually across the maritime and inland silk routes from the 7th to the 10th centuries through trade and diplomatic exchanges."
Introduction of Islam 616-18 AD
According to Chinese Muslims' traditional legendary accounts, Islam was first introduced to China in 616-18 AD by Sahaba (companions) of Prophet Muhammad: Sa`d ibn Abi Waqqas, Sayid, Wahab ibn Abu Kabcha and another Sahaba. Wahab ibn abu Kabcha (Wahb abi Kabcha) may have been be a son of al-Harth ibn Abdul Uzza (aknown as Abu Kabsha). It is noted in other accounts that Wahab Abu Kabcha reached Canton by sea in 629 CE.
Sa`ad ibn Abi Waqqas, along with three Sahabas, namely Suhayla Abuarja, Uwais al-Qarani, and Hassan ibn Thabit, returned to China from Arabia in 637 by the Yunan-Manipur-Chittagong route, then reached Arabia by sea. Some sources date the introduction of Islam in China to 650 AD, the third sojourn of Saad ibn abi Waqqas, when he was sent as an official envoy to Emperor Gaozong during Caliph Uthman's reign.
Earlier visits of Saad ibn abi Waqqas were noted in Arab accounts since it was a period of nascent Islam mixed with events of many hectic preaching and warfare. They (Sahabas) were more concerned with writings of verses of the Koran as revealed to Muhammad, and his sayings (hadiths) and ways of life (sunnah). According to China Muslims' traditional legendary accounts, Islam was first brought to China by an embassy led by Saad ibn abi Waqqas that was sent by Uthman, the third Caliph, (that was in 651, less than twenty years after the death of Muhammad) which are confusions with Saad ibn abi Waqqas's earlier visits. The embassy was led by Sa'ad ibn Abī Waqqās, the maternal uncle of Muhammad himself. Emperor Gaozong, the Tang emperor who received the envoy then ordered the construction of the Memorial mosque in Canton, the first mosque in the country, in memory of Muhammad.
While modern secular historians tend to say that there is no evidence for Waqqās himself ever coming to China, they do believe that Muslim diplomats and merchants came to Tang China within a few decades from the beginning of the Muslim Era. The Tang Dynasty's cosmopolitan culture, with its intensive contacts with Central Asia and its significant communities of (originally non-Muslim) Central and Western Asian merchants resident in Chinese cities, which helped the introduction of Islam. The first major Muslim settlements in China consisted of Arab and Persian merchants. During the Tang and especially the Song eras, comparatively well-established, even if somewhat segregated, mercantile Muslim communities existed in the port cities of Guangzhou, Quanzhou, and Hangzhou on China's southeastern seaboard, as well as in the interior centers such as Chang'an, Kaifeng, and Yangzhou. After critical analysis, it is evident that Saad ibn abi Waqqas and the three other Sahabas who were preaching from 616-18 were noticed by Emperor Wu-De by 618 AD. Guangzhou is home to four mosques, including the famous Huaisheng Mosque believed to have been built by Saad ibn Abi Waqqas, the uncle of Muhammad. The city also has a grave believed to be that of ibn Abi Waqqas (father of Sa'd ibn abi Waqqas).
Islam was brought to China during the Tang dynasty by Arab traders, who were primarily concerned with trading and commerce, and not concerned at all with spreading Islam. They did not try to convert Chinese at all and only did commerce. It was because of this low profile that the 845 anti-Buddhist edict during the Great Anti-Buddhist Persecution said absolutely nothing about Islam. It seems that trade occupied the attention of the early Muslim settlers rather than religious propagandism; that while they observed the tenets and practised the rites of their faith in China, they did not undertake any strenuous campaign against either Buddhism, Confucianism, Taoism, or the State creed, and that they constituted a floating rather than a fixed element of the population, coming and going between China and the West by the oversea or the overland routes.
By the time of the Song Dynasty, Muslims had come to play a major role in the import/export industry. The office of Director General of Shipping was consistently held by a Muslim during this period. In 1070, the Song emperor Shenzong invited 5,300 Muslim men from Bukhara, to settle in China in order to create a buffer zone between the Chinese and the Liao empire in the northeast. Later on these men were settled between the Sung capital of Kaifeng and Yenching (modern day Beijing). They were led by Prince Amir Sayyid "So-fei-er" (his Chinese name) who was reputed of being called the "father" of the Muslim community in China. Prior to him Islam was named by the Tang and Song Chinese as Dashi fa ("law of the Arabs"). He renamed it to Huihui Jiao ("the Religion of the Huihui").
Tombs of Imam Asim and Mazaar of Zafar Sadiq
"On the foothills of Mount Lingshan are the tombs of two of the four companions that Prophet Muhammad sent eastwards to preach Islam. Known as the "Holy Tombs," they house the companions Sa-Ke-Zu and Wu-Ko-Shun—their Chinese names, of course. The other two companions went to Guangzhou and Yangzhou." "The Imam (Islamic Holy Man) Asim is said to have been one of the first Islamic missionaries in the region. His name is also spelled Imam Hashim (man of c.1000 CE in Hotan). The shrine site includes the reputed tomb of the Imam, a mosque, and several related tombs." There is also a mazaar of Imam Zafar Sadiq.
During the Mongol-founded Yuan Dynasty (1271–1368), large numbers of Muslims settled in China. The Mongols, a minority in China, gave foreign immigrants, such as Muslims, Christians, and Jews from west Asia an elevated status over the native Han Chinese as part of their governing strategy, thus giving Muslims a heavy influence. Mongols recruited and forcibly relocated hundreds of thousands of Muslim immigrants from Western and Central Asia to help them administer their rapidly expanding empire. The Mongols used Persian, Arab and Buddhist Uyghur administrators, generically known as semu [色目]("various eye color") to act as officers of taxation and finance. Muslims headed many corporations in China in the early Yuan period.[page needed] Muslim scholars were brought to work on calendar making and astronomy. The architect Yeheidie'erding (Amir al-Din) learned from Han architecture and helped to design the construction of the capital of the Yuan Dynasty, Dadu, otherwise known as Khanbaliq or Khanbaligh, the predecessor of present-day Beijing. The term Hui originated from the Mandarin "Huihui," a term first used in the Yuan Dynasty to describe Central Asian, Persian and Arab residents in China.
At the same time the Mongols imported Central Asians to work as administrators in China, the Mongols also sent Han Chinese and Khitans from China to work as administrators over the Muslim population in Bukhara of Central Asia, using foreigners to curtail the power of the local peoples of both lands.
Genghis Khan and his successors forbade Islamic practices like halal butchering, as well as other restrictions. Muslims had to slaughter sheep in secret. Genghis Khan outright called Muslims and Jews "slaves", and demanded that they follow the Mongol method of eating rather than the halal method. Circumcision was also forbidden. Jews were affected by these laws and forbidden by the Mongols to eat Kosher. Towards the end of the Yuan Dynasty, corruption and persecution became so severe that Muslim generals joined the Han Chinese in rebelling against the Mongols. The founder of the Ming Dynasty, Zhu Yuanzhang, led Muslim generals like Lan Yu against the Mongols, whom they defeated in combat. Some Muslim communities had a name in Chinese which meant "baracks" or "thanks," which many Hui Muslims claim comes from the gratitude which Chinese people have towards them for their role in defeating the Mongols.
Among all the [subject] alien peoples only the Hui-hui say “we do not eat Mongol food”. [Cinggis Qa’an replied:] “By the aid of heaven we have pacified you; you are our slaves. Yet you do not eat our food or drink. How can this be right?” He thereupon made them eat. “If you slaughter sheep, you will be considered guilty of a crime.” He issued a regulation to that effect ... [In 1279/1280 under Qubilai] all the Muslims say: “if someone else slaughters [the animal] we do not eat”. Because the poor people are upset by this, from now on, Musuluman [Muslim] Huihui and Zhuhu [Jewish] Huihui, no matter who kills [the animal] will eat [it] and must cease slaughtering sheep themselves, and cease the rite of circumcision.
Mu Ying general
During the following Ming Dynasty, Muslims continued to be influential around government circles. Six of Ming Dynasty founder Zhu Yuanzhang's most trusted generals are said to have been Muslim, including Lan Yu who, in 1388, led a strong imperial Ming army out of the Great Wall and won a decisive victory over the Mongols in Mongolia, effectively ending the Mongol dream to re-conquer China. Zhu Yuanzhang also wrote a praise of Islam, the The Hundred-word Eulogy. It was recorded that "His Majesty ordered to have mosques built in Xijing and Nanjing [the capital cities], and in southern Yunnan, Fujian and Guangdong. His Majesty also personally wrote baizizan [a eulogy] in praise of the Prophet's virtues." Additionally, the Yongle Emperor hired Zheng He, perhaps the most famous Chinese of Muslim birth although at least in later life not a Muslim himself, to lead seven expeditions to the Indian Ocean from 1405 and 1433. However, during the Ming Dynasty, new immigration to China from Muslim countries was restricted in an increasingly isolationist nation. The Muslims in China who were descended from earlier immigration began to assimilate by speaking Chinese and by adopting Chinese names and culture. Mosque architecture began to follow traditional Chinese architecture. This era, sometimes considered the Golden Age of Islam in China, also saw Nanjing become an important center of Islamic study.
Muslims in Ming dynasty Beijing were given relative freedom by the Chinese, with no restrictions placed on their religious practices or freedom of worship, and being normal citizens in Beijing. In contrast to the freedom granted to Muslims, followers of Tibetan Buddhism and Catholicism suffered from restrictions and censure in Beijing.
The Ming policy towards the Islamic religion was tolerant, while their racial policy towards ethnic minorities was of integration through forced marriage. Muslims were allowed to practice Islam, but if they were members of other ethnic groups they were required by law to intermarry, so Hui had to marry Han since they were different ethnic groups, with the Han often converting to Islam.
Integration was mandated through intermarriage by Ming law, ethnic minorities had to marry people of other ethnic groups. The Chinese during the Ming dynasty also tried to force foreigners like the Hui into marrying Chinese women. Marriage between upper class Han Chinese and Hui Muslims was low, since upper class Han Chinese men would both refuse to marry Muslim women, and forbid their daughters from marrying Muslim men, since they did not want to convert due to their upper class status. Only low and mean status Han Chinese men would convert if they wanted to marry a Hui woman. Ming law allowed Han Chinese men and women to not have to marry Hui, and only marry each other, while Hui men and women were required to marry a spouse not of their race.
The Ming Emperor Hongwu decreed the building of multiple mosques throughout China in many locations. A Nanjing mosque was built by the Xuanzong Emperor.
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.
When the Qing dynasty invaded the Ming dynasty in 1644, Muslim Ming loyalists in Gansu led by Muslim leaders Milayin and Ding Guodong 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 supported by Hami's Sultan Sa'id Baba and his son Prince Turumtay. The Muslim Ming loyalists were joined by Tibetans and Han Chinese in the revolt. After fierce fighting, and negotiations, a peace agreement was agreed on in 1649, and Milayan and Ding nominally pledged alleigance to the Qing and were given ranks as members of the Qing military. When other Ming loyalists in southern China made a resurgence and the Qing were forced to withdraw their forces from Gansu to fight them, Milayan and Ding once again took up arms and rebelled against the Qing. The Muslim Ming loyalists were then crushed by the Qing with 100,000 of them, including Milayin, Ding Guodong, and Turumtay killed in battle.
The Confucian Hui Muslim scholar Ma Zhu (1640-1710) served with the southern Ming loyalists against the Qing. Zhu Yu'ai, the Ming Prince Gui was accompanied by Hui refugees when he fled from Huguang to the Burmese border in Yunnan and as a mark of their defiance against the Qing and loyalty to the Ming, they changed their surname to Ming.
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. The Ming Muslim loyalists were called "jiaomen sanzhong "Three defenders of the faith".
The Muslim revolt in the northwest occurred due to violent and bloody infighting between Muslim groups, the Gedimu, Khafiya, and Jahriyya. The rebellion in Yunnan occurred because of repression by Qing officials, resulting in five bloody Hui rebellions, most notably the Panthay Rebellion, which occurred in Yunnan province from 1855 to 1873, and the Dungan revolt, which occurred mostly in Xinjiang, Shensi and Gansu, from 1862 to 1877. The Manchu government ordered the execution of all rebels, killing a million people in the Panthay rebellion,[page needed] several million in the Dungan revolt
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 "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."
However, 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.
Republic of China
After the fall of the Qing Dynasty, Sun Yat-sen, who established the Republic of China, immediately proclaimed that the country belonged equally to the Han, Man (Manchu), Meng (Mongol), Hui (Muslim),[n 1] Tsang (Tibetan), and Miao peoples.
During the rule of the Kuomintang party, the Kuomintang appointed the Muslim warlords of the family known as the Ma clique as the Military Governors of the provinces of Qinghai, Gansu and Ningxia. Bai Chongxi was a Muslim General and Defence Minister of China during this time.
During the Second Sino-Japanese war, the Japanese persecuted, killed, and raped Hui Muslims. Mosques were destroyed and in many provinces Hui were slaughtered by Japanese troops or bombed. During the Rape of Nanking the Mosques in Nanjing were flowing with dead bodies after the Japanese slaughters. Japanese smeared Hui Mosques with pork fat, forcing Hui girls to serve as sex slaves and destroyed the cemeteries of the Hui. Many Hui, Salar, Dongxiang, and Bonan Muslims fought in the war against Japan.
On 10 February 1938, Legation Secretary of the German Embassy, Rosen, wrote to his Foreign Ministry about a film made in December by Reverend John Magee about the Nanking Massacre to recommend its purchase. Here is an excerpt from his letter and a description of some of its shots, kept in the Political Archives of the Foreign Ministry in Berlin. One of the victims killed by the Japanese was a Muslim (Mohammedan) whose name was Ha.
During the Japanese reign of terror in Nanking – which, by the way, continues to this day to a considerable degree – the Reverend John Magee, a member of the American Episcopal Church Mission who has been here for almost a quarter of a century, took motion pictures that eloquently bear witness to the atrocities committed by the Japanese ... One will have to wait and see whether the highest officers in the Japanese army succeed, as they have indicated, in stopping the activities of their troops, which continue even today.
On December 13, about 30 soldiers came to a Chinese house at #5 Hsing Lu Koo in the southeastern part of Nanking, and demanded entrance. The door was open by the landlord, a Mohammedan named Ha. They killed him immediately with a revolver and also Mrs. Ha, who knelt before them after Ha's death, begging them not to kill anyone else. Mrs. Ha asked them why they killed her husband and they shot her. Mrs. Hsia was dragged out from under a table in the guest hall where she had tried to hide with her 1 year old baby. After being stripped and raped by one or more men, she was bayoneted in the chest, and then had a bottle thrust into her vagina. The baby was killed with a bayonet. Some soldiers then went to the next room, where Mrs. Hsia's parents, aged 76 and 74, and her two daughters aged 16 and 14. They were about to rape the girls when the grandmother tried to protect them. The soldiers killed her with a revolver. The grandfather grasped the body of his wife and was killed. The two girls were then stripped, the elder being raped by 2–3 men, and the younger by 3. The older girl was stabbed afterwards and a cane was rammed in her vagina. The younger girl was bayoneted also but was spared the horrible treatment that had been meted out to her sister and mother. The soldiers then bayoneted another sister of between 7–8, who was also in the room. The last murders in the house were of Ha's two children, aged 4 and 2 respectively. The older was bayoneted and the younger split down through the head with a sword.
In 1937, the Muslim warlord Ma Bufang notified the Chinese government that he was prepared to lead his army into battle against the Japanese during the Battle of Beiping–Tianjin. Immediately after the Marco Polo Bridge Incident, Ma Bufang arranged for a cavalry division under the Muslim General Ma Biao to be sent east to battle the Japanese. Ethnic Turkic Salar Muslims made up the majority of the first cavalry division which was sent by Ma Bufang.
People's Republic of China
During the Cultural Revolution, mosques along with other religious buildings were often defaced, destroyed or closed and copies of the Quran were destroyed along with temples, churches, Buddhist and Daoist monasteries, and cemeteries by the Red Guards.[page needed] During that time, the government also constantly accused Muslims and other religious groups of holding "superstitious beliefs" and promoting "anti-socialist trends". The government began to relax its policies towards Muslims in 1978. When comparing persecution, Chinese Muslims say that the Soviet Union was worse in regards to its treatment of Islam than China during the "ten black years" (of the Cultural Revolution). Today, Islam is experiencing a modest revival and there are now many mosques in China. There has been an upsurge in Islamic expression and many nation-wide Islamic associations have been organized to co-ordinate inter-ethnic activities among Muslims.
China banned a book titled "Xing Fengsu" ("Sexual Customs") which insulted Islam and placed its authors under arrest in 1989 after protests in Lanzhou and Beijing by Chinese Hui Muslims, during which the Chinese police provided protection to the Hui Muslim protestors, and the Chinese government organized public burnings of the book. The Chinese government assisted them and gave into their demands because Hui do not have a separatist movement, unlike the Uyghurs, Hui Muslim protestors who violently rioted by vandalizing property during the protests against the book were let off by the Chinese government and went unpunished while Uyghur protestors were imprisoned.
In 2007, anticipating the coming "Year of the Pig" in the Chinese calendar, depictions of pigs were banned from CCTV "to avoid conflicts with ethnic minorities". This is believed to refer to China's population of 20 million Muslims (to whom pigs are considered "unclean").
In response to the 2015 Charlie Hebdo shooting Chinese state-run media attacked Charlie Hebdo for publishing the cartoons insulting Muhammad, with the state-run Xinhua advocated limiting freedom of speech, while another state-run newspaper Global Times said the attack was "payback" for what it characterised as Western colonialism and accusing Charlie Hebdo of trying to incite a clash of civilizations.
Different Muslim ethnic groups in different regions are treated differently by the Chinese government in regards to religious freedom. Religious freedom is present for Hui Muslims, who can practice their religion, build Mosques, and have their children attend Mosques, while more controls are placed specifically on Uyghurs in Xinjiang.
Although religious education for children is officially forbidden by law in China, the Communist party allows Hui Muslims to violate this law and have their children educated in religion and attend Mosques while the law is enforced on Uyghurs. After secondary education is completed, China then allows Hui students who are willing to embark on religious studies under an Imam. China does not enforce the law against children attending Mosques on non-Uyghurs in areas outside of Xinjiang.
Hui Muslims who are employed by the state are allowed to fast during Ramadan unlike Uyghurs in the same positions, the amount of Hui going on Hajj is expanding, and Hui women are allowed to wear veils, while Uyghur women are discouraged from wearing them and Uyghurs find it difficult to get passports to go on Hajj.
Hui religious schools are allowed a massive autonomous network of mosques and schools run by a Hui Sufi leader was formed with the approval of the Chinese government even as he admitted to attending an event where Bin Laden spoke.
Uyghur views vary by the oasis they live in. China has historically favored Turpan and Hami. Uyghurs in Turfan and Hami and their leaders like Emin Khoja allied with the Qing against Uyghurs in Altishahr. During the Qing dynasty, China enfeoffed the rulers of Turpan and Hami (Kumul) as autonomous princes, while the rest of the Uyghurs in Altishahr (the Tarim Basin) were ruled by Begs. Uyghurs from Turpan and Hami were appointed by China as officials to rule over Uyghurs in the Tarim Basin. Turpan is more economically prosperous and views China more positively than the rebellious Kashgar, which is the most anti-China oasis. Uyghurs in Turpan are treated leniently and favourably by China with regards to religious policies, while Kashgar is subjected to controls by the government. In Turpan and Hami, religion is viewed more positively by China than religion in Kashgar and Khotan in southern Xinjiang. Both Uyghur and Han Communist officials in Turpan turn a blind eye to the law and allow religious Islamic education for Uyghur children. Celebrating at religious functions and going on Hajj to Mecca is encouraged by the Chinese government, for Uyghur members of the Communist party. From 1979-1989, 350 mosques were built in Turpan. Han, Hui, and the Chinese government are viewed much more positively by Uyghurs specifically in Turpan, with the government providing better economic, religious, and political treatment for them.
Tensions between Hui Muslims and Uyghurs arise because Hui troops and officials often dominated the Uyghurs and crush Uyghur revolts. Xinjiang's Hui population increased by over 520 percent between 1940 and 1982, an average annual growth of 4.4 percent, while the Uyghur population only grew at 1.7 percent. This dramatic increase in Hui population led inevitably to significant tensions between the Hui and Uyghur populations. Some Uyghurs in Kashgar remember that the Hui army at the Battle of Kashgar (1934) massacred 2,000 to 8,000 Uyghurs, which causes tension as more Hui moved into Kashgar from other parts of China. Some Hui criticize Uyghur separatism and generally do not want to get involved in conflict in other countries. Hui and Uyghur live separately, attending different mosques.
Muslims live in every region in China. The highest concentrations are found in the northwest provinces of Xinjiang, Gansu, and Ningxia, with significant populations also found throughout Yunnan province in southwest China and Henan province in central China. Of China's 55 officially recognized minority peoples, ten groups are predominantly Muslim. The largest groups in descending order are Hui (9.8 million in year 2000 census, or 48% of the officially tabulated number of Muslims), Uyghur (8.4 million, 41%), Kazakh (1.25 million, 6.1%), Dongxiang (514,000, 2.5%), Kyrgyz (144,000), Uzbeks (125,000), Salar (105,000), Tajik (41,000), Bonan (17,000), and Tatar (5,000). However, individual members of traditionally Muslim ethnic groups may profess other religions or none at all. Additionally, Tibetan Muslims are officially classified along with the Tibetan people. Muslims live predominantly in the areas that border Central Asia, Tibet and Mongolia, i.e. Xinjiang, Ningxia, Gansu and Qinghai, which is known as the "Quran Belt".
Number of Muslims in China
China is home to a large population of adherents of Islam. According to the CIA World Factbook, about 1–2% of the total population in China are Muslims. The 2000 census counts imply that there may be up to 20 million Muslims in China. A 2009 study done by the Pew Research Center, based on China's census, concluded there are 21,667,000 Muslims in China, accounting for 1.6% of the total population. According to the State Administration for Religious Affairs (SARA), there are more than 21 million Muslims in the country. According to SARA there are approximately 36,000 Islamic places of worship, more than 45,000 imams, and 10 Islamic schools in the country. Within the next two decades from 2011, Pew projects a slowing down of Muslim population growth in China than in previous years, with Muslim women in China having a 1.7 fertility rate. Many Hui Muslims voluntarily limit themselves to one child in China since their Imams preach to them about the benefits of population control, the amount of children Hui in different areas are allowed to have varies between one and three children. Chinese family planning policy allows minorities including Muslims to have up to two children in urban areas, and three to four children in rural areas.
An early historical estimate of the Muslim population of the then Qing Empire belongs to the Christian missionary Marshall Broomhall. In his book, published in 1910, he produced estimates for each province, based on the reports of missionaries working there, who had counted mosques, talked to mullahs, etc. Broomhall admits the inadequacy of the data for Xinjiang, estimating the Muslim population of Xinjiang (i.e., virtually the entire population of the province at the time) in the range from 1,000,000 (based on the total population number of 1,200,000 in the contemporary Statesman's Yearbook) to 2,400,000 (2 million "Turki", 200,000 "Hasak", and 200,000 "Tungan", as per George Hunter). He uses the estimates of 2,000,000 to 3,500,000 for Gansu (which then also included today's Ningxia and parts of Qinghai), 500,000 to 1,000,000 for Zhili (i.e., Beijing, Tianjin, and Hebei), 300,000 to 1,000,000 for Yunnan, and smaller numbers for other provinces, down to 1,000 in Fujian. For Mongolia (then, part of the Qing Empire) he takes an arbitrary range of 50,000 to 100,000. Summing up, he arrives to the grand total of 4,727,000 to 9,821,000 Muslims throughout the Qing Empire of its last years, i.e. just over 1-2% of the entire country's estimated population of 426,045,305.
Islamic education in China
Over the last twenty years a wide range of Islamic educational opportunities have been developed to meet the needs of China's Muslim population. In addition to mosque schools, government Islamic colleges, and independent Islamic colleges, a growing number of students have gone overseas to continue their studies at international Islamic universities in Egypt, Syria, Saudi Arabia, Pakistan, Iran, and Malaysia. Qīngzhēn (清真) is the Chinese term for certain Islamic institutions. Its literal meaning is "pure truth."
The vast majority of China's Muslims are Sunni Muslims. A notable feature of some Muslim communities in China is the presence of female imams. Islamic scholar Ma Tong recorded that the 6,781,500 Hui in China predominately followed the Orthodox form of Islam (58.2% were Gedimu a non-Sufi mainstream tradition that opposed unorthodoxy and religious innovation) mainly adhering to the Hanafi Madh'hab. However a large minority of Hui are members of Sufi groups. According to Tong, 21% Yihewani, 10.9% Jahriyya, 7.2% Khuffiya, 1.4% Qadariyya, and 0.7% Kubrawiyya. Shia Chinese Muslims are mostly Ismailis including Tajiks of the Tashkurgan and Sarikul areas of Xinjiang.
Chinese Muslims and the Hajj
It is known that Admiral Zheng He (1371–1435) and his Muslim crews had made the journey to Mecca and performed the Hajj during one of the former's voyages to the western ocean between 1401-1433. Other Chinese Muslims may have made the Hajj pilgrimage to Mecca in the following centuries; however, there is little information on this. General Ma Lin made a Hajj to Mecca. General Ma Fuxiang along with Ma Linyi sponsored Imam Wang Jingzhai when he went on hajj to Mecca in 1921. Yihewani Imam Hu Songshan went on Hajj in 1925. Briefly during the Cultural Revolution, Chinese Muslims were not allowed to attend the Hajj, and only did so through Pakistan, but this policy was reversed in 1979. Chinese Muslims now attend the Hajj in large numbers, typically in organized groups, with a record 10,700 Chinese Muslim pilgrims from all over the country making the Hajj in 2007.
Relations with non-Muslims
In their early history, Muslims residing in China had closer interactions with adherents of other various faiths. Muslims treated the works of Confucius with considerable respect, pointing out the harmony between the two doctrines and ethical norms. Muslims saw their numbers increase in the 17th century with a large number of Chinese Jews converting to Islam. Muslim General Ma Bufang allowed polytheists to openly worship, and Christian missionaries to station themselves in Qinghai. General Ma and other high ranking Muslim generals even attended the Kokonuur Lake Ceremony where the God of the Lake was worshipped, and during the ritual, the Chinese national anthem was sung, all participants bowed to a portrait of Kuomintang party founder Dr. Sun Zhongshan (Sun Yat Sen), and the God of the Lake was also bowed to, and offerings were given to him by the participants, which included the Muslims. Ma Bufang invited Kazakh Muslims to attend the ceremony honoring the God. Ma Bufang received audiences of Christian missionaries, who sometimes gave him the Gospel. His son Ma Jiyuan received a silver cup from Christian missionaries.
Before the early 20th century, some observers did not note any difference among Muslims and non-Muslims in the prevalence of foot binding of women in China. However, in southern China, James Legge encountered a mosque which had a placard denouncing footbinding, saying it constituted violating the creation of God.
Islamic Association of China
The Islamic Association of China claims to represent Chinese Muslims nationwide. At its inaugural meeting on May 11, 1953, in Beijing, representatives from 10 nationalities of the People's Republic of China were in attendance.
China Islamic Association
In May 1953, the government set up the China Islamic Association, which was described as aiming to "help the spread of the Qur'an in China and oppose religious extremism". The association is to be run by 16 Islamic religious leaders who are charged with making "a correct and authoritative interpretation" of Islamic creed and canon.
It will compile and spread inspirational speeches and help imams improve themselves, and vet sermons made by clerics around the country. This latter function is probably the key job as far as the central government is concerned. It is worried that some clerics are using their sermons to spread sedition.
Some examples of the religious concessions granted to Muslims are:
- Muslim communities are allowed separate cemeteries
- Muslim couples may have their marriage consecrated by an Imam
- Muslim workers are permitted holidays during major religious festivals
- Chinese Muslims are also allowed to make the Hajj to Mecca, and more than 45,000 Chinese Muslims have done so in recent years.
Culture and heritage
Although contacts and previous conquests have occurred before, the Mongol conquest of the greater part of Eurasia in the 13th century permanently brought the extensive cultural traditions of China, central Asia and western Asia into a single empire, albeit one of separate khanates, for the first time in history. The intimate interaction that resulted is evident in the legacy of both traditions. In China, Islam influenced technology, sciences, philosophy and the arts. In terms of material culture, one finds decorative motifs from central Asian Islamic architecture and calligraphy and the marked halal impact on northern Chinese cuisine.
Taking the Mongol Eurasian empire as a point of departure, the ethnogenesis of the Hui, or Sinophone Muslims, can also be charted through the emergence of distinctly Chinese Muslim traditions in architecture, food, epigraphy and Islamic written culture. This multifaceted cultural heritage continues to the present day.
Muslims have often filled distinguished military positions, and many Muslims have joined the Chinese army. Muslims served extensively in the Chinese military, as both officials and soldiers. It was said that the Muslim Dongxiang and Salar were given to "eating rations", a reference to military service.
Islamic architecture in China
In Chinese, a mosque is called qīngzhēn sì (清真寺) or "pure truth temple." The Great Mosque of Xi'an (first established during the Tang era) and the Great Southern Mosque in Jinan, whose current buildings date from the Ming Dynasty, do not replicate many of the features often associated with traditional mosques. Instead, they follow traditional Chinese architecture. Mosques in western China incorporate more of the elements seen in mosques in other parts of the world. Western Chinese mosques were more likely to incorporate minarets and domes while eastern Chinese mosques were more likely to look like pagodas.
An important feature in Chinese architecture is its emphasis on symmetry, which connotes a sense of grandeur; this applies to everything from palaces to mosques. One notable exception is in the design of gardens, which tends to be as asymmetrical as possible. Like Chinese scroll paintings, the principle underlying the garden's composition is to create enduring flow; to let the patron wander and enjoy the garden without prescription, as in nature herself.
On the foothills of Mount Lingshan are the tombs of two of the four companions that Muhammad sent eastwards to preach Islam. Known as the "Holy Tombs," they house the companions Sa-Ke-Zu and Wu-Ko-Shun—their Chinese names, of course. The other two companions went to Guangzhou and Yangzhou.
Chinese buildings may be built with bricks, but wooden structures are the most common; these are more capable of withstanding earthquakes, but are vulnerable to fire. The roof of a typical Chinese building is curved; there are strict classifications of gable types, comparable with the classical orders of European columns.
As in all regions the Chinese Islamic architecture reflects the local architecture in its style. China is renowned for its beautiful mosques, which resemble temples. However, in western China the mosques resemble those of the middle east, with tall, slender minarets, curvy arches and dome shaped roofs. In northwest China where the Chinese Hui have built their mosques, there is a combination of east and west. The mosques have flared Chinese-style roofs set in walled courtyards entered through archways with miniature domes and minarets. The first mosque was the Great Mosque of Xian, or the Xian Mosque, which was created in the Tang Dynasty in the 7th century.
Halal food in China
Halal food has a long history in China. The arrival of Arabian and Persian merchants during the Tang and Song dynasties saw the introduction of the Muslim diet. Chinese Muslim cuisine adheres strictly to the Islamic dietary rules with mutton and lamb being the predominant ingredient. The advantage of Muslim cuisine in China is that it has inherited the diverse cooking methods of Chinese cuisine for example, braising, roasting, steaming, stewing and many more. Due to China's multicultural background Muslim cuisine retains its own style and characteristics according to regions.
Due to the large Muslim population in western China, many Chinese restaurants cater to Muslims or cater to the general public but are run by Muslims. In most major cities in China, there are small Islamic restaurants or food stalls typically run by migrants from Western China (e.g., Uyghurs), which offer inexpensive noodle soup. Lamb and mutton dishes are more commonly available than in other Chinese restaurants, due to the greater prevalence of these meats in the cuisine of western Chinese regions. Commercially prepared food can be certified Halal by approved agencies.  In Chinese, halal is called qīngzhēn cài (清真菜) or "pure truth food." Beef and lamb slaughtered according to Islamic rituals is also commonly available in public markets, especially in North China. Such meat is sold by Muslim butchers, who operate independent stalls next to non-Muslim butchers.
Islamic finance in China
China and Chinese Muslim economists have a long tradition with Islamic finance. The latest official attempt is Bank of Ningxia; while Hong Kong as financial center is discussing intensively its role.
Sini is a Chinese Islamic calligraphic form for the Arabic script. It can refer to any type of Chinese Islamic calligraphy, but is commonly used to refer to one with thick and tapered effects, much like Chinese calligraphy. It is used extensively in mosques in eastern China, and to a lesser extent in Gansu, Ningxia, and Shaanxi. A famous Sini calligrapher is Hajji Noor Deen Mi Guangjiang.
Xiao'erjing (also Xiao'erjin or Xiaojing) is the practice of writing Sinitic languages such as Mandarin (especially the Lanyin, Zhongyuan, and Northeastern dialects) or the Dungan language in the Arabic script. It is used on occasion by many ethnic minorities who adhere to the Islamic faith in China (mostly the Hui, but also the Dongxiang, and the Salar), and formerly by their Dungan descendants in Central Asia.
There is a long history of Muslim development and participation at the highest level of Chinese wushu. The Hui started and adapted many of the styles of wushu such as bajiquan, piguazhang, and liuhequan. There were specific areas that were known to be centers of Muslim wushu, such as Cang County in Hebei Province. These traditional Hui martial arts were very distinct from the Turkic styles practiced in Xinjiang.
The Han Kitab was a collection of Chinese Islamic texts written by Chinese Muslim which synthesized Islam and Confucianism. It was written in the early 18th century during the Qing dynasty. Han is Chinese for Chinese, and kitab (ketabu in Chinese) is Arabic for book. Liu Zhi wrote his Han Kitab in Nanjing in the early 18th century. The works of Wu Sunqie, Zhang Zhong, and Wang Daiyu were also included in the Han Kitab.
A lot of Chinese students including male and females join International Islamic University, Islamabad to gain Islamic knowledge. For some Muslim groups in China, such as Hui and Salars minorities, coeducation is frowned upon; for some groups such as Uyghurs, it is not.
Famous Muslims in China
- Generals from the Ming era:
- Generals from the Qing era:
- Generals in the Republic of China:
- Warlords of the Ma clique during the Republic of China era:
- Generals from the 36th Division (National Revolutionary Army):
- Du Wenxiu, Ma Hualong and Ma Zhan'ao, leaders of the Panthay Rebellion in Yunnan and the Muslim rebellion in northwestern China.
- Ma Shenglin, great-uncle of Ma Shaowu and rebel during the Panthay Rebellion.
- Liu Bin Di, Hui Kuomintang officer who died while fighting against Uyghur rebels during the Ili Rebellion.
- Ma Zhanshan, guerilla during the Second Sino-Japanese War.
- Ma Xiao, General (Liu Wenhui).
- Zuo Baogui (左寶貴; 1837–1894), Qing Muslim general from Shandong who died while defending Pingyang, Korea, from the Japanese.
- Liu Zhi (c. 1660 – c. 1739), Islamic author (Qing dynasty).
- Qi Jingyi (1656–1719), Sufi master who introduced the Qadiriyyah school to China.
- Ma Laichi (1681?-1766?), Sufi master who brought the Khufiyya Naqshbandi movement to China.
- Ma Mingxin (1719–1781), founder of the Jahriyya Naqshbandi movement.
- Ma Wanfu, founder of the Yihewani.
- Ma Qixi(1857–1914), founder of the Xidaotang.
- Ma Yuanzhang, Jahriyya Sufi leader.
- Hu Songshan (1880–1956), Yihewani reformer and Chinese nationalist.
Scholars and writers
- Bai Shouyi, historian.
- Tohti Tunyaz, historian.
- Yusuf Ma Dexin, first translator of the Qur'an into Chinese.
- Muhammad Ma Jian, author of the most popular Chinese translation of the Qur'an.
- Wang Daiyu, Master Supervisor of the Imperial Observatory (Ming dynasty).
- Zhang Chengzhi, contemporary author.
- Ma Linyi Gansu Minister of Education.
- Pai Hsien-yung, contemporary author, son of Bai Chongxi.
- Ma Xianda, martial artist.
- Wang Zi-Ping, member of the The Righteous and Harmonious Fists (the "Boxers") during the Boxer Rebellion.
- Chang Tung Sheng, martial artist and Shuai jiao teacher.
- Noor Deen Mi Guangjiang, calligrapher.
- Islamic Association of China
- Islam in Hong Kong
- Islam in Macau
- Islam in Taiwan
- The Hundred-word Eulogy
- Chinese Muslim cuisine
- Islam by country
- Religion in China
- Demographics of the People's Republic of China
- Christianity in China
- Currently, "Hui" in Chinese refers to both Islamic and ethnic Hui Chinese. Previously, however, "Hui" referred to Islam and all Chinese Muslims, particularly ethnic Hui and Uyghurs.
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