Islam in Taiwan
|Islam by country|
Islam in Taiwan is a slowly growing religion and represents about 0.3% of the population. There are around 60,000 Muslims in Taiwan, in which about 90% of them are of the Hui ethnic group. There are also more than 180,000 foreign Muslims working in Taiwan from Indonesia, Malaysia, Thailand and the Philippines, as well as other foreign Muslim nationals from more than 30 countries. As of June 2013, there are seven mosques throughout Taiwan (and one under construction), with the most notable being the Taipei Grand Mosque, the oldest and largest mosque in Taiwan.
Taiwanese Muslims, which mostly came from Chinese Muslims in Mainland China, are Sunni Muslims and mostly belong to the Hanafi school. Nevertheless, they practically face no problem at all with any of the visiting Muslims from other schools. Differences are more a matter of mutual curiosity rather than conflict. Annually, Taipei Grand Mosque reports an estimated 100 converts at their mosque and Taipei Cultural Mosque reports 50 converts at their mosque.
- 1 The spread of Islam to Taiwan
- 2 Contemporary Islam in Taiwan
- 2.1 Government remarks
- 2.2 Media and communication
- 2.3 Muslim employment regulations
- 2.4 Islamic food
- 2.5 Education
- 2.6 Fasting
- 2.7 Zakat
- 2.8 Weddings
- 2.9 Muslim festivities
- 2.10 Hajj pilgrimage
- 2.11 Conversion
- 2.12 Muslim cemetery
- 2.13 Tourism for Muslims
- 2.14 Muslim-related events
- 2.15 Retails
- 2.16 Issues
- 2.17 Social challenges
- 3 Islam-related organizations in Taiwan
- 4 University Muslim student communities
- 5 Mosques and prayer rooms
- 6 List of important Muslims who lived in or were born in Taiwan
- 7 See also
- 8 References
- 9 External links
The spread of Islam to Taiwan
First wave of migration
Islam is believed to have first reached Taiwan in the 17th century when few Muslim families from the southern Chinese coastal province of Fujian accompanied Koxinga on his invasion of Taiwan to oust the Dutch from the southern city of Tainan in 1661 and established Kingdom of Tungning in Taiwan. These people are believed to be the first Muslim settlers on the island. Their descendants however became assimilated into Taiwanese society and adopted the local customs and religions.
According to Professor Lien Ya Tang (Chinese: 連雅堂) in his book History of Taiwan (Chinese: 臺灣通史) (1918), there were few Muslims on the island most of whom were from other provinces in mainland China. There was no spread of Islam and no mosques were built.
The final traces of the first Muslims migration to Taiwan were wiped out during the Japanese colonial rule of Taiwan in 1895-1945. The Japanese government forbid the Taiwanese from practicing foreign religion, which resulted many of the local people practice their faith secretly. The last Imam that came from Mainland China to Taiwan was in 1922. During that time, all of foreign religions were proscribed. After the handover of Taiwan from Japan to the Republic of China in October 1945, the tradition of sending Imams from the mainland resumed again in 1948.
The Chinese Muslim Association put a number figure for all of the people who come from the first wave of Islam migration to be around 20,000 people. Despite the effort of the association to resuscitate Islam among them, basically they no longer practice Islam anymore in their daily life.
On Taiwan, one branch of this Ting (Chinese: 丁; pinyin: Dīng) family descended from Sayyid Ajjal Shams al-Din Omar resides in Taixi Township, Yunlin County. They trace their descent through him via the Quanzhou Ding family of Fujian. Even as they were pretending to be Han chinese in Fujian, they still practiced Islam when they originally came to Taiwan 200 years ago, building a mosque, but eventually became Buddhist or Daoist. The Mosque is now the Ding families Daoist temple.
In Changhua County, there is another Ting family which resides in Lukang Township. They trace their Muslim ancestors from the family books, originated from Quanzhou, Fujian as well. It was recorded that there was a mosque and bath well built in this town in 1725 run by the Kuo family. However, many of the ancestors stopped practicing Islam once they arrived in Taiwan due to public pressure. Their ancestors left some hints to the current generations of their Muslim heritage, which is shown in their siheyuan-shape of their house, resembling a square-shaped house with courtyard in the middle, different from the ordinary Taiwanese houses which is sanheyuan, a U-shaped house with courtyard in the middle. From the bird's-eye view, siheyuan houses resembles the Chinese character hui (Chinese: 回), which represents the Hui people, a minority Muslim people in northwest China. The families gained their fame and wealth by running business in Lukang.
Also in Lukang, there are also descendants of Hui who came with Koxinga who no longer observe Islam, the Taiwan branch of the Kuo (Chinese: 郭; pinyin: Guō) family in which is not Muslim and follows traditional Chinese cultures, but still does not offer pork on Fridays nor offering it to their ancestral shrines. They also like to keep their heads covered during rituals. The Chinese Muslim Association counts these people as Muslims. Based on certain historic documents, it was reported that there used to be a mosque in Beitou (Chinese: 北頭) area in Lukang. According to some studies, the former site of the Kuo family ancestral temple should have been the site for the mosque few hundred years ago.
There are also two families in Keelung whose ancestral shrine contains a Quran and examples of Arabic script, although they did not understand the significance of these objects until contacts were made recently with the newly arrived Muslims in Taiwan. Those two families are not Muslims and do not read Arabic, but they honor a book held sacred by their forebears.
Similarly, two or three families in Tainan are reported to observe funeral customs more associated with Islam rather than Daoism or Buddhism, such as ceremonial washing of the body and wrapping it in white cloth, although in other aspects of their life they are normal Taiwanese.
Second wave of migration
The second wave of Muslim migrants occurred during the Chinese Civil War in the 20th century when around 20,000 Muslim families fled mainland China with the Nationalist Government to Taiwan in 1949 at the end of Chinese Civil War under General Bai Chongxi. Many of them were soldiers and government employees at the time and came from provinces were Islam is strong such as Yunnan, Xinjiang, Ningxia, Anhui and Gansu (mostly southern and western regions of China). First mainland Chinese Muslim settlers in Taiwan founded Taiwan's first mosque in 1947, the Taipei Grand Mosque in Taipei. The mosque symbolized the friendly gesture from the ROC Government to Islam and also reinforced ROC diplomatic ties with their Muslim allies. After the establishment of the mosque, diplomatic activities between Republic of China and other Muslim countries developed considerably and trade and commerce increased remarkably.
This second wave of Muslim migration from Mainland China to Taiwan resulted in the creation of other mosques in Taiwan, such as the Kaohsiung Mosque in 1949 in Kaohsiung, Taipei Cultural Mosque in 1950 in Taipei and Taichung Mosque in 1951 in Taichung.
During the 1950s, contact between Muslims and Han Chinese were limited due to differences in custom. The Muslims were largely dependent on each other through the ummah (Islamic community) that met regularly in a house on Lishui Street (Chinese: 麗水街) in Da'an District, Taipei, the original site of the Taipei Grand Mosque before it was relocated to its current site at Xing Sheng South Road (Chinese: 新生南路). However, by the 1960s when Muslims realized that returning to mainland China would be unlikely and out of professional need, contact with Han Chinese became more frequent though there was still a considerable degree of interdependence within the ummah.
In 1953, the United Nations General Assembly passed a resolution condemning the ROC government for its actions and guerrilla warfare inside Burma. Finally, an agreement was reached between Taipei, Yangon and Bangkok for evacuation of all Kuomintang irregular forces under command of General Li Mi to Taiwan. Civil Air Transport transported 5,583 Kuomintang soldiers and 1,040 dependents to Taiwan. The majority of these guerrilla forces were Muslim and had no place to worship in their new Taiwan home and so they started to construct the Longgang Mosque in Zhongli in 1964 and was completed three years later in 1967. There are around 200 Muslim families living around this area with most of them belongs to Ma family clans. There are numerous Halal Yunnan, Burmese and Thai restaurants around the area as well.
Around those periods, a few Muslim leaders held seats in the Legislative Yuan and National Assembly. There were Muslims serving as ranking officers of the Republic of China Armed Forces, notably Lieutenant General Ma Ching-chiang which once became one of the top advisers of President Chiang Kai-shek. Muslims also held important posts in the diplomatic service, such as the ROC Ambassador to Kuwait Wang Shi-ming.
Third wave of migration
Since the 1980s, thousands of Muslims from Myanmar and Thailand have migrated to Taiwan in search of a better life. They are descendants of nationalist soldiers that fled Yunnan when the communists took over mainland China. These people constituted to the third Muslim immigration in Taiwan. Many of them settle in Burma Street at Zhonghe District of New Taipei, Zhongli District of Taoyuan and some other towns.
Fourth wave of migration
The majority of Taiwanese Muslims today are relatively recent converts, mostly women, who have married mainlander Muslims. Today there are some 60,000 Taiwanese Muslims and a further 150,000 Indonesian Muslim workers and other Muslims from Malaysia, the Philippines, Pakistan, India and elsewhere, making the current total of over 210,000 Muslims living in Taiwan.
The growing Muslim population in Taiwan from Indonesia can be seen in many industrial cities, such as the one in Dayuan, Taoyuan where there are a growing number of Indonesian workers there, in which most of them are Muslim. An Indonesian worker married to a local Taiwanese man built the At-Taqwa Mosque, Taiwan's seventh and latest mosque, which was opened on 9 June 2013.
Contemporary Islam in Taiwan
In April 2005, ROC President Chen Shui-bian led a delegation from Taiwan to attend the funeral of Pope John Paul II in St. Peter's Basilica, Vatican City by a chartered China Airlines flight. The delegation includes the ROC Ministry of Foreign Affairs Mark Chen and Taipei Grand Mosque Imam Ma Shiao-chi.
On 9 February 2006, President Chen met with Taiwanese Muslims who had just come back from Saudi Arabia for performing the Hajj pilgrimage in January 2006. He said that Taiwan needs to have some of the Islamic spirit of standing in awe of the supreme God, upholding peace and justice, helping the weak and poor, promoting social stability, being content with what one is and working hard. The President urged Taiwanese Muslims to introduce the doctrine and spirit of Islam to their compatriots to enhance exchanges between the Muslim societies and other sectors in Taiwan. He also expressed government's concern for the Islamic development to promote religious harmony and added that the government always pays great attention to religious development and encourages all religions in Taiwan to communicate with one another to promote mutual tolerance and respect and to serve as a driving force for stability, peace and prosperity. He stressed that any minority religion in Taiwan is respected and enjoys full protection under the law.
On 23 January 2007, President Chen met again with Taiwanese Muslims who had just come back from Hajj in December 2006. The President congratulated the pilgrims for successfully completing the journey and praised the Chinese Muslim Association as an important asset of Taiwan, saying that the association has successfully promoted the frequent contacts and exchanges between Taiwan and the Muslim worlds, and serves as the communication window for Taiwan to those nations. He said that Islam is the current fastest growing religion in the world and has a major role and contribution to mankind and civilization. The core value of Islam is that there is only one God, people should do good deeds and people should love their fellow men and citizens. He personally believes that Taiwanese Muslims must emphasize the principle of Islam that stresses peace and love in order to enable others to understand the true nature of Islam. He further added that in recent years, Taiwan has made significant progress in expanding affairs with the Muslim world, creating a win-win situation for all parties involved and also triggering more interest in Islam among Taiwanese people. Although there are only around 60,000 Taiwanese Muslims, this community has made Taiwan becomes more diverse and richer in culture. He assured to the local Muslims that the Muslim people in Taiwan will always enjoy religious freedom and that the government will pay close attention to any raising needs to the group. He also hoped that Taiwanese Muslims will participate in Islamic-related international affairs and play even more role in helping Taiwan solidifies itself with the Islamic nations.
On 6 December 2011, ROC Vice President Vincent Siew commended members of Taiwanese Muslim delegates for completing their 2011 Hajj pilgrimage in November 2011. The delegation was headed by Chu Yun-ching, former Chairman of the Chinese Muslim Association. In his remark, Siew said that Islam is one of the most influential religion in the world with 1.7 billion of followers. Its main principle is respecting God, helping the poor, doing good, preventing evil and practicing respect and tolerance. All of these teachings have made indelible contributions to civilizations. According to Siew, King Faisal bin Abdulaziz Al Saud of Saudi Arabia had reassured the oil supply to Taiwan during the 1973 oil crisis. Saudi Arabia also has helped Taiwan in providing interest-free loans to help Taiwan completed its Ten Major Construction Projects during the 1970s. Finally he said that the caring and peace-loving spirit of Islam is an important asset for all mankind, and that the Taiwanese should not forget their deep friendship with the Muslim world.
Speaking at the opening ceremony of the 16th General Assembly of the Regional Islamic Dawah Council of Southeast Asia and the Pacific (RISEAP) which was held in December 2015 in Taipei, President Ma Ying-jeou said that the ROC government is committed to promoting religious freedom, enhancing the understanding of Islam and to safeguards the minority Muslims in Taiwan to keep in line with the ROC constitutions.
Media and communication
The "Islam in China" is a bimonthly Islamic magazine circulated in Taiwan with the aim of strengthening the contact between Taiwanese Muslims and the development of Islam in Taiwan. Around 2,000 copies of each issue are circulated throughout Taiwan and abroad. The magazine focuses on the Quran, Hadith, Dawah and news concerning Islam and Muslims in Taiwan. There are other several Islamic publications in Taiwan which includes Islamic teachings.
After the September 11 attacks in United States in 2001, Western media created various misunderstanding about Islam to the public. Shocked by the events, many Taiwanese people came to Taiwan mosques showing their interest to know about the real Islam, especially to cross check whether Islam teaches violence like what had been portrayed by the Western media. Responding to this, Muslim preachers revived Islamic preaching work and presented true Islam to the locals. At that time, Islamic books and literature were in full demand by non-Muslims. After those people knew about the Islamic teachings, which give the message of peace and tolerance, a good number of non-Muslims showed interest in embracing Islam.
Muslim employment regulations
In Taiwan, employers can also be fined if they force Muslim workers to come into contact with pork. In May 2010, wife of the owner of Shin Hua Hang Fashion Co. in Taipei County was charged for forcing her three Muslim Indonesian employees to eat pork for seven months. She was sentenced to six months in prison for the act. The three workers wrote a letter to the labor department of the then-Taipei County Government asking for help. This incident triggered a protest from dozens of foreign workers at the Bureau of Consular Affairs in Taipei, led by Taiwan International Workers’ Association (TIWA). This incident led to a condemnation from the Government of Indonesia. Ku Yu-ling, chairperson of TIWA, said that the root of the problem lies in the government repeatedly delaying including migrant caregivers under the Labor Standards Act to protect their basic working rights.
This incident led to the creation of a television advertisement by the Council of Labor Affairs showing respect for different religions and promotion of social harmony. The advertisement was welcomed by the Chinese Muslim Association.
In May 2011 in Chiayi City, a couple was fined for doing that to an Indonesian worker, in addition to other offences such as a long workday and threats of deportation. The Indonesian worker firstly came to Taiwan being misled into thinking that she would take employment as elderly care taker.
Currently, there are various Taiwanese Muslims working as civil servants, military personnel, engineers, doctors, lawyers and professors at higher learning institutes, trade and industry sectors. However, there are still no Muslim at the corporate ladders, and there is currently no representative at the Legislative Yuan.
Halal restaurants are widely available around Taiwan, although most of them are highly concentrated in Taipei, with some other restaurants in Taoyuan, Taichung and Kaohsiung. According to the Tourism Bureau, as of May 2015 there are 70 Halal restaurants altogether in Taiwan.
One of Taiwan's halal certification body is the Taiwan Halal Integrity Development Association, inaugurated in May 2011 in Taipei, obtained the membership to a cross-border halal food certification program which is governed by the authorities from Indonesia, Malaysia and Singapore. The association is based in Taipei Cultural Mosque. Another type of Halal certification, the 'Muslim Friendly Restaurant' certification, is handled by the Chinese Muslim Association. The purpose of the certification, except to certify the Halal-ness of the food, is to let the world knows that there are Muslims in Taiwan too. The certification guidelines specify method, source, items, dos and donts in hosting Muslim customers according to their customs in dining in restaurants. The methods specified by the certification guidelines may make the cost of hosting Muslim travelers more costly, but it helps to attract more Muslim tourist visitors to Taiwan.
There are two halal type of certification for restaurants or food outlets in Taiwan, which are:
- 'Halal Restaurant' for restaurants or food outlets owned by Muslims
- 'Muslim Friendly Restaurant' for restaurants or food outlets owned by non-Muslims
Taiwan-based halal food makers are Zheng Yee Food, Sunnano Biotech, Baeyuea Enterprise, Tiger Brand Cheng Tung Industrial, Affinity Food, Flavor Full Foods, Excellence Food Biochemical, Taiwan Smile Food, Jiou Long Jai Foodstuff, Ruhn Chan International and Tsan Yu Yen Foods.
In July 2011, the Shangri-La Leisure Farm resort in Yilan County received the Halal certification from CMA, becoming the first lodging place in Taiwan to receive such certification after three years of efforts with the help from the Tourism Bureau of the Ministry of Transportation and Communications. Besides the certification, the resort also provides prayer spaces for Muslims and providing arrow pointing to Qibla on their rooms ceiling.
Taiwan held its first Halal expo in 2013 at the Taipei WTC Nangang Exhibition Hall called the 2013 Taiwan International Halal Expo. The halal goods offer innovative products that offer a special blend between halal foods with Taiwan characteristics. The expo was initiated by the Taiwan External Trade Development Council by dedicating the previously Halal Section of Food Taipei Expo to become its very own expo.
In March 2013, 16 restaurants around Taiwan were given halal certification, in a move to make Taiwan more attractive to Muslim tourists thereby expanding tourism in Taiwan. The certificates were issued by the ROC Tourism Bureau in collaboration with Chinese Muslim Association (CMA). The restaurants covered are in Taipei, New Taipei, Taoyuan, Taichung, Tainan, Hualien and Taitung. These restaurants cover a wide variety of food, including Chinese, Taiwanese, Indian, Thai, Turkish and Egyptian cuisine. This move brings the total number of halal restaurants throughout Taiwan to 31. Liu Hsi-lin, deputy director-general of the bureau, said during the ceremony that people from different countries and different religions will have different needs. The key to develop Taiwan's tourism industry is to show respect for these diverse needs. He said that Taiwan is aiming at attracting Muslim tourists from Indonesia, Malaysia and Singapore. Thus the bureau, together with the CMA, try to help the local tourist industries cater to the needs of Muslim visitors. Also present at the ceremony is Salahuding Ma, secretary-general of CMA.
According to the Taiwan External Trade Development Council in June 2013, there were almost 150 Taiwanese companies who have obtained Halal certification with another 130 are still in the certification process, thus creating small local Muslim industries.
Due to the absence of any formal Islamic education in Taiwan as well as with other religions, the mosques hold some Islamic courses to the local Muslims such as Arabic language, Quran and Hadith teaching and Sharia by request from the parents. Many of the courses are being run on weekends due to the busy work and study schedule of Taiwanese people during the weekdays.
However, for the teaching of Arabic language, the course has been available at the National Chengchi University in Taipei since 1957 under the Department of Arabic Language and Culture under the College of Foreign Language and Literature. Due to the growing importance of Arab nations in the aspect of cultures, politics and economics of the world, the ROC government authorized the Department of Arabic Language and Culture to be independent, making it equal to the Department of Oriental Languages and Cultures within the university. The department also has partner universities with the Kuwait University, University of Jordan and King Saud University. The department, in collaboration with the Center for the Study of Islamic Civilization and Thoughts, held an international conference entitled 'The Middle East and Islam' on 15 May 2009 at the university with the theme 'Middle East and Islam in the 21st Century: Past, Present and Future'.
The Chinese Muslim Association has also been sending Taiwanese Muslim students overseas to receive formal Islamic education. To further improve the effort in preserving the Islamic faith among the Muslims, the association has developed a plan to "educating secular educators" and that the Bureau of Education of the Taipei City Government has approve the proposal to hold Islamic courses for primary and secondary school teachers during summer vacations. They also provide authentic Islamic information to public school teachers to eliminate the Islamic stereotyping and misunderstanding.
Muslims in Taiwan observe the fasting during the Islamic month of Ramadan. In general, they face no problem regarding practicing the rituals in Taiwan. The only problem faced by them is to always have to reject politely any lunch invitation from their Taiwanese colleagues during the day. Local Taiwanese might wonder as well when some of their Muslim neighbors wake up really early in the morning to cook their suhoor, meal eaten before they start their fast.
Yunus A. Ma, imam of the Taipei Grand Mosque in September 2008, said that Ramadan is the opportunity for Taiwanese Muslims to think over their faith and deeds. The Chinese Muslim Association regularly distributes the schedule for fast, prayer and fast break during the fasting months. During the fasting month in 2016, the Taipei Grand Mosque made a request to employers or companies hiring Muslim workers to be more flexible and easy towards them so that they will be able to fully observe the fasting.
Zakāt is a compulsory charity in Islam but it does not always have to be in terms of financial means. Taiwanese Muslims from the Taipei Grand Mosque often visit foreign workers under detention in Sanxia, Yunlin and other detention centers for usually overstaying their employment visa. The Muslims help them with their paperwork and other needs. Other Taiwanese Muslims visit the elderly, ill and poor in the community.
Most of the Taiwanese Muslim weddings are being held in Taipei Grand Mosque due to its large size, and also that 40% of Taiwanese Muslims, mostly as their relatives and friends, reside in Taipei.
The Eid al-Fitr prayer in Taiwan draws much attention from local media. Special features of the event are regularly carried out in the newspapers and aired on televisions. These phenomena gives a boost to the Islamic activities in Taiwan.
Speaking at Taipei Grand Mosque in December 2001 during Eid al-Fitr, Taipei Mayor Ma Ying-jeou thanked the Indonesian workers for their contribution to Taiwan and gave them festive greeting. The mayor was spotted wearing Jinnah cap while greeting the workers and spoke a bit of Indonesian language. He cited that 20,000 among 36,000 foreign workers in Taipei were Indonesians, which had contributed much to the construction and household assistance of Taipei City. He also said that if all of those workers took the same day off, one-quarter of the city would be paralyzed.
In August 2013, during the Muslims's grand festival Eid al-Fitr after the end of fasting month, the Taipei City Government opened two major venues in Taipei for people to gather and celebrate the festival, in which the majority of them are Indonesian blue-collar workers. Those two venues are at a square northwest of Taipei Railway Station and the other is at Daan Forest Park. The reason to choose the park because the park is located just across the Taipei Grand Mosque. Taipei Mayor Hau Lung-pin made a remark urging Taiwanese to be more considerate to foreign workers, telling them that those workers have help to make Taipei a better city to live, thus Taiwanese should treat them like families.
On 3 December 2014, the Foreign and Disabled Labor Office of the Taipei City Government held Eid al-Fitr celebrations at Chiang Kai-shek Memorial Hall and 228 Peace Memorial Park. The office called for Taiwanese to respect different religions and religious practices, allowing Muslims to celebrate the conclusion of Ramadan fasting month.
The Republic of China sent their first Hajj delegation to perform the ritual in 1925. After the end of Chinese Civil War in 1949, the ROC continued back sending hajj delegates in 1954. Nowadays, around 40-50% of Taiwanese Muslims will make their Hajj pilgrimage to Saudi Arabia at some stage of their life, although not every Muslim there has the ability to perform such duty.
During the 2000 Hajj pilgrimage, Taiwan sent a total of 22 Muslims on 21 February 2000 to begin their pilgrim. However, another 32 people departed on 10 March 2000 at the invitation of King Fahd bin Abdulaziz Al Saud.
During the 2005 Hajj pilgrimage, Taiwan sent 27 members of the delegation to perform the ritual consisting of 13 men and 14 women. The delegation was led by Dawood Ma, director of the BOD of Chinese Muslim Association. He said that priority for the delegation will be given to those who was going to make the journey for the first time. The selection process is done seven months before the pilgrim season. All of the selected pilgrims are given orientation in the rituals, laws of Saudi Arabia, Arabic lifestyle and Arabic language. He acknowledge the 26-day of the ritual is difficult for young Taiwanese to embark because they are all busy with their work.
During the 2012 Hajj pilgrimage, Taiwanese adviser to the Chinese Muslim Association, Ibrahim Chao, called for the foreign Hajj mission to educate the pilgrims about Hajj matters before their arrival in Saudi Arabia because one-third of them are not accustomed to modern facilities in the kingdom. Chao also urged Muslims all over the world to get united. He led the 33-member of Hajj delegation from Taiwan.
Before releasing a delegation for the 2013 Hajj pilgrimage at the Presidential Office Building, President Ma Ying-jeou said that Islam has enriched Taiwan's cultural diversity despite being a minority religion. Ma also added that Islam is one of the world's most influential religion, in which it uploads peace and justice, helps and aids the poor and love the people and all things.
Some of the Taiwanese who converted to Islam is because of the condition for their marriage to Muslim. Some other reported that they are attracted to the faith through contact with Muslim leaders or general reading. Both Chinese Muslim Association and Chinese Muslim Youth League put literature for those who are curious about the religion and the organizations are welcome to those who are curious about the Islamic faith.
Islamic conversion rate in Taiwan is relatively low since most of the Taiwanese Muslims in general do not actively preach their religion as do believers of other religions. The growth of Muslim number among Taiwanese Muslims are mostly because of natural population growth.
According to the Islamic law, Taiwanese Muslims need to be buried within maximum of 72 hours after the death. This poses a challenge since the general Chinese burial in Taiwan often takes weeks or months after the person has died. No cremation is used and the dead is buried in the ground. Burial at the sea is permitted if land cannot be reached within 72 hours. Ali Ma Ju-hu, the then-President of Chinese Muslim Association in 2006, had a discussion with the World Assembly of Muslim Youth in Jeddah, Saudi Arabia, on the possibility of finding help in funding burial ground for Muslims in Taipei since the land is very expensive.
Speaking at the Muslim Cemetery (Chinese: 回教公墓; pinyin: Huíjiào Gōngmù) in Liuzhangli area of Taipei's Xinyi District on 7 March 2013 where the tomb of late Nationalist General Bai Chongxi is located, Taipei Mayor Hau Lung-pin said that Bai's tomb will form the basis for a Muslim cultural area and Taiwan historical park in Taipei City. Hau made the remark during the late General's 120th birthday anniversary.
Bai's tomb was built in the 1960s and was designated as historical monument by the Taipei City Government in 2012. His graveyard is also called the 'Graveyard of the White Banyan Tree Hall'. His tomb incorporates elements of a mosque dome, minarets, prayer tower and inscriptions by politicians and other historic figures. Lies next to his tomb is the tomb of his wife, and also grave plots prepared for his 10 children, in which 3 has been taken. Whether one of his son, Pai Hsien-yung, and his other chrildren will one day return from United States to Taiwan remains to be seen.
Tourism for Muslims
Taiwan has been working hard recently to capture the growing market of Muslim travelers, such as providing more and more Muslim-friendly restaurants and hotels, including facilities such as signs pointing to the direction of Kaaba for prayer. The majority of Muslim travelers to Taiwan come from Northwest China and South East Asian countries, especially Malaysia, Indonesia, Singapore and Brunei. Tourism Bureau reported 200,000 visitors from Muslim-majority countries came to Taiwan in 2015.
In 2012, the Kuala Lumpur Office of the Taiwan Visitor Association distributed 20,000 free copies of the 'Traveling in Taiwan for Muslims' guide book which list down all of the mosques and Halal eateries, as well as Muslim-friendly tourist attractions and accommodation in the island. Tony Wu, director of the Kuala Lumpur Office, said that Taiwan has more than 100 Halal restaurants and that his office plan to raise the annual Malaysian visitors to Taiwan from 350,000 to 400,000. In September 2014, Taiwan took part in promoting its 51 Muslim-friendly restaurants and hotels as well as its 13 scenic areas which have Muslim prayer rooms during the MATTA Fair in Malaysia in a bid to attract Malaysian visitors. In 2015, Taiwan was ranked top 10 non-Muslim tourist destination among Muslim travelers by the Global Muslim Travel Index due to its safe travel environment, airport services and Muslim travelers needs awareness and reach out. In 2016, Taiwan included new six Middle East countries into their e-visa program to boost more tourist arrivals from Muslim countries.
In 2001, the World Assembly of Muslim Youth with cooperation with CMA held the Summer Muslim Youth Camp to let Muslim brothers know each other and young Muslims to know more about Islam in a non-Muslim society.
In 2004, an international seminar on Islam was held in Taipei where Muslim scholars presented their papers on Islamic issues such as religion, economy, politics and culture. The seminar also provided the local Muslims an opportunity to understand those important issues around the world.
In August 2013, New Taipei organized the Islam Culture Week to enhance residents' understanding of Islam due to the lack of the familiarity with the religion and culture. The festival, held at the New Taipei City Hall, featured the Islamic handicraft, cuisine and other cultural elements. New Taipei itself is home to around 30,000 Muslims, making it one of the biggest city in Taiwan in terms of Muslim population. The secretary-general of the Chinese Muslim Association added that Taiwan could benefit a lot by understanding Islam, such as it will make things easier for Taiwan to do export and import trading with the growing Muslim countries, as well as attracting more visitors from various Islamic countries.
In January–September 2014, National Taiwan Museum held an exhibition showing the cultural and religious objects from the Islamic world entitled The Exhibition of Islamic Life and Culture (Chinese: 文化與生活特展). The exhibition displayed more than 200 items, featuring Quran manuscripts, Muslim clothes, caps, prayer beads, mats, incense burners, tapestries etc. The exhibition was organized by the museum, Taiwan Association of Islamic Studies and National Chengchi University (NCCU). NCCU President Wu Se-hwa expressed that the exhibition would help Taiwanese people gain a better understanding of Islamic culture and lead to further exchanges between the two sides. In conjunction with the main exhibition, the organizers also hold some spin-off events, such as Halal food fair, Muslim music concert, Islamic calligraphy demonstrations and tour to Taipei Grand Mosque.
A two-day event of international symposium addressing contemporary challenges facing Muslim minorities was held in Taipei on 13–14 April 2015. Organized by Muslim World League, Ministry of Foreign Affairs and several non-governmental organizations, the event was attended by participants from more than 20 countries and territories. Speaking at the opening ceremony, Foreign Affairs Minister David Lin said that the symposium represents a confidence by the world Muslim community in the promotion of religious equality by the government. Lin also added that Taiwan has helped the conflicts happening in parts of Iraq and Syria by aiding more than US$8.25 million in assistance, including 350 prefabricated shelters to refugees.
The 16th General Assembly of the Regional Islamic Dawah Council of Southeast Asia and the Pacific (RISEAP) was held in December 2015 in Taipei, the first time in Taiwan. The annual assembly was attended by 80 religious leaders and scholars from 23 countries and territories in the region.
A Democratic Progressive Party legislator in Taiwan, Yu Tien made offensive comments regarding Muslims, claiming they were a "light hearted joke", linking terrorism to Muslims while campaigning. His wife had said she was a “Muslim terrorist early on … like Osama bin Laden.” Yu replied: “People have been saying that I am afraid of my wife. Faced with such a Muslim militant, how could I not be afraid?” He then apologized after the incident, saying he was "Deeply apologetic", and "We weren’t trying to connect Muslims with terrorists and we hope the public doesn’t misunderstand us. We respect every religion.”
Islam is generally perceived to be alien to traditional Chinese culture by the general Taiwanese population despite the fact that Taiwan is a society with freedom of religion and high tolerance. Generally there are no negative perceptions of Islam in Taiwan; additionally, Muslims in Taiwan enjoy complete freedom.
Practicing the Five Pillars of Islam, especially the prayer, is difficult in the fast-paced Taiwanese working and living environment. Many Muslims cannot attend the Friday prayer in the mosques, due to fact that weekend holidays in Taiwan fall on Saturdays and Sundays. Therefore, this means that many Muslims miss out on teachings by the imams, elders or international scholars held in association with the sermon of the Friday prayer. Many younger generations also prefer to spend their limited leisure time in places like karaoke, bars, nightclubs and cafes due to the lack of interest and the perception that there is little to gain from religion when success in Chinese culture is defined by wealth and status.
Practicing strict Islamic dietary laws is another problem due to the fact that Taiwan does not have many widely available Halal restaurants or dining places. However, the growing presence of Muslim Indonesian workers in Taiwan has helped to establish more Halal restaurants serving Indonesian cuisine around Taiwan. Muslims serving in the Republic of China Armed Forces are generally given separate utensils and supplied with fish, in which they will cook for themselves.
The highly competitive environment in Taiwanese schools makes it difficult for parents to persuade their children to spend extra time outside of their school subjects to study the Arabic language or Quran.
The extremely low number of Taiwanese Muslims leads to Muslims in isolated areas marrying non-Muslims or converts who are unfamiliar with the Islamic religion and cultures. Elderly Taiwanese Muslims speak out their fear that one day Islam in Taiwan might one day just be a historical fact, repeating the process that happened in Lukang, Changhua.
On 2 October 2016, Taipei Mayor Ko Wen-je made a remark that the Taipei City Government should allocate a budget for the construction of a larger mosque in Taipei which is near to Taipei Metro station because overcrowding at Taipei Grand Mosque has become a continuous problem.
Chinese Muslim Association
The Chinese Muslim Association (CMA; Chinese: 中國回教協會; pinyin: Zhōngguó Huíjiào Xiéhuì) is an organization of Chinese Muslims in the Republic of China (Taiwan). It was founded in 1938 in Mainland China and it runs the Taipei Grand Mosque. Bai Chongxi was the first chairman of the Chinese Muslim Association.
Chinese Muslim Youth League
The Chinese Muslim Youth League (Chinese: 中國回教青年會; pinyin: Zhōngguó Huíjiào Qīngniánhuì) is an organization of Chinese Muslims in the Republic of China (Taiwan). It was founded in the early 1930s and it runs the Taipei Cultural Mosque. As a rival group, the Chinese Muslim Association competes with it in Taiwan.
Chinese Islamic Cultural and Educational Foundation
The Chinese Islamic Cultural and Educational Foundation (Chinese: 中國回教教育文化基金會; pinyin: Zhōngguó Huíjiào Jiàoyù Wénhuà Jījīn Huì) is the first cultural foundation for Islamic education in Taiwan. It was established in 1976 by brothers Chang Zixuan (Chinese: 常子萱) and Chang Zichun (Chinese: 常子春). The foundation is currently based at Taipei Grand Mosque.
Taiwan Halal Integrity Development Association
The Taiwan Halal Integrity Development Association (THIDA; Chinese: 台灣清真產業品質保證推廣協會; pinyin: Táiwān Qīngzhēn Chǎnyè Pǐnzhí Bǎozhèng Tuīguǎng Xiéhuì) was inaugurated on 7 May 2011 in Taipei as the body to give the Halal certification to Taiwanese food products. The association is based in the Taipei Cultural Mosque.
Indonesian Muslim Family in Taiwan
The Indonesian Muslim Family in Taiwan (KMIT; Indonesian: Keluarga Muslim Indonesia di Taiwan) is the umbrella organization that leads all of the Indonesian Muslim associations in Taiwan. It was inaugurated in on 2 December 2007 at the Taipei Cultural Mosque in Taipei. Associations under the KMIT are MTYT Taipei, FOSMIT Zhongli, IMIT Taichung, Kitas Taya Taichung, Imdat, MTYCIT Chiayi, FKKBWIT Tainan, IWAMIT Kaohsiung, MTNIH Hualien, PPIH Hualien and FORMMIT.
University Muslim student communities
Chung Hua University
The Chung Hua University in Hsinchu City houses a Muslim student club called the Islam and Culture Association (ICA). The club was founded on 6 January 2010. It aims to gather Muslim students in Chung Hua University and introduce about Islam and the culture to Taiwanese friends in the campus and Taiwan. The club is also a place to introduce the home culture of their members to Taiwanese friends.
National Cheng Kung University
The National Cheng Kung University in Tainan houses a Muslim student club called the International Muslim Students Association (IMSA). The club was founded on 15 November 2012 with the mission of providing information about Islam and Muslim daily life.
National Chiao Tung University
The National Chiao Tung University in Hsinchu City houses a Muslim student club called the Muslim Students Club in Hsinchu (HMSC). The club was established to enable the Muslim students from diverse cultures to get together, share their ideas, carry out various activities and welcome new members. They teach weekly Arabic and Islamic studies to the people.
National Taiwan University of Science and Technology
The National Taiwan University of Science and Technology in Taipei houses a Muslim student club called the International Muslim Student Association (IMSA). Due to the fact that the university houses one of the highest Muslim students in Taiwan, the growing Muslim students felt that they need to have a community that can provide basic Islamic and social interactions between Muslim students. Audit was done by the university since 5 May 2012 and the club was established on 22 May 2012.
Even before the establishment of the club, Muslim students in the university had already organized Islamic-related event called the International Muslim Culture Exhibition in November 2011 which features the Islamic science and technology, Islamic food and beverages, Muslim annual events, Muslim history in Taiwan, woman in Islam and Muslim daily life. The purpose of this event was to introduce the unique cultures of Muslim and increase the understanding among different cultures to create peace and harmony. The event was then continued to be held annually by the club.
Yuan Ze University
The Yuan Ze University in Zhongli District, Taoyuan City houses a Muslim student club called the Yuan Ze University–Muslim Student Association (YZU-MSA). The association held an event entitled Islamic Culture and Exhibition in May 2014 and May 2015.
Mosques and prayer rooms
There are seven fully built mosques throughout Taiwan and one under construction at 34 Fengyuan Street, Donggang, Pingtung. Based on the sequence of their establishment date, those seven mosques are:
- Taipei Grand Mosque (台北清真寺), in Da'an, Taipei, organized by the Chinese Muslim Association
- Taipei Cultural Mosque (台北文化清真寺), in Zhongzheng, Taipei, organized by the Chinese Muslim Youth League
- Longgang Mosque (龍岡清真寺), in Zhongli, Taoyuan
- Taichung Mosque (台中清真寺), in Nantun, Taichung
- Kaohsiung Mosque (高雄清真寺), in Lingya, Kaohsiung
- Tainan Mosque (台南清真寺), in East, Tainan
- At-Taqwa Mosque (大園清真寺), in Dayuan, Taoyuan, organized by the Indonesian Muslim Family in Taiwan
- Tongkang Mosque (東港清真寺), in Donggang, Pingtung, organized by the Indonesian Muslim Family in Taiwan (under construction)
Besides mosques, Taiwan also houses several dedicated small-size Muslim prayer rooms, such as in:
- Taiwan Taoyuan International Airport, Taoyuan - at the transit area of Terminal 1 and Terminal 2
- Taipei Railway Station, Taipei - at the basement level in the northeastern corner of the station near to Taipei Metro Line 2 entrance
- THSR Taichung Station, Taichung
- Taipei City Hall, Taipei
- Taipei World Trade Center Nangang Exhibition Hall, Taipei
- Kaohsiung Medical University, Kaohsiung
- National Cheng Kung University, Tainan - at 6th Dormitory of Sheng-Li Campus
- National Chiao Tung University, Hsinchu - at the basement level of Student Dormitory 13
- Window on China Theme Park, Taoyuan
- Leofoo Village Theme Park, Hsinchu County
- Shangri-La Leisure Farm, Yilan County
- Chang Gung Memorial Hospital, Linkou Branch (長庚紀念醫院林口總院), Taoyuan
- Freeway 3 service area, Qingshui District, Taichung
List of important Muslims who lived in or were born in Taiwan
- Bai Chongxi, a Kuomintang Army General of Hui descent who established the Chinese Muslim Association
- Pai Hsien-yung, son of Bai Chongxi
- Liu Wen-hsiung, legislator from People First Party
- Sha Yung-jye, former President of Chung Hua University
- Richard S.J. Ko, CEO of Round Table Professional Conference Organizer
- Stone Shih, former publisher and president of Central Daily News
- Wang Chen-tai
- Chang Tung Sheng
- Ma Buqing
- Ma Chengxiang
- Ma Ching-chiang
- Yulbars Khan
- Religion in Taiwan
- List of mosques in Taiwan
- Chinese Muslim Association
- Chinese Muslim Youth League
- Chinese Islamic Cultural and Educational Foundation
- Taiwan Halal Integrity Development Association
- Ma clique
- Hui people
- Uyghur people
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