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For The Middle Eastern Islamist organization founded by Hassan al-Banna, see Muslim Brotherhood.

Yihewani (Chinese: 伊赫瓦尼; pinyin: Yīhèwǎní), or Ikhwan (Arabic: الإخوان‎), (also known as Al Ikhwan al Muslimun, which means Muslim Brotherhood, not to be confused with the Middle Eastern Muslim Brotherhood) is an Islamic sect in China. Its adherents are called Sunnaiti. It is of the Hanafi school, one of the six major schools of Islam. It is also referred to as "new sect" "[1] or "Latest sect".[2] Ikhwan (Yihewani), together with Qadim (Gedimu) and Xidaotang, are the three major sects of Islam in China.[3] The Yihewani sect was labeled as the new teaching (xinjiao).[4] In 1937 it divided into two groups.[5]


It was the end of the 19th century when the Dongxiang imam Ma Wanfu (1849–1934) from the village of Guoyuan in Hezhou (now the Dongxiang Autonomous County was founded in Linxia Hui Autonomous Prefecture, Gansu Province) - who had studied in Mecca and was influenced by the Salafi movement. After his return to Gansu, he founded the movement with the ten major Ahong.[6] He claimed that rites and ceremonies not standing in line with the Quran and the Hadith should be abolished. He campaigned against grave and Murshid (leader / teacher) worship and advocated against preaching and dawah in Chinese.[7]


The follower of the sect radically opposed Qadeem's tradition which was influenced by Chinese culture.They put emphasis on the principle of "following the book and eliminating customs". Though the founder of the movement was inspired by the salafi movement, this reform movement, unlike that of the Wahhabis, did not oppose Sufism, but rather rejected the excessive veneration to Sufi masters and to their graves.They strictly follows Hanafi school of fiqh and emphasizes on Ash'ari and Maturidi creeds.[8]

Ideology and Relationship with the State[edit]

In the Dungan Revolt (1895) the Yihewani backed the rebels against the Qing dynasty. However, the Muslim rebels were crushed by loyalist Muslims.

Repression in the Qing dynasty[edit]

The Khafiya Sufi General Ma Anliang, especially hated the Yihewani leader Ma Wanfu, so much that when the Han general Yang Zengxin captured Ma Wanfu, Ma Anliang arranged to have him shipped to Gansu so he could execute him. As Qing authority broke down in China, the Gedimu Sunnis and Khafiya Sufis went on a vicious campaign to murder Ma Wanfu and stamp out his Wahhabi inspired teachings.[9][10] The leaders of menhuans attacked Ma Wanfu, and the Gedimu requested that the Qing governor in Lanzhou inflict punishment upon Ma Wanfu.[11]

Cooperation with the Kuomintang in the Republic of China[edit]

Eventually, under Imams like Hu Songshan, the Yihewani was transformed from an anti assimilationist, fundamentalist brotherhood, into a modernist, Chinese nationalist sect which was supported by the Chinese Nationalist Kuomintang party, promoting modern secular education and nationalism.[12][13]

The Yihewani was then backed by the Ma Clique Muslim warlords, who were members of the Chinese National People's Party (Kuomintang), which espoused Chinese nationalism, and the Three Principles of the People. It was favored over the major Sufi menhuans such as the Sufi Jahriyya, Sufi Khafiya. The Salafis were crushed by the Yihewani during this period.

The Yihewani was patronized and backed by Ma Lin (warlord) and Ma Bufang to help modernize society, education, and reform old traditions.[14]

Yihewani Imams reacted with hostility to Ma Debao and Ma Zhengqing, who attempted to introduce Salafism as the main form of Islam. They were branded as traitors, and Wahhabi teachings were deemed as heresy by the Yihewani leaders. Ma Debao established a Salafi order, called the Sailaifengye(Salafi) menhuan in Lanzhou and Linxia, and it is a completely separate sect than other Muslim sects in China.[15]

Salafis have a reputation for radicalism among the Hanafi Sunni Gedimu and Yihewani. Sunni Muslim Hui avoid Salafis, even if they are family members, and they constantly fight.[16]

The Kuomintang Sufi Muslim General Ma Bufang, who backed the Yihewani, persecuted the Salafi. The Yihewani forced the Salafis into hiding. They were not allowed to move or worship openly. The Yihewani had become modernist and Chinese nationalist, and they considered the Salafiyya to be "Heterodox" (xie jiao), and people who followed foreigner's teachings (waidao). Only after the Communists took over were the Salafis allowed to come out and worship openly.[17]

Present day[edit]

The Communist party has continued the policy of patronizing and supporting the Yihewani over all other sects among the Hui.

The Uyghur militant organization East Turkestan Islamic Movement's magazine Islamic Turkistan has accused the Chinese "Muslim Brotherhood" (the Yihewani) of being responsible for the moderation of Hui Muslims and the lack of Hui joining jihadist groups in addition to blaming other things for the lack of Hui Jihadists, such as the fact that for more than 300 years Hui and Uyghurs have been enemies of each other, no separatist Islamist organizations among the Hui, the fact that the Hui view China as their home, and the fact that the "infidel Chinese" language is the language of the Hui.[18][19]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ chinese Xinjiao pai 新教派
  2. ^ chin. Xinxinjiao 新新教
  3. ^ Zhongguo de sanda jiaopai 中国的三大教派 bzw. kurz: Sanda jiaopai 三大教派: Gedimu 格底目 (Qadīm), Yihewani 伊赫瓦尼 (Ikhwānī), Xidaotang 西道堂.
  4. ^ Papers from the Conference on Chinese Local Elites and Patterns of Dominance, Banff, August 20-24, 1987, Volume 3. 1987. p. 29. Retrieved 2010-06-28. 
  5. ^ chinaculture.org: Yihewani pai (found on March 27, 2010)
  6. ^ chin. shi da ahong 十大阿訇; das Cihai spricht von zehn großen Hadschis (shi da haji 十大哈吉).
  7. ^ Shoujiang Mi, Jia You (Kap.2.2.: "Birth and Growth of Sects and Menhuans")
  8. ^ Sects And Legal Schools Represented By Muslims In China
  9. ^ Gail Hershatter (1996). Remapping China: fissures in historical terrain. Stanford California: Stanford University Press. p. 106. ISBN 0-8047-2509-8. Retrieved 2010-06-28. 
  10. ^ Aliya Ma Lynn (2007). Muslims in China. University Press. p. 27. ISBN 0-88093-861-7. Retrieved 2010-06-28. 
  11. ^ Michael Dillon (1999). China's Muslim Hui community: migration, settlement and sects. Richmond: Curzon Press. p. 103. ISBN 0-7007-1026-4. Retrieved 2010-06-28. 
  12. ^ Gail Hershatter (1996). Remapping China: fissures in historical terrain. Stanford California: Stanford University Press. p. 106. ISBN 0-8047-2509-8. Retrieved 2010-06-28. 
  13. ^ ALLÈS & CHÉRIF-CHEBBI & HALFON 2003, p. 8.
  14. ^ Yang, Fenggang; Tamney, Joseph, eds. (2011). Confucianism and Spiritual Traditions in Modern China and Beyond. Volume 3 of Religion in Chinese Societies (illustrated ed.). BRILL. p. 222. ISBN 9004212396. Retrieved 24 April 2014. 
  15. ^ Michael Dillon (1999). China's Muslim Hui community: migration, settlement and sects. Richmond: Curzon Press. p. 104. ISBN 0-7007-1026-4. Retrieved 2010-06-28. 
  16. ^ Maris Boyd Gillette (2000). Between Mecca and Beijing: modernization and consumption among urban Chinese Muslims. Stanford University Press. pp. 79, 80. ISBN 0-8047-3694-4. Retrieved 2010-06-28. 
  17. ^ BARRY RUBIN (2000). Guide to Islamist Movements. M.E. Sharpe. p. 79. ISBN 0-7656-1747-1. Retrieved 2010-06-28. 
  18. ^ Zenn, Jacob (March 17, 2011). [tt_news=37662&no_cache=1#.Vf3TiJdGQrc "Jihad in China? Marketing the Turkistan Islamic Party"]. Terrorism Monitor (The Jamestown Foundation) 9 (11). Retrieved 18 September 2015. 
  19. ^ Zenn, Jacob (February 2013). "Terrorism and Islamic Radicalization in Central Asia A Compendium of Recent Jamestown Analysis" (PDF). p. 57. Retrieved 18 September 2015. 

Further reading[edit]



  • Ma Kexun 马克勋: "Zhongguo Yisilanjiao Yihewanyi pai di changdaozhe - Ma Wanfu (Guoyuan)" 中国伊斯兰教伊赫瓦尼派的倡导者——马万福(果园) [The founder of China's Islamic Ikhwan movement: Ma Wanfu (Guoyuan)]. In: Yisilanjiao zai Zhongguo [Islam in China], ed. Gansu Provincial Ethnology Department. Yinchuan: Ningxia Renmin chubanshe 1982 (Chinese)
  • Ma Zhanbiao: "Yihewani jiaopei yu Ma Wanfu" (Yihewani and Ma Wanfu), In: Xibei Huizu yu Yiselanjiao. Yinchuan: Ningxia Renmin chubanshe 1994 (Chinese)