Mosques and Muslim Population Distribution(HUI)
|Area||No. of Mosques||Muslim(Hui) Population(1990)|
|Inner Mongolia Autonomous region||102||192,800|
|Ningxia Autonomous region||2,580||1,524,448|
|Tibet Autonomous region||3||1,783|
|Xinjiang Autonomous region||23,000||681,527|
|Hong Kong SAR||3||30,000|
Muslims take great pride in citing a hadith that says "Seek knowledge even unto China." It points to the importance of seeking knowledge, even if it meant traveling as far away as China, especially as at t the time of the Prophet Muhammad (pbuh), China was considered the most developed civilization of the period. Islam in China began during the caliphate of 'Uthman ibn Affan (Allayhi Rahma, ra), the third caliph. After triumphing over the Byzantine, Romans and the Persians, 'Uthman ibn Affan, dispatched a deputation to China in 29 AH (650 C.E., Eighteen years after the Prophet's (pbuh) death), under the leadership by Sa'ad ibn Abi Waqqaas (Allayhi Rahma), Prophet Muhammad's (Salla Allahu wa Allahai wa Sallam, pbuh) maternal uncle, inviting the Chinese emperor to embrace Islam.
Even before this, the Arab traders during the time of the Prophet (pbuh), had already brought Islam to China, although this was not an organized effort, but merely as an offshoot of their journey along the Silk Route (land and sea route).
Even though there are only sparse records of the event in Arab history, a brief one in Chinese history, The Ancient Record of the Tang Dynasty describes the landmark visit. To Chinese Muslims, this event is considered to be the birth of Islam in China. To show his admiration for Islam, the emperor Yung Wei ordered the establishment of China's first mosque. The magnificent Canton city mosque known to this day as the 'Memorial Mosque.' still stands today, after fourteen centuries.
One of the first Muslim settlements in China was established in this port city. The Umayyads and Abbasids sent six delegations to China, all of which were warmly received by the Chinese.
The Muslims who immigrated to China eventually began to have a great economic impact and influence on the country. They virtually dominated the import/export business by the time of the Sung Dynasty (960 - 1279 CE). Indeed, the office of Director General of Shipping was consistently held by a Muslim during this period. Under the Ming Dynasty (1368 - 1644 CE) generally considered to be the golden age of Islam in China, Muslims gradually became fully integrated into Han society.
An interesting example of this synthesis by Chinese Muslims was the process by which their names changed. Many Muslims who married Han women simply took on the name of the wife. Others took the Chinese surnames of Mo, Mai, and Mu - names adopted by Muslims who had the names Muhammad, Mustafa, and Masoud. Still others who could find no Chinese surname similar to their own adopted the Chinese character that most closely resembled their name - Ha for Hasan, Hu for Hussein, or Sai for Said, and so on.
In addition to names, Muslim customs of dress and food also underwent a synthesis with Chinese culture. The Islamic mode of dress and dietary restrictions were consistently maintained, however, and not compromised. In time, the Muslims began to speak Han dialects and to read in Chinese. Well into the Ming era, the Muslims could not be distinguished from other Chinese other than by their unique religious customs.. In spite of the economic successes the Muslims enjoyed during these and earlier times, they were recognized as being fair, law-abiding, and self-disciplined. For this reason, once again, there was little friction between Muslim and non-Muslim Chinese.
Over the years, many Muslims established mosques, schools and madrasas attended by students from as far as Russia and India. It is reported that in the 1790's, there was as many as 30,000 Islamic students, and the city of Bukhara, - the birthplace of Imam Bukhari, one of the foremost compilers of hadith - which was then part of China, came to be known as the "Pillar of Islam."
The rise of the Ch'ing Dynasty (1644 - 1911 CE), though, changed this. The Ch'ing were Manchu (not Han) and were a minority in China. They employed tactics of divide-and- conquer to keep the Muslims, Han, Tibetans, and Mongolians in struggles against one another. In particular, they were responsible for inciting anti-Muslim sentiment throughout China, and used Han soldiers to suppress the Muslim regions of the country. When the Manchu Dynasty fell in 1911, the Republic of China was established by Sun Yat Sen, who immediately proclaimed that the country belonged equally to the Han, Hui (Muslim), Man (Manchu), Meng (Mongol), and the Tsang (Tibetan) peoples. His policies led to some improvement in relations among these groups.
Since the People?s Republic of China was founded in 1949, tremendous upheavals occurred throughout China culminating in the Cultural Revolution. Muslims along with all the Chinese population suffered. After the third congress of the 11th Central committee, the government greatly liberalized its policies toward Islam and Muslims.. Since religious freedom was declared in 1978, the Chinese Muslims have not wasted time in expressing their convictions.
Under China's current leadership, in fact, Islam appears to be undergoing a modest revival. Religious leaders report more worshipers now than before the Cultural Revolution, and a reawakening of interest in religion among the young.
According to a publication on mosques in China(1998 edition), there are now 32,749 mosques in the entire People's Republic of China, with 23,000 in the province of Xinjiang. There has been an increased upsurge in Islamic expression in China, and many nationwide Islamic associations have been organized to coordinate inter-ethnic activities among Muslims. Islamic literature can be found quite easily and there are currently some eight different translations of the Qur'an in the Chinese language as well as translations in Uygur and the other Turkic languages.
Muslims have also gained a measure of toleration from other religious practices. In areas where Muslims are a majority, the breeding of pigs by non-Muslims is forbidden in deference to Islamic beliefs. Muslim communities are allowed separate cemeteries; Muslim couples may have their marriage consecrated by an imam; and Muslim workers are permitted holidays during major religious festivals. The Muslims of China have also been given almost unrestricted allowance to make the Hajj to Mecca. China's Muslims have also been active in the country's internal politics. As always, the Muslims have refused to be silenced. Islam is very much alive for China's Muslims who have managed to practice their faith, sometimes against great odds, since the seventh century.
YINCHUAN, July 7 (Xinhua) -- A total of 8,288 Muslims in northwest China's Ningxia Hui Autonomous Region, the largest Muslim region in the country, have made the pilgrimage to Mecca, Islam's holiest site in Saudi Arabia, a religious official said.
A pilgrimage to Mecca, also call the hajj, is the fifth pillar of Islam, an obligation that must be carried out at least once in their lifetime by every able-bodied Muslim who can afford to do so.
Before 1978, only seven Muslims from Ningxia traveled to Mecca for the hajj. At that time, the cost of the trip was just 8,000 yuan, said Ma Zhanquan, an imam.
Since China resumed organizing the hajj trip in 1985, the number of pilgrims from Ningxia grew from 15 in 1988 to 1,655 in 2007, which reflects a loosened religious policy and a sharp increase in per capita income of local farmers, said Hei Fuli, vice chairman of the Islamic Association of Ningxia.
Ningxia is home to 2.17 million Muslims, accounting for over one third of the region's total population and more than one tenth of China's 20 million Muslim population. Currently, Ningxia has 3,760 mosques.
China's growing material prosperity has had a knock-on effect in the spiritual lives of its Muslim citizens. As mud houses have given way to brick homes, as brackish water has been transformed into tap water, and as motorcycles and computers have replaced the sewing machine as the latest machines that every home seems to possess, Guo Tingjiang, 70, a farmer in Dongtasi Town, Wuzhong City, has realized his dream of going to Mecca.
"I was a cowherd. I didn't go to school and never knew the Arabic language. But I went to Beijing and Mecca. It was a miracle for me," he said.
Guo spent 30,000 yuan (4,323 U.S. dollars), a huge sum for people living in the poverty-stricken area, and made his trip to Mecca in 2000. The 40 days in the regional capital Yinchuan, Beijing and Mecca means his life now has no regrets. Guo's wife also became a hajj pilgrim in 2005.
The pilgrimage to Mecca is not only a religious activity for the Muslims, but also broadens their vision and promotes understanding among different Muslim sects, Hei Fuli said.
A total of 1,970 Muslims from Ningxia and neighboring Shaanxi Province went to Mecca last December on direct charter flights from Yinchuan. It cut the trip to eight hours and 40 minutes, saving at least 2,000 yuan for each hajj pilgrimage.
More than 10,000 Muslims went to Mecca for the pilgrimage in 2007, according to the China Islamic Association.
Around 1,700 Muslims in Ningxia and 13,000 in the whole country are expected to go to Mecca this year, Hei said.
According to incomplete statistics, there are over 100 million followers of various religious faiths, more than 85,000 sites for religious activities, some 300,000 clergy and over 3,000 religious organizations throughout China. In addition, there are 74 religious schools and colleges run by religious organizations for training clerical personnel.
"We used to pray on the goat fur in our mosque. Now we pray on woolen carpets. More and more people can afford the trip now as they get richer," said Yang Yuming, imam in Tongxin Mosque, the largest mosque in Ningxia.
==========================================================More people from China's major Muslim region work with Arabic
A young Muslim's marriage during the on-going Chinese Spring Festival celebrations drew great admiration from locals in northwest China's Ningxia Hui Autonomous Region, major habitat of Chinese Muslims.
Yang Bo, the 23-year-old bridegroom of Hui nationality, said he left his hometown in 2005 to work as an Arabic interpreter in Yiwu city of the economically advanced Zhejiang Province in east China.
He can earn about 3,000 yuan (nearly 375 U.S. dollars) a month, equal to a household's yearly income in the village of Tongxin County of Wuzhong City where he is from.
The growing businesses with Arabic countries in east and south China's coastal areas require more and more Arabic interpreters, and many young Arabic interpreters come from Wuzhong City as it boasts a big Hui population with a tradition of Arabic-learning.
In the business and trade city of Yiwu alone, there are more than 2,000 Arabic interpreters coming from Ningxia, an autonomous region which accommodates over 2 million people of Hui nationality, or 33 percent of the region's total population, and there are about 2,300 mosques, almost one in every village that Muslim people reside.
25-year-old Ma Xuefu started learning Arabic at 6 and has worked in Yiwu for 5 years.
Ma now operates 4 gift shops in Yiwu in cooperation with a Spanish businessman which brought him huge profits.
With the expansion of his businesses, he introduced over 40 Arabic interpreters from his hometown to Yiwu.
Ma Hanguo, an official in charge of labor and employment of Tongxin, said more and more young people from the Hui nationality are now eager to learn Arabic so as to earn a better living.
Ningxia is now China's biggest exporter of Arabic interpreters with dozens of Arabic language schools that attract more and more young local Muslims.
|Xia Dynasty||2070-1600 B.C.|
|Shang Dynasty||1600-1046 B.C.|
|Zhou Dynasty||Western Zhou||1046-771 B.C.|
|Eastern Zhou |
Spring and Autumn Period
Warring States Period
|770-256 B.C. |
|Qin Dynasty||221-206 B.C.|
|Han Dynasty||Western Han||206 B.C.-A.D. 25|
|Western Jin Dynasty||265-317|
|Eastern Jin Dynasty||317-420|
|Northern and Southern Dynasties||Southern Dynasties||Song||420-479|
|Northern Dynasties||Northern Wei||386-534|
|Five Dynasties||Later Liang||907-923|
|Song Dynasty||Northern Song||960-1127|
|Republic of China||1912-1949|
|People's Republic of China||Founded on October 1, 1949|