of Islam in China
During the days of the third caliph
of Islam, Uthman Ghani (rta), a Muslim deputation led by Sa`ad Ibn Abi
Waqqas visited China in 651 A.D (29 A.H.) to invite the Chinese emperor
to embrace Islam. They built a magnificent mosque in Canton city. This
mosque is known as "The Memorial Mosque".
Muslims in China
After the early beginnings, relations
between the Muslims and the Chinese progressed fairly well. The first Muslim
settlement in China was established in Cheng Aan port during the Tang dynasty.
Thousands of Muslims have been turning to China in different times. Sometimes
these neo settlers had petty skirmishes with the local Chinese. The first
regular war was waged at the Chinese border in 133 A.H. The Muslims were
led by Ziyad. They were far less in numbers. But they gave a crushing defeat
to the Chinese. After this victory, the Muslims came to command complete
control over the entire Central Asia.
These early successes opened the
doors of China for the Muslim missionaries. In 138 A.H. General Lieu Chen
revolted against Emperor Sehwan Tsung. On a request for help from the emperor
the Abbasid caliph, Al-Mansur deputed a unit of 4,000 armed Turk Muslim
troops to China. With their help the emperor overpowered the rebellion.
After crushing the rebellion, the Turk soldiers settled in China. They
married Chinese women. The Muslim influx to China continued thereafter
through sea and land routes.
The early Muslims settling in China
bore all sorts of circumstances. The long rule of the Manchu dynasty (1644-1911
AD) was the hardest for the Muslims. During this period the following five
wars were waged against the Muslims: (1) the Lanchu War, (2) the Che Kanio
War, (3) the Sinkiang War, (4) the Uunanan War, and (5) the Shansi War.
In these destructive wars, the Muslims suffered inestimable losses. Countless
Muslims were martyred. Half of Kansu’s population, totalling 15 millions,
was Muslim. Only 5 million could escape alive. Chinese Muslims sustained
similar setbacks in several other small and big wars. During the past three
centuries, the Muslim population has decreased at 30%.
However, despite the great Muslim
massacres during the past, the present Chinese Muslim population still
exceeds 60 million. The Chinese Muslims follow the Islamic theory and practice.
They practice all the five fundamentals of Islam. They differentiate between
the forbidden (Haram) and the permissible (Halal). They are leading a decent
and a civilized life in China.
Shift in Chinese Policy
The great Chinese statesman, Mao
Tse-tung (1893-1976) achieved his political objective through ‘The Long
March’. When he settled down at his headquarters at Niyan, the Chinese
Muslims supported him. The Muslims also joined his Red Army. However, at
no stage of their cooperation with the great Chinese leader did the Muslims
forsake their Islamic identity even for a while. In 1954, the Muslims were
given guarantees about their prayers, traditional rites, civilization and
culture. As compared to other minorities they were extended more liberal
facilities, especially in the matters of cementing ties with the Muslim
world. Friendly relations with the Muslim countries is a great economic
need for modern China. Muslims have accordingly loomed large in China’s
foreign policy ever since 1985. The under-developed areas predominated
by the Muslims are now extended preferential treatment.
During China’s Cultural Revolution
(1966-76) locks were forcibly put on a number of Chinese mosques. All such
mosques have now been restored to the Muslims. Chinese Muslims have been
accorded complete religious freedom. The Chinese Radio even broadcasts
Qur’anic lectures. The Muslims feel satisfied with such welcome official
measures. The pleasant pro-Muslim shift in the Chinese policy is currently
making an exceedingly favourable impact on the dissemination of Islam in
China. China has exceptionally cordial relation with its neighbouring Muslim
state, Pakistan. Throughout this period only on unpleasant incident of
a petty clash between Chinese and Muslims was reported in 1990 at the Pakistan
– China border at Khunjrab.
Report on Chinese
Beijing, Muharram 14/Apr 19 (IINA),
2000 - The number of Muslims in China is estimated at 200 million at the
moment. Muslim traders introduced Islam to China way back in 681 AD, and
there are ancient mosques in China that are over a thousand years old.
The Deputy President of the Chinese
Muslim Society told ALDAWA that there are 3,500 mosques in China at the
moment, with the number of Imams standing at 4,000. He said that Muslims
in China are now living in state of relief and openness, particularly for
the last twenty years, adding that before that they were being persecuted
and oppressed. He said now new mosques are being built, and the number
of Muslims is on the increase in the country as a whole, with many Muslims
attending mosques and prayers regularly.
The Deputy President of the Chinese
Muslim Society went on to say that there nine Islamic universities in China
at the moment, and attached to every mosque is a Quran schools. This means
that there are 3,500 Quran schools, in which the Quran, Hadith and the
Islamic doctrine are being taught, with attendance being on the increase.
Furthermore, he said, there are Chinese Muslim students pursuing further
Islamic Studies at universities in Egypt, Syria, Saudi Arabia, and Algeria,
at the same time learning the Arabic language.
The majority of Chinese Muslims are
involved in commerce and industry, and cooperation between China and Islamic
countries has its salutary and positive effect on the Muslim community
in China, said the Deputy President.
He appealed for an increase in the
number of scholarships that are extended to Chinese students, and also
support for Islamic schools and universities, in addition to the sending
of Daawa activists and supporting the Islamic publications that are published
He pointed out that the Chinese government
does give support to the Islamic schools, and also repairs mosques.