Chinese Muslims in Pakistan

During the 1940s many Chinese Muslims fled China to escape the unrest caused by the civil wars and settled in what is now Pakistan. Some of these people did not go back to China. At one time there was even a mosque in Lahore called the Chini Masjid (Chinese Mosque). I do not know what happened to the Chinese Mosque since the only people who have ever mentioned it to me are people of South Asian extraction who were quite young at the time. if there is anyone from Lahore reading this post and knows about the Chinese Mosque then please let me know and I will post the information for everyone’s benefit. Now back to the topic, some of the Chinese Muslims intermarried with the locals and got assimilated. According to this article, the Chinese community of Pakistan is dwindling as many Pakistanis of Chinese origin are either going back to China or going to other countries for better economic prospects. Here is a relevant excerpt from the news story.

Apart from the Chinese who fled communist China for better economic prospects and settled in Pakistan, there is another category of Chinese who mainly left south-western China for the newly born Pakistan seeking to establish their roots in the tribal areas. Syed Arif Shah is one such Pathan by genetic origin but his maternal roots can be traced to China. Perhaps it is his mustache that enhances his Pakistani background on his very innocent Chinese face.

His septuagenarian grandfather, Lee Chen or Syed Shahjahan, decided leaving civil war-torn China for the newly born Muslim majority state of Pakistan in 1948. “My great grandfather was from the tribal areas. He studied medicine in Bombay and moved out to south-western China as a doctor. He married a local Chinese Muslim lady,” says Shah, who has been an amateur boxer besides being a martial arts buff.

On his death bed during World War II, Lee Chen said his father wished to be buried in his ancestral village in the tribal areas. His wish could not be honoured. However, young Chen and his family landed in Karachi, and being an engineer, contributed to the infant textile industry of Pakistan. He restored his ancestral linkages in Pakistan by arranging his elder daughter’s marriage to a Pakistani Pathan.

Arif Shah, a 27-year-old masters in public administration, is one of his four children. “During my school days, we used to go to Chinese gatherings, where almost 70 per cent of the conversations were in the Chinese language,” says Shah comparing past diplomatic functions with those of today. “Now the ratio has been reversed. The majority of Chinese guests, including the consul general, use Urdu as to communicate.”

This is indeed a sign of assimilation rather than isolation of the local population of Chinese origin. But even then, the majority of Lee Chen’s family, including the ailing Chen himself, is now settled in England. “Being Chinese Muslims, we always found ourselves safe and sound here but economic prosperity dictated its own terms and now most of my family members are settled abroad,” Shah maintains.

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19 responses to “Chinese Muslims in Pakistan

  1. Pingback: Chinese Muslims in Pakistan | hostsq·

  2. Fascinating :) The succeeding generations always assimilate much easier growing up in what has become their native country. Then many go abroad, and their children become citizens of another country. This has been going on at a rapid rate in the modern age of the last 100 years, and much faster now. What will the world look like in another 100 years.
    Allah knows the truth.

    Ya Haqq!

  3. Assalamualaikumwarahmatullah,

    yea, I’m Pakistani, when I went there 2 years ago, and found a chinese restaurant. I was surprised to find Chinese Muslims over there.

  4. That is very true brother. There is no such thing as a ‘pure’ identity. All of us carry multiple layers of identity and the layer are only going to get deeper in the modern age. :)

    wa’alaikum’as’salam’wa’rahmatullah’wa’barakatahu zaazaan
    That great. From experience I have seen that most Muslims from Muslim majority countries upon meeting Chinese Muslims think that it is the coolest thing in the world. :)

  5. Assalam ualaikum

    i am looking for a good Hui Muslim girl to get married with in future. i have so many chinese friends but most of them are Han, and they are not muslims, and i also wanted to know that whether Hui muslim girls are allowed by their parents to marry a foreigner Muslim ???

  6. helo everyone! i js wandered across this website, while i was randomly searching about chinese people in pakistan! i just thought it would be realy cool to find out some information and stuff…

    lol anyways wang daiyu please add my msn! :D i wana become friends with a chinese muslim for the first time! ;)

    mumtazmania@hotmail.com

    thnkz tke care! ;)

  7. ASLAM O ALIKUM TO ALL OF THE USERS IN THIS BLOG I AM REALLY FEELING GRAT THAT PAKISTAN IS EVER CLOSE FRIEND OF CHINE AND PAK CHINES FRIENDSHIP EVER BEST FRIENDSHIP IN THE WORLD
    MAY ALLAH BLESS US
    WILL ANY CHINES KEEP ME AS FRIEND I WILL FEEL PLEASURE TO HAVE FRIEND FROM CHINA

  8. Salam alaikum brother wang

    I saw your blog today 2years after when everyone else has stopped talking abt it….
    I would like to know more about Chinese people living in karachi. There is a person in his 50s ( male ) i am looking for…
    and i would talk with you about him if I can have your contact details. by the way,
    i am megalaciers.wordpress.com/islamsunshine, pls post your contact here,
    its a dream interpretation site of mine for muslims but this is the way u can contact me, as i also wana keep my identity /contact secure..

    jazakallah Khairan brother for your support by making this blog.
    barakallahu feek bro
    salam alaikum wr wb.

  9. salam

    very less read available about Chinese in Pakistan I was interested to know about chini masjid (Chinese mosque) if you know the location near by or Chinese people who living in Lahore. by the way my wife is Chinese and we live in Lahore

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