This is the second part in the series Perspective of a Chinese Muslima. If you have any questions then you can post them here or forward them.
If you are minority in a country then it can be difficult to fit in or it can be normal depending upon the wider society and how the majority treats you. This experience is not unique to Muslims living in non-Muslim countries but applies to non-Muslims living in Muslim countries also. My grandparents from both sides of my family were religious people but my parents were not particularly religious people. They were the product of Communist China. Pork was forbidden but the rule on drinking was less enforced. However the good thing was that they gave it by the time I grew up because my parents did not want to influence their child in a negative manner. We also knew Muslims whose Muslimness constituted in not eating pork but who were not aware of the basic tenets of Islam. Similar phenomenon could be observed in Christianity as well. Explaining hijab to other people was next to impossible. It is a tradition that is only followed by older women in my community. Another thing that some non-Muslim Chinese people found puzzling was why we followed a non-Chinese belief system. This usually required explaining why Islam is a universal creed but it was not very helpful. On Eid, my family never took time off from work because we did not want to look “strange.” Even I would sometimes go out of my way to dissociate myself from the “backward” Muslims. In retrospect it was not the best of things to do but this is how many young people react who do not have a sense of direction. We seemed to be caught in trying to fit in and yet also trying to maintain our identity. Then there are some Muslims who do try to adhere to the deen but are too out of sync with the rest of the society. This is the dilemma. Many Muslims who are truly practicing almost shut themselves from the rest of the society and so the opportunities for dawah are rare and consequently for many non-Muslim Chinese Islam appears to be a foreign religion. However I am hopeful. All that is needed is for Muslims, Chinese and otherwise, to have a cheerful attitude towards the world and many people will understand and respond positively to the dawah.