Request for Feedback: Islam in China FAQ

Alhamdulilah the Islam in China blog is almost two months old now and I have covered a variety of topic related to Islam in China and Chinese Muslims. I have realized that I should have covered the basics about Islam in China before hand. In order to address this deficiency I will be creating a list of FAQs about Islam in China which can serve as a starting point for people who want to learn about this subject. Given below is a list of questions that I have complied and just like last time I would like to ask the readers if they would like to add something to the list. Once they are enough questions I will type up the answers and post them.

  • What is Islam and what is a Muslim?
  • Isn’t Islam a ‘foreign’ religion? Most Muslims live in the Middle East right?
  • How many Muslims are there in China?
  • Do all Chinese Muslims belong to the same group?
  • Who are the Uygar Muslims?
  • Who are the Hui Muslims?
  • What is the difference between a Han Chinese and a Hui Chinese?
  • Where in China are Muslims mostly located?
  • When did Muslims first came to China?
  • What is the history of Islam in China?
  • Who are the famous Chinese Muslims?
  • Who was Zheng He?
  • How many Chinese Muslims live outside of China and in which countries?
  • What languages do Chinese Muslims speak?
  • What are Muslim noodles?
  • What is the general perception of Chinese people regarding Islam?
  • What is the status of the dawah in China today?
  • What is the future of Islam in China?

14 responses to “Request for Feedback: Islam in China FAQ

  1. How is strong is the legacy of Chinese Muslim martial arts in China today? Is it difficult to find masters of this art/science, particularly for foreigners?

  2. Where in China are there universities, institutes, teachers etc that teach the history of Islam and China – in its language, culture etc?

  3. Syed
    I only know of Cha Chu’an Gung Fu as far as specifically Muslim Chinese MArtial Arts styles. As I understand it, you have to actually go to Ningxia, but anyone can learn.

  4. wa’alaikum’as’salam, Jazakallah and welcome to the blog. My apologies for the late reply. The FAQ is somewhat on the back burner for now. I will add the answers gradually.

  5. Isn’t Islam a ‘foreign’ religion? Most Muslims live in the Middle East right?

    Any people in Indonesia, regardless their religion, will laugh on this question.

    How many Chinese Muslims live outside of China and in which countries?

    There are chinese muslims live in Indonesia. The famous one are Arief Budiman and Junus Yahya.

    Note that, their name was changed into Indonesia not because they became Muslim. Instead, it was government policy regarding Chinese (yeah.. a discrimination practice) in Soeharto regime’s era.

    I’ll add this question:
    “when a chinese became a muslim, should he/she leave chinese practises such as give regard to their ancestor using ‘hio‘(joss stick)?”

    I know it began a problem for chinese to convert into christianity or catholic. =

  6. As’salam’o’alaikum Welcome to the blog, Excellent points. I had almost forgotten about the Chinese Muslims in Indonesia. I will add that to the list and also look up the too people that you mentioned. Again thanks for your suggestions.

  7. there are many muslem styles of kung fu of cpuisre they are not well known as they are passed from family to children amongst the Hu and Mo communties, but below are soem that i know of:
    hu hu chi bazou (18 muslem elbows)
    baji chuan (also known as pichi or pichi chuan) royal body gaurd system
    piqua chuan (also known as pikua – hatchet hand style that was tought with pichi chuan as one style until a master seperated the long form piqua – pichi short form)
    12 stars (tanglang) praying mantis especial the 4th set (form) known as the plumflower form (wing chun is derived from this set)
    chinese Su Shaolin kempo
    Hang gar (long fist)
    shaQuen chuan (the fist of shah – shashgmir was a muslem fighter who was rtraveling to fight the japanese invaders he fell ill at a region call hunan (the plcae if my memory serves me right is langshang po)there he saw peope rpactising Yoga techniques and he combined these with his fighting style which he had learned in East turkistan hence the style shaquen

  8. I am an Uighur Muslim from China I wrote the following article last December and tried to get some responces from Muslim communities in vain. A genocide that much larger scale than what we’ve seen in Bosnia has been brewing for quite some time in Chinese occupied East Turkistan. The world witness some of its early signs last week. I hope the Muslim world not still remains turning their back to the East.

    The Blind Eye of the Prophet

    Since early December a movie clip from a popular TV show produced and broadcasted by China’s biggest and most watched TV network, China Central TV, which is owned by the government, has been passing around on the internet and causing quite a stir among Muslims in China. The movie clip contained at the following link features a picture of the Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him) in which he was depicted as one eye blind.

    Growing up in China, I was not taught Islamic history or anything remotely Islamic at schools. In fact, Islam is banned in all schools and at work places unless your work for yourself or are a farmer. Everything I learned about religion came from my parents. That did not include Prophet Muhammad’s physical appearance. Therefore, I did not know if this picture was based on historical fact. Searching the Internet has not revealed anything on this subject. But, I knew, however, that drawing and showing his picture is a taboo in Islam. Therefore, even if the picture reflected the historical fact, it is offensive by itself. I have seen movies made in the West in which his life was described in accordance with this religious custom, never showing his image.

    As a member of the Uyghur Muslims from the Chinese-occupied East Turkistan, I was also offended by the picture like my fellow Uyghurs. Unfortunately, opinions of my people do not count in China, but opinions of the outside Muslim world might. I knew there was nothing new about this kind of derogatory attitude towards Islam in China. After all it is the same country that has been demonizing Islam or any religion for that matter for the past six decades, stating that religion is an outdated and backward ideology that poisons people’s minds. I have had the first hand experience of China’s immunizing and detoxifying campaigns my self. Of course, the person who laid the seeds of that “poison” cannot be depicted in a respectful manner. But I always assumed that the outside Muslim world’s silence on China was due to China’s relative isolation from the Muslim world or their lack of interest in the affairs of the Muslims in China. However, this incident is different, it is a direct insult to the Prophet Muhammad. Therefore, I was quite confident that Muslims would say something about this. So, I forwarded the video clip to several Muslim organizations including CAIR and news outlets, posted news alerts on several popular Muslim Internet discussion forums, and cross-posted the link at numerous Youtube discussion trails. With the fresh memory of the Muslim world’s uproars over the Danish cartoons, I expected some sort of reaction from them. However, a month has passed, I have not seen any response whatsoever from any one, not even on forums that allow anonymous postings. It has become all clear that their silence on China was not accidental. Thinking back, they probably knew the existence of this video even before I did. There are tens of thousands of Middle Eastern Muslims live in China working for the embassies and other Muslim interests, many of whom speak fluent Chinese. There are thousands of Muslim foreign students at Chinese universities who speak fluent Chinese. It would be hard to imagine that none of them tunes into the biggest TV network in China or pokes around Chinese websites.

    This is a little hard for me to swallow. My people see themselves as part of the world Muslim community. China took advantage of this affiliation to portray my people’s struggle for freedom as “terrorism” to deceive the international community. China conveniently resorted to a false Muslim stereotype that was created, however unfair and wrong it is, for the Muslims from the Middle East. Since my people are sharing this burden, a false stereotype, with the outside Muslim world, I always felt it was not too much to expect them to share a little bit of ours. I am okay that they have not so far reciprocated the affinity of my people, but it is a little hard for me to understand that they are not willing to say even a word when the China’s biggest TV network, a government owned propaganda apparatus, depicted the Prophet in such a disrespectful manner.

    Imagine if the picture were shown on the TV in the West. I am sure there would be plenty of noise even though TV networks typically are not owned by governments and do not represent governments’ point of views. Thinking back and forth, I have been struggling to understand this double standard. Recently it finally dawned upon me that the Danish cartoon was not about the Prophet himself, rather it was about his followers of today, it was the depiction of the stereotype I mentioned above. After all, bomb was not invented yet during his times. I am a little ashamed that it took me so long to get this. Now I begin to understand that the picture of the one-eye blind Prophet is not about him either. Unlike the Danish cartoons, the Chinese depiction may have a certain truth to it– the Prophet is indeed one-eye blind. And it is no surprise that China is the first one to notice it.

    Muhammad Tarim
    December 29, 2008

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