Islam History in China
Islam is one of the officially recognized religions in China. It has a long history in this ancient nation. Chinese Muslims have been in China for the last 1,400 years of continuous interaction with Chinese society.
- It is believed that Islam was first brought to China in 616-18 AD by Sa'd ibn abi Waqqas who is the maternal uncle of the prophet himself, Sayid, Wahab ibn Abu Kabcha and another Sahaba.
- Then in 637 Sa`ad ibn Abi Waqqa and three Sahabas, namely Suhayla Abuarja, Uwais al-Qarni, and Hassan ibn Thabit, came to China from Persia for the second time and returned by the Yunan-Manipur-Chittagong route, then reached Arabia by sea.
- Some date the introduction of Islam in China to 650 AD which is the instance of third sojourn of Sad ibn abi Waqqas to China, Sa`ad ibn Abi Waqqas, was sent as an official envoy to Emperor Gaozong which was his third sojourn during Caliph Uthman's era in 651 AD.
- The third sojourn happened in 651 AD, which is remarked as the introduction of Islam by some people. Uthman, the third Caliph, sent Sa`ad ibn Abi Waqqas as an official envoy to Emperor Gaozong. The Tang emperor received the embassy warmly and then ordered the construction of the oldest mosque in the country, Huaisheng (in memory of Prophet Muhammad) Mosque in Guangzhou.
- Tang Dynasty
- Because of the cosmopolitan culture in Tang Dynasty, a steady stream of Arabians and Persians arrived in China for trading and commerce, taking the Silk Road and the overseas route through the port of Quanzhou. Many of those immigrants formed the basis of the Chinese Muslim population and the Hui ethnic group. And the Persian immigrants introduced their customs and traditions to China, including polo, their cuisine, their musical instruments, and their knowledge of medicine.
- Song Dynasty
- During Song Dynasty, a lot of Muslims came to China for trading and commerce and they has a great impact and influence on the economy of China then. From 960 to 1279, Muslims in China dominated foreign trade and the import/export business to the south and west. It's noted that in 1070, the Song emperor Shenzong invited 5,300 Muslim men from Bukhara to settle in China for using them in the campaign against the Liao Empire in the northeast. Later these Muslims were settled between Kaifeng and Yenching (now Beijing) to create a buffer zone between Song and Liao. Another important instance happened in 1080. 10,000 Arab men and women migrated to China on horseback and settled in all of the provinces of the north and northeast.
- Yuan Dynasty
- Yuan Dynasty was established by the Mongol people. The rulers elevated the status of foreigners of all religions, and placed many foreigners in high-ranking posts. Many Muslims were in the administration of China in Yuan Dynasty. The state encouraged Muslim immigration, as Arab, Persian and Turkic immigration into China accelerated during Yuan Dynasty. It led to the population of 4,000,000 Muslims in China in the 14th century. During this time, Muslims marked importance in the history of China. One case is that Yeheidie'erding, the Muslim architect learned from Han architecture and helped to design and construct the capital of Yuan Dynasty, Dadu.
- Ming Dynasty
- Muslims continued to flourish in China during the Ming Dynasty. The capital of Ming Dynasty, Nanjing, was a center of Islamic learning. The emperor Zhu Yuanzhang founded the Ming Dynasty. Many of his most trusted commanders were Muslims. Muslims in Ming dynasty Beijing got more freedom, with no restrictions on their religious practices.
- Qing Dynasty
- In the Qing Dynasty, there were many mosques spread in China, especially in the large cities, like Beijing, Xi'an, Hangzhou, Guangzhou, and other places. The architecture typically employed traditional Chinese styles, with Arabic-language inscriptions being the chief distinguishing feature. Many Muslims held government positions, including import posts, particularly in the army.
- Modern Times
- Sun Yat Sen led the movement to end the Qing Dynasty. He immediately proclaimed that the country belonged equally to all peoples, including the Han, Hui (Muslim), Meng (Mongol), and the Tsang (Tibetan). The end of the Qing dynasty also marked an increase in Sino-foreign interaction. Hence Muslim minorities in China had more contact with the Islamic states of the Middle East. In 1912, the Chinese Muslim Federation was formed in Nanjing. Similar organization formed in Beijing (1912), Shanghai (1925) and Jinan (1934).
- Under the leadership of Deng Xiaoping, the Chinese government liberalized its policies toward Islam and Muslims. The legislation gives all minorities the freedom to use their own spoken and written languages; develop their own culture and education; and practice their religion.