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 Islam's Path East: China

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PostSubject: Islam's Path East: China   Mon 5 Oct - 21:10






Islam's
Path East: China




6/19/2007
- Education Social - Article Ref: SW0206-1661



Saudi
Aramco World* -



One
of Islam's main entry points into China was the Pearl
River port
of Quanzhou.



The
majority of China's Muslims are Turkic peoples living in the vast Xinjiang
region of northwest China. The rest are mainly Hui - either descendants of
Chinese converts to Islam or the offspring of Chinese intermarriages with
Muslim immigrants whose appearance is distinctly Chinese. They live in sizeable
communities in the former Silk Road oases of
western and central China,
in the southern province of Yunnan,
and in the industrial cities and ports of the east.






Contacts
between Muslims and Chinese began very early. Arab merchants traded in silk
even before the advent of Islam, and tradition has it that the new religion was
brought to their port-city trading colonies by Muslim missionaries in the
seventh century.






In
755, a contingent of 4000 soldiers, mostly Muslim Turks, was sent by the
Abbasid caliph Abu Jafar al-Mansur to help the Chinese emperor Su Tsung quell a
revolt by one of his military commanders, An LuShan. Following the recapture of
the imperial capital, Ch'angan (today's Xian), these soldiers settled in China,
married Chinese wives and founded inland Muslim colonies similar to those
established by the traders on the coast.






Islam
made its first real inroads into what is now western China in the middle of the 10th
century, with the conversion of Sultan Sutuq Bughrakhan of Kashgar and his
subsequent conquest of the Silk Road oases of
Yarkand and Khotan in southwest Xinjiang.






During
the Song Dynasty (960 - 1279), China
experienced spectacular economic growth. This stimulated expansion of the
Muslim mercantile communities - particularly in Ch'ang - an, the eastern
terminus of the Silk Roads, and in the port cities of Quanzhou and Guangzhou,
where Muslims largely governed the internal affairs of their own neighborhoods,
building mosques and appointing qadis to adjudicate according to Islamic law.






But
although some Chinese merchants involved in international trade did become
Muslims, other converts were few, and Islam in China was confined largely to
Muslim immigrants and their descendants. Until, that is, the Mongol invasion
overthrew the Song Dynasty and ushered in what Chinese Muslims regard as the
"golden age" of Islam in China.






Inscriptions
on Muslim tombstones like the one at Guangzhou
have helped scholars piece together the early history of lslam in Southeast Asia.






Although
the Mongol Yuan Dynasty (1260 - 1382), founded by Kublai Khan, was the only one
of the four great Mongol khanates whose rulers never converted to Islam, they
nevertheless gave Muslims special status, often-placing individual believers in
responsible, even powerful, positions of state. In addition, when Yunnan fell to the
Mongol invaders and most of its population fled, leaving an empty land, Kublai
Khan sent the tough Muslim soldiers from Central Asia
who had helped him conquer ChinaChina converted to Islam.

to repopulate the south - though this was probably partly to keep them out of
mischief and far from his own capital. It was also during the Mongol period
that the Uighur Turks of northwestern



Following
the conversion of the Chaghatai Mongols of Central Asia in the 13th century,
large stretches of northwest Xinjiang were won over to Islam. In 1513 the oasis
of Hami in eastern Xinjiang put itself under the sovereignty of Mansur
Chaghatai, who two years later made it his capital and a base from which to
spread Islam even further east. The religion advanced as far as Lanzhou, in today's GansuYellow
River.
province, where a
Muslim seminary still operates on the banks of the






When
the indigenous Ming Dynasty (1368 - 1644) overthrew the Mongols in their turn,
however, the Muslims' position began to deteriorate. They lost their special
status and under the Ch'ing, or Manchu, Dynasty (1644 - 1911) were so oppressed
that they rebelled repeatedly - most notably in the Panthay Rebellion, which
lasted from 1855 to 1873, but was crushed with great cruelty. Because of such
repression, the Hui Muslims developed a strong sense of community, living in
segregated enclaves usually focused on a single mosque. The roofs of their
prayer halls flared, Buddhist-style, and their minarets were built like squat pagodas
so as to blend with neighboring Chinese architecture. Mosques in the
predominantly Uighur northwest maintained the traditional Muslim architectural
style of domed roof and tall, slender minarets, however.






Mosques
in China
reflect a mixture of architectural styles, sometimes in the same building. The
minaret of Huaisheng Mosque in Guangzhou
(left) is simple and smoothly finished like traditional buildings of Arabia. Its courtyard, however (right) is purely Chinese
in woodwork and rooflines.






In
the 20th century, Muslims throughout China continued to practice their
faith discreetly following the advent of Communism, despite the ideology's
atheistic principles. But during the savagery and purges of the Cultural
Revolution, between 1966 and 1971, most mosques were destroyed or closed down.
Then, following the death of Mao Zedong, Muslims were again given a limited
amount of religious freedom. Mosques and religious schools were reopened and
few hundred Muslims were permitted to
make the pilgrimage to Makkah.



And
when I visited China in 1984 with Nik Wheeler, to write and photograph a
special issue of Aramco World on the country's Muslims, and again in 1987 with
photographer Tor Eigeland to research another issue, on the Silk Roads, we
found China's renovated mosques crowded and the call to prayer echoing once
more from the minarets of the northwestern province.






In Beijing, also, we saw the
recently repainted Niu Jie mosque, its pillars lacquered in red and gold and
its walls covered with a mixture of Arab and Chinese motifs. In Man we watched
workmen restoring the Great Mosque - China's largest - said to have been
built by the 15th-century Muslim hero Cheng Ho, who cleared the South China Sea of pirates and rose to be admiral of the
emperor's fleet.



In
Xinjiang we found that, despite government attempts to dilute the Muslim
population by settling masses of Han Chinese among them, the region still
retains a distinct Muslim atmosphere. Here the men wear gaily embroidered
skullcaps and go regularly to the mosque to pray. They also proudly tell
visitors that Wuer Kaixi, who headed the 1989 democracy movement that
culminated in Beijing's
Tiananmen Square, was a Uighur from Xinjiang.



Grand
Mosque in Xian, which has the elaborately flared eaves typical of Chinese pagodas.



Policies
introduced by the Chinese government since then, limiting Muslim families to
two children per couple in urban areas and three to four in rural areas, along
with curbs on religious education, have caused new friction between the Uighurs
and the Han Chinese. In the Xinjiang village
of Baren last May, for
example, 22 people died in clashes with security forces following Beijing's denial of
permission to build a mosque.



There
was no sign of friction, however, when we arrived in Quanzhou, this year, on
the last leg of our journey along Islam's path east. In fact, Hui Muslims
played a prominent part in official ceremonies welcoming the UNESCO Silk Roads
survey ship Fulk al-Salamah, which Wheeler and I had rejoined in Guangzhou, known in he
West as Canton.



Over
2400 kilometers (1500 miles) from Beijing
and only a short train ride from Hong Kong, Guangzhou has always been
more open to foreign influence than other Chinese cities, and its mosque is
generally considered to be the oldest in China. Said to have been founded by
one of the first Muslim missionaries to China some 1300 years ago, Huaisheng
Mosque displays a mixture of architectural styles: a 36-meter (118-foot) cone
shaped minaret, built during the Tang Dynasty (618 - 906), towers over a cloistered
court-yard and the sweeping tiled roofs of the prayer hall, rebuilt to replace
the original that was destroyed by fire in 1343. It is also known as the Beacon
Tower mosque, because during the Tang and Sung Dynasties, when the Pearl River
flowed close to the minaret - before silting shifted it away - a light was hung
at night from the top of the tower for navigational purposes.






We
sailed down the Pearl River estuary and out
into the South China Sea, running into thick
fog and then heavy rain as we approached Quanzhou. But it failed to dampen the
spirited reception for the Fulk alÆSalaniah: massed bands, lion dancers,
acrobats - and Hui Muslims - gathered jubilant at dockside.






A
section from an early 19th-century Quran, with Chinese






Once
one of the world's largest ports, Quanzhou reached the peak of its prosperity
during the Sung Dynasty's commercial revolution, with Muslim merchants playing
a leading role. Today, however, the bustle of big-time commerce has gone,
leaving the city a rich cultural heritage of classical Chinese buildings and an
opera unchanged in song, dance and music since the Ming era.






Of
the city's mosques, which once numbered seven, only one remains. But the
massive granite walls of Masjid al-Ashab, built in 1009 in this, one of Islam's
easternmost outposts, reflect the enduring vitality of a faith born in the
deserts of Arabia and spread across Central Asia and India, all the way to China's Pacific
shores.



And
that is only its diffusion in one direction: eastward. Islam's way west is
another story.






Source:
Aramco World



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Habib

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PostSubject: Re: Islam's Path East: China   Sun 15 Aug - 12:49

That's why Islam is apparently fought by many of the wicked because they know that it is the main pillar of every individual's life.
Many people started to convert to Islam after 9/11 satanic planned events. Everything was clear that Islam had nothing to do with terrorism.
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