Islam in China

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Islam in China

Unread postby TooMuchBaijiu » Tue Apr 24, 2012 2:37 pm

So, I've been taking this course lately-guess what it's called?

Anyway, the focus of said course is on the Uyghurs of Xinjiang and the Hui of all over, but in Xi'an in particular, where the Hui had established a vibrant community with a unique Islamic verve (that the CCP encouraged, apparently hoping to paint the Hui as a backward superstitious lot) that was heavily mercantile-just about every family seemed to have their own small business. It was almost like a Galt's Gulch of the developing world-the state didn't even bother taxing the Hui businesses. And of course, the Hui themselves couldn't stop complaining about how the government underfunded their schools and provided few to no public services, though they were willing to pay.

Problem is, the book I'm reading terminates in the late nineties, just when the government was starting to get involved-modernization programs in Xi'an were planning to tear down the Hui quarter and house the residents in apartment blocks, which the Hui seemed to be looking forward to, seldom considering how they would preserve their livelihood. So, any travelers or residents here know anything about what happened to the community surrounding the Great Mosque of Xi'an?

(Of course, we can talk about any other relevant topic as well)
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Re: Islam in China

Unread postby dan99990 » Fri Apr 27, 2012 12:05 am

I don't think this is what you're looking for, but I did read awhile ago that the PRC used the 9/11 terrorist attacks as an excuse to crack down on Islam. The example I remember is that it is apparently now illegal for anyone under 18 to enter a mosque. ( :shock: ) And the irony in all of this is that (if the article I read is to be believed) the Uyghars and other Islamic groups had caused the government basically no problems of any kind, but after the crackdowns, they got pretty damn pissed, as you can imagine.
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Re: Islam in China

Unread postby TooMuchBaijiu » Fri Apr 27, 2012 1:50 am

Man, I'm just glad someone replied. Yes, the PRC did use 9/11 as an excuse to crack down on Uyghurs, but it was directed more toward Uyghur separatists than Muslims in general. The PRC actually supports certain Muslims who toe the party line.

It's true that you have to be 18 to enter a mosque, last I checked. I also hear that students caught observing Ramadan are kicked out of the schools, though I don't have a source at-the-ready.

What'll be really ironic is if these crackdowns do nothing but further fan separatist sentiments. I doubt it'll happen, though, with the PRC programs that encourage Han emigration into Xinjiang. Soon Xinjiang will be as much a Han land as it will be Uyghur. At the very least, it does seem to have some positive effect on race relations.
I don't write fanfic, but if I did it would involve Zhou Yu and Zheng He fighting to win the heart of Lai Choi San. Then I'd make them join forces to fight Ming the Merciless, who secretly works for Master Li. I'd squeeze Lu Bu in there somehow.
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Re: Islam in China

Unread postby Tigger of Kai » Fri Apr 27, 2012 4:43 am

Best reply I can give is a link to Lady Wu's Kashgar photos! viewtopic.php?p=494649#p494649
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Re: Islam in China

Unread postby Lady Wu » Fri Apr 27, 2012 5:22 am

The Huis are quite interesting: they speak Chinese and genetically they're mostly Chinese (but some have Arabic/Persian/Central Asian blood), but they're "different" because they're Muslims. It's kinda like saying the Amish is a distinct ethnic group.

TooMuchBaijiu wrote:Man, I'm just glad someone replied. Yes, the PRC did use 9/11 as an excuse to crack down on Uyghurs, but it was directed more toward Uyghur separatists than Muslims in general. The PRC actually supports certain Muslims who toe the party line.

It's true that you have to be 18 to enter a mosque, last I checked. I also hear that students caught observing Ramadan are kicked out of the schools, though I don't have a source at-the-ready.

What'll be really ironic is if these crackdowns do nothing but further fan separatist sentiments. I doubt it'll happen, though, with the PRC programs that encourage Han emigration into Xinjiang. Soon Xinjiang will be as much a Han land as it will be Uyghur. At the very least, it does seem to have some positive effect on race relations.

I'm only going by my memory of what I saw in my travels, but I believe that all imams have to be approved by the government. There is also no group worshipping in private homes or non-mosque buildings, and yes, the "no going to mosque until you're 18" thing.

I'm not entirely sure if the Han migration to Xinjiang really helps race relations. The Han people I talked to in Xinjiang tended to view the Uighurs as "others" still, not "brother citizens of China" as the state propaganda professes. The Han are the ones with the good jobs and good salaries. And they make money out of Uighur heritage (I doubt all of the entrance fees for the Id Kah Mosque went to the mosque... but then again, the government makes money off entrance fees for some Buddhist temples too).
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Re: Islam in China

Unread postby TooMuchBaijiu » Fri Apr 27, 2012 4:02 pm

Lady Wu wrote:The Huis are quite interesting: they speak Chinese and genetically they're mostly Chinese (but some have Arabic/Persian/Central Asian blood), but they're "different" because they're Muslims. It's kinda like saying the Amish is a distinct ethnic group.


Which brings up a historical irony-the...Ming, I think forbade the Arabs in China to marry each other, forcing them to take Han spouses, presumably to assimilate them into the population. Nowadays the Hui and Han very rarely intermarry, and the Hui certainly like it that way. Muslim women aren't supposed to marry unbelievers, anyway. And considering some of these East African, Arabian and Bosnian girls I see around, that really sucks.

The Ming policy strikes me as odd, tbh. I've never heard of a state policy mandating interrmarriage. It's usually the other way around.

Lady Wu wrote:I'm not entirely sure if the Han migration to Xinjiang really helps race relations. The Han people I talked to in Xinjiang tended to view the Uighurs as "others" still, not "brother citizens of China" as the state propaganda professes. The Han are the ones with the good jobs and good salaries. And they make money out of Uighur heritage (I doubt all of the entrance fees for the Id Kah Mosque went to the mosque... but then again, the government makes money off entrance fees for some Buddhist temples too).


I think you're actually right about this. Truth be told, there's just as much (if not more) racism directed toward the Han from the Hui and Uyghur than the other way around, except a lot of Han racism is state sanctioned. Perhaps what I should've said was that the travelers I spoke to said that Han tourism to Xinjiang was helping race relations-Han can learn to appreciate Uyghur culture past the minstrel-show version I understand they were exposed to under Deng...but tourists don't have to live there.

The Id Kah mosque is really something, btw. So, do all the Uyghur mosques take after an Arabic/Central Asian design or do some veer toward Chinese like many Hui mosques?

One thing I read that was pretty funny was that you could sometimes tell what kind of Islam the Hui practiced by what their mosques looked like. The Chinese Buddhist-influenced mosques practiced more traditional homegrown Hui Islam, whereas newer Arabic-styled mosques subscribed to the revivalist movements imported from the Middle East.

And for the mosque restrictions, the Hui have found a way around that. A lot of the kids spend a good deal of time studying the Qur'an, and the state mostly leaves that alone. (After all, a good deal of those children have no idea what they're even saying) It's like letting Christian kids go to Sunday School and forbidding them to go into the sanctuary and take part in the service. And coming from someone who was raised in that way of life, I suppose that's a benefit for the kids. :wink:
I don't write fanfic, but if I did it would involve Zhou Yu and Zheng He fighting to win the heart of Lai Choi San. Then I'd make them join forces to fight Ming the Merciless, who secretly works for Master Li. I'd squeeze Lu Bu in there somehow.
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Re: Islam in China

Unread postby Lady Wu » Fri Apr 27, 2012 10:53 pm

TooMuchBaijiu wrote:Which brings up a historical irony-the...Ming, I think forbade the Arabs in China to marry each other, forcing them to take Han spouses, presumably to assimilate them into the population. Nowadays the Hui and Han very rarely intermarry, and the Hui certainly like it that way. Muslim women aren't supposed to marry unbelievers, anyway. And considering some of these East African, Arabian and Bosnian girls I see around, that really sucks.

The Ming policy strikes me as odd, tbh. I've never heard of a state policy mandating interrmarriage. It's usually the other way around.

Wow, I didn't know that. That's very odd indeed!

I think you're actually right about this. Truth be told, there's just as much (if not more) racism directed toward the Han from the Hui and Uyghur than the other way around, except a lot of Han racism is state sanctioned. Perhaps what I should've said was that the travelers I spoke to said that Han tourism to Xinjiang was helping race relations-Han can learn to appreciate Uyghur culture past the minstrel-show version I understand they were exposed to under Deng...but tourists don't have to live there.

The Id Kah mosque is really something, btw. So, do all the Uyghur mosques take after an Arabic/Central Asian design or do some veer toward Chinese like many Hui mosques?

I haven't visited mosques other than the Id Kah. I would expect them to be more Arabic/Central Asian in design, given what the original buildings look like in the Old City section of Kashgar.

For some reason I never posted my photos from the mausoleum of Mahmud al-Kashgari, an early influential scholar and linguist of Turkic languages. This is just some 30 miles south of Kashgar:

Image

So, even if the Id Kah was "disneyfied" to cater to the Hans' love for the exotic, it can't be too far from the real article.

As for Han tourism, I guess it really depends on who you go with and what you see. After I left Kashgar for northern Xinjiang, I joined my parents and toured around with a Han drivers and tour guides (that part of the trip was organized through the official state-sanctioned tourist bureau). Granted, that was in northern Xinjiang, where Han influence was a lot stronger than in the south; nonetheless, a lot of the "cultural experiences" fell under the "minstrel show" category. It was like, oooh, the Uighur are these people who wear funny hats and dance and who are supposed to be really hospitable.

But then again, if you look at any "minority culture" stuff around the world, it's all the same thing. I used to work quite extensively with First Nations/Native American cultures, and it irked me how much of that is portrayed to tourists (and the mainstream culture!) as "oooh they are those people who wear funny hats and dance and who are supposed to be really hospitable".

One thing I read that was pretty funny was that you could sometimes tell what kind of Islam the Hui practiced by what their mosques looked like. The Chinese Buddhist-influenced mosques practiced more traditional homegrown Hui Islam, whereas newer Arabic-styled mosques subscribed to the revivalist movements imported from the Middle East.


I don't know what Hui mosques look like. Do they happen to be similar to this Dungan mosque in Kyrgyzstan?

Image
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Re: Islam in China

Unread postby TooMuchBaijiu » Fri Apr 27, 2012 11:36 pm

Lady Wu wrote:Wow, I didn't know that. That's very odd indeed!


Apparently, the Ming did that with all minorities. They were pretty isolationist, at least after guys like Zheng He fell out of favor, and probably saw that as the easiest way to remove foreign influences.

I don't know what Hui mosques look like. Do they happen to be similar to this Dungan mosque in Kyrgyzstan?


Almost. The ones I've seen don't use such bright colors.

Quanzhou Mosque, said to be built by ethnic Arabs:

Image

The Niujie Mosque, Beijing (built by either Arabs or early Hui):

Image

The Great Mosque in Xi'an (which is apparently the oldest in China, but not from the looks of it):

Image

Gucheng Mosque, Yunnan:

Image

Hezuo Mosque in Gansu, showing a little bit of that syncretism I was talking about:

Image

An Arab-styled mosque in Yinchuan:

Image

And a more modern "Arabized" mosque in Yunnan:

Image

I think there actually are a few Hui Arab-style mosques that predate the Islamic revivalist movements, but I'm pretty sure most from the 11th to 19th centuries were built in the Chinese fashion. Curiously, some of them have images of animals and the like inside their sanctuaries, which is a big no-no with many Central Asian Muslims and most of the devout ones.
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Re: Islam in China

Unread postby Lady Wu » Fri Apr 27, 2012 11:55 pm

Hmm, the one in Yinchuan is the closest to the kinds of buildings I saw in Xinjiang (btw, just updated that photo thread). But then again, Yinchuan is the capital of the Hui autonomous region, so I guess it's to be expected. The Quanzhou one is really interesting. Looks kinda like a fort!
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Re: Islam in China

Unread postby TooMuchBaijiu » Sat Apr 28, 2012 12:03 am

Yeah, I noticed Uyghur mosques tend to reflect their Central Asian roots. As for Quanzhou looking like a fort...well, the Arabs there were merchants and minorities...not too hard to imagine a the fear of being subject to a pogrom.
I don't write fanfic, but if I did it would involve Zhou Yu and Zheng He fighting to win the heart of Lai Choi San. Then I'd make them join forces to fight Ming the Merciless, who secretly works for Master Li. I'd squeeze Lu Bu in there somehow.
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