There are ten ethnic groups including Hui, Uyghur, Kazakh, Kirgiz, Uzbek, Tatar, Tajik, Dongxiang, Salar, and Baoan that believe in Islam in China. It is traditional for Chinese Muslims to love the country and love Islam. They adhered to their Islamic beliefs, and at the same time combined the teaching of “peace”, “submission” and “obedience to the rulers” advocated in Islamic classics with the thoughts of “kindheartedness and filial piety”, and the thought that “peace is most precious” advocated in the traditional Chinese culture, forming a long-standing patriotic tradition.
More than 1,300 years ago, Islam was introduced to China in a peaceful way. Muhammad, the founder of Islam, once said, “Although knowledge is far away in China, we should also ask for it”. In 651 AD, his successor, the third caliph Ottoman, sent envoys to Chang’an (Xi’an called Chang’an in ancient times) to make peace with the Tang Dynasty. At that time, Chinese Emperor Tang Gaozong placed an order and built a mosque for Muslim envoys.
During the seventh century, a large number of Arab Muslim merchants traded along the ancient overland and the maritime silk roads, and Islam was introduced to China. With the spread of Islam, Xinjiang Huihus (Uighurs’ ancestors ), some Mongols, some Tangwus (some Dangxiang people’s descendants), and some Hans changed their religion and began to believe in Islam.
During the Yuan Dynasty, Hui Muslim was formed mainly including Arabs, Persians, and some Hans. Islam was gradually flourishing and developing in China.
After Islam was spread into China, it has always adhered to the method of combining Islamic culture with Chinese traditional culture, and has formed a fine tradition of loving the country and loving its religion. During the Ming Dynasty, Chinese Muslims living in mainland China generally spoke Chinese, adopted Chinese surnames, wore Chinese clothes, and promoted the teachings of Islam by deeply taking root in traditional Chinese culture. In the late Ming and early Qing dynasty, Chinese Muslim scholars “interpreted the Islamic classics with Confucianism”, applied the concepts, categories, words, and expressions of Confucian Philosophy of the Song and Ming Dynasties to explain Islamic classics and promote Islamic teachings.
In the process of spreading and developing Islam and interpreting the Islamic classics, Chinese Muslim scholars kept in mind the teachings of the Prophet Muhammad, that is, “Being patriotic is part of Immani (belief)”. And they explicitly put forward that the right way is to be loyal to Allah, and be more loyal to the monarch.
For a long time, while observing the Islamic faith, Chinese Muslims have always closely combined patriotism with the survival and development of their ethnic groups. In history, many Muslim patriots devoted themselves to the struggle against foreign aggression in order to maintain the unification and sovereignty of China and many people even fought at the cost of their lives. Since modern times, a large number of Muslim heroes have emerged to maintain national unification and resist imperialism.
When the Eight-Power Allied Forces invaded China, Ma Fulu ,a Muslim general, fought tenaciously against the enemies in Tianjin and Beijing and finally sacrificed his life. During the Anti-Japanese War, Hui general Ma Benzhai led the detachment of Hui people into battles with the enemies for more than a hundred times and won the title of “Invincible Army”. During Chinese Liberation War, Ahamatjan Hasim led the Uighurs and people of all ethnic groups in Xinjiang to have established revolutionary regimes and armed forces in Ili, Tarbagatay and Altay to safeguard Chinese unification.
After the founding of the People’s Republic of China, Chinese Muslims have received sincere love of the whole country and their passion for patriotism and religion was greatly stimulated. The founder of the People’s Republic of China, Mao Zedong, has always respected Islam and he has also established a deep friendship with Chinese Muslims.
During the period of West march of Chinese Red Army, Mao Zedong explicitly stated that we must protect mosques as well as Imams and guarantee the absolute freedom of the Hui people’s belief. After liberation, the life of Xinjiang Uygurs has changed dramatically. An uncle named Kurban hit upon an idea that he wants to go to Beijing riding on a donkey to show his respect to chairman Mao Zedong. Later, Chairman Mao received him twice. Under the leadership of the Chinese Communist Party, every Chinese Muslim enthusiastically devoted themselves to various construction and reform undertakings.
Their patriotism was greatly enhanced in the Campaign of Assistance for North Korean and Against America, the Agrarian Reform Movement and the Socialist Transform. Since the reform and opening up, Chinese Muslims have held high the banner of patriotism and carried forward the fine traditions of patriotism and loving their religion. They have actively devoted to all undertakings of our country together with other ethnic groups and made great contributions to China’s prosperity and development.
For more than 1,300 years, Islam in China has been deeply rooted in China and is committed to the path suited to Chinese circumstances. Chinese Muslims have always adhered to patriotism and loving Islam, always closely linked the development of the ethnics with the destiny of the whole country, and always closely linked the state identity with the identity of the nation and religion, making positive contributions to national unification, ethnic unity, religious harmony and economic and social development.
At present, Chinese Muslims continue to hold high the banner of patriotism, carry forward the fine tradition of patriotism and loving Islam, and contribute their wisdom and strength to realizing the Chinese Dream of national rejuvenation.
Zong Wei, Distinguished Researcher of Southeast Asia Research Center at Honghe University
Lu Peng, Professor of College of Humanities at Honghe University