Islam in China

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Muslims in China

Islam has been practiced in China for about 1,400 years.[1] Muslims are a minority group in China, representing between 0.45% to 2.85% (6 million to 39 million) of the total population. Though Hui Muslims are the most numerous group, the greatest concentration of Muslims is in Xinjiang, with a significant Uyghur population. Lesser but significant populations reside in the regions of Ningxia, Gansu and Qinghai. Of China's 55 officially recognized minority peoples, ten groups are Sunni Muslim.


  • The situation of the Muslims of China was very different. They were geographically remote from the Muslim heartlands— in contrast to the Muslims of India, whose contacts were so close that to a large extent they transacted their affairs in Persian... The result was the appearance of a Muslim literature in Chinese that pressed the argument that Confucian and Muslim values were fully compatible, if not identical. Thus an inscription purportedly dating from 742, but likely to have been forged by Chinese Muslims in the Ming period, says of Confucius and Muḥammad that “their language differed, yet their principles agreed.”... Nor is Islamic-­Confucian syncretism likely to have cut much ice with the Chinese elite. One prominent Chinese Muslim author was able to persuade some Confucian scholars to write laudatory prefaces for his books, and the title of his heavily Confucianized work on Muslim ritual found a place in an imperial compendium of 1773–­1782. But the work was placed in the company of books that “contained little that was praiseworthy and much that was contemptible,” and an editorial comment, while conceding that the author’s literary style “is actually rather elegant,” maintained that “the clever literary ornamentation does him no good” for the simple reason that “Islam is fundamentally far-­fetched and absurd.”
    • Cook, Michael - Ancient religions, modern politics _ the Islamic case in comparative perspective-Princeton University Press (2014)

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