Education About Asia: Online Archives

Islam in China

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The presence of Muslims in China challenges the conventional wisdom about both the country’s isolationism and homogeneity in traditional times. In fact, pre-modern China dealt with a great variety of foreign states, tribes, empires, and confederations, and numerous foreign religions reached and influenced the so-called Middle Kingdom. Globalization, to use modern terminology, affected China long before the twenty-first century. Other than Buddhism, Islam was China’s most important foreign religious import. Indeed Muslims, both Chinese and non-Chinese, currently are found throughout the country. A survey of the historyof the Islamic communities in China is essential for an understanding of the present status of Muslims in the country. Islam reached China within a few decades after Muhammad’s death in 632 CE. Muslims have resided in the Middle Kingdom for about a millennium and a
half.