The media fog of the “war on terror” has tended to obscure the complexity of global trends. Thus, thinking about the increasing prominence of both China and Islam gravitates easily towards the realm of fantasy and science fiction. That being so, an ungainly but important task is to distinguish between phantoms and substance in contemporary engagements with the perceptions of Beijing’s power and the representation of Muslim identities. In this respect, Hollian-Elliot aims to dispel the ignorance underlying both popular and political views, and makes it quite clear that, just like any other country in the world or any other religious community, neither China, nor the Chinese Muslim community, constitute homogeneous entities.
Her book offers a comprehensive overview of the emergence, history, and present status of Islam in China. Despite its complex subject matter, the volume presents the diverse aspects of the interactions and confluence between Islamic and Chinese traditions in an easy-to-follow, yet thorough manner. The book contains over forty color photographs that offer an intriguing immediacy to the issues discussed, as well as a map that indicates the extraordinary scale of the interpretation undertaken by Hollian-Elliot. Together with a detailed list of further reading and Internet resources, this volume is likely to provoke the curiosity of students, while assisting teachers in making comprehensible the diversity of both China and the Chinese Muslim communities.
In this respect, Hollian-Elliot has produced a comprehensive, accessible, and up-to-date reference book on Islam in China. It is expected that her effort will benefit both students and teachers at the secondary school level. At the same time, her book is not only an invaluable source of knowledge about the different Chinese Muslim groups, but it also offers an original glimpse at some facets that make Asia such a fascinating area of the world. Hollian-Elliot’s book, therefore, seems to reiterate that one of the objectives of the education process is to help students develop critical skills that will assist them in becoming responsible citizens. Knowing about the “outside world” is a key to that project.