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The Sciences

Islam in China website

Gene ExpressionBy Razib KhanFebruary 8, 2009 9:42 AM

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Just for those curious, there's a new website, Islam in China, which might be interesting to some. The site points out that there are more Muslims in China than there are in Saudi Arabia. In fact, if the Muslims of China were a nation unto themselves they would be equivalent to Iraq in population. Of these Muslims about half are Hui, Chinese speaking Muslims who are defined as a nationality. The other half consists mostly of Turkic speaking Muslims who are of Chinese nationality, but not Chinese speaking. While the Turkic Muslims of China have not traditionally been part of Chinese culture or the nation-state, the Hui have long lived among the Han Chinese as a distinctive ethno-religious minority. I will be contributing a piece at some point in the near future which explores some of the peculiarities of the Hui, and what that can teach us about how a universal international system of beliefs can be transformed by becoming embedded into distinct cultures. For example, throughout Chinese history rebels have pointed to cosmological portents and drawn upon the institutional framework of religious secret societies, usually Daoist or Buddhist. In the 19th century the Manchu dynasty began to repress the Muslims the Chinese speaking Muslims because of their nonconformity with the norms of the Han majority. The Muslims engaged in violent rebellions across northwest and southwest China around the banner of their religious faith, but interestingly the rebellious leaders of the community made recourse to Daoist slogans and symbolism to communicate the seriousness of their message.

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