The Chinese Muslims

By Razib Khan | May 29, 2010 2:04 pm

The post is titled the Chinese Muslims, not the Muslims of China. One may make a semantic distinction here in that the latter connotes the residence of a Muslim community within Chinese society, while the former indicates members of Chinese society who happen to be Muslim. Such black and white dichotomies are naturally artificial, but to a large extent the Uyghurs of Xinjiang fall into the category of a group of Muslims (of Turkish language) who happen to fall within the boundaries of the modern Chinese state (thanks to that inheritance of the Chinese state of the full expanse of the Manchu Empire of the 18th century). On the other hand, the Hui people are arguably more a Chinese people who happen to be Muslim.

For more on the topic, please see my blog post at the Islam in China website. It was submitted a while back, but it only went up recently.

MORE ABOUT: China, Hui, Islam, Uyghur

Comments (7)

  1. Ian

    Good article. Definitely liked the history. As for the bit about accommodation with a non-Muslim state, it’s interesting to contemplate how the Muslim minority in Trinidad has interacted with the non-Muslim state… Thanks.

  2. The Lipka Tatars of Poland and thereabouts are a tiny demographic, but they’ve been good Poles and accepted as such ever since the First Battle of Tannenburg or thereabouts. Their wooden mosques would hardly look out of place in the American Midwest.

  3. I left out the most important point: Charles Bronson was a Lipka Tatar in descent.

  4. John, angelfire doesn’t seem to like you hotlinking that mosque image.

  5. Thedore Wright has a paper on former elite minorities, with his paradigmatic example being India’s Muslims (and even within that category, Urdu-speakers in Bangladesh make another former elite minority). The version at that site isn’t formatted very well though. A similar piece from him can be found as a chapter in preview form on Google books. While that one’s missing a few pages, it focuses more on India and less on Wright’s own WASP group.

  6. > so [Hui] would serve as intermediaries between Muslim nations
    > and the Chinese government

    Possibly, that’s Mr Xianzhong’s role (Mr Chen’s role?), though he’s an interesting case–a non Hui Han Muslim: NYT, In Baghdad, Chinese is takeout only :

    Things were looking up for Chen Xianzhong, proprietor of Baghdad’s first authentic Chinese restaurant in the new Iraq, until a suicide car bomber blew up outside the place less than two weeks ago.

    Though he says he converted to Islam during the first Gulf war, a statue of the Chinese God of Fortune grins atop a bookshelf.

    “But I like this country,” he insisted, as if to convince himself of why he was still there. “I saw my first U.S. dollar here.”


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About Razib Khan

I have degrees in biology and biochemistry, a passion for genetics, history, and philosophy, and shrimp is my favorite food. In relation to nationality I'm a American Northwesterner, in politics I'm a reactionary, and as for religion I have none (I'm an atheist). If you want to know more, see the links at


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