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Islam in China: Exploring History, Culture, And Relations

Pak Institute for Peace Studies (PIPS) organized a full-day in-house roundtable discussion on “Islam in China: Exploring History, Culture, and Relations” on September 19, 2023. The talk was divided into several sub-themes, which included “understanding the historical journey of Islam in China and its current state”, “analyzing the cultural interactions and intersections between Islam and Chinese society”, and “exploring the role of Islam in promoting social harmony and understanding in the Chinese context”. Islamic scholars and experts on China participated in the talk. The key speakers in the event were two prominent Islamic scholars and Intellectuals, Dr. Qibla Ayaz, and Muhammad Israr Madni. These individuals had recently returned from an extensive tour of China.

Commencing the talk, Director PIPS Muhammad Amir Rana explained that the reason for organizing the talk was to understand Islam in China, how Islam has evolved in China over centuries, and how has it adapted with the Chinese culture and values.

Dr. Qibla Ayaz, Chairman of the Council of Islamic Ideology, said that in his recent visit to China he saw that Islamic sites are preserved in China. He said further that the old policy of China and Russia has changed and now the mosques in China are state-sponsored and there is greater liberty for Chinese Muslims to practice their faith. Talking about Urumqi, he said that there is a big Islamic center and a very beautiful mosque the Khateeb of which is the vice president of Chinese Communist Party in Xinjiang. As the Chinese culture is of extreme hard work, in it Islamic practices can be compromised, he remarked.

Muhammad Israr Madni, President of The International Council for Religious Affairs, said that 46% of Muslims in China are Hui, 43% are Uighurs, and the rest are others. Talking about linguistic and cultural inclusivity and acceptance in China, he said that the language spoken in Kashgar is that of the region and not Chinese, and even the local officials do not know Chinese language. About the lives of the people in Xinjiang, he said that their lives have improved. Before 2008, they used to live in camps and now they are living in well-built houses, he added.

The other participants expressed their expert views and compared Islam in other countries with that in China. At the end of the talk there was a Q&A session as well, in which the experts answered the questions of the other participants.