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Source: Index >> Culture History >> Religions

The Formation of Islamic Organizations and Their Activities in China
(Tianshannet) Updated: 2010-August-4 17:57:14

In 1952, well-known Chinese Muslims including Bao'erhan Shaxidi, Liu Geping, Saifuding Aizezi, Da Pusheng and Ma Jian, proposed to organize the China Islamic Association and were greeted with an immediate response by Islamic circles and Muslims throughout the country. On July 27, 1952, 53 representatives elected from various ethnicities held the preparatory meeting and formed the preparatory committee for forming the China Islamic Association. Bao'erhan Shaxidi was elected as director. Da Pusheng as deputy-director, and 27 others as members of the committee.

On May 11, 1953, the First National Representative Assembly of the China Islamic Association was held in Beijing with 111 representatives attending, symbolizing the formal establishment of the China Islamic Association. The Assembly formulated and passed the constitution of the Association, which indicated that the purpose of the Association was to: assist the people's government to carry out the policy of religious freedom; develop the fine traditions of Islam; represent the legal rights and interests of the Islamic population; unite Muslims of all ethnicities to be both patriotic to the country and faithful to Islam; develop and strengthen friendly contacts and exchanges with Muslims all over the world; and maintain the world peace. Bao'erhan Shaxidi was elected as director of the Association and 83 others as members. It was stipulated in the constitution that the supreme body of the Association was the National Congress of Chinese Islam. It was an unprecedented united Islamic organization in the history of China, which built a bridge
the government and Muslims. Soon afterwards, local Islamic associations were set up successively in provinces, autonomous regions and those municipalities directly under the central government where Muslim lived in compact communities, among which the Xinjiang Autonomous Regions Islamic Association was founded earliest in 1956. These Islamic associations at all levels have been playing an important role in assisting the government to carry out the policy of religious freedom, contacting Islamic persons of note and departments in charge of ethnic and religious affairs, and managing internal Islamic affairs.

In consideration of letting the world know the actual situation of Muslims in New China and promoting friendly contacts with foreign Muslims, as early as just before the Association was founded, the preparatory committee of the Association had organized the first pilgrim delegation soon after the founding of New China to resume Chinese Muslims' pilgrimage. The delegation comprised 16 members from the whole country with Imam Da Pusheng (Hui) and Yiming Mahesum (Uighur) as president and vice-president respectively. In early August 1952, the delegation arrived in Pakistan via Hong Kong and India. Due to sanctions that the western powers had applied against China and the rumor that New China was wiping
out religions and persecuting Muslims, in addition to the fact that diplomatic relations with Saudi Arabia had not yet been established, the delegation came to a premature end.

In April of 1955, Imam Da Pusheng, vice-president of the China Islamic Association, attended the Bandung Conference held in Bandung, Indonesia, as religious advisor to Premier Zhou Enlai. The Bandung Conference was a great success in Chinese diplomatic history and gave a precious opportunity to Chinese Muslims to allow their dreams of performing pilgrimage come true. Imam Da Pusheng as well as other Chinese attendants introduced to the representatives from Islamic countries the policy of religious freedom that the Chinese government had been practicing and the progress and development that Chinese Muslims had accomplished in New China. With common efforts from Premier Zhou Enlai and Egyptian president Nasir and Saudi King Faisal, the first pilgrimage delegation of the New China with Imam Da Pusheng as president and 19 others as members arrived in Mecca to perform pilgrimage in August 1955. The whole world, Islamic countries in particular, paid attention to this event. In 1956, the second pilgrimage delegation of New China comprising 37 persons led by Bao'erhan arrived in Mecca, and Saudi King received it three times. All the members of the delegation kissed the Black Stone, and Bao'erhan was even invited to attend the ceremony of washing Ka'bah and accepted a piece of Ka'bah curtain and an Arab costume as gifts from the Saudi King. From 1955 to 1964, the China Islamic Association had organized 10 pilgrim delegations, with 132 persons altogether.

On the occasion of 'Id al-Kurban in July of 1957, the trial issue of "Muslims in China", a comprehensive magazine produced by the China Islamic Association, was published in Beijing. It was this magazine that introduced the main activities of the Association to Muslims throughout the country, and reflected the situation and events of Muslims as well. The magazine acted not only as a bridge between the higher and lower levels, but also a link for the Islamic associations at all levels and Muslims to exchange information, experience and to strengthen their contacts. In 1959, the magazine was suspended, by then 24 issues had been published.

On November 21, 1955, the China Islamic Institute was established in Beijing. The purpose of the Institute was to foster Imams who were both patriotic to the country and faithful to Islam. The students of the Institute were mainly prospective Muslim youths who had learnt a little about Islam in mosques. By graduation, they were to be in possession of considerable Islamic knowledge and high school level Chinese language ability, and could handle religious matters within mosques, be able to read Arabic scriptures and simple oral and written translation. The major courses offered at the Institute were: theology, the Holy Qur'an (including Qur'an recitation and annotation), Hadith, Islamic Law and Arabian literature. Chinese (mainly for Uighur classes), history, geography and politics were also taught as minor courses in the Institute.

In the beginning and middle of the 1950's, great importance was attached to the publication and study of Islamic scriptures. The China Islamic Association photo lithographed the original Arabic edition of the Holy Qur'an three times, and a number of selected editions. In 1950, the Publishing House of Beijing University published "The Holy Qur'an" (first half) translated by Ma Jian. It comprises 8 volumes and 6 chapters, and annotations and "A Brief Introduction to the Holy Qur'an" by the translator. With great efforts of the China Islamic Association, many publishing houses and Arabic experts, a number of picture books were published during this period of time, including "Chinese Muslims' Life", "Muslims in China" and "Chinese Muslims' Religious Life", with captions in Chinese, Arabic, English, French, and Malay. The constitution of the People's Republic of China was also translated into Arabic and distributed home and abroad. A picture book "Beijing Muslims' Life" with trilingual caption in Chinese, Arabic and English, and a book "The Holy Qur'an and Women's Rights and Status" compiled in line with the Marriage Law of the New China were published. And the following works that were published in this period of time were of special importance: "The History of Islamic Law" translated by Pang Shiqian filled the gap in the field of studies on Islamic Law in China. "An Illustration to Islamic Scriptures" translated by Ma Jian became one of the basic textbooks of domestic Islamic education. "Islam and Society" translated by Chen Kelt expounds the relationship between Islam and social development. Speed-up textbook "Islamic Book" compiled by Zhang Hongtao gives an introduction to common knowledge on Islam and attached 19 pictures to demonstrate how to perform prayers. In addition, "Life of the Prophet Muhammad" translated and edited by Ma Chongyi, "Hadith" (first volume) translated by Chen Keli, "Muhammad's Sword", a collection of essays by Ma Jian concerning the history and culture of Islam, "Arabian Poems" translated by Ma Anii and Ma Xuehai, were all of great importance to help people rightly understand Islam and promote mutual understanding and unity with Non-Muslims.

In the autumn of 1958, impacted by "Leftist" thoughts, the works on studying Islamic doctrine and the history of and culture of Chinese Muslims, and publishing Islamic books and scriptures was suspended until 18 years later when the Cultural Revolution came to an end in 1976.

(SOURCES:China Intercontinental Press)Editor: zhaoqian
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