1). FRIENDLY CONTACTS WITH MUSLIMS IN VARIOUS COUNTRIES AND REGIONS
As the reform and opening up to the outside world progresses further, and the relations with Arab and Islamic countries further develops, the China 'Islamic Association has built up friendly contacts and cooperation with some Islamic countries in Asia and Africa and also with some international Islamic organizations such as the Muslim World League, the World Islamic Call Society, the Egyptian Islamic Affairs Supreme Council.
Since 1978 when the China Islamic Association received Sheikh Zabara, general Mufti of the Yemeni Republic, for the first time, it has received more than 40 visiting delegations or individuals from many countries and places, and over one thousand foreign guests. Among the visitors some were state leaders or heads of certain Islamic organizations, such as Libyan president Qaddafi, ex-president of Sudan Numeiri, former speaker of the parliament of Iran Rafsanjani, secretary-general of the Muslim World League Dr. Naseef and vice secretary-general Abudi, director of the office of special assistance of the World Islamic Development Bank Dr. Salim, Asia coordinator of the Muslim World League Juma, former secretary-general of the World Muslim Congress Mr. Inamulahan, Saudi Crown Prince Abdul Aziz and Prince Sultan. The Association has also received visiting delegations from Islamic countries or organizations, such as the delegation of the Ministry of Religious Foundation of Morocco, the delegation of the Muslim World League led by Jamjoom (chairman of the Holy Qur'an Committee of MWL and former minister of industry and commerce of Saudi Arabia), president and his companions of the International Islamic University of Pakistan, chief editor and his colleagues of "Pyramids" newspaper from Egypt, the Holy Qur'an reciters from Egypt and Libya, and delegations from Algeria, Somalia, Niger, Brunei, Indonesia, Bangladesh, Malaysia, Iraq, Syria, Hong Kong and Taiwan. What is worth mention is that the secretary-general of the Muslim World League Dr. Naseef went to the Northwest of China to visit Muslim there and was warmly received by the local Muslim community.
The China Islamic Association also dispatched delegations or individuals to attend various international Islamic conferences. For example, the delegation of the Association attended the 13th Assembly of the Egyptian Islamic Affairs Supreme Council, the 14th International Conference on Islamic Unity in Iran, the 13th Annual Meeting of the World Islamic Call Society in Libya. Imam Chen Guangyuan, president of the Association, visited Hong Kong and Macao at the joint invitation of the Islamic organizations in these two places.
Chinese Muslims have always been concerned about poor Muslims all over the world. The China Islamic Association provided one million RMB in relief for Muslims in Somalia and Afghanistan. In 2002, the Chinese Government provided 100 million US dollars in aid fox-Afghani refugees.
The Islamic cause in China has received support and help from foreign Muslims as well. The World Islamic Development Bank that has 55 member countries has contributed funds for the construction of Islamic institutes of Xinjiang, Beijing, Ningxia, Kunming, Zhengzhou. Shenyang and Lanzhou, and Tong Arabic School and Tianjin Hui Professional High School. The Muslim World League, the World Islamic Call Society, and the IQRAA Charitable Society have all helped Chinese Muslims with material aid. President of the United Arab Emirates Sheikh Zaid has presented printing equipment to the Association to promote Islamic culture in China. Saudi Crown Prince Abdul Aziz has also made donations to the Chinese Islamic cause.
In 1987, the China Islamic Association cooperated with the Muslim World League and successfully held the Symposium on Islamic Da'wah, and also cooperated with the Islamic Educational Scientific and Cultural Organization and IQRAA Charitable Society in holding the Experience-Exchanging Class for Arabic Teaching at the China Islamic Institute in 1997.
Over the past 40 years, in response to invitations, the China Islamic Association has sent more than 100 delegations, over 300 persons altogether, to take part in various international Islamic conferences, and have been warmly received by government leaders and welcomed by the local Muslims. The friendship and mutual understanding between Muslims of China and the rest of the world has been improved through their visits as a result. The leaders of the Association and Chinese Muslim scholars have also attended activities such as the conference of the Egyptian Islamic Affairs Supreme Council, the conference of the Muslim World League Mosques Supreme Council, the Egyptian Azhar Islamic Da'wah seminar, the conference of the World Islamic Call Society, the Ramzan Forum of Moroccan King Hassan^U, the Oman International Islamic Law Seminar, the Algerian Islamic Thought Seminar, the International Academic Seminar on Zhenghe in Indonesia, the Mosque Get-Together in celebration of the independence of Indonesia, the Malaysian Islamic Cultural Festival, the Iraq International Arabic Calligraphy and Islamic Decoration Art Festival and the Second Pakistan International Calligraphy and Calligraphic Art Exhibition. Young Chinese Qaris (Qur'an reciters) regularly take part in Qu'ran recitation competitions held in Saudi Arabia, Egypt, Iran and Malaysia.
In line with cultural exchange agreements between China and a number of friendly foreign countries, the Association has sent more than 200 young Chinese Muslim students and in- service Imams to the Islamic institutes of Egypt, Libya and Pakistan for further study or short term training.
The Association has established extensive contacts with many Islamic organizations that enjoy high international reputation, and has developed friendly communications and cooperation with them. For example Ilyas Sheng Xiaxi. consultant to the Association, was a committee member of the Muslim World League Mosque Supreme Council, and was awarded the Star of Qadi Azem Medal in 1990 by president of Pakistan Ishak Khan; former vice-president and secretary-general of the Association Hanafi Wan Yaobin was a committee member of the Egyptian Islamic Affairs Supreme Council, and former vice-president of the Association Ibrahim Amin and vice secretary-general Yang Zhibo are committee members of the Supreme Council of the World Islamic Call Society.
Besides them, former vice-presidents of the Association Nu'man Ma Xian and Maimaiti Sailai were awarded the Egyptian Presidential First-Grade Special Medal and the Egyptian Presidential Academic Medal respectively by Egyptian President Mubarak. All of these are great honors for all Chinese Muslims.
The China Islamic Association has also developed friendly contacts with Muslims in Hong Kong, Macao and Taiwan, strengthening communication and cooperation with them and working strenuously for the great cause of the reunification of the motherland.
2). RESUMPTION OF PILGRIMAGE
On October 19, 1979, the Chinese Muslim Pilgrim Delegation with Zhang Jie as president went to Mecca for pilgrimage, thus, Chinese Muslims' pilgrimage was resumed after
14 years' suspension. As the living standard keeps improving, more and more Muslims in China travel to Mecca for pilgrimage. It became much more convenient to perform pilgrimage after the Sino-Saudi Arabia diplomatic relationship was established in January of 1990. Statistics show that there are more than 70,000 Chinese Muslims that have performed pilgrimage. The friendly relations between Muslims in China and Arab countries and the rest of the world have been further strengthened through activities such as pilgrimage and visits.
In 1998, the State Religious Affairs Administration held a special meeting on pilgrimage, reiterating to its policy of organized and planned pilgrimage, and placing it in the course of regulated administration.
In 2001, the 200-person Delegation of the Chinese Muslim Pilgrims (King's Guests) led by Yu Zhengui, vice-president and secretary-general of the China Islamic Association, successfully fulfilled the work of pilgrimage. It was the first time that China accepted the invitation of King of Saudi Arabia and organized Chinese Muslims to travel to Mecca for pilgrimage as the King's guests. This has started a new way of organizing pilgrimage delegations for Chinese Muslims.
3). CULTURAL AND ACADEMIC EXCHANGES
There have been frequent contacts and exchanges between the China Islamic Association and the academic circles of Islamic countries in Asia and Africa. The Association has sent many delegations and individuals to take part in various international academic activities, for example in March of 1981, Prof. Na Zhong, consultant to the Association, attended the International Muslim Scholars' Conference held in Islamabad, Pakistan, and delivered a paper titled "The Contributions That Islam Has Made to World Culture". In March of 1983, the Association sent a delegation to participate in the International Islamic Books Exhibition held in the State Museum of Pakistan in Karachi with over a hundred varieties of books and scriptures of the Holy Qur'an, Hadith, Islamic philosophy, Islamic Law, history, Arabic calligraphy and textbooks used in Mosque Education. On December 4-8,1987, with the help and support of the Association, the Muslim World League successfully held an Islamic seminar in Beijing. It was the first international Islamic meeting held in China since the New China was founded. The participants to the seminar were scholars from Saudi Arabia, Egypt, Pakistan, Sudan, England, Ghana and Turkey, and some Chinese Muslim scholars and the leaders of the China Islamic Association and the Beijing Municipal Islamic Association. Secretary-General of the Muslim World League Dr. Naseef presided over the meeting. The seminar focused on various topics including "Studies on the Traditions of the Prophet", "Holy Qur'an, Hadith, Da'wah Workers' Weapon and Da'wah Method", "Sermon at Juma Prayer and the Da'wah Mission of Mosque" and "Islamic Education and Its Social Effects".