Muslims in modern China, fostering a tradition of learning

After the fall of Qing Dynasty in 1911, the Republic of China proclaimed equality among all Chinese ethnic groups. The country was touted as being owned equally by the Han (original Chinese), Man (Manzu), Meng (Mongol), Hui (Muslim), and Zang (Tibetan) peoples. The policy of equality and openness led Muslims to create better relations with the government and other ethnic groups. With the formation of the Republic of China in 1911, Chinese Muslims entered into a new era of modernization. Islamic schools were established such as Chengda Normal School and Shanghai Islamic Collage. Students were sent to Arab countries for further studies and over a hundred Islamic magazines and newspapers were issued such as the Yue Hua magazine. Moreover, the Holy Quran was translated into Chinese by different scholars. Notably the prominent Imam Wang Jingzhai (1879-1949) translated the Holy Quran three times in three different language styles.

The political status of Muslims was raised to a high level as the National Party (Guomindang) appointed Muslim warlords as the military governors of the provinces of Qinghai, Gansu and Ningxia. Some personal were posted in important positions such as Bai Chongxi (1893-1966), a Muslim General who was once appointed Defense Minister of China.

After formation of The People's Republic of China in 1949, Muslims at large suffered unfair treatment by the wrong policy of the state as other fellows did from 1956 to 1976 during which mosques were destroyed, imams were put into prison, and religious activities were paralyzed. Starting from the 1980s, china began to reform and implement policies of openness. Religious life eventually came into its normal stream. Mosques were rebuilt or reopened, Islamic learning was restored, and pilgrimage delegations began to be sent to Mecca every year once again.

Today, for the most part Chinese Muslims enjoy the liberty, freedom, and human rights equally as other Chinese; their religious identity does not prevent them from participating in any social sectors. Their number has increased to more than 23 million (according to 2009 official statistics) and there are over 40000 Chinese mosques and 12 Islamic collages run by Islamic associations. A number of Islamic research institutes were established in universities. At the same time, countless private Islamic schools exist for students of different genders. In addition, there are many journals, magazines, and newspapers issued monthly or quarterly by Muslim communities and organizations. Modern devices such as the internet are used for introducing Islamic culture at large. A number of NGO's are operating for Islamic causes, and more than 10000 people are allowed officially to perform Hajj every year (130000 people in 2009). Muslims officials are found in every sector of the government from the Vice Premier Hui Liangyu to village heads. Today, though they are facing challenges of the modernization and indigenization, can freely practice their religious rituals and participate in all social spheres with the same right which enjoyed by other Chinese.