Eighteenth and Nineteenth Century Debates

On Sufi ritual practices:  Sufism had been familiar to Muslims in China for centuries; however, in the late eighteenth century the different practices of Sufi orders gave rise to controversy. The controversy heated up when in 1734, a Chinese Sufi master Ma Laichi (1681—1766), authorized by Nagshbandi order in Makkah, returned to China after several years of studying in Arabia and the Central Asia. He began to preach his Nagshbandi order in northwestern provinces of Gansu and Qinghai and gained widespread acceptance. The main characteristic of this order was to recite dhikr (remembrance of God) aloud. After about 10 years, in 1744, another Sufi master Ma Mingxin (1719-1781), authorized by Nagshbandi order of Yemen, came back to China. He began preaching his Nagshbandi order in the same region where the old order had a strong hold. The main characteristic of this order was to recite Dhikr silently. At the beginning of this encounter, the two masters coexisted peacefully. However, eventually violent debate erupted between the two orders in Xunhua county of Qinghai province in 1839. By the time the government responded to the issue, the nature of the conflict had changed.The unrest spread, and eventually led to a mass uprising of the new order against the Qing Dynasty. The religious debate had subsided and anger shifted toward the government being unfair. In 1781, under leadership of Su Sishisan (a disciple of Ma Mingxin), another riot broke out but ended with the execution of master Ma Mingxin and the rebels who supported him. In the modern era, this was the first uprising initiated by Muslims against Qing Dynasty.