Islam under the Ming Dynasty

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Islam in China

Islamic Architecture in China

Chinese Mosques and Muslim Architects

Major figures

Zheng HeHaji NoorMa BufangPu Shougeng Jamal ud-Din

Muslim People in China

HuiSalarUygursKazakhsKirgiz TartarsAryan TajkisUzbeksDongxiang

Muslim Wushu Masters

Wang Zi PingMa MentaYang Wan LuChamirChang Yuchun Hu DahaiMu yingLan YuWu ZhongZhang Shao Fu

Islamic Dyansties in China

Sultanate of Xeng Hong
Yunnan SultanateFive Ma
Sultanate of KweichowXinjiang Sultanate

Islamic Cities/Regions in China


History of Islam in China

Ming DynastyYuan DynastyQing DynastyTang DynastyModern HistoryTimeline of Islam in China

Islam had been introduced into Chinese culture during the Tang dynasty, and had spread rapidly during the Mongol dynasty. The Ming dynasty had strong Islamic Influences. Several of the founding Generals were Hui Muslims, and one Hui scholar even contended that Ming Taizu Emperor Zhu Yuanzhag was a Muslim[1][2].

For the most part, however, the Islamic community was separate from the Chinese community. They lived in their own villages or lived in their own sections of the cities. While the religion grew throughout the Ming, Muslim Chinese largely avoided proselytizing. At times, tension between Muslim and traditional Chinese erupted into violence, often because of ill-treatment of or insulting behavior towards Muslims. In 1588, a riot broke out in Beijing when a colony of Muslim Chinese, who lived outside the Hsüan-wu gate, were forbidden from practicing their central trade, cow butchering. A riot broke out and it took palace officials and eunuchs to finally negotiate pacification.

Despite the separation of the Muslim and traditional Chinese populations, Islam had some affects on traditional Chinese culture, particularly food preparation. In the sixteenth century, Islamic foods became somewhat fashionable in traditional Chinese households. Chinese art incorporated Islamic motifs and even Arabic calligraphy, especially in porcelains, and Buddhist art began to incorporate Muslims into its representations.

Nanjing became a center of Islamic learning


Hui Founding Generals

The emperor Zhu Yuanzhang was the founder of the Ming Dynasty. Six of his most trusted commander where Muslims Chang Yuchun, Hu Dahai, Mu ying, Lan Yu, Feng Sheng and Ding dexing All of the Commanders were Wushu masters.[3]

Account from Ding Yanxia

Main article: Ding Yanxia

Account of Islam in 1426

Islam under the Ming Dynasty

When the Yuan lost power, there were many semu people, and in our Quanzhou, they were the most numerous. Their families expanded, they ran amok and oppressed our people. Till today, although they were entered in the household registers, there are among them real semu, false semu, and also those who followed their wives to become semu, or who followed their mothers in practicing divergent customs. They thus brought disorder into our race (zulei), they despise our rules and do not respect our morality. Why is that so? As far as the sacrifices to Heaven are concerned, the Chinese (zhong xia) after the Yuan erected a mound in the south of the capital. They used sacrificial utensils made of porcelain and also animals for sacrifice, and nobody under the rank of Prince (gonghou) dared to overstep his place. Now, even the commoners among the semu are allowed to keep images of [their] god (tian) at their homes and pray to them.” When we [Chinese] are in mourning, we beat our breasts and cry and wail, put gems in the mouth [of the corpse], cover it with a shroud, and enclose it in a wooden coffin. Our mourning attire is made of hemp, and from morning to evening libations are offered. We prepare feathers to adorn the coffin, build a wall and select a burial site to bury it there. We erect soul tablets in the shrine in order to make regular sacrifices. The semu, however, sing and beat drums, embalm [the corpse] with mercury and adorn it with flow­ers, They wear no mourning attire, they have coffins of tong wood without lids, they bury [their dead] in the wilderness, and prepare neither tablets nor sacrifices. We adorn ourselves with orderly clothing, correct boots and belts, and jade pendants. But the semu wear turbans and coarse woolen cloth and go barefoot. We observe the seven proscriptions and three abstentions. What we call abstinence consists in not drinking alcohol and not eating [impure] food. The abstinence of the semu consists in not eating during the day, but only at night, not eating what is bought on the market, but eating only what one killed oneself, not eating pork, but only cattle feeding on hay. Our body, skin and hair were bequeathed on us by our parents, and we do not dare to violate them. This is filial piety. Among the semu, however, only those who were incised are regarded as adults, Their writing is like worms, and their speech is like the [howling] of owls. We Chinese can neither decipher [their texts] nor under­stand [their speech]. Alas! The ways of the semu are identical with the customs of the Yi and Di. The Shying says: “The Man and Yi are bringing disorder into our vast land/’63 The Shijing says: “He resisted the Rong and Di.” This is even more so in our Quanzhou. Although it is part of the Minhai region, everybody knew the way of the former kings, adhered to the Mean and sincer­ity and practiced them without failing. Recently, however, your great-uncle, although descended from scholars, was seduced by the customs of the semu and did not attain to enlightenment. He did not revere his ancestors, but those of others, he practiced the customs of the Yi and Di, and caused his descend­ants to become barbarians. Why is this so? It is because he was deluded by his sympathy for the strange and exotic. Alas, Han Yu has said: “[Confucius] ac­cepted those Yi and Di who followed the customs of the Middle States as Chi­nese, while he regarded those Chinese who followed the customs of the Yi and Di as barbarians.”" Today, I, Guangqi, when compiling this genealogy, record his name and his deeds, but have to refute his mistakes, in fear that the descend­ants might follow his bad example. [I am writing this] in order to warn you seriously [4]

Islam under the Ming Dynasty

Imperial Edict from Emperor

Islam under the Ming Dynasty

The Emperor of the Great Ming instructs Miri Haji: I think he who is sincere and honest will revere God and serve the Emperor; he will also guide the good people, thus giving invisible support to the royal system. Therefore God will bless him, and he shall enjoy infinite bliss. You, Miri Haji, have long since floowed the teachings of Muhammad; you are pious and honest and guiding the good people; you also revere God and serve the Emperor with loyalty. Such good deeds deserve praise and approval. Therebye I am giving you this imperial edict to protect your abode. No offical, military, or civilian personnel should despise, insult , or bully them, whoever disobeys my order by doing so should bear the blame. This edict is hereby issued on the 11th day of the 5th Month of the 5th year of Yongle[5][6]

Islam under the Ming Dynasty


  1. Hajji Yusuf Chang, "The Ming Empire" p1-5
  2. Muslim Chinese, Ethnic Nationalism in the Peoples Republic, Dru Gladney, p234
  4. Hans Kuhner “The Barbarians writing is like Worms, and their Speech is like the Screeching of Owls” Zeitschrift der Deutschen Morgenlandischen Gesellschaft 2001 151:2 pp. 407-429
  5. Chen Dasheng, Islamic Inscriptions, p.11
  6. Muslim Chinese, Ethnic Nationalism in the Peoples Republic, Dru Gladney, p269
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