Can Faith Leaders Help Heal Islamophobia in the Kosher Aisle?

Written by: By Janaan Hashim, Esq.
Trustee, Parliament of the World’s Religions Read more

Anecdotes: Fatima bint Muhammad

Fatima Zahra (a.s.) is an excellent role model particularly for the Muslim women, because the Prophethood of Muhammad would not have been everlasting without her. Prophet Muhammad is the perfect example for men but could not be so for women. For all Noble Quranic verses revealed for women, Fatima has been the perfect model, who translated every verse of Noble Quran into action. In her lifetime, she was a complete woman, being daughter, wife and mother par excellence. Read more

The Spread of Islam: CONCLUSION

A History of the Propagation of the Muslim Faith
T.W. Arnold Ma. C.I.F
Professor Of Arabic, University Of London, University College. Written in 1896, revised in 1913
Rearranged by Dr. A.S. Hashim Read more

The Spread of Islam Among the People of The Malay Archipelago Part Two

A History of the Propagation of the Muslim Faith
T.W. Arnold Ma. C.I.F
Professor Of Arabic, University Of London, University College. Written in 1896, revised in 1913
Rearranged by Dr. A.S. Hashim Read more

The Spread of Islam Among the People of The Malay Archipelago-Part One

A History of the Propagation of the Muslim Faith
T.W. Arnold Ma. C.I.F
Professor Of Arabic, University Of London, University College. Written in 1896, revised in 1913
Rearranged by Dr. A.S. Hashim

the history of the Malay Archipelago during the last 600 years furnishes us with one of the most interesting chapters in the story of the spread of Islam by missionary efforts.

During the whole of this period we find evidences of a continuous activity on the part of the Muslim missionaries, in one or other at least of the East India islands.

In every instance, in the beginning, their work had to be carried on without any patronage or assistance from the rulers of the country,

but solely by the force of persuasion, and in many cases in the face of severe opposition, especially on the part of the Spaniards.

But in spite of all difficulties, and with varying success, they have prosecuted their efforts with untiring energy, perfecting their work (more especially in the present day) wherever it has been partial or insufficient.

It is impossible to fix the precise date of the first introduction of Islam into the Malay Archipelago. It may have been carried thither by the Arab traders in the early centuries of the Hijrah, long before we have any historical notices of such influences being at work.

  • This supposition is rendered the more probable by the knowledge we have of the extensive commerce with the East carried on by the Arabs from very early times.
  • In the second century b.c. the trade with Ceylon was wholly in their hands.
  • At the beginning of the seventh century of the Christian era, the trade with China, through Ceylon, received a great impulse, so that in the middle of the eighth century Arab traders were to be found in great numbers in Canton;
  • while from the tenth to the fifteenth century, until the arrival of the Portuguese, they were undisputed masters of the trade with the East.[1]

We may therefore conjecture with tolerable certainty that they must have established their commercial settlements on some of the islands of the Malay Archipelago, as they did elsewhere, at a very early period: though no mention is made of these islands in the works of the Arab geographers earlier than the ninth century,[2] yet in the Chinese annals, under the date a.d. 674, an account is given of an Arab chief, who from later notices is conjectured to have been the head of an Arab settlement on the west coast of Sumatra.[3]

Missionaries must also, however, have come to the Malay Archipelago from the south of India, judging from certain peculiarities of Muslim theology adopted by the islanders. Most of the Muslims of the Archipelago belong to the Shafiiyyah sect, which is at the present day predominant on the Coromandel and Malabar coasts, as was the case also about the middle of the fourteenth century when Ibn Baṭuṭah visited these parts.[4]

So when we consider that the Muslims of the neighboring countries belong-to the Ḥanafiyyah sect, we can only explain the prevalence of Shafiiyyah teachings by assuming them to have been brought thither from the Malabar coast, the ports of which were frequented by merchants from Java, as well as from China, Yaman and Persia.[5] From India, too, or from Persia, must have come the Shi’ism, of which traces are still found in Java and Sumatra. From Ibn Baṭuṭah we learn that the Muslim Sultan of Samudra had entered into friendly relations with the court of Delhi , and among the learned doctors of the law whom this devout prince especially favored, there were two of Persian origin, the one coming from Shiraz and the other from Ispahan.[6]

But long before this time merchants from the Deccan, through whose hands passed the trade between the Muslim states of India and the Malay Archipelago, had established themselves in large numbers in the trading ports of these islands, where they sowed the seed of the new religion.[7]

It is to the proselytizing efforts of these Arab and Indian merchants that the native Muslim population, which we find already in the earliest historical notices of Islam in these parts, owes its existence. Settling in the centers of commerce, they intermarried with the people of the land, and these heathen wives and the slaves of their households thus formed the nucleus of a Muslim community which its members made every effort in their power to increase. The following description of the methods adopted by these merchant missionaries in the Philippine Islands, gives a picture of what was no doubt the practice of many preceding generations of Muslim traders:—

“The better to introduce their religion into the country,

  1. the Muslims adopted the language and many of the customs of the natives,
  2. married their women,
  3. purchased slaves in order to increase their personal importance, and
  4. succeeded finally in incorporating themselves among the chiefs who held the foremost rank in the state.

Since they worked together with greater ability and harmony than the natives, they gradually increased their power more and more, as having numbers of slaves in their possession, they formed a kind of confederacy among themselves and established a sort of monarchy, which they made hereditary in one family.

Though such a confederacy gave them great power, yet they felt the necessity of keeping on friendly terms with the old aristocracy, and of ensuring their freedom to those classes whose support they could not afford to dispense with.”[8]

It must have been in some such way as this that the different Muslim settlements in the Malay Archipelago laid a firm political and social basis for their proselytizing efforts.

  • They did not come as conquerors, like the Spanish in the sixteenth century,
  • or use the sword as an instrument of conversion;
  • nor did they arrogate to themselves the privileges of a superior and dominant race so as to degrade and oppress the original inhabitants,
  • but coming simply in the guise of traders they employed all their superior intelligence and civilization in the service of their religion, rather than as a means towards their personal aggrandizement and the amassing of wealth.[9]

With this general statement of the subsidiary means adopted by them, let us follow in detail their proselytizing efforts through the various islands in turn.

Islam introduced into Sumatra
Tradition represents Islam as having been introduced into Sumatra from Arabia. But there is no sound historical basis for such a belief, and all the evidence seems to point to India as the source from which the people of Sumatra derived their knowledge of the new faith.

Active commercial relations had existed for centuries between India and the Malay Archipelago, and the first missionaries to Sumatra were probably Indian traders.[10]

There is, however, no historical record of their labors, and the Malay chronicles ascribe the honor of being the first missionary to Atjeh, in the north-west of Sumatra, to an Arab named Abd Ᾱllah Arif, who is said to have visited the island about the middle of the twelfth century; one of his disciples, Burhan al-Din, is said to have carried the knowledge of the faith down the west coast as far as Priaman.[11]

Untrustworthy as this record is, it may yet possibly indicate the existence of some proselytizing activity about this period; for the Malay chronicle of Atjeh gives 1205 as the date of the accession of Juhan Shah, the traditionary founder of the Muslim dynasty.

He is said to have been a stranger from the West,[12] and to have come to these shores to preach the faith of the Prophet; he made many proselytes, married a wife from among the people of the country, and was hailed by them as their king, under the half-Sanskrit, half-Arabic title of Sri Paduka Sulṭan. For some time the new faith would in all probability have been confined to the ports at which Muslim merchants touched, and its progress inland would be slower, as here it would come up against the strong Hindu influences that had their center in the kingdom of Menangkabau.

Marco Polo, who spent five months on the north coast of Sumatra in 1292, speaks of all the inhabitants being idolaters, except in the petty kingdom of Parlak on the northeast corner of the island, where, too, only the townspeople were Muslims, for “this kingdom, you must know, is so much frequented by the Saracen merchants that they have converted the natives to the Law of Muhammad ,”but the hill-people were all idolaters and cannibals.[13]

Further, one of the Malay chronicles says that it was Sultan Ali Mughayat Shah, who reigned over Atjeh from 1507 to 1522, who first set the example of embracing Islam, in which he was followed by his subjects.[14]

But it is not improbable that the honor of being the first Muslim ruler of the state has been here attributed as an added glory to the monarch who founded the greatness of Atjeh and began to extend its sway over the neighboring country. He rather effected a revival of, or imparted a fresh impulse to, the religious life of his subjects than gave to them their first knowledge of the faith of the Prophet. For Islam had certainly set firm foot in Sumatra long before his time.

According to the traditionary account of the city of Samudra, the Sharif of Mecca sent a mission to convert the people of Sumatra. The leader of the party was a certain Shaykh Ismail: the first place on the island at which they touched, after leaving Malabar, was Pasuri (probably situated a little way down the west coast), the people of which were persuaded by their preaching to embrace Islam.

They then proceeded northward to Lambri and then coasted round to the other side of the island and sailed as far down the east coast as Aru, nearly opposite Malacca, and in both of these places their efforts were crowned with a like success.

At Aru they made inquiries for Samudra, a city on the north coast of the island, which seems to have been the special object of their mission, and found that they had passed it. Accordingly they retraced their course to Parlak, where Marco Polo had found a Muslim community a few years before, and having gained fresh converts here also, they went on to Samudra. This city and the kingdom of the same name had lately been founded by a certain Mara Silu, who was persuaded by Shaykh Ismail to embrace Islam, and took the name of al-Malik al-Ṣaliḥ. He married the daughter of the king of Parlak, by whom he had two sons, and in order to have a principality to leave to each, he founded the Muslim city and kingdom of Pasei, also on the north coast.[15]

The king, al-Malik al-Ẕahir, whom Ibn Batutah found reigning in Samudra when he visited the island in 1345, was probably the elder of these two sons.

This prince displayed all the state of Muslim royalty, and his dominions extended for many days journey along the coast; he was a zealous and orthodox Muslim, fond of holding discussions with juris-consults and theologians, and his court was frequented by poets and men of learning. Ibn Baṭuṭah gives us the names of two juris-consults who had come thither from Persia and also of a noble who had gone on an embassy to Delhi on behalf of the king—which shows that Sumatra was already in touch with several parts of the Muslim world. Al-Malik al- Ẕahir was also a great general, and made war on the heathen of the surrounding country until they submitted to his rule and paid tribute.[16]

Islam had undoubtedly by this time made great progress in Sumatra, and after having established itself along the coast, began to make its way inland. The mission of Shaykh Ismail and his party had borne fruit abundantly, for a Chinese traveler who visited the island in 1413, speaks of Lambri as having a population of 1000 families, all of whom were Muslims “and very good people,” while the king and people of the kingdom of Aru were all of the same faith.[17]

Islam and the great kingdom of Menangkabau
It was either about the close of the same century or in the fifteenth century, that the religion of the Prophet found adherents in the great kingdom of Menangkabau, whose territory at one time extended from one shore to another, and over a great part of the island, north and south of the equator.[18]

Though its power had by this time much declined, still as an ancient stronghold of Hinduism it presented great obstacles in the way of the progress of the new religion. Despite this fact, Islam eventually took firmer root among the subjects of this kingdom than among the majority of the inhabitants of the interior of the island.[19]

It is very remarkable that this, the most central people of the island, should have been more thoroughly converted than the inhabitants of so many other districts that were more accessible to foreign influences.

To the present day the inhabitants of the Batak country are still, for the most part, heathen; but Islam has gained a footing among them, e. g. some living on the borders of Atjeh have been converted, by their Muslim neighbors,[20] others dwelling in the mountains of the Rau country on the equator have likewise become Muslims ;[21] on the east coast also conversions of Bataks, who come much in contact with Malays, are not uncommon.[22]

When, the Dutch Government suppressed the Padri rising and annexed the southern part of the Batak country, Islam began to spread by peaceful means, chiefly through

  1. the zealous efforts of the native subordinate officials of the new régime, who were all Muslim Malays,[23] but also through
  2. the influence of the traders who wandered through the country, whose proselytizing activity was followed up by the ḥajis and other recognized teachers of the faith.

It is a remarkable fact that the Bataks, who for centuries had offered a pertinacious resistance to the entrance of Islam into their midst, though they were hemmed in between two fanatical Muslim populations, the Chinese on the north and the Malays on the south, have in recent years responded with enthusiasm to the peaceful efforts made for their conversion.

An explanation would appear to be found in the breaking down of their exclusive national characteristics through the Dutch occupation and the conquest opening up their country to foreign influences, which implied the commencement of a new era in their cultural development, as well as in the skillful procedure of the exponents of the new faith, who knew how to accommodate their teachings to the existing beliefs of the Bataks and their deep-rooted superstitions.[24]

A considerable impulse seems to have been given to Muslim propaganda by the establishment of Christian missions among the Bataks in 1897, and they appear even to have paved the way for its success. Two Batak villages, the entire population of which had been baptized, are said to have gone over in a body to Islam shortly afterwards.[25]

In Central Sumatra there is still a large heathen population, though the majority of the inhabitants are Muslims; but these latter are very ignorant of their religion, with the exception of a few ḥajis and religious teachers: even among the people of Korintji, who are for the most part zealous adherents of the faith, there are certain sections of the population who still worship the gods of their pagan ancestors.[26]

Efforts are, however, being made towards a religious revival, and the Muslim missionaries are making fresh conquests from among the heathen, especially along the west coast.[27]

  • In the district of Sipirok a religious teacher attached to the mosque in the town of the same name, in a quarter of a century, converted the whole population of this district to Islam, with the exception of the Christians who were to be found there, mostly descendants of former slaves,[28] and a later missionary movement in the first decade of the twentieth century succeeded in winning over to Islam many of the Christians of this district, even some living in the center of the sphere of influence of the Christian mission.[29]
  • Islam is traditionally represented to have been introduced into Palembang about 1440 by Raden Raḥmat, of whose propagandist activity an account will be given below (p. 381). But Hindu influences appear to have been firmly rooted here, and the progress of the new faith was slow.
  • Even up to the nineteenth century the Muslims of Palembang were said to know little of their religion except the external observances of it, with the exception of the inhabitants of the capital who come into daily contact with Arabs;[30] but in the first decade of the twentieth century there would appear to have been a revival of the religious life and a growing propaganda, as the Colonial Reports of the Dutch Government draw attention to the continual spread of Islam among the heathen population of various districts of Palembang.[31]
  • It was from Java that Islam was first brought into the Lampong districts which form the southern extremity of Sumatra, by a chieftain of these districts, named Minak Kamala Bumi.
  • About the end of the fifteenth century he crossed over the Strait of Sunda to the kingdom of Bantam on the west coast of Java, which had accepted the teachings of the Muslim missionaries a few years before the date of his visit; here he, too, embraced Islam, and after making the pilgrimage to Mecca, spread the knowledge of his newly adopted faith among his fellow-countrymen.[32]
  • This religion has made considerable progress among the Lampongs, and most of the villages have mosques in them, but the old superstitions still linger on in parts of the interior.[33]

In the early part of the nineteenth century a religious revival was set on foot in Sumatra, which was not without its influence in promoting the further propagation of Islam.

In 1803 three Sumatran ḥajis returned from Mecca to their native country: during their stay in the holy city they had been profoundly influenced by the Wahhabi movement for the reformation of Islam, and were now eager to introduce the same reforms among their fellow-countrymen and to stir up in them a more zealous religious life. Accordingly they began to preach the strict doctrine of the Wahhabi sect, forbade prayers to saints, drinking and gambling and all other practices contrary to the law of the Quran.

They made a number of proselytes both from among their co-religionists and the heathen population. They later declared a Jihad against the Bataks, and in the hands of unscrupulous and ambitious men the movement lost its original character and degenerated into a savage and bloody war of conquest. In 1821 these so-called Padris came into conflict with the Dutch Government and it was not until 1838 that their last stronghold was taken and their power broken.[34]

All the civilized Malays of the Malay Peninsula trace their origin to migrations from Sumatra, especially from Menangkabau, the famous kingdom mentioned above, which is said at one time to have been the most powerful on the island;

Some of the chiefs of the interior states of the southern part of the Malay Peninsula still receive their investiture from this place.

At what period these colonies from the heart of Sumatra settled in the interior of the Peninsula, is matter of conjecture, but Singapore and the southern extremity of the Peninsula seem to have received a colony in the middle of the twelfth century, by the descendants of which Malacca was founded about a century later.[35]

From its advantageous situation, in the highway of eastern commerce it soon became a large and flourishing city, and there is little doubt but that Islam was introduced by the Muslim merchants who settled here.[36]

Islam and the Malacca
The Malay chronicle of Malacca assigns the conversion of this kingdom to the reign of a certain Sulṭan Muhammad Shah who came to the throne in 1276. He is said to have been reigning some years before a ship commanded by Sidi Abd al-Aziz came to Malacca from Jiddah, and the king was persuaded by the new-comers to change his faith and to give up his Malay name for one containing the name of the Prophet.[37] But the general character of this document makes its trustworthiness doubtful,[38] in spite of the likelihood that the date of so important an event would have been exactly noted (as was done in many parts of the Archipelago) by a people who, proud of the event, would look upon it as opening a new epoch in their history.

A Portuguese historian gives a much later date, namely 1384, in which year, he says, a Qadhi came from Arabia and having converted the king, gave him the name of Muhammad after the Prophet, adding Shah to it.[39]

Islam and Queda Kingdom
In the annals of Queda, one of the northernmost of the states of the Malay Peninsula, we have a curious account of the introduction of Islam into this kingdom, about a.d. 1501,[40] which (divested of certain miraculous incidents) is as follows:

A learned Arab, by name Shaykh Abd Allah, having come to Queda, visited the Raja and inquired what was the religion of the country.

  • bullet
    “My religion,”replied the Raja, “and that of all my subjects is that which has been handed down to us by the people of old. We all worship idols.”
  • bullet
    “Then has your highness never heard of Islam, and of the Quran which descended from God to Muhammad, and has superseded all other religions, leaving them in the possession of the devil ? ”
  • I pray you then, if this be true, said the Raja, “to instruct and enlighten us in this new faith.” In a transport of holy fervor at this request, Shaykh Abd Allah embraced the Raja and then instructed him in the creed. Persuaded by his teaching, the Raja sent for all his jars of spirits (to which he was much addicted), and with his own hands emptied them on the ground.
  • After this he had all the idols of the palace brought out; the idols of gold, and silver, and clay, and wood were all heaped up in his presence, and were all broken and cut to pieces by Shaykh Abd Allah with his sword and with an axe, and the fragments consumed in the fire.
  • The Shaykh asked the Raja to assemble all his women of the fort and palace. When they had all come into the presence of the Raja and the Shaykh, they were initiated into the doctrines of Islam.
  • The Shaykh as mild and courteous in his demeanor, persuasive and soft in his language, so that he gained the hearts of the inmates of the palace.
  • The Raja soon after sent for his four aged ministers, who, on entering the hall, were surprised at seeing a Shaykh seated near the Raja. The Raja explained to them the object of the Shaykh’s coming; whereupon the four chiefs expressed their readiness to follow the example of his highness, saying,
  • “We hope that Shaykh Abd Allah will instruct us also.”
  • The latter hearing these words, embraced the four ministers and said that he hoped that, to prove their sincerity, they would send for all the people to come to the audience hall, bringing with them all the idols that they were wont to worship and the idols that had been handed down by the men of former days.
  • The request was complied with and all the idols kept by the people were at that very time brought down and there destroyed and burnt to dust; no one was sorry at this demolition of their false gods, all were glad to enter the pale of Islam.
  • Shaykh Abd Allah after this said to the four ministers, “What is the name of your prince? “They replied, “His name is Pra Ong Mahawangsa.” “Let us change it for one in the language of Islam,” said the Shaykh.
  • After some consultation, the name of the Raja was changed at his request to Sultan Muzlaf al-Shah, because, the Shaykh averred, it is a celebrated name and is found in the Quran.[41]

The Raja now built mosques wherever the population was considerable, and directed that to each there should be attached forty-four of the inhabitants at least as a settled congregation, for a smaller number would have been few for the duties of religion.

So mosques were erected and great drums were attached to them to be beaten to call the people to prayer on Fridays. Shaykh Abd Allah continued for some time to instruct the people in the religion of Islam; they flocked to him from all the coasts and districts of Queda and its vicinity, and were initiated by him into its forms and ceremonies.

The news of the conversion of the inhabitants of Queda by Shaykh Abd Allah reached Atjeh, and the Sultan of that country and a certain Shaykh Nur al-Din, an Arab missionary, who had come from Mecca, sent some books and a letter, which ran as follows:—

“This letter is from the Sultan of Atjeh and Nur al-Din to our brother the Sultan of Queda and Shaykh Abd Allah of Yaman, now in Queda.

We have sent two religious books, in order that the faith of Islam may be firmly established and the people fully instructed in their duties and in the rites of the faith. A letter was sent in reply by the Raja and Shaykh Abd Allah, thanking the donors.

So Shaykh Abd Allah redoubled his efforts, and erected additional small mosques in all the different villages for general convenience, and instructed the people in all the rules and observances of the faith.

The Raja and his wife were constantly with the Shaykh , learning to read the Quran. The royal pair searched also for some maiden of the lineage of the Rajas of the country, to be the Shaykh’s wife.

But no one could be found who was willing to give his daughter thus in marriage because the holy man was about to return to Baghdad, and only waited until he had sufficiently instructed some person to supply his place.

Now at this time the Sultan had three sons, Raja Muaẓẓam Shah, Raja Muhammad Shah, and Raja Sulayman Shah. These names had been borrowed from the Quran by Shaykh Abd Allah and bestowed upon the princes, whom he exhorted to be patient and slow to anger in their intercourse with their slaves and the lower orders, and to regard with pity all the servants of God, and the poor and needy.[42]

It must not be supposed that the labors of Shaykh Abd Allah were crowned with complete success, for we learn from the annals of Atjeh that a Sultan of this country who conquered Queda in 1649, set himself to “more firmly establish the faith and destroy the houses of the Liar “or temples of idols.[43] Thus a century and a half elapsed before idolatry was completely rooted out.

We possess no other details of the history of the conversion of the Malays of the Peninsula, but in many places the graves of the Arab missionaries who first preached the faith to them are honored by these people.[44]

Their long intercourse with the Arabs and the Muslims of the east coast of India has made them very rigid observers of their religious duties, and they have the reputation of being the most exemplary Muslims of the Archipelago; at the same time their constant contact with the Hindus, Buddhists, Christians and pagans of their own country has made them liberal and tolerant.

They are very strict in the keeping of the fast of Ramaḍan and in performing the pilgrimage to Mecca. The religious interests of the people are always considered at the same time as their temporal welfare; and when a village is found to contain more than forty houses and is considered to be of a size that necessitates its organization and the appointment of the regular village officers, a public preacher is always included among the number and a mosque is formally built and instituted.[45]

In the north, where the Malay states border on Siam, Islam has exercised considerable influence on the Siamese Buddhists; those who have here been converted are called Samsams and speak a language that is a mixed jargon of the languages of the two people.[46] Converts are also made from among the wild tribes of the Peninsula,[47]

The history of the spread of Islam in Indo-China is obscure; Arab and Persian merchants probably introduced their religion into the sea-port towns from the tenth century onwards, but its most important expansion was due to the immigrations of Malays which began at the close of the fourteenth century.[48]

[1] Niemann, p. 337.
[2] Reinaud: Géographic d’Aboulféda, tome i. p. cccxxxix.
[3] Groeneveldt, pp. 14, 15.
[4] Ibn Baṭūṭah,tome iv. pp. 66, 80.
[5] Veth (3), vol. i. p. 231. Ibn Baṭūṭah, tome iv. p. 89.
[6] Ibn Baṭūṭah. tome iv. pp. 230, 234.
[7] Snouck Hurgronje (I), pp. 8-9.
[8] Padre Gainza, quoted by C, Semper, p. 67.
[9] Crawfurd (2), vol. ii. p. 265.
[10] Snouck Hurgronje: L’Arabie et les Indes Neerlandaises. (Revue de l’Histoire des Religions, vol. Ivii. p. 69 sqq.)
[11] De Hollander, vol. i. p. 581. Veth (I), p. 60.
[12]This vague reference would fit either Arabia, Persia or India; but if such a person as Juhan Shah ever existed, he probably came from the Coromandel or Malabar coast. (Chronique du Royaume d’Atcheh, traduite du Malay par Ed. Dulaurier, p. 7.)
[13] Marco Polo, vol. ii. p.284.
[14] Veth (I), p. 61.
[15] Yule’s Marco Polo, vol. ii. pp. 294, 303.
[16] Ibn Baṭūṭah, tome iv. pp. 230-6.
[17] Groeneveldt, p. 94.
[18] At the height of its power, it stretched from 2° N. to 2° S. on the west coast, and from 1° N. to 2° S. on the east coast, but in the sixteenth century it had lost its control over the east coast. (De Hollander, vol. i. p. 3.)
[19] Marsden, p. 343.
[20] J. H. Moor. (Appendix, p. I.)
[21] Marsden, p. 355.
[22] Godsdienstige verschijnselen en toestanden in Oost-Indie. (Uit de Koloniale Verslagen van 1886 en 1887.) Med. Ned. Zendelinggen, vol. xxxii. pp. 175-6. (1888.) In 1909, out of a total of 500,000 Bataks, 300,000 were still pagan, but 125,000 were Muslim and 80,000 Christian. (R. du M. M., vol. viii. p. 183.)
[23] J. Warneck: Die Religion der Batak, p. 122. (Leipzig, 1909.)
[24] G. R. Simon: Die Propaganda des Halbrnondes. Ein Beitrag zur. Skizzierung des Islam unter den Batakken, pp. 425, 429-430. (Allgemeine. j Missions-Zeitschrift, vol. xxvii. 1900.)
[25] R. du M. M., vol. viii. (1909), p. 183.
[26] A. L. van Hassalt, pp. 55, 68.
[27] Med. Ned. Zendelinggen, id. p. 173. (Koloniaal Verslag van 1911, p. 26; 1912, p. 17.)
[28] Uit het Koloniaal Verslag van 1889. (Med. Ned. Zendelinggen, vol. xxxiv. p. 168.) (1890.)
[29] Koloniaal Verslag van 1910. p. 30.
[30] De Hollander, vol. i. p. 703.
[31] Koloniaal Verslag van 1904, p. 80; 1905, p. 46; 1909, p, 47; 1910, p. 33; 1911, p. 29; 1912, p. 21.
[32] Canne, p. 510.
[33] Marsden, p. 301.
[34] Niemann, pp. 356-9.
[35] J. H- Moor, p. 255.
[36] “Depois que estes de induzidos por os Mouros Parseos, e Guzarates (que alii vieram residir por causa do commercio), de Gentios os convertêram á secta de Mahamed. Da qual conversão por alli concorrerem varias nações, começou laurar esta inferna peste pela virzinhança de Malaca.”(De Barros, Dec. ii. Liv. vi. cap. i. p. 15.)
[37] Aristide Marre: Malaka. Histoire des rois malays de Malaka. Traduit et extrait du Livre des Annales malayses, intitule en arabe Selalet al) Selatyn, p. 8. (Paris, 1874.)
[38] Crawfurd (I). pp. 241-2.
[39] De Barros, Dec. iv. Liv. ii. cap. I.
[40] Barbosa, writing in 1516, speaks of the numerous Muhammadan .merchants that frequented the port of Queda. (Ramusio, tom. i. p. 317.)
[41] The form مزلف does not actually occur in the Qur’an; reference is probably made to some such passage as xxvi. 90: وأزلفت الجنة للمتقين”And paradise shall be brought near the pious.”
[42] A translation of the Keddah Annals, by Lieut.-Col. James Low, vol. iii. pp. 474-7.
[43] A translation of the Keddah Annals, by Lieut.-Col. James Low, vol. iii. p. 480.
[44] Newbold, vol. i. p. 252.
[45] McNair, pp. 226-9.
[46] J. H. Moor, p. 242.
[47] Newbold, vol. ii. pp. 106, 396.
[48] R. du M. M., tome ii (1907), pp. 137-8.

The Spread of Islam Among the People of AFRICA Part Two

A History of the Propagation of the Muslim Faith
T.W. Arnold    Ma. C.I.F
Professor Of Arabic, University Of London, University College.  Written in 1896, revised in 1913
Rearranged by Dr. A.S. Hashim Read more

The Spread of Islam Among the People of AFRICA Part One

A History of the Propagation of the Muslim Faith
T.W. Arnold    Ma. C.I.F
Professor Of Arabic, University Of London, University College.  Written in 1896, revised in 1913
Rearranged by Dr. A.S. Hashim Read more

The Spread of Islam Among the People of CHINA

A History of the Propagation of the Muslim Faith
T.W. Arnold    Ma. C.I.F
Professor Of Arabic, University Of London, University College.  Written in 1896, revised in 1913
Rearranged by Dr. A.S. Hashim

Tradition ascribes to Muhammad the saying, “Seek for knowledge, even unto China.”[1] It is not impossible that the name of this country may have been known to him,

for commercial relations between Arabia and China had been established long before his birth.

It was through Arabia, in great measure, that Syria and the ports of the Levant received the produce of the East.

In the sixth century, there was a considerable trade between China and Arabia by way of Ceylon, and at the beginning of the seventh century the commerce between China, Persia and Arabia was still further extended, the town of Siraf on the Persian Gulf being the chief emporium for the Chinese traders.

It was at this period, at the commencement of the Tang dynasty (618-907) that mention is first made of the Arabs in the Chinese Annals;[2] they note the rise of the Muslim power in Medina and briefly describe the religious observances of the new faith.

The Annals of Kwangtung thus record the coming of the first Muslims into China :—

“At the beginning of the Tang dynasty there came to Canton a large number of strangers, from the kingdoms of Annam, Cambodia, Medina and several other countries.

These strangers worshipped heaven (i. e. God) and had neither statue, idol nor image in their temples.

The kingdom of Medina is close to that of India, and it is in this kingdom that the religion of these strangers, which is different to that of Buddha, originated.

They do not eat pork or drink wine, and they regard as unclean the flesh of any animal not killed by themselves. They are nowadays called Hui Hui.[3]

Having asked and obtained from the emperor permission to reside in Canton, they built magnificent houses of a style different to that of our country. They were very rich and obeyed a chief chosen by themselves.”[4]

It is most probable that Islam was first introduced into China by merchants who followed the old-established sea route. But the earliest record we can trust refers to diplomatic relations carried on by land, through Persia.

  • When Yazdajird, the last Sasani king of Persia, had perished, his son, Firuz, appealed to China for help against the Arab invaders;[6] but the emperor replied that Persia was too far distant for him to send the required troops. But he is said to have dispatched an ambassador to the Arab court to plead the cause of the fugitive prince—probably also with instructions to ascertain the extent and power of the new kingdom that had arisen in the West,
  • and the Khalifa Uthman is said to have sent one of the Arab generals to accompany the Chinese ambassador on his return in 651, and this first Muslim envoy was honorably received by the emperor.
  • In the reign of Walid (705-715), the famous Arab general, Qutaybah b. Muslim, having been appointed governor of Khurasan, crossed the Oxus and began a series of successful campaigns, in which he successively subjugated Bukhara, Samarqand and other cities, and carried his conquests up to the eastern frontier of the Chinese empire.
  • In 713 he sent envoys to the emperor, who (according to Arab accounts) dismissed them with valuable presents.
  • A few years later, the Chinese Annals make mention of an ambassador, named Sulayman, who came from the Khalifa Hisham in 726 to the Emperor Hsuan Tsung.

These diplomatic relations between the Arab and the Chinese empires assumed a new importance at the close of this emperor’s reign, when, driven from his throne by a usurper, he abdicated in favor of his son, Su Tsung (a.d, 756). Su Tsung sought the help of the Abbasid Khalifa, al-Mansur , who responded to this appeal by sending a body of Arab troops, and with their assistance the emperor succeeded in recovering his two capitals, Si-ngan-fu and Ho-nan-fu, from the rebels.

At the end of the war, these Arab troops did not return to their own country, but married and settled in China. Various reasons are assigned for this action on their part;

  • one account represents them as having returned to their native land but, being refused permission to remain on the ground that they had been so long in a land where pork was eaten, they went back again to China;
  • according to another account they were prepared to embark for Arabia, at Canton, when they were taunted with having eaten pork during their campaign, and in consequence they refused to return home and run the risk of similar taunts from their own people; when the governor of Canton tried to compel them, they joined with the Arab and Persian merchants, their co-religionists, and pillaged the principal commercial houses in the city; the governor saved himself by taking refuge on the city wall, and was only able to return after he had obtained from the emperor permission for these Arab troops to remain in the country; houses and lands were assigned to them in different cities, where they settled down and intermarried with the women of the country.[7]

The Chinese Muslims have a legend that their faith was first preached in China by a maternal uncle of the Prophet, and his reputed tomb at Canton is highly venerated by them. But there is not the slightest historical base for this legend, and it appears to be of late growth.[8] It doubtless arose from a desire to connect the history of the faith in their own land as closely as possible with apostolic times—a fruitful source of legends in countries far removed from the centers of Muslim history.[9]

But of the existence of Muslims in China, especially of merchants in the port towns, during the Tang dynasty there is clear evidence. The Chinese annalist of this period (a.d. 713-742) says that

“the barbarians of the West came into the Middle Kingdom in crowds, like a deluge, from a distance of at least 1000 leagues and from more than 100 kingdoms,

bringing as tribute their sacred books,

which were received and deposited in the hall set apart for translations of sacred and canonical books, in the imperial palace:

from this period the religious doctrines of these different countries were thus diffused and openly practiced in the empire of Tang.”[10]

An Arab geographer, writing about the year 851, describes these settlements and the mosques which these merchants were allowed to build for their religious exercises;[11] he states that he knew of no Chinaman having embraced Islam, but as he makes the same remark of the people of India, it may be that he was as ill-informed in the one case as the other.[12]

But there is certainly no distinct evidence of any proselytizing activity on the part of the Muslims in China, and indeed very little information about them at all until the period of Mongol conquests, in the thirteenth century. These conquests resulted in a vast immigration of Muslims of various nationalities, Arabs, Persians, Turks and others into the Chinese empire.[13] Some came as merchants, artisans, soldiers or colonists, others were brought in as prisoners of war. A large number of them settled permanently in the country and developed into a populous and flourishing community, which gradually lost its original racial peculiarities through intermarriage with Chinese women.

Several Muslims occupied high posts under the Mongol rulers, e. g.
Abd al-Rahman, who in 1244 was appointed head of the Imperial finances and allowed to farm the taxes imposed upon China,[14]

and Omar Shams al-Din, commonly known as Sayyid Ajall, a native of Bukhara, to whom Qubilay Khan, on his accession in 1259, entrusted the management of the Imperial finances; he was subsequently governor of Yunnan, after this province had been conquered and added to the Chinese empire.[15] Sayyid Ajall died in 1270, leaving behind him a reputation as an enlightened and upright administrator; he built Confucian temples as well as mosques in Yunnan city.[16]

The descendants of Sayyid Ajall played a great part in the establishing of Islam in China; it was his grandson who in 1335 obtained from the emperor the recognition of Islam as the “True and Pure Religion “—a name which it has kept to the present day,—and another descendant of Sayyid Ajall was authorized by the emperor in 1420 to build mosques in the capitals, Si-ngan-fu and Nan-kin.[17]

The Chinese historians of the reign of Qubilay Khan make it a ground of complaint against this monarch that he did not employ Chinese officials in place of the immigrant Turks and Persians.[18]

The exalted position occupied by Sayyid Ajall and the facilities of communication between China and the West established by Mongol conquest, attracted a number of such persons into the north of China, and it was probably as a result of these immigrations that those scattered Muslim communities began to be formed, which have grown to large proportions in most of the provinces of China.

Marco Polo, who enjoyed the favor of Qubilay Khan and lived in China from 1275 to 1292, notes the presence of Muslims in various parts of Yunnan.[19] At the beginning of the fourteenth century, all the inhabitants of Talifu, the capital of Yunnan, are said by a contemporary historian to have been Muslims;[20] and Ibn Baṭuṭah, who visited several coast towns in China towards the middle of the fourteenth century, speaks of the hearty welcome he received from his co-religionists,[21] and reports that “In every town there is a special quarter for the Muslims, inhabited solely by them, where they have their mosques; they are honored and respected by the Chinese.” [22]

Up to this period the Muslims appear to have been looked upon as a foreign community in China, but after the expulsion of the Mongol dynasty in the latter part of the fourteenth century they received no fresh addition to their numbers from abroad, in consequence of the policy of isolation which the Chinese government now adopted; and being thus cut off from communication with their coreligionists in other countries, they tended, in most parts of the empire, gradually to become merged into the mass of the native population, through their marriages with Chinese women and their adoption of Chinese habits and manners.

The founder of the new Ming dynasty, the emperor Hung-wu, extended to them many privileges, and their flourishing condition during the period that this dynasty lasted (1368-1644) is shown by the large number of mosques erected.

The emperors of this dynasty cultivated friendly relations with the Muslim princes on their western frontier, and there was a frequent interchange of embassies between them and the Timurid princes.

One of these is of interest in the missionary history of Islam, inasmuch as Shah Rukh Bahadur in 1412 took advantage of the arrival of a Chinese embassy at his court in Samarqand, to include in his answer an invitation to the emperor to embrace Islam. He sent with his envoy, who accompanied the Chinese ambassadors on their return, two letters, the first of which, written in Arabic, was to the following effect:—

“In the name of God, the Merciful, the Compassionate.

There is but One God, Allah: and Muhammad is the Apostle of God.

The Apostle of God, Muhammad (peace be on him!) said: There shall not cease to be in my Masjid a people abiding in the commandments of God; whosoever fails to help them or opposes them, shall never prosper, until the commandment of the Lord cometh.

When the Most High God purposed to create Adam and his race, he said: I was a hidden treasure, but it was my pleasure to become known; I therefore created man that I might be known;

It is manifest from hence that the divine purpose (great is His power and exalted is His word!) in the creation of man was to make Himself Known and uplift the banners of right guidance and faith.

Wherefore He sent His Apostle with guidance and the religion of truth that it might prevail over all other faiths, though the polytheists turn away from it,

that he might make known the laws and the ordinances and the observances of what is lawful and unlawful,

and He gave him the holy Quran miraculously that thereby he might put to silence the unbelievers and stop their mouths when they discussed and disputed with him,

and by His perfect grace and His all-pervading guidance He has caused it to remain even unto the day of judgment.

By His power He hath established in all ages and times and in all parts of the world, in east and west, and in China, a mighty monarch, lord of great armies and authority, to administer justice and mercy and spread the wings of peace and security over the heads of men;

to enjoin upon them righteousness and warn them against evil and disobedience and lift up among them the banners of the noble religion;

and he drives away idolatry and infidelity from among them through belief in the unity of God.

The Most High God thus disposes our hearts by His past mercies and His ensuing grace to strive for the stablishing of the laws of pure religion and the continuance of the ordinances of the shining path.

He also bids us administer justice to our subjects in all suits and cases in accordance with the religion of the Prophet and the ordinances of the Chosen One,

and build mosques and colleges and monasteries and hermitages and places of worship, that the teaching of the sciences and the schools of learning may not cease nor the memorials and injunctions of religion be swept away.

Seeing that the continuance of worldly prosperity and dominion, and the permanence of authority and rule depend upon the assistance given to truth and righteousness and the extirpation of the evils caused by idolatry and unbelief from the earth,

in the expectation of blessing and reward, we, therefore, hope that your Majesty and the nobles of your realm will agree with us in these matters and join us in strengthening the foundations of the established law.”

The other letter, written in Persian, makes a more direct appeal, without the rhetorical embellishments of the Arabic:—

“The Most High God, having in the depth of His wisdom and the perfection of His power created Adam (peace be upon him !), made some of his sons prophets and apostles and sent them among men to summon them to the truth.

To certain of these prophets, such as Abraham, Moses, David and Muhammad (peace be upon them !) He gave a book and taught a law, and He bade the people of their time follow the law and the religion of each of them.

All these apostles invited men to faith in the unity and to the worship of God and forbade the adoration of the sun, moon and stars, of kings and idols; and though each one of these apostles had a separate law, yet they were all agreed in the doctrine of the unity of the Most High God.

At length, when the apostolic and prophetic office devolved on the Apostle Muhammad Muṣṭafặ (the peace and blessing of God be upon him !) all other systems of law were abrogated.

He was the apostle and the prophet of the latter age, and it behooves the whole world—lords and kings and ministers, rich and poor, small and great,—to observe his law and forsake all past creeds and laws. This is the true and perfect faith and is called Islam.

Some years ago, Chingiz Khan took up arms and sent his sons into various countries and kingdoms—Juji Khan to the confines of Saray, Qrim and Dasht Qafchaq, where some monarchs, such as Uzbek Khan, Chani Khan and Urus Khan, became Muslims and observed the law of Muhammad (peace be upon him!).

Hulagu Khan was set over Khurasan, Iraq and the neighboring countries, and some of his sons who succeeded him received into their hearts the light of the law of Muhammad (peace be upon him!), and in like manner became Muslims, and honored with the blessedness of Islam passed into the other world, such as the truthful king, Ghazan, and Uljaytu Sulṭan and the fortunate king, Abu Said Bahadur, until my honored father, Amir Timur Gurgan, succeeded to the throne.

He too observed the law of Muhammad (peace be upon him !) in all the countries under his rule, and throughout his reign the followers of the faith of Islam enjoyed complete prosperity.

Now that by the goodness and favor of God this Kingdom of Khurasan, Iraq, and othres, etc., has passed into my hands, the administration is carried on throughout the whole kingdom in accordance with the pure law of the Prophet; righteousness is enjoined and wrong forbidden, and the Yarghu and the institutes of Chingiz ` have been abolished.

Since, then, it is sure and certain that salvation and deliverance in the day of judgment, and sovereignty and felicity in the present world, depend upon true faith and Islam, and the favor of the Most High God, it is incumbent upon us to treat our subjects with justice and equity.

I hope that by the bounty and benevolence of God you too will observe the law of Muhammad, the Apostle of God (peace be upon him I) and strengthen the religion of Islam, so that you may exchange the transitory sovereignty of this world for the sovereignty of the world to come.”[23]

It is not improbable that these letters gave rise to the later legend of one of the Chinese emperors having become a convert to Islam.[24]

This legend is referred to, among others, by a Muslim merchant, Sayyid Ali Akbar, who spent some years in Peking at the end of the fifteenth and the beginning of the sixteenth century; he speaks of the large number of Muslims who had settled in China; in the city of Kenjanfu there were as many as 30,000 Muslim families;

  • they paid no taxes
  • and enjoyed the favor of the emperor, who gave them grants of land;
  • they enjoyed complete toleration for the exercise of their religion, which was favorably viewed by the Chinese,
  • and conversions were freely permitted;
  • in the capital itself there were four great mosques
  • and about ninety more in other provinces of the empire,—all erected at the cost of the emperor.[25]

Up to the establishment of the Manchu dynasty in 1644 there is no record of any Muslim uprising, and the followers of Islam appear to have been entirely content with the religious liberty they enjoyed;

but difficulties arose soon after the advent of the new ruling power, and an insurrection in the province of Kansu in 1648 was the first occasion on which any Muslims rose in arms against the Chinese government, though it was not until the nineteenth century that any such revolt entailed very disastrous consequences, or seriously interrupted the amicable relations that had subsisted from the beginning between the Chinese Muslims and their rulers.

The official view of the Chinese Government of these relations is set forth in an edict published by the emperor Yung Chen in 1731:—

” In every province of the empire, for many centuries past, have been found a large number of Muslims who form part of the people whom I regard as my own children just as I do my other subjects. I make no distinction between them and those who do not belong to their religion.

I have received from certain officials secret complaints against the Muslims on the ground that their religion differs from that of the other Chinese, that they do not speak the same language, and wear a different dress to the rest of the people.

They are accused of disobedience, haughtiness, and rebellious feelings, and I have been asked to employ severe measures against them. After examining these complaints and accusations, I have discovered that there is no foundation for them.

In fact, the religion followed by the Muslims is that of their ancestors; it is true their language is not the same as that of the rest of the Chinese, but what a multitude of different dialects there are in China. As to their temples, dress and manner of writing, which differ from those of the other Chinese—these are matters of absolutely no importance. These are mere matters of custom.

They bear as good a character as my other subjects, and there is nothing to show that they intend to rebel.

It is my wish, therefore, that they should be left in the free exercise of their religion, whose object is to teach men the observance of a moral life, and the fulfillment of social and civil duties.

This religion respects the fundamental basis of Government, and what more can be asked for? If then the Muslims continue to conduct themselves as good and loyal subjects, my favor will be extended towards them just as much as towards my other children

From among them have come many civil and military officers, who have risen to the very highest ranks. This is the best proof that they have adopted our habits and customs, and have learned to conform themselves to the precepts of our sacred books.

They pass their examinations in literature just like every one else, and perform the sacrifices enjoined by law.

In a word, they are true members of the great Chinese family and Endeavor always to fulfill their religious, civil and political duties. When the magistrates have a civil case brought before them, they should not concern themselves with the religion of the litigants.

There is but one single law for all my subjects. Those who do good shall be rewarded, and those who do evil shall be punished.”[26]

About thirty years later, his successor, the Emperor Kien Lung, showed distinguished marks of his favor towards the Muslims by ennobling two Turki Begs who had materially helped in suppressing a revolt in the north-west and Kashgar, and building palaces for them in Peking; he also erected a mosque for the use of the Turki Begs who visited the Imperial court and for the prisoners of war who had been brought to the capital from Kashgar.

Among these prisoners was a beautiful girl who became a favorite concubine of the emperor, and it is stated that for love of her he built this mosque immediately opposite his own palace and erected a pavilion within the palace grounds, from which the concubine could watch her fellow-countrymen at prayer and could join in their devotions.

This mosque was built in the years 1763-1764 and contains an inscription in four languages, the Chinese text of which was written by the emperor himself.[27]

After crushing the revolt in Zungaria, this same emperor Kien Lung, in 1770 transported thither from other parts of China ten thousand military colonists, who were followed by their- families and other persons, to re-people the country, and they are all said to have embraced the religion of the surrounding Muslim population.[28]

Whether such mass conversions occurred in other parts of the empire also, we have no means of telling, but the existence of a considerable Muslim population in every province of China can hardly be explained merely by reference to foreign immigration and the natural growth of population,[29] though the numbers are larger in those provinces in which foreign Muslims have settled.[30]

It is unlikely that the Muslims in China during the many centuries of their residence in this country, in the enjoyment of religious freedom and the liberal patronage of several of the emperors, should have been entirely devoid of that proselytizing zeal which modem observers have noted in their descendants at the present day.[31]

To such direct proselytizing efforts must have been due the conversion of Chinese Jews to Islam; their establishment in this country dates from an early period, they held employments under the Government and were in possession of large estates; but by the close of the seventeenth century a great part of them had been converted to Islam..[32]

Such propaganda must have been quite quiet and unobtrusive, and indeed more public methods might have excited suspicions on the part of the Government, as is shown by an interesting report which was sent to the Emperor Kien Lung in 1783 by a governor of the province of Khwang‑Se. It runs as follows :

“I have the honor respectfully to inform your Majesty that an adventurer Han‑Fo-Yun, of the province of Khwang‑Se, has been arrested on a charge of vagrancy.

This adventurer when interrogated as to his occupation, confessed that for the last ten years he had been traveling through the different provinces of the Empire in order to obtain information about his religion. In one of his boxes were found thirty books, some of which had been written by himself, while others were in a language that no one here understands.

These books praise in an extravagant and ridiculous manner a Western king, called Muhammad. The above‑mentioned Han‑Fo-Yun, when put to the torture, at last confessed that the real object of his journey was to propagate the religion taught in these books, and that he remained in the province of Shen‑Si for a longer time than anywhere else.

I have examined these books myself. Some are certainly written in a foreign language; for I have not been able to understand them: the others that are written in Chinese are very bad,

I may add, even ridiculous on account of the exaggerated praise given in them to persons who certainly do not deserve it, because I have never even heard of them.

Perhaps the above-mentioned Han-Fo-Yun is a rebel from Kan-Su. His conduct is certainly suspicious, for what was he going to do in the provinces through which he has been traveling for the last ten years? I intend to make a serious inquiry into the matter.

Meanwhile, I would request your Majesty to order the stereotyped plates, that are in the possession of his family, to be burnt, and the engravers to be arrested, as well as the authors of the books, which I have sent to your Majesty desiring to know your pleasure in the matter.” [33]

This report bears testimony to the activity of at least one Muslim missionary in the eighteenth century, and the growth of Islam, which the Jesuit missionaries[34] noted in the eighteenth century, was probably not so little connected with direct proselytism as some of them supposed.

Du Halde, in one of the few passages he devotes to the Muslims in his great work,[35] attributes the increase in their numbers largely to their habit of purchasing children in times of famine.

“The Muslims have been settled for more than six hundred years in various provinces, where they live quite quietly, because they do not make any great efforts to spread their doctrines and gain proselytes,

and because in former times they only increased in numbers by the alliances and marriages they contracted.

But for several years past they have continued to make very considerable progress by means of their wealth. They buy up heathen children everywhere; and the parents, being often unable to provide them with food, have no scruples in selling them.

During a famine that devastated the Province of Chantong, they bought more than 10,000 of them.

They marry them, and either purchase or build for them separate quarters in a town, or even whole villages; gradually in several places they gain such influence that they do not let any one live among them who does not go to the mosque.

By such means they have multiplied exceedingly during the last century.”

Similarly, in the famine that devastated the province of Kwangtung in 1790, as many as ten thousand children are said to have been purchased by the Muslims from parents who, too poor to support them, were willing to part with them to save them from starvation; these were all brought up in the faith of Islam.[36]

A Chinese Muslim, from Yunnan, named Sayyid Sulayman, who visited Cairo in 1894 and was there interviewed by the representative of an Arabic journal,[37] declared that the number of accessions to Islam gained in this way every year was beyond counting.

Similar testimony is given by M. dOllone, who reports that this practice of buying children in times of famine prevails among the Muslims throughout the whole of China to the present day; in the same way, they purchased the children of Christian parents who were massacred by the Boxers in 1900, and brought them up as Muslims.[38]

The Muslims in China tend to live together in separate villages and towns or to form separate Muslim quarters in the towns, where they will not allow any person to dwell among them who does not go to the mosque.[39]

Though they thus in some measure hold themselves apart, they are careful to avoid the open exhibition of any specially distinguishing features of the religious observances of their faith, which may offend their neighbors, and they have been careful to make concessions to the prejudices of their Chinese fellow-countrymen.

  • In their ordinary life they are completely in touch with the customs and habits that prevail around them;
  • they wear the pigtail and the ordinary dress of the Chinese,
  • and put on a turban, as a rule, only in the mosque.
  • To avoid offending against a superstitious prejudice on the part of the Chinese, they also refrain from building tall minarets, wherever they build them at all.[40]
  • But for the most part, their mosques conform to the Chinese type of architecture,
  • often with nothing to distinguish them from an ordinary temple or dwelling.[41]
  • Every mosque is obliged by law to have a tablet to the emperor, with the inscription on it, ” The emperor, the immortal, may he live forever,” and the Muslims prostrate themselves before it in accordance with the regular Chinese custom, though with various expedients to satisfy their consciences and avoid the imputation of idolatry.[42]
  • Even in Chinese Tartary, where the special privilege is allowed to the Muslim soldiers, of remaining unmixed, and of forming a separate body, the higher Muslim officials wear the dress prescribed to their rank, long moustaches and the pigtail, and on holidays they perform the usual homage demanded from officials, to a portrait of the emperor, by touching the ground three times with their forehead.[43]
  • Similarly all Muslim mandarins and other officials in other provinces perform the rites prescribed to their official position, in the temples of Confucius on festival days; in fact every precaution is taken by the Muslims to prevent their faith from appearing to be in opposition to the state religion, and hereby they have succeeded in avoiding the odium with which the adherents of foreign religions, such as Judaism and Christianity are regarded.
  • They even represent their religion to their Chinese fellow-countrymen as being in agreement with the teachings of Confucius, with only this difference, that they follow the traditions of their ancestors with regard to marriages, funerals, the prohibition of pork, wine, tobacco, and games of chance, and the washing of the hands before meals.[44]
  • Similarly the writings of the Chinese Muslims treat the works of Confucius and other Chinese classics with great respect, and where possible, point out the harmony between the teachings contained therein and the doctrines of Islam[45]

The Chinese government, in its turn, has always given to its Muslim subjects (except when in revolt) the same privileges and advantages as are enjoyed by the rest of the population. No office of state is closed to them; and as governors of provinces, generals, magistrates and ministers of state they enjoy the confidence and respect both of the rulers and the people. Not only do Muslim names appear in the Chinese arm; as those of famous officers of state, whether military or civil, but they have also distinguished themselves in the mechanical arts and in sciences such as mathematics and astronomy.[46]

The Chinese Muslims are also said to be keen men of business and successful traders; they monopolize the beef trade and carry on other trades with great success.[47] They are thus in touch with every section of the national life and have every opportunity for carrying on a propaganda, but the few Christian missionaries who have concerned themselves with this matter are of opinion that they are not animated with any particular proselytizing zeal.[48]

Still, many recent converts are to be met with, and the fact that a large number of Chinese Muslims can cite the name of the particular ancestor who first embraced Islam points to a continuous process of conversion.[49]

Apparently the Muslims are not allowed to preach their faith in the streets, as Protestant missionaries do,[50] but (as we have seen above)[51] they do not fail to make use of such opportunities as present themselves for adding to the number of their sect. One of their religious text-books, ” A Guide to the Rites of the True Religion ” (published in Canton in 1668), commends the work of proselytizing and makes reference to such as may have recently become converts from among the heathen.[52]

The fundamental doctrines of Islam are taught to the new converts by means of metrical primers,[53] and to the influence of the religious books of the Chinese Muslims, Sayyid Sulayman attributes many of the conversions made in recent years.[54]

The Muslim seminary at Hochow in Kansu is said to train theological students who return to their several provinces, at the completion of their studies, to promulgate their faith there,[55] and in upwards of ten provinces centers are said to have been started where mullas are to be trained for Muslim propaganda.[56]

Military officers convert many of the soldiers serving under them, to Islam, and Muslim mandarins take advantage of the authority they enjoy, to win converts, but as they are frequently transferred from one place to another, they are not able to exercise so much influence as Muslim military officers.[57]

Conversions may also occasionally occur, which are not the result of a direct propagandist appeal, e. g. a Turkish traveler who visited Peking in 1895 reported that he found thirty mosques there, among them one that had originally been a temple; this had been the family temple of a wealthy Chinaman, whose life had been saved during the Boxer insurrection by the Mufti Wa-Ahonad (Abd al-Rahman); as a token of his gratitude, he embraced the faith of his deliverer.[58]

Turkish and other Muslim missionaries have in recent years been visiting China and endeavoring to stir up among the Chinese Muslims a more thorough knowledge of their faith and to awaken their zeal, but their efforts seem so far to have borne but little fruit.[59]

In 1867 a Russian writer,[60] in a remarkable work on Islam in China, expressed the opinion that it was destined to become the national faith of the Chinese empire and thereby entirely change the political conditions of the Eastern world. Nearly half a century has elapsed since this note of alarm was sounded, but nothing has occurred since to verify these prognostications. On the contrary, it would appear that Islam has been losing rather than gaining ground during the last century, since the wholesale massacres that accompanied the suppression of the Panthay risings in Yunnan from 1855 to 1873 and the Tungan rebellion in Shen-si and Kan-su in 1864-1877 and 1895-1896,reduced the Muslim population by millions.[61]

The establishment of the new Republic has given to the Chinese Muslims a freedom of activity unknown under any preceding government, but it is too early yet to discover how far they are likely to avail themselves of the opportunities offered by the altered conditions of life. The proselytism that still goes on, restricted as its sphere may be, indicates a still cherished hope of expansion.

Though four centuries have elapsed since a Muslim traveller[62] in China could discuss the possibility of the conversion of the emperor being followed by that of his subjects, it was still possible for a Chinese Muslim of the present generation to state that his co-religionists in that country looked forward with confidence to the day when Islam would be triumphant throughout the length and breadth of the Chinese empire.[63]

[1] Kanz al-‘Ummāl, vol. v. p. 202.
[2] Bretschneider (2), p. 6.
[3] On the origin of this name, see Deveria, p. 311; Mission d’Ollone, p. 420 sqq.
[4] De Thiersant, vol. i. pp. 19-20.
[5] D’Ollone gives the following warning as to the uncertainty of our knowledge of Islam in China:— ‘ Or rien n’est moins connu que 1’Islam chinois. On ne sait exactement ni comment il s’est propagé dans 1’Empire, ni combine-d’adeptes il a réunis, ni si sa doctrine est pure, ni quelle est son organisation, ni s’ il possède des relations avec le reste du monde musulman.” (Mission d’Ollone, p. i.) The references to China in Arabic and Persian writers have been collected by Schefer, ” Notice sur les relations des peuples musulmans avec les Chinois.”
[6] Chavannes, p. 172.
[7] De Thiersant, vol. i. pp. 70-1.
[8] This legend has been exhaustively discussed by Broomhall: Islam in China, cap. iv, vii.
[9] Thus the people of Khotan claim that Islam was first brought to their land by Ja’far, a cousin of the Prophet (Grenard : Mission Dutreuil de Rhins, t. iii. p. 2), and the Cham of Cambodia ascribe their conversion to one of the fathers-in-law of Muhammad. (R. du M. M., vol. ii. p. 138.)
[10] De Thiersant, voL i. p. 153.
[11] Reinaud : Relation des Voyages faits par les Arabes et lea Persans dans 1’Inde et a la Chine, i. pp. 13, 64. (Paris, 1845.)
[12] Id. p. 58.
[13] That there was some migration westward also of Chinese into the conquered countries of Islam, where they would come within the sphere of its religious influence, we learn from the diary of a Chinese monk who traveled through Central Asia to Persia in the years 1221-4; speaking of Samarqand, he says, “Chinese Workmen are living everywhere.” (Bret-schneider (I), vol. i. p. 78.)
[14] Howorth, vol. i. p. 161.
[15] For Chinese biographies of Sayyid Ajall, see R. du M. M., viii. p. 344, sqq, and xi. p. 3 sqq.; Mission d’Ollone, p. 25 sqq.
[16] Broomhall, p. 127.
[17] Mission d’Ollone, pp. 435-6.
[18] Howorth, vol. i. p. 257.
[19] Marco Polo, vol. I. pp. 219, 274; vol ii. p. 66.
[20] Rashid al-Dīn (Yule’s Cathay, p. 9).
[21] VoL iv. pp. 270, 383.
[22] Id. p. 258.
[23] Abd al-Razzaq al-Samarqandi: Maṭia’ al-sa’dayn, foll 60-1. (Blochet, pp. 249-52.)
[24] Zenker, pp. 798-9. Melanges Orientaux, p. 65. (Publications de 1’Ecole des Langnes Orientates Vivantes. Sér. ii. t. 9.) (Paris, 1883.)
[25] Schefer. pp. 29-30. Zenker, p. 796.
[26] De Thiersant, tome i. pp. 154-6.
[27] Broomhall, p. 92 sqq. Devéria : Musulmans et Manicheens chinois. (J. A. gme Ser., tome x. p. 447 sqq.)
[28] De Thiersant, tome i. pp. 163-4.
[29] The Muhammadans are said to be more prolific than the ordinary Chinese, and the Chinese census, which counts according to families, estimates six for a Muhammadan family and five for the ordinary Chinese. (Broomhall, pp. 197, 203.)
[30] Broomhall, in chap. Xii. of his Islam in China. gives the total as between five and ten millions. D’ Ollone puts it as low as four millions. (p. 430).
[31] Vide infra, pp. 309‑310.
[32] Clark Abel: Narrative of a journey the interior of China, p. 361. (London, 1818).
[33] De Thiersant, tome ii. pp. 361-3.
[34] One missionary, writing from Peking in 1721, says, ” Le secte des Mahométans s’étend de plus en plus,” (Lettres edifiantes et curieuses, tome zix. p. 140.)
[35] J. B. du Halde: Description geographique, historique, chronotogique, politique et physique de 1’Empire de la Chine, tome iii. p. 64. (Paris, 1735.)
[36] Anderson, p. 151. Crosier, tome iv. p. 507.
[37] Thamarat al-Funun, 17th Shawwāl, p. 3. (Bayrūt, A.H. 1311.)
[38] Mission d’Ollone, p. 279. R. du M.M., tome ix. pp. 577, 578.
[39] Broomhall, p. 226. Grosier, tome iv. p. 508.
[40] Vasil ev, p. 15.
[41] Broomhall, p. 237.
[42] Id. pp. 186, 228.
[43] Arminius Vambéry : Travels in Central Asia, p. 404. (London. 1864.)
[44] Vasil’ev, p. 16.
[45] De Thiersant, tome ii. pp. 367, 372.
[46] De Thiersant, tome i. p. 247. Thamarat al-Funūn, 28th Sha’bān, p. 3.
[47] Broomhall, p. 224.
[48] Du Halde, loc. cit. Broomhall, p. 282.
[49] Mission d’Ollone, pp. 210, 431.
[50] Broomhall, pp. 274, 282.
[51] p. 307.
[52] Broomhall, pp. 231-2.
[53] W. J. Smith, p. 175. Mission d’Ollone, p. 407 sqq.
[54] Thamarāt al-Funūn, loc. cit.
[55] Broomhall, p. 240.
[56] The Missionary Review of the World, vol. xxv. p. 786 (1912).
[57] Mission d’Ollone, p. 431.
[58] R. du M. M., iii. p. 124 (1907).
[59] Broomhall pp. 242, 286, 292 sqq.
[60] Vasil’ev, pp. 3, 5, 14, 17.
[61] For a longer list of Muhammadan insurrections, see Mission d’Ollone, P. 436
[62] Sayyid ‘Alī Akbar : Khitāy Nāmah, p. 83. ” If the emperor of China embraces Islam, his subjects must inevitably become Muslims too, because they all worship him to such an extent that they accept whatever he says, and when that light coming from the West grows in strength, the un­believers of the East will come flocking into Islam without showing any contention, because they are free from all fanaticism in matters of religion’
[63] Thamarāt al-Funūn, 26th Shawwal, p. 3. (A.H. 1311.)