Academic journal article Asian Social Science

The Cultural and Social Interaction between Chinese Muslim Minorities and Chinese Non-Muslim Majority in China: A Sociological Analysis

Academic journal article Asian Social Science

The Cultural and Social Interaction between Chinese Muslim Minorities and Chinese Non-Muslim Majority in China: A Sociological Analysis

Article excerpt

Abstract

The paper is a research on the interaction between Chinese Muslim minority, the Hui with the non-Muslim majority, the Han in China. The findings prove that the Hui in China remain a marginalized group with little influence on political, economical, cultural and social affairs. It is also confirmed that for the Hui people, Islam is practised as a comprehensive way of life unlike the Chinese non-Muslims. In China, the non-Muslim majority, the Han recognize the Hui people only as a minority ethnic group. There are three kinds of relationship between the Muslim Hui and the non-Muslim Han. First, there is peaceful co-existence between the non-Muslim Han and Muslim Hui, the latter resisting the great force of assimilation and acculturation of non-Muslim ways. Second, there is intensification and persecution of the Hui by the Han. Third, the Hui cannot take the pressure of intensified prejudice, persecution and discrimination and so they revolt against the Han. These three kinds of relationship continue to exist in China depending on the delicate and complex situation between the non-Muslim Han and the Muslim Hui in China.

Keywords: Chinese Muslim minorities, Chinese Non-Muslim majority, cultural and social interaction, sociological analysis

1. Introduction

The Chinese Muslims in China are known as the Hui people. They belong to the biggest Muslim ethnic group of all Muslim tribes in China. Hui also refers to the Muslim community. The Hui share the same language, culture and social way of life with the non-Muslim Han but unlike the Han, the Hui are also part of the world wide Muslim ummah. The faith and practice of Islam also make the Hui different from the non-Muslim Han. Because of these differences, conflicts, mutual prejudices, discriminations and stereotypes are part of the norms between the Hui and the Han. The Hui do not belong to a majority group; the population is concentrated in North West China and dispersed in the remaining parts of China. There is also substantial acculturation and assimilation of the Hui towards the Han in China in their social interaction.

1.1 The Hui Min and the Difference between the Hui and the Han

Uniquely different from the rest of the Muslims in the world, the Chinese Muslims or Hui in China are also known as Hui Min, literally known as the tribe of Hui. This terminology is not in Al-Quran. It is however spoken in the daily usage of the Chinese, among the Hui or the Han. According to a Chinese scholar who visited Malaysia, the Chinese word 'hui' has two squares. The inner square refers to the Kàbah and the outer square refers to the universality of Islam (Note 1). The word 'hui' also means "return to" in Chinese and hence, it means the religion of Hui is to return to Allah. 'Hui' also refers to the tribal groups in the North West of China like Sinkiang, namely Uighur, Kazath, Kirghiz, Uzbek, and Tatar. There is also Persian speaking Tadjik there. Although all Hui are Muslims, not all Muslims are Hui or from the tribal groups mentioned as there are also non-Muslim Han who converted to Islam and are known as Han Hui. To embrace Islam is also known as to enter into the Hui way in China. For the sake of this study, Hui refers to the Muslims and Han refers to the non-Muslims in China.

The word 'Han' refers to the dominant Chinese non-Muslims although some of them had embraced Islam. Their children are known as Han Hui. In China, the mosque too is known as Hui Min Si or Ching Cheng Si. Islam is also known as Ching Cheng Chiaw (the true and pure religion). A halal restaurant is also known as Ching Cheng Chan Kuan (clean and pure restaurant).

The cultural and social differences between the Hui and the Han or between Islam and the Chinese non-Muslim ways frequently create suspicion and distrust between the two communities. Although the Hui speak the same Chinese language or Mandarin in schools, the Han do not fully accept the Hui as Chinese but only as a minority group. …

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