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The denominations and religious system of Islam

At the beginning of the 7th century, Islam was established in the Arabian Peninsula, and then was spread to China with the immigration of the aboriginal guests. In history, Islam ever had different names in China. In the Tang and Song dynasties, it was called as "Dashi Law" and "Dashi religion"; in the Yuan dynasty, it was called as the "Huis Law" and the "Huis style"; in the Ming dynasty, it was called as the "Huis denomination" and "Islam"; while in the Qing dynasty, it was called as "Arabian religion" and "Islam", and so on. After the founding of new China, the State Council issued orders to resume its former name, and call it as Islam universally. 

The Islam believed by the Hui nationality belongs to the orthodox Sunnite, while the doctrines belong to the Hanafite school, one of the four greatest religious law schools. At the end of the Ming dynasty and the beginning of the Qing dynasty, the Islamic Sufei mysticism was widely spread to our country. At the end of the Qing dynasty and the beginning of the Republic of China, the Yihewani Movement of "respecting scripture and reforming custom" emerged, the Huis Islam multiplied and was divided into three great denominations and four official schools: Gedimu, Yihewani and Xidaotang; and Zhehelinye, Gadelinye, Hufuye and Kubulinye, totally more than 40 branches. 

The religious systems of the Huis Islam are divided into the mosque area system, "haiyi" system, official school system and Muslim religious communes, and so on. Among them, the mosque area system and school system are most universal.

Mietie box (the donation box in mosque) The mosque area system was the oldest and most universal religious system of the Huis Islam. It was a kind of religious organization system with mosque area as the basic unit. The "mosque area" took mosque as center, included the Muslim compact living area made up of adjacent followers. Each mosque area invited an ahung, a "yimamu" (leader), "haituibu" (coordinator), "mu'anjin" (approver) and other religious and administrative staffs to be responsible to the religious administration of the area. Besides, the mosque management council (board of trustees) was established to manage the mosque administration, it was up to an old man of noble character and high prestige to hold the post of "managing squire" (or called as "head of community" and "board chair") and be responsible for managing the land, house property and other expense, income and expenditure of the mosque in the area, make arrangements for all kinds of activities, and make decision for the choice of ahung and other affairs in the mosque. A mosque was the political, economic and cultural center of Muslim in the area. Besides as a church, it was also a place for people to have meetings and discuss affairs. The mosque areas were different in sizes, some were made up of scores of to almost a hundred households, others were made up of several hundred or even thousands of households. But regardless of their sizes, all the mosque areas existed independently and had no subordinate relationships between each other.

The official school system was a kind of religious system that formed by the combination of Islamic Sufei mysticism with the feudal patriarchal system of the Hui nationality. The official schools were not only a kind of denomination form of Chinese Islam, but also the wealthy and aristocratic families in the upper religious stratum. Its characteristics: the founder of the Islam was deified, he was not only the spiritual leader, but also the common leader of the followers of the official school, enjoyed the hereditary and supreme religious theocracy, and political and economic privileges. Followers worshiped him not only when he lived, but also did so by building tombs on the graveyard after his death. Round about the liberation of China, the Huis Islam had about forties to fifties of official schools, among them, the powers of Zhehelinye, Gadelinye, Hufuye and Kubulinye were the strongest, habitually called as "four greatest official schools", each official school had its own history and characteristics. After the founding of the new China, the Party and state implemented the policy of freedom in religious belief, and abolished the religious exploitation system after democratic reform. The prejudices among different official schools and the struggle among different denominations gradually disappeared.

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