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Islam History in Yunnan

Islam was introduced to Yunnan in 1253 when Kublai, the fifth emperor of the Yuan Dynasty, pacified Dali. Later, Kublai sent Sayyid All Omer Shams al-Din to Yunnan to be the Prime Minister (now called governor) to take charge of the state affairs (1274-1279). Sayyid All Omer Shans al-Din, during his reign, established 12 mosques in Kunming, two of which are the Nancheng Mosque (Kunming South Mosque) in Zhengyi Road and the Yongning Mosque (The Mosque of Everlasting Peace) at the Dongsi Street (East Temple Street) corner.

Now, Islam has spread all over Yunnan Province, mainly in Kunming, Yuxi, Honghe, Wenshan, Dali, Baoshan, Zhaotong, Chuxiong, Simao, and Qujing prefectures and municipalities. It is believed by the Hui, some Dais, Bais, Tibetans and Zhuangs. Muslim population in Yunnan are about 500,000 by May 1996, there were 717 mosques in service, 11 qubbahs (domed buildings) and Yunnan Branch of the Islam Association of China was founded in 1984 and its office is set in the Shunchen Mosque in Kunming.

Yunnan is rich in Islamic classics. The well-known woodcut edition of Quran in Yunnan was inscribed in the 21st year of the Guanxu Period of the Qing Dynasty in the charge of Ma Lianyuan, a scripture master. In 1984, it was emended and reprinted. It has become a precious Chinese Islamic cultural relic. The other version of Quran, translated by Ma Jian, a Yunnan Islamic scholar, is very popular in China. Both versions have enjoyed a high reputation at home and abroad. In addition, the Islamic classics preserved in each mosque in Yunnan and in private collections are more than one hundred. The Hadith (Tradition), the Islamic Guidebook and Concise Four-Aspect Exposition of Islamism are among the most popular.

Historically, Yunnan Islam was divided into three sects: the Old Sect, the New Sect, and the Newest Sect. The Old Sect is the most popular sect and has the largest number of Islamists, accounting for 90% of the total Islam follower. It has incorporated lots of Confucius thoughts and initiated the unique mosque education characterized by the way of teaching in both Arabian and Chinese. The mosque education is a kind of religious education that is provided by schools attached to the mosques in the history of popularizing Oslam in China.

The distribution of the mosques in Yunnan is in accord with the distribution of the Hui people who scatter over widely and live together in compact communities. Most Mosques in Yunnan are in a Chinese temple style except those in an Arabic style. They are the natural combination of Islamic culture with the Han, Dai, Tibetan, and Bai architectural art.

Besides the well-known Nancheng Mosque, the Yongning Mosque, the Shuncheng Street Mosque in Kunming, the Shadian Mosque in Gejiu City and the Tianxin Mosque in Yanshan County are also famous. The Shadian Mosque is known as the largest mosque in the province. It can hold 4,000 people to do Salat (congregational prayer). During the later years of the Qing Dynasty and the early years of the Min Dynasty, some young Moslems from Shadian representing Chinese Moslem students went to Egypt to study in Aizihaer University in Cairo and about a hundred people went on a pilgrimage to Mecca. For this reason, Shadian earned the name of "Little Mecca in south Yunnan" at that time.

The Islamic festivals observed in China are mainly those of Mohammed's Birthday, Lesser Bairam, and Korban Bairam.
Author/Editor By : HTC
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