Exploring the lives of muslims in China

It appears that the Chinese government is becoming increasingly wary of the rising voices of the Uyghur women and has intensified their efforts to curb this.

 After the recent riots in China’s northwest province, women have increasingly taken a more predominant role in making the voice of the Uyghur heard and calling for their rights. Uyghur women protestors in Hong Kong have recently demanded the release of Uygur men detained during the recent riots that erupted in July 2009. It is believed that over 1400 Uyghur were detained during the riots. Resentment towards the Chinese government only increased as hundreds more men have been arrested in the months that followed for alleged separatist charges. With more men staying away from the eyes of the Chinese government in the fear of being detained, Uyghur women are taking increasingly more positions on the front line, particularly in the protests against the Chinese government. A recent photograph of an Uyghur woman standing at the front of a crowd of protestors, pointing her finger at the police and eventually forcing them back, has become a symbol of the Uyghur women’s fight against the Chinese government. The photos of Tursun Gul, a mother of two drew immediate comparisons with a similar photo of a man looking down at tanks during the Tiananmen Square crackdown of June 1989.

 Instead of addressing the real motives behind these protests, the Chinese government has taken more repressive measures to counter the rise of Uyghur women influence. A new training program for buwi – female clerics, has been introduced. As part of the program, women are required to pledge to refrain from wearing veils or Islamic dresses or delivering religious lessons. The Chinese government also banned all women from entering mosques and wearing traditional headscarves as well as government employees and CCP (Chinese Communist Party) members. Uyghur perceive these efforts as an attempt to sinicize them. I believe this can only backfire against the Chinese. The Uyghur will feel their identity is becoming increasingly threatened that can only strengthen their resolve to fight for their rights. Once the Chinese government decides to listen to the Uyghur and make them feel that they’re not second class citizens, and grant them some form of autonomy that recognizes their different ethnic background, we can then hope to witness an end to unrest in Xinjiang.

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Youtube can sometimes provide more info than an article:

Here is a different look at Uyghur culture, one that has been growing over the years among the youth. Here you can witness many different personalities, all of them wanting to be heard in express themselves how they please, and enjoy what they do at the same time. It is interesting to note the names and the different roots, some Persian, some Turkish, and some with a gangster English nicknamed attached to them. I find the Persian ones to be particularly interesting!

The power of rap helps breaks free the chains that are often placed on the Uyghur. I wish these talented groups that can produce music using all of the different languages they have been affected by success and hopefully they will “get to do this until [they] are old”.

There are 5 parts to this series, the final two can be found in the related links section on Youtube. I hope you enjoy them as much as I did.

Part 1:

Part 2:

Parts 3:

Who are the Uyghurs

Click above for an interactive map!

Going to Hajj is especially important for the Muslim communities of China because it is the utmost expression of peity.  Here is a closer look at some of the preparations and emotions involved with going on the pilgrimage.

This video is amazing because it gives a glimpse of Hui lifestyles as well as their privately owned businesses. I especially love the images of the colourful streets filled with vendors.


This documentary sheds some light on the life of an imam in the city of Xi’an. He is one of 10 imams at the most famous mosque in the city of Xi’an, located in the central province of Shaanxi, the northern root of the famous silk route. This was where the first mosque in China was built. It was the center of Chinese civilization during the Tang dynasty, when Islam was first introduced in 650 AD by some of the prophet’s companions.

Xi’an is home to 60 000 ethnic Chinese Muslims, who are part of the Hui ethnic group. The imam, (Ma Yi ping) who has the Arabic name Yehya Salih, is shown leading the prayers in city’s most famous and largest mosque. A fluent speaker of Arabic, the language of the Quran, the imam is also their hajj leader.

Pilgrims have been making their way to Mecca for the annual hajj pilgrimage from this city since the 15th century. During the days of the silk road, the city was where all journeys either began or ended.

As it was forbidden for children to learn in the mosque, this imam was sent by his father to an imam’s place where he learned the quran. He studied caligraphy in the university of al medina in 1990. He travelled to egypt to hone his caligraphy skills. In this video, he will be making his fifth trip to Hajj.

Due to political pressures from the “Gang of Four”, all religions were  negatively affected. As things improved,  Ma Yi Ping did not have to study the Quran secretly. He lived inside the great the mosque until he was 6. At 16 he became an imam as mosques were re-opened after being closed by the communists in 1959.

The 1966 cultural revolution led to the destruction of 20,000 mosques across China. 

In the Great mosque of Xiang the imam attempts to educate people about their religion and the rituals of hajj and admits one of the challenges he faces is that people lack of knowledge of the hajj rituals as it is something new to them.

The imam tries to pass on some of his knowledge to his son  in the hope that he one day the son will follow in his father’s footsteps in becoming an imam.