Muslims are free to live their lives in China, and enjoy freedom of worship as well as Halal food everywhere in the country.
Ma Jin, Deputy Director of the Islamic Department of the SARA (State Administration for Religious Affairs), told China Daily that along with other migrant workers, a large number of Muslims have migrated to cities from inland regions since 1978.
One senior official at the SARA said authorities are taking steps towards addressing some pressing needs of millions of muslims who have moved to coastal cities.
Such needs include religious facilities like mosques, greater availability of Islamic food and special graveyards.
According to recent figures, China is home to 22 million Muslims. There are now 42,371 mosques in the entire People’s Republic of China, with 23,000 in the province of Xinjiang; and also in Sinkiang, Chinghai, Manchuria, Kansu, Yunnan, Shensi, Hopei, and Honan.
There has been an increased upsurge in Islamic expression in China, and many nationwide Islamic associations have been organized to coordinate inter-ethnic activities among Muslims. Islamic literature can be found quite easily and there are currently some eight different translations of the Qur’an in the Chinese language as well as translations in Uygur and the other Turkic languages.
Since religious freedom was declared in 1978, the Chinese Muslims have not wasted time in expressing their convictions. Under China’s current leadership, in fact, Islam appears to be undergoing a modest revival. Religious leaders report that there are more worshipers now than before the Cultural Revolution, and a reawakening of interest in religion among the young people in China.
Muslim customs of dress and food also experienced a synthesis or a fusion with Chinese culture. Over time, Muslims began speaking Han dialects and reading in Chinese. Well into the Ming era, the Muslims could not be distinguished from other Chinese other than by their unique religious customs. Muslims have been seen in the country as law-abiding, and self-disciplined people.
Muslims take great pride in citing a hadith that says “Seek knowledge even if you have to go to China.” It points to the importance of seeking knowledge, even if it meant traveling as far away as China, especially as at the time of the Prophet Muhammad (pbuh). Islam is very much alive in China.