Islam in China: Was Hazrat Saad Ibn Abi Waqas (Sahabi) received warmly by Emperor Gazong?

The Review of Religions; by Fazal Ahmad: China is a huge nation of over one billion people in a country that spans most of Asia, over 3000 miles from West to East; in fact it is probably better to think of China as a continent in its own right. Being a Communist country, religion was actively discouraged for decades, and even now, is tolerated within limits. Islam, like Christianity, is a minority religion in the country. The main faiths are Confucianism, Daoism (or Taoism) and Buddhism.  So how did Islam come to reach China and what are the conditions of the Muslims there now?

Chinese spirituality before Islam

The Chinese psyche is inclined towards commemoration of their ancestors and spirits. The traditional faiths of the Chinese included Buddhism, which had come via India, but also Chinese faiths such as Confucianism and Daoism. Chinese culture spans back many millennia and it can be daunting to make any sense out of their myths and legends, such as their fascination with dragons, but if you pierce through the mist of time, you will find that there are historical events and spiritual insights shrouded within these tales.

The Chinese started to absorb ‘formal religion’ at a time when prophets were active throughout the world. At a time when Socrates(as) was active in Athens, Krishna(as) in India, Zoroaster(as) in Persia, in China, Kung Fu-Tsu(as) (Confucius(as), 551-479 BCE) began to preach on the means of social harmony.


History of Islam in China

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

The Huaisheng Mosque is one of the oldest mosques in the world, traditionally believed to have been built by Muhammad‘s uncle, Sa`d ibn Abi Waqqas.

Islam in China
Islam in China.jpg

The history of Islam in China began when four Sahabas– Sa`d ibn abi Waqqas (b. 594 – d. 674 AD),Ja’far ibn Abi Talib and Jahsh preached in 616/17 and onwards in China after coming from Chittagong-Kamrup-Manipur route after sailing from Abyssinia in 615/16. Sa’ad ibn abi Waqqas again headed for China for the third time in 650–51 after Caliph Uthman asked him to lead an embassy to China, which the Chinese emperor received warmly.[1]



Origin of Islamic China

China-Arab Trade relations

Trade existed between pre-Islamic Arabia and China‘s South Coast, and flourished when Arab maritime traders converted to Islam. It reached its peak under the Mongol Yuan Dynasty.

China’s long and interactive relationship with the various Steppe tribes and empires, through trade, war, subordination or domination paved the way for a large sustained Islamic community within China. Islamic influence came from the various steppe peoples who assimilated in Chinese culture. Muslims served as administrators, generals, and other leaders who were transferred to China from Persia and Central Asia to administer the empire under the Mongols.

Muslims in China have managed to practice their faith in China, sometimes against great odds, since the seventh century. Islam is one of the religions that is still officially recognized in China.[2]


According to China Muslims’ traditional legendary accounts, Islam was first brought to China by Sa’d ibn abi Waqqas, who came to China for the third time at the head of an embassy sent by Uthman, the third Caliph, in 651, less than twenty years after the death of prophet Muhammad. The embassy was led by Sa`d ibn Abī Waqqās, the maternal uncle of the prophet himself. Emperor Gaozong, the Tang emperor who received the envoy then ordered the construction of the Memorial mosque in Canton, the first mosque in the country, in memory of the prophet.[2][3] Hui legends seem to confuse the 651 visit with the initiation of Islam as early as 616/17 by earlier visits of Sahabas.[4]

While modern historians tend to argue that there is no evidence for Waqqās himself ever coming to China,[3] they do believe that Muslim diplomats and merchants arrived to Tang China within a few decades from the beginning of Middle Ages (Hijra).[3] The Tang Dynasty’s cosmopolitan culture, with its intensive contacts with Central Asia and its significant communities of (originally non-Muslim) Central and Western Asian merchants resident in Chinese cities, which helped the introduction of Islam.[3]

16 replies

  1. after saad ibn abi waqqas arrived in china leading a 15 member embassy from caliph osman in 651, his entourage left china on homeward journey by the far east and landed onwestern seacoast of modern united states of america in the year 651 and after traversing along california to florida route, the team of saad ibn abi waqqas sailed across the atlantic ocean and reached medina via north africa. thus saad explored america in the year 652. indeed as per accounts of dr. barry fell in his book named saga america, there were arabic inscriptions in several parts of usa dated back to 650 and 650s, which are non but kufic and naskhi arabic inscriptions left by saad ibn abi waqqas. see the details in the book of faruk ahmet, 2013, treatise in tribute to saad ibn abi waqqas, published in imphal, of manipur state in india, that was published by the kaoshing publication. about the arab and muslim presence in america in the seventh century of the christ era, you can find the books written by ivan van sertima, alexander von wuthenau, barry fell.

  2. Saad ibn Abi Waqqas introduced Islam in Manipur in 615-16 AD, in China in 618 AD and in America (USA) in the year 652 AD, that was stated very clearly first by Faruk Ahmet, 2013, in his book “Treatise in Tribute to Sa’ad ibn Abi Waqqas”,Kaoshing Publication: Imphal (India), pp. 1, 4. He earlier wrote the book “Manipuri Muslims: Historical Perspectives 615- 2000 CE” which was published by Pharos Media & Publishing: New Delhi, in the year 2011.

  3. Saad ibn Abi Waqqas was received well by the Chinese Emperor in 651 AD as he led a fifteen member embassy from Caliph Usman as a reciprocation to a Chinese delegation. At that time as now Arab relation with India and China and all other nations was very good.

  4. remember that some counntries were mentioned by name in the qutann. sura 36 yaa sin refers as dear china and sura 38 sad is actually sad son of abi waqqas and sura 37 referd to the team of sad’s delegation.

  5. among others, three nations were noted as hadith- Turkey, China, is- I get blaer (cool breeze) from the side of Hind. another hadith id- Learn the language of the Turks for they will have a long reign.

  6. in the Quran, chapter 36 ‘Ya Sin’ can be read as ‘O China’.

    chapter 38 ‘Sad’ is ‘Sad ibn Abi Waqqas’. chapter 37 ‘As-Saffad’- Those ranged in ranks- has wider meaning.

    • Turkey is not original name of Anatolia, the original inhabitants of Anatolia are the Kurds(Medes) who originated in the SouthEastern part and Northwest part of Iran, the Lydians are mixed with the Medes
      Modern day Turks are from Turkmenistan, Balkans and Caucus

  7. It should have a brief history of Saad Bin Abu Wagas. Who is he, what is his position at the time and why did he was sent to China.

  8. sAAD bIN wASQAS one of the sahabah to whom Paradise was assured by Prophet (Saw).A great general well recorded in Battle of Qadisiyah….agains the persian empire..During Caliphate of Umar radiallah anhu…

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