Beijing’s unexpected Muslim enclave

Niu Jie Mosque is the oldest and largest in Beijing, built in 996. (Amanda Ruggeri)

Niu Jie Mosque is the oldest and largest in Beijing, built in 996. (Amanda Ruggeri)

Source: BBC Travel

Despite being officially atheist, and historically most closely associated with Buddhism, China has a deep-rooted relationship with Islam, dating as far back as the 7th Century. At least 1.8% of the population, or roughly 24 million people, identify as Muslim, making China’s Muslim population roughly the size of Yemen’s and eight times more numerous than the United Kingdom’s.

In recent months, China’s Uighur Muslims have garnered the most media attention as violence has intensified in the autonomous western region of Xinjiang. Although Xinjiang has been under Chinese communist rule since 1949, capital officials in Beijing have recently intensified its efforts to control the region and its religion, leading to clashes with the indigenous Uighurs, the region’s largest ethnic minority.

But while violence from the conflict spilled briefly into Beijing in November 2013, the capital’s relationship with its own majority Muslim community, the Hui, remains peaceful. With Xinjiang currently a shaky region for foreign visitors because of security concerns, Beijing’s Muslim quarter, Niu Jie, offers another way for travellers to explore Islam’s intertwined history with Chinese culture. Pictured here, the Niu Jie Mosque is the oldest and largest in Beijing, built in 996. (Amanda Ruggeri)

Reference

Categories: Asia, China, Islam: A Religion of Peace

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