Reflections by Wee Kek Koon
- The religion is believed to have arrived in the 600s, brought in by traders from the Middle East and Central Asia
- Although Muslims settled in many coastal cities, including Guangzhou, Islam did not widely percolate
We are at around the halfway mark of Ramadan, the ninth month of the Islamic calendar, during which Muslims devote themselves to a month of fasting and prayer. Barring illnesses, pregnancy and other extenuating circumstances, adult Muslims fast from sunrise to sunset every day during Ramadan, which, depending on where one was in the world, began on April 22 or 23 this year.
This year, the communal aspects of Ramadan, such as the nightly meals that break the fast (iftar) and the Tarawih prayers, have been scaled back or even cancelled in line with social distancing and lockdown measures implemented in many parts of the world because of the coronavirus pandemic
. Be that as it may, adherents of Islam, whether on their own or with their families, will find spiritual sustenance during this holy month.
The history of Islam in China is almost as old as the religion itself, arriving during the Tang dynasty, either in the 620s, when the prophet Muhammad was still alive, or in the 650s, some 20 years after his death in 632, with the diplomatic mission of Sa’d ibn Abi Waqqas, a relative of the prophet and one of the first people to embrace Islam.