The Full Wiki

Islam during the Yuan Dynasty: Wikis


Note: Many of our articles have direct quotes from sources you can cite, within the Wikipedia article! This article doesn't yet, but we're working on it! See more info or our list of citable articles.


From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

Islam in China

Islam in China.jpg

History of Islam in China

Tang DynastySong Dynasty
Yuan DynastyMing Dynasty
Qing DynastyDungan revolt
Panthay rebellion1911-Present

Major figures

Lan YuYeheidie'erding
Hui LiangyuMa Bufang
Zheng HeLiu Zhi
Haji NoorYusuf Ma Dexin
Ma HualongRebiya Kadeer


CuisineMartial arts
Chinese mosquesSini
Islamic Association of China


Hong KongKashgarLinxia



The establishment of the Yuan Dynasty in China had dramatically benefited Islam in China in contrast to previous dynasties. Muslims in China were given an elevated status in the hierarchy of the new regime. The impact on China by its Muslims at this time, including the advancement of Chinese science and the designing of Dadu is vast and largely unknown. It is estimated that in the fourteenth century, the total population of Muslims was 4,000,000.[1]




Elevated Status

Though the Yuan Dynasty, unlike the western khanates, never converted to Islam, the Mongol rulers of the Dynasty elevated the status of Muslims versus the Han Chinese, and placed many foreign and non-Han Chinese Muslims in high-ranking posts instead of native Confucian scholars. The state encouraged Muslim immigration, as Arab, Persian and Turkic immigration into China accelerated during this period. The Mongol emperors brought hundreds of thousands of Muslims with them from Persia to help administer the country. Many worked in the elite circles arriving as provincial governors. They were referred to as Semu.

The territory of the Yuan was administered in 12 districts during the reign of Kublai Khan with a governor and vice-governor each. According to Iranian historian Rashid-al-Din Hamadani, of these 12 governors, 8 were Muslims; in the remaining districts, Muslims were vice-governors.[2]

Over 10,000 Muslim names can be identified in Yuan historical records. The standard word used to denote Muslims in Chinese language documents of the late Yuan period is "Huihui". The Muslims were overseen by a Huihui named Yeheidie'erding (Amir al-Din) who designed Qionghua island which sits in the lake of Beihai Park in central Beijing.[3] In the fourteenth century, the total population of was 4,000,000.[1]

New Communities

The Yuan Dynasty saw the formation of Muslim communities in North China and Yunnan. The descendants of these communities who were to merge completely with the local Han Chinese, nevertheless sought down to our own day to preserve their own personality and were to show a marked tendency to autonomy.[4]

Muslim Influence


Muslim scientists were brought to work on calendar making and astronomy. Kublai Khan brought Iranians to Beijing to construct an observatory and an institution for astronomical studies.[5] Jamal ad-Din, a Persian astronomer, presented Kublai Khan with seven Persian astronomical instruments.[6] The work of Islamic geographers also reached China during the Yuan Dynasty and was later used in the Ming Dynasty to draw the Western Regions in the Da Ming Hun Yi Tu, the oldest surviving world map from East Asia.

Muslim doctors and Arabic medical texts, particularly in anatomy, pharmacology, and ophthalmology, circulated in China during this time. The Chinese emperor, Kublai Khan, who suffered from alcoholism and gout, accorded high status to doctors. New seeds and formulas from the Middle East stimulated medical practice. The traditional Chinese study of herbs, drugs, and portions came in for renewed interest and publication.[5] One of the medical texts introduced from the Islamic world included Avicenna's The Canon of Medicine, much of which was translated into Chinese as the Hui Hui Yao Fang (Prescriptions of the Hui Nationality) by the Hui people in Yuan China.[7]


The Mongols used Persian, Arab and Uyghur administrators to act as officers of taxation and finance. Muslims headed most corporations in China in the early Yuan period but as the Chinese bought shares, most corporations acquired mixed membership, or even complete Chinese ownership.[5]

It was during the Yuan Dynasty that the port of Quanzhou flourished. Led by the Chinese Muslim tycoon Pu Shougeng they submitted to the Mongol advance. This was in stark contrast to the port of Guangzhou that was sacked. Quanzhou was made famous on account of the accounts of the famous travelers Ibn Battuta and Marco Polo who visited the port. Today a large number of stone inscriptions can be seen at Quanzhou, such as 300 stone inscriptions on tombs, graves and mosques.

Designing Dadu

The Muslim architect Yeheidie'erding (Amir al-Din) learned from Han architecture and designed and led the construction of the capital of the Yuan Dynasty, Dadu (or known as Khanbaliq or Khanbaligh to the Turks).[8] The construction of the walls of the city began in 1264, while the imperial palace was built from 1274 onwards. The design of Dadu followed the Confucianism classic Zhouli (周禮, "rites of Zhou"), in that the rules of “9 vertical axis, 9 horizontal axis”, “palaces in the front, markets in the rear”, “left ancestral worship, right god worship” were taken into consideration. It was broad in scale, strict in planning and execution, complete in equipment.[9] Dadu officially became the capital of the newly established Yuan Dynasty in the 1270s, though some constructions in the city were not completed until 1293. It would last until 1368 when Zhu Yuanzhang, the founder of the Ming Dynasty and future Hongwu Emperor, made his imperial ambitions known by sending an army toward the Yuan capital.[10] The last Yuan emperor fled north to Shangdu and Zhu declared the founding of the Ming Dynasty after razing the Yuan palaces in Dadu to the ground,[11] and the city was renamed to Beiping by the Ming in the same year.

Other Events in this Period

Marco Polo also met Nasaruddin who was the son of the conqueror and governor of Yunnan Sayid Ajjal of Bokhara, as appointed by the Mongols.

Arabic storytellers at the time were narrating fantastical stories of China, which were incorporated into the One Thousand and One Nights (Arabian Nights), the most famous being the story of Aladdin. Other Arabian Nights tales set in China include "Tale of Qamar al-Zaman and Budur", "The Story of Prince Sayf al-Muluk", and the "The Hunchback's Tale" story cycle.[12]

In the mid 14th century, Ispah Rebellion led by Chinese Persian Muslims broke out in South Fujian. After the rebellion was suppressed the local Han Chinese in Quanzhou turned against Semu people and great misery was brought upon Muslim population. Quanzhou itself ceased to be a leading international seaport.


  1. ^ a b Israeli (2002), p. 285
  2. ^ Islam the Straight Path: Islam ... - Google Book Search at
  3. ^ Yang Huaizhong, "Yeheidie'erding" (Amir al-Din) in Bai Shouyi, Zhongguo Huihui minzu shi, op. cit., pp.813-818.
  4. ^ Gernet, Jacques. A History of Chinese Civilization. 2. New York: Cambridge University Press, 1996. ISBN 0-521-49712-4
  5. ^ a b c Richard Bulliet, Pamela Crossley, Daniel Headrick, Steven Hirsch, Lyman Johnson, and David Northrup. The Earth and Its Peoples. 3. Boston: Houghton Mifflin Company, 2005. ISBN 0-618-42770-8
  6. ^ Zhu (1946)
  7. ^ Jan Van Alphen, Anthony Aris, Fernand Meyer, Mark De Fraeye (1995), Oriental Medicine, Serindia Publications, p. 201, ISBN 0906026369  
  8. ^ People's Daily Online: The Hui ethnic minority
  9. ^ 《明史纪事本末》、《纲鉴易知录》卷八
  10. ^ Ebrey, Patricia Buckley. The Cambridge Illustrated History of China. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1999. ISBN 0-521-66991-X
  11. ^ Ebrey, Patricia Buckley. The Cambridge Illustrated History of China. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1999. ISBN 0-521-66991-X
  12. ^ Ulrich Marzolph, Richard van Leeuwen, Hassan Wassouf (2004), The Arabian Nights Encyclopedia, ABC-CLIO, pp. 521–2, ISBN 1576072045  

See also


Got something to say? Make a comment.
Your name
Your email address