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The Sung Period

In any examination of the spread of Islam in China subsequent to the Tung period, in addition to the factor of trade, account should also be taken of the extensive cultural and scientific exchanges between the people of China and those of the Islamic world. This reciprocation continued unabated both during the period known as the “Five Dynasties and Ten Kingdoms” (294 – 349 AH) as well as the reign of the Sung (349 – 678 AH). Among the scholars of the western Islamic lands who took up residence in China mention should be made of Abu ’l-`Abbas Hijazi, who traveled to India and China prior to 512 AH, where he remained for a period of some forty years. Also worthy of note is the Andalusian scholar, Sa`d al-Khayr Andalusi (d. 541 AH), whose eminent, widely-traveled traditionist daughter, Fatimah, was born in China. The scope of these exchanges was not confined to a particular branch of science or religion, or even to a particular group of scholars. In fact, one could find Buddhists and Manichaeans from China in various scientific centers around the world. 

There is as yet insufficient historical evidence with regard to the spread of Islam in northern China during this period. Two Arabic stone inscriptions have come to light in the city of Hansi (Ansi), east of Kansu, which date from 589 and 593 AH. The discovery of two rock inscriptions in Turkistan, dated 575 and 608 AD, with the impression, “Mufti al-sharq wa ’l-Sin”, is an indication of the existence of a Muslim population in the region of China neighboring Turkistan, who were accorded protection and guidance by the muftis in Turkistan, apparently residing in the city of Tashkent. 

In the Sung period, Islam continued to flourish in the regions of southern China, where a considerable Muslim population resided in the coastal areas of the China Sea, in the present-day provinces of Kwangtung, Fujian, Chekiang and, even, the interior province of Kiangtze. Some of the ancient mosques in the cities of the region, including Canton, Chuan-chou, Fuju and Hong-chou, are considered as examples of Islamic architecture from the Sung period. During this time, even in the capital, i.e. the present-day Beijing, there existed a Muslim population who freely practiced its religion and who constructed the Niujah Mosque, in 386 AH

* source: Pakatchi , Ahmad "Islam Entry" The Great Islamic Encyclopedia. Ed. Kazem Musavi Bojnourdi.Tehran: The Center of Great Islamic Encyclopaedia , 1989-, V.8 , pp.556

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