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Was Islam Spread By The Sword In China ?

May.15, 2009 in History

Have you ever heard the statement that Islam was spread by the sword ? No doubt if your a Muslim many a time such a comment has been hurled in your general direction. The notion that Islam was spread by the sword has become embedded into the very essence of the western discourse surrounding Islam. Even great personalities have fallen into the misconception. Pope Benedict XVI is a fine example of someone falling prey to such an error. He quoted the Byzantine Emperor Manuel II Palaiologos in a speech. The Emperor had made the assertion that Islam was spread by the sword. So how far is this contention that Islam was spread by the sword true ?

Ask any anti-Islam bigot whether Islam was spread by the sword and the answer usually comes back you betcha ! In reality a great deal of the spread of Islam was not done through military conquest but rather through the interaction of Muslims with non-Muslims. As the following article proves in the case of China.

An Elderly Hui Man In China

Islam entered China by way of Arab and Persian merchants. These merchants were given permission by successive Chinese ruling dynasties to establish communities in which Islam thrived :

“It was in the mid 7th century, not long after Mohammed died, that Arabic envoys and merchants began to bring Islam to the Middle Kingdom. Arabic and Persian merchants reached Southern and Southwestern China by sea, and reached Chang’an, today’s Xi’an through the Silk Road.

With the permission of the Tang (AD 618-907) and Song (960-1127) dynasties, Arabs and Persians established communities in the cities of Guangzhou, Yangzhou, Quanzhou, Hangzhou, Chang’an, Kaifeng, and Luoyang. Abiding by Chinese laws, they kept their religion but intermarried with Chinese.” [Source: About Xinjiang]

In truth historically this was the manner in which a great many people converted to Islam.  Such a reality does not play well with the bigots prejudices, sensibilities  nor their political goals,  as a result they either cover it up or belittle it. This done in an effort to stoke the flames of fear and hatred between non-Muslims and Muslims.

Image by Wlodek Cieciura

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