A CCP-appointed imam is aiding the authorities in “sinicizing” the faith of Hui Muslims, with the ultimate goal of dividing and eradicating Islam in China.
by Yuan Wei
Dongguan Mosque, located in Qinghai Province’s prefecture-level city of Xining, is one of the four great mosques of northwestern China. It used to have the largest number of Muslims participating in prayers throughout China. Not any more. As the CCP advances its campaign to “sinicize” religion, this historic mosque has been increasingly put under the government’s control, resulting in the crumbling of the local Hui Muslim community.
“Red” imam breaks away from Quran
Following the death of the mosque’s former imam, the government appointed a new one – Ma Yuexiang – on August 27, 2018. The new imam was also given the authority to control the religious affairs of all the mosques in the city. Previously, Ma Yuexiang served as deputy director of the Qinghai Provincial Ethnic and Religious Affairs Committee of the Chinese People’s Political Consultative Conference.
According to local Muslims, the congregation and other imams soon realized that Ma Yuexiang’s preaching is inconsistent with the pure teachings of Islam and the Quran, so they left Dongguan Mosque for other mosques in the surrounding area, causing the number of worshippers at Dongguan Mosque to decline steeply.
“Since his appointment, most believers stopped attending prayer services in Dongguan Mosque because the new imam’s words contradict the Quran, and most Muslims refuse to accept that,” a local Muslim revealed to Bitter Winter. “Muslims in the mosque have dispersed, and our cohesiveness is gone. Our hearts have also been dispersed. Some people feel emotionally agitated and are thinking about where they can go for worship. They are hesitant.”
Courses on Party ideology instead of Islam
Dongguan Mosque is not only a religious activity venue, but is also the highest academic institution for Islamic studies, renowned both in China and abroad. Today, however, courses offered at the mosque have been completely politicized.
According to an elderly Muslim at the mosque, Ma Yuexiang recently recruited 70 mawlas – students at Islamic scripture schools in China’s mosques – from various regions. He pays more attention to teaching courses like “Political and Ideological Education” and “Chinese History” to find candidates similar to himself for all CCP-controlled mosques.
“We didn’t have courses like ‘Politics’ and ‘Chinese History’ before. Only after Ma Yuexiang was appointed, did they arrange these courses for the recruited mawlas,” the Muslim said.
The local Muslim community has realized that the CCP is gradually eroding their faith, but they are powerless to resist, mostly due to the fear of being suppressed by the government. “If we don’t obey, the government will mobilize the armed police to punish us. We common people don’t dare to disobey,” explained the elderly Muslim.
Mosques of all sizes brought under control
Another local Muslim revealed that mosques in Qinghai are basically all under the management of Dongguan Mosque. Meaning, they are all controlled by the CCP.
Bitter Winter visited other mosques in Xining city. Outside one of them, Yudai Bridge Mosque, a notice was posted saying that the mosque’s imam Su Gang “lacked a sense of the big picture, a sense of solidarity, and legal awareness, and was perfunctory in implementing the relevant requirements of the religious departments while presiding over religious affairs and activities, especially after the appointment of Dongguan Mosque’s main clerical personnel.” The imam was therefore removed from his post by the Ethnic and Religious Affairs Bureau.
A local resident told Bitter Winter, “In the past, when I passed by Dongguan Mosque, I would see many Muslims performing Jumu’ah – a congregational Friday prayer. Even the streets were filled with Muslims kneeling down to pray. But now, there are fewer and fewer of them.”