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Menhuan -- A Special Result of Islam

Menhuan (saintly lineage) is a special result of Islam during its dissemination in China. It reflects its unique Chinese characteristics and it is the result of the development of Sufism, a branch of Islam.

The religious phenomenon germinated in the 17th and 18th century, when the various creeds of Sufism had been widespread in China. At that time, several sects of Sufism came into being and within each sect there were still several braches. As a special term, Menhuan emerged at the end of the 19th century.

Menhuan sects are mainly popular in Gansu Province, the Ningxia Hui Autonomous Region and Qinghai Province in Northwest China. There are two factors for the formation of Menhuan sects. First, since the Ming dynasty (1368-1644), with the formation of the Hui and other peoples, this region became one of the places where Chinese Muslims were the most densely populated. However, the Muslims in that region were oppressed and prejudiced by the then government both economically and politically, and they were frequently defeated in their resistance. In such a situation, Sufism, which advocates caring nothing about this life and striving for a better next life, was readily accepted. In addition, religious disseminators from abroad and religious scholars who had been to Islamic countries offered theoretical basis for the establishment of Menhuan system.

Although the various Menhuan sects have different creeds and rites, they have something in common, i.e., they all have strict and systematic succession systems, the leaders of the sects enjoy high prestige and tremendous power, they emphasize religious cultivation, and pay homage to the tombs of leaders and so on.

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