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Religious Leadership

This is a system that came into being during the development of Islam in China. There are three types of religious leadership, namely the single-leader system, double-leader system and triple-leader system.

Under the single-leader system, the sheikh and the judge are served by just one man. The regions where such a system is practiced have a relatively high-level autonomy.

Under the double-leader system, two kinds of setups are established to govern the people. One is called Shaykh al-Islam, or the sheikh, who is responsible for the general administration of Muslims. The other is called al-Qādi, or the judge, who is responsible for the lawsuits of Muslims. According to certain historical documents, every city had such two setups in the 14th century China.

The triple-leader system is a system in which Imam, Khatib (a ruler in Islam) and Muezzin work together to administrate religious affairs. They are responsible for certain religious affairs respectively and their positions are hereditary. This system also appears in other regions of the Islamic world. The system in China is different in that Imam is higher in position than Khatib and Muezzin in Chinese hinterland while in other regions Khatib was higher in position than Imam and is the supreme leader. This difference was resulted from different surroundings and different cultures during the dissemination of Islam.

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