Everyday life of a Chinese Muslim: between Religious Retention and Material Acculturation

Ayesha Qurrat Ul Ain

Abstract


This research focuses upon tracing the acculturative trends of the Hui Muslim community in Xi'an. It suggests that the existence of Muslims in China is a dialectical process between the adaptation to the Chinese culture and the retention of essentially Islamic religious traits. It is exclusively based upon ethnography and aims to investigate qualitatively the patterns of acculturation/retention of the Hui in the light of four socio-religious variables, i.e. identity, dietary habits, religious festivals and life passage rituals, social networking and marital homogamy. This is a small scale qualitative research based on participant observation, interviews, and an analysis of historic, archival, and documentary material. The sample consists of Hui people of Xi'an both from within and outside the Muslim Quarter without any restriction of age and gender. The archival and qualitative data is derived from the iconography and fieldwork in Xi'an between November 2011 and December 2014. Applying Gans  definitions of acculturation and assimilation, this paper concludes that the Hui are acculturated in the Han society but not assimilated, as they exhibit retention of ethnic religious traits.


Keywords


Islam in China, Acculturation, Ethnicity, Minority, Identity, Muslims in China, Hui community

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