Islamic Brotherhood (Yihewani)

Islamic Brotherhood (Yihewani)
Yihewani (al-Ikhwan, Muslim Brotherhood), an Islamic order founded in China at the end of the nineteenth century, is also known as Xinxingpai or Xinpai. Haji (pilgrim) Ma Wanfu, founder of this new school, was influenced by the fundamentalist Wahhabi movement, which called for the return to ‘the ancients’ and emerged as a force during the mid eighteenth century. Basic principles held by Yihewani are: strict adherence to the Koran and Hadiths; unswerving implementation of the five basic Muslim duties (‘Pillars of Faith’); reform of those rites which violate Islamic principles; expulsion of Han Chinese cultural accretions (such as wearing Chinese mourning apparel); rejection of heresy; rejection of Sufi mysticism and Sufi claims to spiritual authority; strict enforcement of a religious dress code for Muslim women with its insistence on gaitou (Islamic head-dress which covers hair and neck).
As a modernizer, Haji Ma Wanfu found it difficult initially to attract a following in a conservative culture. It was only during the 1940s, and with local warlord support, that the Yihewani expanded its influence into the provinces of Qinghai, Ningxia and Gansu. Although some followers separated after the 1930s from Yihewani core beliefs and became known as Sailaifiye (al-Sailaifiye) Muslims, Yihewani membership has continued to increase.
The shift of loyalty from the Gedimu order to Yihewani took place on the whole without creating divisive tensions in the Muslim communities (see Islamic orders). Because the Yihewani order encourages modern Islamic education and has developed new curricula, reforming religious rites easily comprehensible to followers, many Muslims have recognized a basic affinity with Yihewani, and continue to identify themselves with its doctrines and rites.
Dillon, M. (1996). China’s Muslims. Oxford: Oxford University Press.
Gladney, D. (1991). Muslim Chinese: Ethnic Nationalism in the People’s Republic. Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press.

Encyclopedia of contemporary Chinese culture. . 2011.

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