Currently, large numbers of Muslims, in particular the Turkophone Uyghur Muslims, are being detained by the Chinese government in an attempt to culturally assimilate them into the Han majority through “re-education” camps, forced labor, and sterilization. While not all Muslims face the same pressure from the state or are subject to the same severe measures, we consider educating scholars and the general public on the history of China’s diverse Muslim communities a necessity — to raise consciousness about the violations of their rights. By sharing these Islamic manuscripts as an online archive, the uniqueness of these communities’ culture can be accessed and appreciated. We work together to preserve these texts in an authentic manner and in their truest form. We hope to relay and connect to other academic databases through this online archive; furthermore, we believe that this project can contribute to the globalization of information through our friendly interface, which is meant for students, scholars, activists, and community members alike.
The Islam in China Archive project aims to track down manuscripts which are considered important to many of these Muslim communities. Using our resources, we analyze and archive them to ensure that the people of the community and interested scholars have access to them. We work to make the history and culture of the community well-known. Through this, we work to preserve the rich history through this multimedia archive and to make the current plight of the many Muslim communities widespread knowledge. Through this online archive, we hope to immortalize the textual history of these Sino-Islamic communities, while also showcasing the transnational connections between Islamic world and East Asia. By doing so, we are ensuring the expansion of primary sources for the academic community, and we are highlighting the transregional networks that bind East Asia to the Islamic world. Similarly, our mission is also to preserve these texts in the face of systemic government oppression in China, in hopes that the culture, language, and religious diasporic individuality is not lost.
Most of the manuscripts contained in this database were acquired by the principal investigator Guangtian Ha on his fieldwork in China. They were purchased in small independent bookshops adjacent to local mosques, or presented as gifts by Sino-Muslim (Hui) clerics and scholars. Some were already in the scanned PDF format at the time of acquisition, reflecting a higher level of digitization in the community and likely indicating pertinent texts’ wide circulation and popularity – at least among the scholarly Muslim community. In addition to written texts, this database also contains a wealth of multimedia files, from images to audio files to short video clips, that document the living ritual practices of China’s Muslims, with a focus on the Sinophone Hui Muslims. We strive to show how texts are performed and embodied in real life, and preserve visual and auditory evidence that may offer essential support for uncovering transregional connections that remain invisible in texts. Using this online archive we hope to illustrate the movement of languages, politics, religious recitations, and cultural practices within and beyond the Sino-Muslim communities through the centuries.
Assistant Professor of Religion at Haverford College
His latest book, The Sound of Salvation: Voice, Gender, and the Sufi Mediascape in China, is published by Columbia University Press. He is the co-editor of The Contest of the Fruits (MIT 2021) and Ethnographies of Islam in China (Hawai'i 2020). He first began collecting Islamic manuscripts on an ad hoc basis when carrying out fieldwork among China’s Sinophone Muslims. He soon realized that the translingual nature of the texts could provide new entry points into thus far under-examined, if not altogether forgotten histories – hence the beginning of this project.
Research and Instruction Librarian at Haverford College
She holds a PhD in Asian Languages and Cultures from the University of Michigan. Her speciality is the history of Chinese religions.