Persian helped promulgate Islam in China

Wednesday, January 10, 2007 - ©2005

LONDON, January 10 (IranMania) - The Persian language
has clearly contributed greatly to the promulgation of
Islam in China over the years, the Iranian cultural
attaché in China said at Nanjing University, MNA

At a seminar on Xiao-Er-Jin, Mohammad-Javad Aqajari
said, “Xiao-Er-Jin script, which is a combination of
Persian, Arabic, and Chinese scripts, was used by the
students of Islamic science in China with the aim of
accessing Islamic sources.” 

Xiao-Er-Jin is the practice of writing Sinitic
languages such as Mandarin (especially the Lanyin,
Zhongyuan and Northeastern dialects) or the Dungan
language in the Arabic script. 

The Xiao-Er-Jin writing system is similar to the
present writing system of the Uyghur language in that
all the vowels are explicitly marked at all times.
This is in contrast to the practice of omitting the
short vowels in the majority of the languages for
which the Arabic script has been adopted (like Arabic,
Persian, and Urdu). 

“According to some sources, the Persian language has
been used regularly in Chinese Islamic centers and
many Chinese scholars believe that this fact has
promoted the Persian language among the Muslim and
even non-Muslim Chinese,” Aqajari noted. 

“Studies by Islamic bibliographers show that many of
the old Islamic manuscripts of China were written in

“According to some historical sources, some Chinese
rulers even used the Persian language in their
correspondence with European kings in previous

“The large number of antique Persian translations of
the Holy Quran, Persian exegetic, mystical,
astronomical, medical, and Islamic historical texts,
and Persian dictionaries in China indicates that
Persian was China’s official Islamic language, and we
Iranians are proud of this,” he explained. 

According to Wikipedia, since the arrival of Islam
during the Tang dynasty (beginning in the mid-7th
century), many Arabic or Persian speaking people
migrated into China. 

Centuries later, these peoples assimilated with the
native Han Chinese, forming the Hui ethnicity of
today. Many Chinese Muslim students attended madrasahs
to study classical Arabic and the Quran. Because these
students had a very basic understanding of Chinese
characters but would have a better command of the
spoken tongue once assimilated, they starting using
the Arabic alphabet for Chinese.  

This was often done by writing notes in Chinese to aid
in the memorization of suras. This method was also
used to write Chinese translations of Arabic
vocabulary learnt in the madrasahs.  

Thus, a system of writing the Chinese language with
Arabic script gradually developed and standardized to
some extent. 


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