Making the Hajj from China: Part 1/2

May 27, 2013

This two-part post may come as a surprise to many in the West that think there is no religious freedom in China.

In fact, China handles religious freedom similar to how Singapore does, and Singapore is seldom if ever criticized in the Western media for this practice.

The U.S. Department of State says that Singapore’s government has broad powers to limit citizens’ rights and handicap political opposition, which it uses. One of those restrictions is a limited freedom of religion.

However, the Constitution for the Republic of Singapore offers the same fundamental liberties China and the US does, which includes freedom of speech, assembly and association and freedom of religion.

For example, Singapore bans the Jehovah’s Witnesses and the Unification Church by making public meetings illegal. The Falun Gong has also had problems in Singapore.

China, on the other hand, recognizes five religions — Buddhism, Taoism, Islam, Catholicism and Protestantism but has banned certain new religious movements that are considered cults. China does not recognize cults as religions.

In the video embedded with this post, Al Jazeera follows Chinese Muslims as they prepare to undertake the hajj pilgrimage.

The ancient city of Xian in Shaanxi province is home to about 60,000 ethnic Chinese Muslims.

Xian claims it has a Muslim history going back more than thirteen hundred years when Islam was first introduced to China in 650 AD.

In fact, the oldest mosque in China was built in 685-762 AD in Xian during the reign of Emperor Xuanzong of the Tang Dynasty.

Chinese Imam Ma Yi Ping speaks both Chinese and Arabic. He studied at the Islamic University of Medina and has made the hajj several times. He was taught to be a devout Muslim by his parents during Mao’s time when the mosques in China were closed.

Despite the persecutions that took place during the Cultural Revolution (1966 – 1976), Islam survived in China.

Ma Yi Ping says that after Mao and the Gang of Four were gone and China opened for trade with the world, he did not have to study the Quran in secret anymore.

Since the 15th century, Xian Muslims have been going to Mecca in Saudi Arabia for the annual Hajj pilgrimage.

In the past, during the ancient days of the Silk Road, these journeys started and ended in Xian’s Muslim quarter. Today is no different.

Continued on May 28, 2013 in Making the Hajj from China: Part 2

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Lloyd Lofthouse is the award-winning author of My Splendid Concubine [3rd edition]. When you love a Chinese woman, you marry her family and culture too. This is the love story Sir Robert Hart did not want the world to discover.

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Dissecting an American Conservative Spin Master – Part 3/4

November 6, 2011

Dennis Prager says that liberal and/or leftists tend to trust experts more, are more likely to revere and even “worship” nature, while fearing death more than a conservative. Does this sound like a stereotype?

Pay attention to the emotional words Prager uses to drive his fans to accept his opinions. To a conservative, born again Christian reading that someone “worships” nature over God is a mortal sin and unforgivable.

This is how Prager manipulates the emotions of those that believe what he preaches. Has any expert studied if conservatives fear death less than liberal-leftists? I doubt it.

Then in Why Liberals Fear Global Warming More Than Conservatives Do, instead of focusing on Global Warming, Prager changes tactics to play on the emotions of his fanatical followers to drive emotional support for his opinions.

He infers that if we allow the leftist-liberals to focus too much on reducing carbon emissions to deal with the potential threat of Global Warming, which he infers is a hoax, we will “lose the war” against “Islamic fascism” that threatens the free world.

Wow!  That is HUGE leap of flawed logic. Imagine how “lose the war against Islamic fascism” is going to inflame the emotions of his conservative audience driving them to believe his opinions.

In addition, how is this going to happen? Well, by too many of us wasting our time working to cut back on carbon emissions reducing pollution so Global Warming may not threaten the world we live in.

To discover more of Prager’s fraud, I suggest watching To Hell and Back and discover that only one percent of the American population is fighting the war in Afghanistan and Iraq—to stop Prager’s “Islamic fascism” from taking over the world.

In addition, if we develop alternative forms of energy and break our Middle Eastern oil habit, won’t that help defeat Prager’s “Islamic fascism” by cutting off the West’s money from flowing into the Middle East?


Prager Claims “Equality” Isn’t American (because controversy is the bread and butter of talk radio)

If only one percent of Americans are fighting the war against Prager’s “Islamic fascism”, then why can’t the other 99% deal with the potential threat of Global Warming “possibly” caused by carbon emissions as supported by facts gathered and interpreted by many experts—In 1997, Science Daily reported that more than 1,500 of the world’s most distinguished senior scientists, including the majority of Nobel laureates in science, signed a consensus declaration urging leaders worldwide to act and prevent potentially devastating consequences of human-induced global warming.

However, in his Global Warming essay, Prager urges us to ignore these experts—that is unless we want to be seen as a hysterical, death fearing leftist-liberal.

In addition, if you click on that link To Hell and Back, you will discover from the video that many of America’s troops believe the wars (in Afghanistan and Iraq) is wrong.

A recent Pew research poll found that a third of American veterans who served after 9/11 believe the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan are not worth fighting.

Did you know that in Townhall.com, Dennis Prager wrote, “The president (of the US) does not wish to annoy China’s dictators prior to his upcoming visit to Beijing.”

However, Prager is wrong again. If we use the accepted definition of a dictator, one does not rule China. It is a one-party Republic and China’s leaders are selected by the consensus of 70 million Communist Party members—a decision based on the merit of the individuals running for the position (instead of the popularity contest of American politics), which I wrote about in Dictatorship or one-party-republic.

It is obvious why Prager used the word “dictator” to describe China’s government—to stir emotions driving his fanatical followers (Prager’s Parrots—used as a metaphor) to accept his opinions.

Continued on November 5, 2011 in  Dissecting an American Conservative Spin Master – Part 4 or return to Part 2

View as Single Page

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Lloyd Lofthouse is the award-winning author of The Concubine Saga. When you love a Chinese woman, you marry her family and culture too. This is the love story Sir Robert Hart did not want the world to discover.

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The State of Religion in Today’s China

December 19, 2010

The U.S. Department of State reports that China is officially atheist (and has been for thousands of years). However, Taoist, Buddhist, Christian and Muslims are allowed to worship in China and these religions have a significant role in the lives of many Chinese.

A February 2007 survey conducted by East China Normal University and reported in China’s state-run media concluded that 31.4% of Chinese citizens ages 16 and over are religious believers.

While the Chinese constitution affirms “freedom of religious belief,” the Chinese Government places restrictions on religious practice outside officially recognized organizations. The five state-sanctioned “patriotic religious associations” are Buddhism, Taoism, Islam, Catholicism, and Protestantism.

Singapore, another nation in Asia, has similar restrictions.

Historically, China has not been accepting of cults, and there is a difference between a religion and a cult.

Princeton.edu says, cult members are “followers of an unorthodox, extremist, or false religion or sect who often live outside of conventional society under the direction of a charismatic leader.”

All one has to do is study China’s history to understand the Middle Kingdom’s sensitivity toward cults and political activists. China’s struggle with pagan cults reaches back almost a thousand years. Source: The Millennium Cult

There are no official statistics confirming the number of Taoists in China.


Fascinating discussion of how Chinese culture interacts with religions.

Official figures indicate there are 20 million Muslims, 20 million Protestants, and 5.3 million Catholics; unofficial estimates are much higher.

According to About Chinese Culture.com, there are more than 85,000 sites for religious activities, some 300,000 clergy and over 3,000 religious organizations throughout China. In addition, there are 74 religious schools and colleges run by religious organizations for training clerical personnel.

Buddhism, the most popular religion in China with about a 100 million followers, has a 2,000-year history in the Middle Kingdom and there are about 13,000 Buddhist temples.

Taoism, native to China, has a history of more than 1,700 years with over 1,500 temples.

Islam, which was introduced into China in the seventh century has more than 30,000 mosques.

At present, China has about 4,600 Catholic churches and meetinghouses.

Protestantism first arrived in China in the early 19th century. Today there are more than 12,000 churches and 25,000 meeting places.

Although Judaism is not listed as one of the officially recognized religions in China, there are Jewish synagogues in Beijing, Hong Kong and Shanghai.

Jews first settled in Kaifeng, Henan Province in 960 AD after arriving along the Silk Road. The Jews were welcomed by the Imperial government, which encouraged them to retain their cultural identity by building the Kaifeng synagogue, which was finished in 1163 AD.

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Lloyd Lofthouse is the award-winning author of the concubine saga, My Splendid Concubine & Our Hart. When you love a Chinese woman, you marry her family and culture too.

If you want to subscribe to iLook China, there is a “Subscribe” button at the top of the screen in the menu bar.


A Road to the Hajj from China – Part 2/2

November 30, 2010

Another devout Chinese Muslim in Xian is proudly transcribing the Quran into Chinese using traditional Chinese brush calligraphy. He says it took him over a year to transcribe the entire Quran this way. Now he is working on a second copy.

He has also taught his son and his grandsons how to write with the Chinese brush wanting to pass down this tradition to the next generation.

His son says that every generation should try their best to transcribe the Quran with the Chinese brush, as it is also a good way to reinforce our faith.

The original copy of the Quran in this family is over four hundred years old, a priceless relic transcribed by the Chinese imams. There are only a few remaining copies left in the world.

Jia Wen Yi, a Hajj pilgrim, says the trip to Mecca is important to him and his wife, an elderly couple. They have done a lot of preparation for the hajj. Mr. Jia goes into detail about the planning.

Going on the hajj for Yi and his wife, Jia Wang Yi, has been a dream for over two decades as they saved to have enough money.

Mr. and Mrs. Jia will be part of a group of 250 pilgrims leaving for the hajj from the city of Xian. It was a matter of saving most of their lives until they could afford the trip.

Since these Muslims are considered a minority in China, they are not restricted by the one-child policy, as you would see in the video when the family and friends gather to say goodbye before Mr. and Mrs. Jia leave on the long journey to Mecca.

There is no direct flight from Xian to Mecca, so the pilgrims will take a train to Beijing where they will board a flight to Saudi Arabia.

Whenever pilgrims leave Xian to go on the hajj to Mecca, thousands of Chinese Muslims show up at the railway station to say goodbye. This is the first time Mr. and Mrs. Jia have left China. They have never been apart from their family before.

Return to A Road to the Hajj from China – Part 1 and/or discover The Kaifeng Jews

______________

Lloyd Lofthouse is the award-winning author of the concubine saga, My Splendid Concubine & Our Hart. When you love a Chinese woman, you marry her family and culture too.

If you want to subscribe to iLook China, there is a “Subscribe” button at the top of the screen in the menu bar.


A Road to the Hajj from China – Part 1/2

November 30, 2010

This two-part post may come as a surprise to many in the West that believe there is no religious freedom in China.

In fact, China handles religious freedom similar to how Singapore does, and Singapore is seldom if ever criticized in the Western media for this practice.

The U.S. Department of State says that Singapore’s government has broad powers to limit citizens’ rights and handicap political opposition, which it uses. One of those restrictions is a limited freedom of religion.

However, the Constitution for the Republic of Singapore offers the same fundamental liberties China and the US does, which includes freedom of speech, assembly and association and freedom of religion.

For example, Singapore bans the Jehovah’s Witnesses and the Unification Church by making public meetings illegal. The Falun Gong has also had problems in Singapore.

China, on the other hand, recognizes five religions — Buddhism, Taoism, Islam, Catholicism and Protestantism but has banned certain new religious movements that are considered cults. China does not recognize cults as religions.

In the video embedded with this post, Al Jazeera follows Chinese Muslims as they prepare to undertake the hajj pilgrimage.

The ancient city of Xian in Shaanxi province is home to about 60,000 ethnic Chinese Muslims.

Xian claims it has a Muslim history going back thirteen hundred years when Islam was first introduced to China in 650 AD.

In fact, the oldest mosque in China was built in 685-762 AD in Xian during the reign of Emperor Xuanzong of the Tang Dynasty.

Chinese Imam Ma Yi Ping speaks both Chinese and Arabic. He studied at the Islamic University of Medina and has made the hajj several times. He was taught to be a devout Muslim by his parents during Mao’s time when the mosques in China were closed.

Despite the persecutions that took place during the Cultural Revolution (1966 – 1976), Islam survived in China.

Ma Yi Ping says that after Mao and the Gang of Four were gone and China opened for trade with the world, he did not have to study the Quran in secret anymore.

Since the 15th century, Xian Muslims have been going to Mecca in Saudi Arabia for the annual Hajj pilgrimage.

In the past, during the ancient days of the Silk Road, these journeys started and ended in Xian’s Muslim quarter. Today is no different.

Continued in A Road to the Hajj from China – Part 2

______________

Lloyd Lofthouse is the award-winning author of The Concubine Saga. When you love a Chinese woman, you marry her family and culture too. This is the love story Sir Robert Hart did not want the world to discover.

To subscribe to “iLook China”, sign up for an E-mail Subscription at the top right-hand side of this page and then follow directions.


Democracy, Deceit and Mob Rule

October 14, 2010

In 1999, I had no idea that I was about to begin a journey of discovery that would lead to China.

It all started when my wife said, “You might be interested in Robert Hart, an Irishman who went to China in 1854.  He worked for the emperor.”

Since my ancestors were Irish, I was curious.

I learned about Robert Hart through his letters and journals and more than a decade later, I’m still learning about China’s history and culture.

In 1999, I was a member of the ignorant democratic American mob in a country that was born as a republic in 1776 with slavery while women and children were considered chattel.

The slaves would be free eighty-nine years later after a bloody Civil War.  The women and children would have to wait longer for their freedom.

While writing about China, I learned that America’s Founding Fathers built a republic because they despised democracies with good reason. The following You Tube video offers an explanation.

Before 1999, like those Americans who have called me a “Panda Lover” and “Pro China”, I believed China was an evil place with a horrible dictatorship and everyone was brainwashed, miserable and Godless.

Little did I know that the Chinese were closer to heaven and God than most Christians and Muslims were, since these Western and Middle Eastern religions act as the intermediary telling people how to think, act, worship and who to kill when it comes time to convert the heathens and non-believers.

In 19th century America, racial prejudice was so strong that sayings like, “The only good Indian is a dead Indian” were taken seriously. See: Counter Currents

Substitute “Chinese” for the word “Indian” and that was another slogan that led to the Chinese Exclusion Act of 1882.

Many European immigrants to the Americas worked hard to make those slogans true.

Once finished with the North American natives, those people moved on to Hawaii, the Philippines, Japan and China where the killing continued.

See: An American Genocide

In 1999, I knew nothing about the 19th century Opium Wars where Western Imperial powers, including Americans, went to war with China so the West could sell opium to the Chinese people. 

After China lost the Opium Wars, the treaties also forced China to allow Christian missionaries to enter China and go wherever they wanted to save the savage even if it meant more death.

A once proud people with a long history were humbled and crushed as their two thousand year old civilization was torn apart by Western greed and religions.

Then I learned about the Taiping Rebellion fought by Chinese Christian converts. When that rebellion ended, another twenty million Chinese had been killed in the name of the West’s God.

There were also Muslim led rebellions where millions died following a prophet shouting the word of God.

Growing up, the Hollywood movies I watched about China supported the stereotypes. The men were either coolies pulling rickshaws, or owned a Chinese restaurant or laundry and the woman were all concubines or whores.

Thanks to Robert Hart, I learned that the stereotypes about China I was fed as a child were wrong.

I’ve learned that China is recovering its position (one held for more than two thousand years) as a world power.

At the same time, the West continues making the same mistakes that led to the collapse of the Roman Empire — the same mistakes that led to wars in Europe where Christians killed Christians and then Christians invaded the Middle East to fight with Islam where the West is still fighting.

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Lloyd Lofthouse is the award-winning author of the concubine saga, My Splendid Concubine & Our Hart. When you love a Chinese woman, you marry her family and culture too. 

If you want to subscribe to iLook China, there is a “Subscribe” button at the top of the screen in the menu bar.


The Tang Dynasty (618 – 906 AD) – Part 2/4

September 24, 2010

During the Sui (589-617) and Tang Dynasties, China went through a period of cultural and spiritual development.

The country’s ethnic groups along with Confucianism, Buddhism and Taoism coexisted peacefully with foreign religions such as Islam.

Literature and the arts developed more than before.

The Han Dynasty (206 BC to 219 AD) opened the Silk Road for trade, and the civilizations of Rome, Ancient Egypt, of the Euphrates and Tigris Rivers and India continued trade with the Tang Dynasty.

According to Tang Dynasty records contact was maintained with more than 300 countries and regions across the known world, so the Silk Road was also known as the Envoy Road.

People from countries such as Japan, Korea, and India as well as Tehran came to China.

Many foreigners had positions in the central government of the Tang Dynasty, and they served both as civil officials and military officers.

The Tang Dynasty demonstrated respect for all foreign religions.  During this time, Christianity was introduced to China.

The Imperial family of the Tang Dynasty had been a military family in Northwest China for generations and they made Taoism the national religion.

Laozi, the founder of Taoism, advocated harmony between people and nature, which was reflected in the beliefs of the first rulers of the Tang Dynasty.

Continue with Tang Dynasty – Part 3 or return to The Tang Dynasty (618 – 906 AD) – Part 1

______________

Lloyd Lofthouse is the award-winning author of the concubine saga, My Splendid Concubine & Our Hart. When you love a Chinese woman, you marry her family and culture too. 

To subscribe to “iLook China”, look for the “Subscribe” button at the top of the screen in the menu bar, click on it then follow directions.


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