Committee to Spread True Koran

China Islamic Association yesterday set up a committee aiming to help the spread of the Koran in China and oppose religious extremism.

The special committee, made up of 16 reputable imams across the nation, is commissioned to make "correct and authoritative" interpretation of the Islamic creed and canon against a fast-changing Chinese society.

According to the president of the association, Chen Guangyuan, it is also the job of the committee to compile and spread inspirational speeches and translate books on Islam, in an effort to help the imams improve themselves.

"Limited education has become a barrier for some imams to give high-quality preaching to the believers," said Chen. "The speeches used in some mosques are out of date and some are a far cry from the reality in the Chinese society."

Chen's association, a national organization for all the Muslims in China, also worries that the spread of some books containing religious extremist ideas among a very small number of young Muslims in China may lure them into separatist activities.

"Some people have distorted the Islamic creed at their will and caused confusion among Muslims by introducing Islamic extremism into China and spreading heresy; some have even violated laws and taken part in national separatist activities," said Chen. "It is an undeniable duty of the Islamic circle in China to oppose the national separatist and religious extremist forces to conduct separatist, violent and terrorist activities by using Islam."

Islam is practiced by the people of 10 ethnic minorities in China with a total population of 18 million, according to figures from the State Bureau for Religious Affairs. Most of the Muslims are in China's western regions.

China Islamic Association began considering setting up the specialized committee in 1995, learning from the practice of many Arabic countries whose special agencies are responsible for the interpretation of the Islamic creed and canon.

In an effort to help imams improve, the association has in recent years sponsored regular contests where these Islamic priests can demonstrate their articulateness and exchange their understanding of the Koran.

(China Daily 04/24/2001)

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