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'Woz' Contest Draws Scholars


More than 50 Islamic scholars from around the country are in Beijing for a biyearly speech competition, the National "Woz" contest.

"Woz" is an Arabic word that means "to advise or admonish," and has been an important concept in Islamic missionary work for centuries.

It is a term used to describe a method of giving speeches on understanding the Koran, organizers said.

The China Islamic Association has held this contest since 1996, attracting thousands of Muslims each time.

Participants in the contest give their interpretations of the Koran while covering current social realities, and encouraging obedience to Muslim creeds and universal benevolence.

This year's Woz speech contest will last five days.

The contest is a good chance for Muslim scholars nationwide to gather and exchange their views and understanding of the Koran, said Yu Zhengui, vice-president of the association, during his opening ceremony remarks.

Yu said anti-terrorism is one of the themes of this year's contest and discussions.

"Islam is no doubt a religion of peace," said Yu.

Better interpretations of the essence of the Koran may dissuade some believers from terrorist activities and persuade them to live and work with each other peacefully, Yu added.

Wang Guo'an, a speaker from northwest China's Shaanxi Province, yesterday delivered a speech titled "The Essence of Islam -- Peace."

"Muslims love peace and we should try our best to safeguard the peace," Wang said passionately.

"Allah teaches us to try our best to help each other."

"An important reason for China's increasing prosperity is that all nationalities around the country co-exist peacefully," said Wang.

Wang also severely condemned separatist activities in his speech.

Hundreds of Muslims from more than 20 provinces and municipalities around the country yesterday listened to speeches and discussed issues during the breaks. Most were dressed in their traditional costumes yesterday.

There are now around 20 million Muslims in China, mostly in northwestern regions like the Xinjiang Uygur Autonomous Region, the Ningxia Hui Autonomous Region, Qinghai and Gansu provinces; Muslims are also scattered throughout China's vast territory.

At present, there are 35,000 mosques, more than 45,000 Muslim teachers and administrators, and 23,480 students in Islamic theological institutes in various regions in China.

(China Daily May 14, 2002)

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