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Published online by Cambridge University Press:  04 April 2019

Matthew S. Erie*
Associate Professor of Modern Chinese Studies, University of Oxford


Why is shariʿa the taboo of modern law? This article examines the “spread of halal” controversy in China as a window to assess how nativist public opinion influences state law and policy whereas state law is foreclosed to providing protection to rights provided for in shariʿa. Among Chinese Muslims (Hui), qingzhen (lit. “pure” plus “true”) or “halal” is the kernel of their localized shariʿa, and one that prohibits consuming pork. The symbol qingzhen has proliferated in the course of China's economic modernization such that it pervades the public sphere, creating anxiety among Han Chinese that Chinese society and government is becoming “Islamicized.” Hui fear that the profusion of qingzhen foments food insecurity and endangers truth in labeling. In response, they have sought greater protection for their diluted core symbol in national legislation—attempts which have only exacerbated Hui-Han relations. Based on observations from over seven years of field research and interviews with Hui legal entrepreneurs, and drawing from the anthropology of taboo, I explain the debate in China by taking the Hui idea of shariʿa as a taboo to reflexively think about how secular non-Muslim states regard shariʿa as the taboo of modern law.

Research Article
Copyright © Center for the Study of Law and Religion at Emory University 2019 

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1 Habermas, Notes on Post-Secular Society, 25 New Perspectives Quarterly 1729, 28 (2008)CrossRefGoogle Scholar.

2 In this article, I place Chinese surnames first per Chinese name order.

3 Shanghai Alilan, yijia shile ‘niurou’ de shangdian (上海阿里兰,一家失了“牛肉”的商店) [Shanghai's Alilan: One Family Lost the “Beef Meat” Shop], Tianya (天涯) [Far Corners of the Earth], July 22, 2016, All translations from Chinese sources and interviews are provided by the author.

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5 Xian Guolin (咸国林), Alilan niuroumian (阿里兰牛肉面) [Alilan Beef Noodles], Weibo (微博) [Microblog] (2016),

6 Rick Noack, Multiculturalism Is a Sham, Says Angela Merkel, Washington Post (Dec. 14, 2015), On the end of multiculturalism, see Pascal Bruckner, Enlightenment Fundamentalism or Racism of the Anti-Racists?, Jan. 24, 2007,,; Nilüfer Göle, The Daily Lives of Muslims: Islam and Public Confrontation in Contemporary Europe (2017).

7 In terms of data collected for purposes of this article, I have conducted fieldwork in China from 2004 to 2016, including fieldwork in Beijing (2004–2005), northwest China (2009–2011, summer 2015, summer 2016), and Shanghai (summer 2016). During fieldwork, I conducted more than one hundred interviews in Mandarin and the northwest Hui dialect with Hui entrepreneurs and restaurateurs, owners and employees of halal food factories and processing plants, traders, officials, and clerics on the question of halal food. Given the sensitivity of the topic, I anonymize my interviews herein.

8 To distinguish Hui from Uyghurs, there are more than 10 million Hui in China who speak versions of Mandarin and look phenotypically like Han Chinese. Uyghurs, of whom there are slightly fewer, reside primarily in Xinjiang, speak their own Turkic language, and look more like Central Asians than Han. Since a major riot in Urumqi, the capital of Xinjiang, on July 5, 2009, relations between Uyghurs and the state have worsened. In October 2013 and in March 2014, there were terrorist attacks in Beijing and Kunming, respectively, allegedly committed by Uyghur “separatists.” Whereas Uyghurs have become a suspect class in China, following the spread of halal scare, Hui now also fall under suspicion. Matthew S. Erie, China and Islam: The Prophet, the Party, and Law 8–9 (2016).

9 Zenz, Adrian, “Thoroughly Reforming Them Towards a Healthy Heart Attitude”: China's Political Re-Education Campaign in Xinjiang, Central Asian Survey (published online September 5, 2018)Google Scholar, UN Human Rights Office of the High Commissioner, Committee on the Elimination of Racial Discrimination Reviews the Report of China (August 13, 2018),

10 Dru C. Gladney, Muslim Chinese: Ethnic Nationalism in the People's Republic of China 7 (2d ed. 1996).

11 Bill 60, “Charte affirmant les valeurs de laïcité et de neutralité religieuse de l’État ainsi que d’égalité entre les femmes et les hommes et encadrant les demandes d'accommodement” [Charter Affirming the Values of State Secularism and Religious Neutrality and of Equality between Women and Men, and Providing a Framework for Accommodation Requests], introduced during the Fortieth Legislature, First Session of the National Assembly of Quebec, on November 7, 2013 (prohibiting public sector employees from wearing “signes ostentatoires” (conspicuous religious symbols); Lautsi v. Italy, App. No. 30814/06, Eur. Ct. H.R., HUDOC (2011), (finding that a crucifix displayed in a public schoolroom did not violate the right to religious freedom under article 34 of the Convention for the Protection of Human Rights and Fundamental Freedoms); Eweida v. United Kingdom, App. Nos. 48420/10, 59842/10, 51671/10, 36516/10, Eur. Ct. H.R., HUDOC (2013), (holding that a British Airways attendant could wear a Christian cross outside of her uniform). For commentaries on these controversies among others, see Beaman, Lori G., Battles over Symbols: The “Religion” of the Minority Versus the “Culture” of the Majority, 28 Journal of Law & Religion 67104 (2013)CrossRefGoogle Scholar; Leigh, Ian & Hambler, Andrew, Religious Symbols, Conscience, and the Rights of Others, 3 Oxford Journal of Law & Religion 224 (2014)CrossRefGoogle Scholar.

12 One example is the Park51 Project in New York City, the so-called “ground zero mosque,” where I took students while teaching a law course on Muslim minorities in 2014, and whose construction opponents viewed as a sign that terrorists had claimed victory after the 9/11 attacks. On the place of Islamic symbols in public life after 9/11, see Nilüfer Göle, Islam and Public Controversy in Europe (2013); Kathleen M. Moore, Visible through the Veil: The Regulation of Islam in American Law (2007); Joan Wallach Scott, The Politics of the Veil (2007).

13 The study of taboo has been a core interest in the discipline of anthropology. See Émile Durkheim, The Elementary Forms of Religious Life (1912); James George Frazer, The Golden Bough: A Study in Magic and Religion (1951); Mary Douglas, Purity and Danger: An Analysis of Concepts of Pollution and Taboo (1966); Claude Lévi-Strauss, The Elementary Forms of Kinship (James Harle Bells, trans., Beacon Press, 1969); A.R. Radcliffe-Brown, Taboo: The Frazer Lecture 1939 (2014); Franz Baermann Steiner, Taboo, Truth, and Religion (1999).

14 Exec. Order No. 13769, 82 Fed. Reg. 8977 (Jan. 27, 2017); Exec. Order No. 13780, 82 Fed. Reg. 13209 (Mar. 6, 2017).

15 S.A.S. v. France, App. No. 43835/11, Eur. Ct. H.R., HUDOC (2014), (finding that the French ban on wearing clothing designed to conceal one's face in public did not violate the Convention for the Protection of Human Rights and Fundamental Freedoms).

16 Andrew Koppelman, Defending American Religious Neutrality (2013); Kent Greenawalt, Establishment and Fairness (2008); Brian Leiter, Why Tolerate Religion? (2012); Jocelyn Maclure & Charles Taylor, Secularism and Freedom of Conscience (2011).

17 Sindre Bangstad, Sekularismens Ansikter (Faces of Secularism) (2009); Rethinking Secularism (Craig Calhoun et al. eds., 2011).

18 Asad, Formations of the Secular: Christianity, Islam, modernity (2003); see also Hussein Ali Agrama, Questioning Secularism: Islam, Sovereignty, and the Rule of Law in Modern Egypt (2012); Saba Mahmood, Politics of Piety: The Islamic Revival and the Feminist Subject (2005).

19 Varieties of Secularism in Asia (Nils Bubandt & Martijn van Beek eds., 2012); Kuru, Ahmet T., Assertive and Passive Secularism: State Neutrality, Religious Demography, and the Muslim Minority in the United States, in The Future of Religious Freedom 235–55 (Hertzke, Allen ed., 2012)Google Scholar.

20 Erie, Matthew S., Muslim Mandarins in Chinese Courts: Dispute Resolution, Islamic Law, and the Secular State in Northwest China, 40 Law & Social Inquiry 1001–30 (2015)CrossRefGoogle Scholar.

21 By symbols, I refer to the sign, as understood by Saussurean semiotics, in which the physical mark (“signifier”) does not resemble the idea referred to (“signified”) but is based on convention (i.e., cultural understandings). Daniel Chandler, Semiotics: The Basics 36 (2007).

22 Geertz, Clifford, Religion as a Cultural System, in The Interpretation of Cultures 87125, 90 (1973)Google Scholar.

23 Laura Barnett, Freedom of Religion and Religious Symbols in the Public Sphere (2004); Judith Butler et al., The Power of Religion in the Public Sphere (Eduardo Mendieta & Jonathan VanAntwerpen eds., 2011); Sherry, Suzanna, Religion and the Public Square: Making Democracy Safe for Religious Minorities, 47 DePaul Law Review 499518 (1998)Google Scholar; Teitel, Ruti, Critique of Religion as Politics in the Public Sphere, 78 Cornell Law Review 747821 (1993)Google Scholar.

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25 Göle, supra note 12.

26 See Jones v. Wolf, 443 U.S. 595 (1979) (applying the neutral-principles method to an intrachurch dispute); but see Mohammed Ahmed Khan v. Shah Bano Begum, A.I.R. 1985 S.C. 945 (India) (intervening in a dispute over the proper extent of spousal maintenance following divorce under shariʿa).

27 Town of Greece v. Galloway, 134 S. Ct. 1811 (2014) (holding that prayer opening a town board meeting did not have to be nonsectarian to comply with the Establishment Clause).

28 Boyajian v. Gatzunis, 212 F.3d 1(1st Cir. 2000) (finding that a state zoning law did not confer a preferred status on a religious group).

29 See, e.g., S.A.S. v. France, App. No. 43835/11, Eur. Ct. H.R., HUDOC (2014),

30 Bano, Samia, In Pursuit of Religious and Legal Diversity: A Response to the Archbishop of Canterbury and the ‘Sharia Debate’ in Britain, 10 Ecclesiastical Law Journal 283309 (2008)CrossRefGoogle Scholar; Bowen, John R., Address, Keynote, How Could English Courts Recognize Shariah?, 7 University of St. Thomas Law Review 411–35 (2010)Google Scholar. But see Akhter v. Khan (Rev 4) [2018] EWFC 54 (2018) (finding an Islamic marriage to be a void marriage under English law).

31 Shinar, Adam & Su, Anna, Religious Law as Foreign Law in Constitutional Interpretation, 11 International Journal of Constitutional Law 74100 (2013)CrossRefGoogle Scholar; Volokh, Eugene, Religious Law (Especially Islamic Law) in American Courts, 66 Oklahoma Law Review 431–58 (2014)Google Scholar.

32 Cumper, Peter, Multiculturalism, Human Rights and the Accommodation of Sharia Law, 14 Human Rights Law Review 3157 (2014)CrossRefGoogle Scholar; McGoldrick, Dominic, Accommodating Muslims in Europe: From Adopting Sharia Law to Religiously Based Opt Outs from Generally Applicable Laws, 9 Human Rights Law Review 603–45 (2009)CrossRefGoogle Scholar; Rohe, Mathias, Shariʿa in a European Context, in Legal Practice and Cultural Diversity 93114 (Grillo, Ralph et al. eds., 2009)Google Scholar.

33 Boyd, Marion, Ontario's “Shariʿa Court”: Law and Politics Intertwined, in Islam and English Law: Rights, Responsibilities and the Place of Shariʿa 176–86 (Griffith-Jones, Robin ed., 2013)CrossRefGoogle Scholar; Helfand, Michael A., Religious Arbitration and the New Multiculturalism: Negotiating Conflicting Legal Orders, 86 New York University Law Review 12311305 (2011)Google Scholar; Wolfe, Carolyn Litt, Faith-Based Arbitration: Friend or Foe? An Evaluation of Religious Arbitration Systems and Their Interaction with Secular Courts, 75 Fordham Law Review 427–69 (2006)Google Scholar.

34 On Islamophobia in Europe and North America, see Wajahat Ali et al., Fear, Inc.: The Roots of the Islamophobia Network in America (2011); Sindre Bangstad, Anders Breivik and the Rise of Islamophobia (2014); Beydoun, Khaled A., America, Islam, and Constitutionalism: Muslim American Poverty and the Mounting Police State, 31 Journal of Law & Religion 279–92 (2016)CrossRefGoogle Scholar.

35 Between 2010 and 2018, 201 anti-shariʿa bills have been introduced in 43 states. Southern Poverty Law Center, Anti-Sharia Law Bills in the United States, Hatewatch (Feb. 5, 2018),

36 Talal Asad, Free Speech, Blasphemy, and Secular Criticism, in Is Critique Secular? 20 (2009).

37 Habermas, supra note 1.

38 Carol Kuruvilla, Anti-Muslim Hate Crimes Are Spiking in the U.S. Donald Trump Won't Speak Up, Huffington Post Feb. 27, 2017,

39 Milenko Martinovich, Stanford Scholars Analyze Trump's Executive Order on Immigration, Stanford News Mar. 7, 2017, (discussing the executive orders’ legality). See also Joseph Margulies, Law, Politics, and Symbolism in the Muslim Ban, Verdict (Feb. 6, 2017), (understanding the significance of the executive orders as symbolic).

40 Qingzhen has been a mainstay in the study of Islam in China. Maris Boyd Gillette, Between Mecca and Beijing: Modernization and Consumption among Urban Chinese Muslims (2000); Dru C. Gladney, Qingzhen: A Study of Ethnoreligious Identity Among Hui Muslim Communities in China (1987) (unpublished Ph.D. dissertation, University of Washington) (on file with author); Barbara L.K. Pillsbury, No Pigs for the Ancestors: Pigs, Mothers and Filial Piety among the Taiwanese Muslims, Symposium on Chinese Folk Religions, University of California, Riverside (Apr. 24, 1974) (on file with the author).

41 Opinions vary as to the etymology of the term qingzhen. Whereas there is a general consensus that the term first appeared in Chinese lexicon in the Tang Dynasty, there is disagreement as to whether or not it held “Islamic” meanings at that time. See Ding Mingjun (丁明俊), Lishishang Huizu Musilin dui “Qingzhen Wenhua” de goujian (历史上回族穆斯林对“清真文化”的构建) [Hui Muslims Historical Construction of “Qingzhen Culture”] (2016) (unpublished manuscript) (on file with author) (tracing the term back to the earliest Muslims in the Tang Dynasty). But see Pickens, Claude L., Clean and True, 24 Friends of Muslims 6 (1950)Google Scholar (writing that qingzhen first appeared in the poetry of Li Bai (699–762) although the concept had no Islamic meaning during this time). Most likely the term underwent a number of semantic redefinitions, as it was used and claimed by different religious groups in China, including Jews.

42 Some Hui and many Uyghurs use the Arabic term toyyiban that, like qingzhen, connotes a pure and wholesome life in the areas of not only diet, but also thoughts and deed. See Saroja Dorairajoo & Ma Jianfu, Does Islam Have the Answer to China's Food Safety Problems? South China Morning Post (July 29, 2016),

43 Gladney, supra note 10, at 13–14.

44 Douglas, supra note 13, at 5.

45 Sigmund Freud, Totem and Taboo 24 (W.W. Norton & Co., 1950) (1913).

46 Valerio Valeri, The Forest of Taboos (2000).

47 Id. at 105, 107.

48 Feener, R. Michael, Official Religions, State Secularisms, and the Structures of Religious Pluralism, in Proselytizing and the Limits of Religious Pluralism in Contemporary Asia 1, 1 (Finucane, Juliana & Feener, R. Michael eds., 2014)Google Scholar.

49 Albert H.Y. Chen, An Introduction to the Legal System of the People's Republic of China 45 (4th ed. 2011).

50 Vincent Goossaert & David A. Palmer, The Religious Question in Modern China (2011); Madsen, Richard, Secular State and Religious Society in Mainland China and Taiwan, in Social Scientific Studies of Religion in China 273, 273 (Yang, Fenggang & Lang, Graeme eds., 2011)Google Scholar; Potter, Pitman B., Belief in Control: Regulation of Religion in China, 174 China Quarterly 317–37 (2003)CrossRefGoogle Scholar; Yang Fenggang, Religion in China: Survival & Revival under Communist Rule (2011).

51 Zongjiao shiwu tiaoli xiuding cao'an (xiudinggao) (宗教事务条例修订草案(修订稿)) [(Amended Version) of the Revised Draft of the Religious Affairs Regulations], promulgated by the State Council on September 7, 2016, effective February 1, 2018 [hereinafter Revised Draft of the Religious Affairs Regulations].

52 Gao Qicai (高其才), Professor of Law, Tsinghua University, Dangdai Zhongguo guojia lifa yu xiguanfa (当代中国国家立法与习惯法) [Modern Chinese State Legislation and Customary Law], Paper presented at the Third East Asia Law and Society Association Meeting, Shanghai Jiaotong University Koguan Law School, Shanghai (Mar. 23, 2013) (on file with the author).

53 Constitutional and legislative sources do vow to protect ethnic minorities customs, although these powers are largely unexercised. Xianfa art. 4, § 4 (2004) (China); Zhonghua Renmin Gongheguo Minzu Quyu Zizhifa (中华人民共和国民族区域自治法) [Regional Ethnic Autonomy Law of the PRC] (promulgated by the Standing Committee of the National People's Congress, May 31, 1984, effective Oct. 1, 1984), arts. 53, 10, translated in 1984 P.R.C. Laws. But see Kaup, Kathryn P., Controlling the Law: Legal Pluralism in China's South-West Minority Regions 236 China Quarterly 1154–74 (2018)CrossRefGoogle Scholar.

54 Erie, supra note 8.

55 On nonstate normative orders, see Paul Dresch et al., Legalism: Anthropology and History 1 (Paul Dresch & Hannah Skoda eds., 2012); Robert C. Ellickson, Order without Law (1991); Henry, Stuart, Community Justice, Capitalist Society, and Human Agency: The Dialectics of Collective Law in the Cooperative, 19 Law & Society Review 303–27 (1985)CrossRefGoogle Scholar.

56 Erie, supra note 8.

57 In this section, I name a number of normative sources of PRC law and policy. Keller, Perry, Sources of Order in Chinese Law, 42 American Journal of Comparative Literature 711–59 (1994)Google Scholar (providing a helpful overview of some of these different source of law and policy).

58 Shangwubu guanyu niuyangrou jingying zhong youguan Huizu fengsu xiguan de ji dian zhuyi shixiang de zhishi (商务部关于牛羊肉经营中有关回民风俗习惯的几点注意事项的指示) [Instructions of the Bureau of Commerce on Matters Needing Attention Touching on Hui Social Customs and Habits Regarding the Management of [Producing] Cattle and Sheep Meat], (promulgated by the Bureau of Commerce) (Sept. 26, 1955), republished in Guoneiwai qingzhen shipin guanli falü fagui he zhengce huibian (国内外清真食品管理法律法规和政策汇编) [Compilation of Domestic and Foreign Qingzhen Food Management Laws, Regulations, and Policies] (Mao Gongning [毛公宁] et al. eds.), 39–40 (2006) [hereinafter Compilation of Domestic and Foreign Qingzhen Food Management Laws, Regulations, and Policies].

59 These regulations are reproduced in Compilation of Domestic and Foreign Qingzhen Food Management Laws, Regulations, and Policies, supra note 58, at 9–35.

60 Id. Among these, cities like Hohhot, the capital of Inner Mongolia Ethnic Autonomous Region, have enacted “specific regulations” (danxing tiaoli) on halal food regulation, and cities like Xining and Guangzhou have enacted governmental rules. As a comparative point, U.S. jurisprudence on the Free Exercise Clause and Equal Protection Clause of the U.S. Constitution has sought to determine when state institutions must make provisions for halal food. See, e.g., Patel v. U.S. Bureau of Prisons, 515 F.3d 807 (8th Cir. 2008) (finding that federal prisons did not violate a Muslim prisoner's religious rights when they provided kosher instead of halal meals).

61 Ningxia Huizu Zizhiqu qingzhen shipin guanli tiaoli (宁夏回族自治区清真食品管理条例) [Ningxia Hui Autonomous Region Qingzhen Food Management Regulations] (promulgated by People's Congress of the Ningxia Hui Autonomous Region, Nov. 7, 2002, as amended September 14, 2018 [hereinafter Ningxia Autonomous Regulations], art. 15, available at (last visited Jan. 16, 2019).

62 There are a number of quotas put forth in different regulations. See, e.g., Guanyu shengchan jingying qingzhen shipin bixu zunzhong shaoshu minzu fengsu xiguan de ruogan guiding (关于生产经营清真食品必须尊重少数民族风俗习惯的若干规定) [The Certain Regulations Regarding Respecting Ethnic Minorities’ Social Customs and Habits in the Production and Management of Qingzhen Food] (approved and promulgated by the Beijing Municipal People's Government on March 29, 1988, art. 3.1) (specifying that among work units that sell on commission, 25 percent must be Hui, and among those that produce, no fewer than 10 percent of the employees must be Hui.), reproduced in Compilation of Domestic and Foreign Qingzhen Food Management Laws, Regulations, and Policies, supra note 58, at 78.

63 Muhammad Ibrahim Hafiz Ismail Surty, Halal Food in the Light of the Qur’ān and Sunnah: An Overview 5–10 (1995).

64 Interview (Mar. 31, 2010) (The interview with the author was conducted in confidentiality, and the name of the interviewee and location of the interview, are withheld by mutual consent.)

65 See supra note 58.

66 The China Islamic Association cites the Qur'an. See Qingzhen shipin shengchan biaozhun (清真食品生产标准) [Qingzhen Food Production Standards], Zhongguo Yisilanjiao Xiehui (中国伊斯兰教协会) [China Islamic Association] (May 23, 2012),

67 Fines have increased steadily in the course of China's economic reforms. Id. art. 4.1 (stating that those who produce qingzhen food without going through proper approvals shall be fined 200 yuan ($29) and those who violate requirements shall be fined 100 yuan ($15)). But see Ningxia Autonomous Regulations supra note 61, art. 37 (imposing a fine of 1,000 to 10,000 yuan ($145 to $1,450) on anyone who arbitrarily uses the qingzhen symbol).

68 Ningxia Autonomous Regulations, supra note 61, art. 47.

69 Sai, Yukari & Fischer, Johan, Muslim Food Consumption in China: Between Qingzhen and Halal, in Halal Matters: Islam, Politics and Markets in Global Perspective 160–74 (Bergeaud-Blackler, Florence et al. eds., 2015)CrossRefGoogle Scholar.

70 June Teufel Dreyer, China's Forty Millions: Minority Nationalities and National Integration in the People's Republic of China 96 (1976) (explaining that the United Front Work Department provides recommendations to the State Ethnic Affairs Commission that then implements those policies).

71 Erie, Matthew S., Shariʿa in China: State, Ahong, and the Postsecular Turn, 12 Cross-Currents: East Asian History & Culture Review 88117 (2014)Google Scholar.

72 Cui, Wei, The Legal Maladies of “Federalism, Chinese-Style,” in The Beijing Consensus? How China Has Changed the Western Ideas of Law and Development 97–118 (Weitseng, Chen ed., 2017)Google Scholar.

73 While qingzhen is the loadstar of Islamic symbols in China, there are others that have become politicized in recent years. Traditional Uyghur dress and beards have been restricted in Xinjiang, and the Hui hijab has become the focus of public controversy. Leibold, James & Grose, Timothy, Islamic Veiling in Xinjiang: The Political and Societal Struggle to Define Uyghur Female Adornment, 76 China Journal 78102 (2016)CrossRefGoogle Scholar. Beyond Islam, in the southeastern city of Wenzhou in 2015, a number of Christian crucifixes were razed along with churches in what the local authorities called an exercise in urban renewal. See Wo jiu xiang wenwen Tianya de pengyou? Ninmen dui Jidujiao de shizijia fangan ma? (我就想问问天涯的朋友?你们对基督教的十字架反感吗?) [I Just Want to Ask Tianya Friends, Do You Oppose the Christian Cross?], Tianya (天涯) [Far Corners of the Earth] (Sept. 15, 2015) (on file with the author) (Since this research was conducted, this internet source has been deleted.).

74 Yasuda, John Kojiro, Why Food Safety Fails in China: The Politics of Scale, 223 China Quarterly 745–69, 753 (2015)CrossRefGoogle Scholar; Zhou Guanqi, The Regulatory Regime of Food Safety in China: A Systemic Not Accidental Failure, at 65, 124 (May 2016) (unpublished Ph.D. dissertation, University of Adelaide),

75 Shenqing banli qingzhen jianzhi, renzheng (chuju hala zhengshu) de chengxu (申请办理清真监制,认证(出具哈拉证书)的程序) [The Procedure for Applying for and Handling a Certification Document for Supervising the Manufacture of Qingzhen (Issuing a Halal Certificate)], Zhongguo Yisilanjiao Xiehui (中国伊斯兰教协会) [China Islamic Association] (July 17, 2013),

76 The lack of trust between auditors and food producers is one reason why the state's formal “organic” certification program failed. John Kojiro Yasuda, On Feeding the Masses: An Anatomy of Regulatory Failure in China 87–88 (2018).

77 Sai & Fischer, supra note 69, at 165.

78 Interview, Xining (July 31, 2016) (The interview with the author was conducted in confidentiality, and the name of the interviewee is withheld by mutual consent.). The selling of alcohol in so-called qingzhen restaurants has been a focus of Hui protest for years. One cleric in Xining, in particular, had led a number of campaigns against the selling of alcohol in Hui areas.

79 Renzhe Shengui (忍者神龟), Zhuanzi Zhongmuwang: Qingbang weihe ruci xiaozhang, lamian zhi zheng, zhi ren siwang (转自中穆网:青帮为如何此嚣张,拉面之争,致人死亡) [Forwarded from China Muslim Net: Why Is the Green Gang This Arrogant, Noodle Fights Lead to Death], Baidu (百度) [One Hundred Degrees] (Oct. 18, 2015),; Erie, supra note 8, at 116 (identifying the average income as 1,000 to 2,000 yuan ($145 to $290) per month in Linxia).

80 Renzhe Shengui, supra note 79.

81 Ningxia Yiwei Qingzhen Shipin Youxian Gongsi (宁夏伊味清真食品有限公司) [Ningxia Yiwei Qingzhen Food Ltd. Company], Shipin Shangwu Wang (食品商务网) [Food Merchant Net], (last visited June 1, 2017).

82 Personal observation, field notes, 2010.

83 Zhuanjia renwei “Yidaiyilu” wei Zhongguo qingzhen shipin chanye dailai juda shangji (专家认为“一带一路”为中国清真食品产业带来巨大商机) [Experts Believe That the “One Belt One Road” Will Bring Significant Business Opportunities for the Qingzhen Food Industry], Xinhua Wang (新华网) [Xinhua Net] (Aug. 14, 2015), (quoting Dr. Wang Guoliang, Vice-Secretary-General of the China Islamic Association).

84 Id.

85 Mohammed Khan, Regulating the Sacred: Why the US Halal Food Industry Needs Better Oversight, The Conversation (Nov. 21, 2014),

86 Erie, Matthew S., Sharia, Charity, and Minjian Autonomy in Muslim China: Gift Giving in a Plural World, 43 American Ethnologist 311–24 (2016)CrossRefGoogle Scholar.

87 Ningxia Qingshen Shipin Chanye Guojihua Jincheng Jiasu (宁夏清真食品产业国际化进程加速) [The Process for Speeding up the Internationalization of the Ningxia Qingzhen Food Industry], Ningxia Zhaoshang Wang (宁夏招商网) [Ningxia Investment Attraction Net] (Oct. 20, 2014),

88 Interview, Yinchuan (July 26, 2016) (The interview with the author was conducted in confidentiality, and the name of the interviewee is withheld by mutual consent.)

89 Interview, Linxia (May 2, 2010) (The interview with the author was conducted in confidentiality, and the name of the interviewee is withheld by mutual consent.)

90 See Yasuda, supra note 76, at chapter 4.

91 Id. at 54.

92 Qingzhen shipin nan chuguomen weisha shuo chukou yingli jiu chayibu (清真食品难出国门为啥说出口盈利就差一步) [It's Hard to Export Qingzhen Food Products—Why [Experts] Say Export Profits Are Falling], Yangguang Wang (央广网) [Central Expanse Net] (Sept. 5, 2015),

93 Site visit, Linxia, Aug. 4, 2016. Malaixiya yisilan fazhanshu (JAKIM) renzheng shenqing shouli han (马来西亚伊斯兰发展署 (JAKIM) 认证申请受理函) [Malaysian Department of Islamic Development (JAKIM) Letter for Accepting to Hear a Case for an Application for Certification], Gansu Linxia Qingzhen Shipin Renzhen Zhongxin (甘肃临夏清真食品认证中心) [Gansu Linxia Qingzhen Food Certificate Center] (Apr. 29, 2015), (showing the Malaysian Department of Islamic Development acknowledging receipt of the center's application for certification, but not an approval letter) (Since research was conducted, this website is no longer operational).

94 See Yasuda, supra note 76, at 112.

95 See infra text accompanying note 99.

96 Interviews, Yinchuan (July 30, 2016) (The interviews with the author were conducted in confidentiality, and the names of the interviewees are withheld by mutual consent.).

97 Id.

98 See generally Johan Fischer, Proper Islamic Consumption: Shopping among the Malays in Modern Malaysia (2009) (explaining the commercialization of halal in Malaysia).

99 Qie Suiyuan (切随緣), Hewei qingzhen: Ji Gansu sheng Zhangye shi jia qingzhen shipin an gei women Musilin de (何谓清真:记甘肃省张掖市假清真食品案给我们穆斯林的) [What Is the Meaning of Qingzhen? A Record of the Fake Qingzhen Case from Zhangye City in Gansu Province and What It Gave Us Muslims], Xinlang Boke (新浪博客) [] (July 2, 2010),

100 Personal observation, Sept. 2, 2010.

101 See Renzhe Shengui, supra note 79. The response by the Qinghai Hui was in the context of a massive expansion by the Eastern Palace Restaurant Group that opened some one hundred chain restaurants in Beijing alone. In addition to the Suzhou restaurant, one in Shenzhen was similarly attacked.

102 Gladney, supra note 10.

103 Yanqi Tong & Shaohua Lei, Social Protest in Contemporary China, 2003–2010, at 130 (2014).

104 Whereas I have frequently heard Chinese interlocutors say, “there is no such thing as racism in China,” the Muslim minority experience shows otherwise. See Frank Dikötter, Discourse of Race in Modern China (1992) (providing history of concept of race in China).

105 See Chung-fu, Chang, Is China Islamophobic? A Survey of Historical and Contemporary Problems, in Zhenghe Forum: Connecting China and the Muslim World 97 (Haiyun, Ma et al. eds. 2015)Google Scholar; Mu Chunshan, Anti-Muslim Sentiment Is Taking Over China's Social Media Scene, The Diplomat (Sept. 13, 2016),; James Leibold, Creeping Islamophobia: China's Hui Muslims in the Firing Line, 16 China Brief (June 20, 2016),

106 In December 2016, the opening of a mosque in Hefei incited Han protest, exacerbated by anti-Muslim Weibo comments by an official in Xinjiang, and a pig's head was buried at the construction site. See Gerry Shih, Unfettered Online Hate Speech Fuels Islamophobia in China, AP News (Apr. 10, 2017),

107 Xi Wuyi (习五一), Gansu Pingliang Xinminlu Xinshijie Chaoshi (feiqingzhenshi) weisha buneng mai zhurou (甘肃平凉新民路新世界超市(非清真市)为啥不能卖猪肉) [Why Can't the Non-Halal Supermarket New World Market in Pingliang, Gansu, Sell Pork], Weibo (微博) [Microblog] (Aug. 3, 2016), original post has been deleted, available, in part, at (citing PRC Counter-Terrorism Law, art. 81, cls. 1, 3).

108 Yang Guoju (杨国举), Huizu juju diqu huifuxing sifa de lujing xuanze (回族聚居的地区恢复性的路径选择) [Selecting a Method for Restorative Justice in Hui-Concentrated Areas], 4 Huizu Yanjiu (回族研究) [Hui Research] 87 (2015).

109 Xi, supra note 107.

110 The PRC has used “people's mediation” in mosques to delegate responsibilities for dispute resolution at the local level to clerics. Xi has attacked this practice as an invasion of Islamic law into the role of the state.

111 Yang, supra note 108, at 89.

112 Id. at 91 (describing Islamic law as integration of religious doctrine, moral norms, and legal system).

113 Matthew S. Erie, In China, Fears of “Creeping Sharia” Proliferate Online, Foreign Policy (Sept. 15, 2016),

114 Jisi Guanyi (集思广益), Zhongguo de Yisilanhua: 2078nian, women jiang biancheng (中国的伊斯兰化:2078年,我们将变成) [China's Islamicization: By the Year 2078, We Will Change], Renrenwang (人人网) [People Net] (Mar. 29, 2016),

115 PETA Yazhou Kafeilai Baohu de Weibo (PETA亚洲卡菲勒保护的微博) [Weibo of PETA Asian Kafir Protection], Weibo (微博) [Microblog], (Sept. 29, 2016), accessed Sept. 30, 2016, this account has since been removed from Weibo.

116 See, e.g., Yin Gang (殷罡), Ouzhou zheng jingli disanci Yisilan zhongji (欧洲正经历第三次伊斯兰重击) [Europe Has Experienced Precisely Three Islamic Attacks], Gonshi Wang (共识网) [Consensus Web], 2015, accessed Aug. 17, 2016, the post has since been removed from the Internet.

117 See generally Jürgen Habermas, Reason and the Rationalization of Society (1984).

118 Id.

119 See Valeri, supra note 46, at 46.

120 See Leibold, supra note 105 (noting that offensive online posts are sometimes not censored). Many Hui I spoke to believe in the theory that there are factions within the CCP that stoke interethnic tension with the goal of discrediting Xi Jinping.

121 See Göle, supra note 12.

122 Sarah Biddulph, The Stability Imperative: Human Rights and Law in China (2015).

123 In the United States, nine states (California, Illinois, Maryland, Michigan, Minnesota, New Jersey, New York, Texas, and Virginia) have passed laws regulating the labeling and or selling of halal. See Halal laws in the USA, Halal Transactions of Omaha, May 1, 2017,

124 See PRC Constitution, supra note 53, art. 58.

125 Andrew C. Mertha, China's Water Warriors: Citizen Action and Policy Change (2008).

126 Interviews, Linxia, China. (Aug. 4, 2016) (The interviews with the author were conducted in confidentiality, and the names of the interviewees are withheld by mutual consent.).

127 Guanyu jinkuai chutai “Qingzhen shipin guanli tiaoli” de jianyi an (关于尽快出台“清真食品管理条例”的建议案) [Advisory Case Regarding the Soon-to-Be Considered “Halal Food Administrative Regulation”], Feb. 19, 2011 (on file with author).

128 Id.

129 Ningxia Autonomous Regulations, supra note 61, art. 47.

130 Quebao qingzhen shipin anquan weihu minzu tuanjie hemu (确保清真食品安全维护民族团结和睦) [Ensuring Qingzhen Food Safety, Protect Ethnic Unity and Harmony] (drafted Feb. 9, 2016) (China) (on file with author).

131 Hui practice Islam in a number of so-called “teaching schools” (jiaopai) including the traditionalists, the Sufis, Salafis, and the Yihewani, which has an ideological if not genealogical link to the al-Ikhwan al-Muslimun (Society of Muslim Brothers) although such equivalences are problematic given that the teaching schools are not only exposed to multiple and successive waves of reform but continually diverge in their own interpretations of doctrine and law.

132 Quebao qingzhen shipin, supra note 130.

133 Zai shen shenqingren Ningxia Xin Shijie Qiche Xiaoshou Fuwu Youxian Gongsi yu bei shenqingren Ma Mei fangwu zulin hetong jiufen zai shenqing minshi caidingshu (再审申请人宁夏新世界汽车销售服务有限公司与被申请人马梅房屋租赁合同纠纷再审申请民事裁定书) [Civil Affairs Ruling on the Retrial of Applicant Ningxia New World Motor Vehicle Sellers Service Ltd. Co. v. Respondent Ma Mei Housing Rental Contract Dispute], Ningxia Hui Autonomous Region High Court, Dec. 22, 2015,

134 Id.

135 Bai Yu (白羽) ed., Guojia Minwei youguan zeren ren jiu qingzhen shipin guanli wenti da jizhewen (国家民委有关责任人就清真食品管理问题答记者问) [Leading Cadres of the State Ethnic Affairs Commission Answer Reporters’ Questions Regarding Qingzhen Food Management], Xinhua Wang (新华网) [Xinhua Net] (May 31, 2016),

136 Guowuyuan Shipin Anquan Ban (国务院食品安全办) [Office of the Food Safety Committee Under the State Council], Guowuyuan shipin anquan ban deng bumen guanyu guifan qingzhen shipin shengchan jingying huodong de tongzhi (国务院食品安全办等部门关于规范清真食品生产经营活动的通知) [Office of the Food Safety Committee Under the State Council and Other Departments’ Notice Regarding Standardizing Qingzhen Food Production and Management Activities], Shipin Huoban Wang (食品伙伴网) [Food Mate] (May 29, 2014),

137 Ma Hucheng (马虎成), Woguo qingzhen shipin jianzhi zhidu chutan (我国清真食品监制制度初谈) [An Initial Discussion Regarding China's Qingzhen Food Supervision System], Zhongguo Yisilanjiao Xiehui (中国伊斯兰教协会) [China Islamic Association] (Oct. 14, 2014),

138 Guowuyuan (国务院) [State Council], Zhonghua renmin gongheguo renzheng renke tiaoli (中华人民共和国认证认可条例) [PRC Regulations on Certification and Approval] (Nov. 1, 2003).

139 Id. art. 10(5).

140 Id. art. 26.

141 Huaxia ed., China to Check Halal Food, Xinhua Wang News (June 1, 2016),

142 Shan Jie, Official Urges Proper Use of “Halal” Term, Global Times (Mar. 13, 2017), (quoting Xiong Kunxin, professor of ethnic studies at Beijing's Minzu University of China).

143 Zhongguo Yisilanjiao Xiehui (中国伊斯兰教协会) [China Islamic Association], Guanyu bu zai xuqian qingzhen jianzhi xieyi shiwu gongzuo de tongzhi (关于不再续签清真监制协议事务工作的通知) [General Affairs Work Notice Regarding No Longer Renewing Qingzhen Manufacturing Supervision Agreements] (Feb. 17, 2017) (announcing that, first, the China Islamic Association, would no longer receive applications for agreements to supervise halal manufacture and, second, the Yili Group's agreement, that had expired, would not be renewed). See also China Islamic Association, Guanyu tingzhi qingzhen jianzhi renzheng shiwu gongzuo de tongzhi (关于停止清真监制认证事务工作的通知) [General Affairs Work Notice Regarding Suspending Documentation for Qingzhen Manufacturing Supervision] (Feb. 17, 2017) (prohibiting issuing any permission for companies to provide halal certification documents).

144 AFP News Agency, Chinese Muslim Website Blocked after Xi Jinping Letter, Aljazeera,

145 Id.

146 See Revised Draft of the Religious Affairs Regulations, supra note 51.

147 Alex Linder, Angry Netizens Deleting Meituan en masse after Delivery App Introduces Separate Boxes for Halal Food, Shanghaiist (Jul. 19, 2017),

148 Liu Caiyu, Officers, Party Members Urged to Strengthen Faith, Global Times (Oct. 9, 2018), See also Xinjiang Weiwu'er zizhiqu qu jiduanhua tiaoli (新疆维吾尔自治区去极端化条例) [Xinjiang Uyghur Autonomous Region Counter-Extremism Regulations], promulgated by the Twenty-Eighth Meeting of the Standing Committee of the Twelfth Session of the People's Congress of the Xinjiang Uyghur Autonomous Region on March 29, 2017, art. 6 (prohibiting “Spreading the concept of halal, expanding halal into areas beyond the field of halal food, and using the idea of something not being halal to reject or interfere with others’ secular lives”).

149 See Asad, supra note 18, at 31–32.

150 Pankaj Mishra, Age of Anger: A History of the Present (2017).

151 Even Muslim majority countries, such as twentieth-century Egypt, provide evidence for this claim. See Asad, supra note 18, at 210.

152 See Douglas, supra note 13, at 42.

153 See Valeri, supra note 46, at 60.

154 See, e.g., SHARIAsource, (last visited Jan. 19, 2019), and especially, “Symposium: The Legal Basis for Female Clerics among Chinese Muslims,” (last visited Jan. 19, 2019),

155 See, e.g., Bowen, supra note 30, at 422–23 (citing Uddin v. Choudhury [2009] EWCA (Civ) 1205, (Eng.)). See also Jones v. Wolf, 443 U.S. 595, 604 (1979) (finding that a civil court must “scrutinize the [religious] document in purely secular terms”).

156 Timothy D. Lytton, Kosher: Private Regulation in the Age of Industrial Food (2013).

157 Id. at 68, 118, 148.

158 Id. at 74.

159 See supra text accompanying note 78.

160 See Lytton, supra note 156, at 131.

161 Klein, Jacob A., Everyday Approaches to Food Safety in Kunming, 214 China Quarterly, 376–93 (2013)CrossRefGoogle Scholar. A parallel case is that of environmental protection where the state has ceded considerable authority to environmental nongovernmental organizations. See, e.g., Schwartz, Jonathan, Environmental NGOs in China: Roles and Limits, 77 Pacific Affairs, 2849 (2004)Google Scholar.

162 See Douglas, supra note 13, at 41.