Islam in China has existed through 1,400 years of continuous interaction with Chinese society. Currently, Muslims are a significant minority group in China. Hui Muslims are the majority Muslim group in China. The greatest concentration is in Xinjiang, with a significant Uyghur population. Lesser but significant populations reside in the regions of Ningxia, Gansu, and Qinghai. Various sources estimate different numbers of adherents with some sources indicating that 1.5-4% of the total population in China are Muslims. Of China's 55 officially recognized minority peoples, ten groups are predominantly Sunni Muslim.
Chinese Muslims have been in China for the last 1,400 years of continuous interaction with Chinese society. "Islam expanded gradually across the maritime and inland silk routes from the 7th to the 10th centuries through trade and diplomatic exchanges."
According to Chinese Muslims' traditional legendary accounts, Islam was first introduced to China in 616-18 AD by Sahaba (companions) of Prophet Muhammad : Sa`d ibn Abi Waqqas, Sayid, Wahab ibn Abu Kabcha and another Sahaba. Wahab ibn abu Kabcha (Wahb abi Kabcha) may have been be a son of al-Harth ibn Abdul Uzza (also known as Abu Kabsha). It is noted in other accounts that Wahab Abu Kabcha reached Canton by sea in 629 CE.
Sa`ad ibn Abi Waqqas, along with three Sahabas, namely Suhayla Abuarja, Uwais al-Qarani, and Hassan ibn Thabit, returned to China from Arabia in 637 by the Yunan-Manipur-Chittagong route, then reached Arabia by sea. Some sources date the introduction of Islam in China to 650 AD, the third sojourn of Saad ibn abi Waqqas, when he was sent as an official envoy to Emperor Gaozong during Caliph Uthman's reign.
Earlier visits of Saad ibn abi Waqqas were noted in Arab accounts since it was a period of nascent Islam mixed with events of many hectic preaching and warfare. They (Sahabas) were more concerned with writings of verses of the Koran as revealed to Muhammad, and his sayings and ways of life. According to China Muslims' traditional legendary accounts, Islam was first brought to China by an embassy led by Saad ibn abi Waqqas that was sent by Uthman, the third Caliph, (that was in 651, less than twenty years after the death of Muhammad) which are confusions with Saad ibn abi Waqqas's earlier visits. The embassy was led by Sa'ad ibn Abī Waqqās, the second cousin of Muhammad. Emperor Gaozong, the Tang emperor who received the envoy then ordered the construction of the Memorial mosque in Canton, the first mosque in the country, in memory of Muhammad.
While modern secular historians tend to say that there is no evidence for Waqqās himself ever coming to China, they do believe that Muslim diplomats and merchants came to Tang China within a few decades from the beginning of the Muslim Era. The Tang Dynasty's cosmopolitan culture, with its intensive contacts with Central Asia and its significant communities of (originally non-Muslim) Central and Western Asian merchants resident in Chinese cities, which helped the introduction of Islam. The first major Muslim settlements in China consisted of Arab and Persian merchants. During the Tang and especially the Song eras, comparatively well-established, even if somewhat segregated, mercantile Muslim communities existed in the port cities of Guangzhou, Quanzhou, and Hangzhou on China's southeastern seaboard, as well as in the interior centers such as Chang'an, Kaifeng, and Yangzhou. After critical analysis, it is evident that Saad ibn abi Waqqas and the three other Sahabas who were preaching from 616-18 were noticed by Emperor Wu-De by 618 AD. Guangzhou is home to four mosques, including the famous Huaisheng Mosque believed to have been built by Saad ibn Abi Waqqas, the second cousin of Muhammad . The city also has a grave believed to be that of ibn Abi Waqqas (father of Sa'd ibn abi Waqqas).
Islam was brought to China during the Tang dynasty by Arab traders, who were primarily concerned with trading and commerce. It was because of this low profile that the 845 anti-Buddhist edict during the Great Anti-Buddhist Persecution said absolutely nothing about Islam. It seems that trade occupied the attention of the early Muslim settlers, coming and going between China and the West by the oversea or the overland routes.
By the time of the Song Dynasty, Muslims had come to play a major role in the import/export industry. The office of Director General of Shipping was consistently held by a Muslim during this period. In 1070, the Song emperor Shenzong invited 5,300 Muslim men from Bukhara, to settle in China in order to create a buffer zone between the Chinese and the Liao empire in the northeast. Later on these men were settled between the Sung capital of Kaifeng and Yenching (modern day Beijing). They were led by Prince Amir Sayyid "So-fei-er" (his Chinese name) who was called the "father" of the Muslim community in China. Prior to him Islam was