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Islam in Vietnam

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Title: Islam in Vietnam  
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Subject: Islam by country, Islam in Cambodia, Islam in Iran, Religion in Vietnam, Islam in Macau
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Islam in Vietnam

Mosque in Ho Chi Minh City

Islam in Vietnam is primarily the religion of the Cham people, a minority ethnic group related to Malays; however, roughly one-third of the Muslims in Vietnam are of other ethnic groups.[1][2] There is also a community describing themselves of mixed ethnic origins (Cham, Khmer, Malay, Minang, Viet, Chinese and Arab), who practice Islam and are also known as Cham, or Cham Muslims, around the region of Châu Đốc in the Southwest.[3]


  • History 1
  • Demographics 2
  • Official representation 3
  • See also 4
  • References 5
    • Notes 5.1
    • Sources 5.2
    • Census tables 5.3


Jamiul Muslimin Mosque, Ho Chi Minh City

Uthman ibn Affan, the third Caliph of Islam, the legends have it, sent the first official Muslim envoy to Vietnam and Tang Dynasty China in 650. Seafaring Muslim traders are known to have made stops at ports in the Champa Kingdom en route to China very early in the history of Islam; however, the earliest material evidence of the transmission of Islam consists of Song Dynasty-era documents from China which record that the Cham familiarised themselves with Islam in the late 10th and early 11th centuries.[4][5] The number of followers began to increase as contacts with Sultanate of Malacca broadened in the wake of the 1471 collapse of the Champa Kingdom, but Islam would not become widespread among the Cham until the mid-17th century.[6] In the mid-19th century, many Muslim Chams emigrated from Cambodia and settled in the Mekong Delta region, further bolstering the presence of Islam in Vietnam. Malayan Islam began to have an increasing influence on the Chams in the early 20th century; religions publications were imported from Malaya, Malay clerics gave khutba (sermons) in mosques in the Malay language, and some Cham people went to Malayan madrasah to further their studies of Islam.[7][8]

Cham Muslims and Hindus formed the Cham Liberation Front (Front de Liberation du Champa, FLC) led by the Muslim Lieutenant-Colonel Les Kosem to fight against both North and South Vietnam during the Vietnam War in order to obtain Cham independence. The Cham Liberation from joined with the Montagnards and Khmer Krom to form the United Front for the Liberation of Oppressed Races (Front Uni de Lutte des Races Opprimées, FULRO) to fight the Vietnamese.

After the 1976 establishment of the Socialist Republic of Vietnam, some of the 55,000 Muslim Chams emigrated to Malaysia. 1,750 were also accepted as immigrants by Yemen; most settled in Ta'izz. Those who remained did not suffer violent persecution, although some writers claim that their mosques were closed by the government.[1] In 1981, foreign visitors to Vietnam were still permitted to speak to indigenous Muslims and pray alongside them, and a 1985 account described Ho Chi Minh City's Muslim community as being especially ethnically diverse: aside from Cham people, there were also Indonesians, Malays, Pakistanis, Yemenis, Omanis, and North Africans; their total numbers were roughly 10,000 at the time.[6] However, Vietnam's Muslims remained relatively isolated from the mainstream of world Islam, and their isolation, combined with the lack of religious schools, caused the practice of Islam in Vietnam to become increasingly syncretic. Command of Arabic is not widespread even among religious leaders, and some Muslims are reported to pray to Ali and refer to him as the "Son of God".[1]

Vietnam's largest mosque was opened in January 2006 in Xuân Lộc, Đồng Nai Province; its construction was partially funded by donations from Saudi Arabia.[9]


Mosque in An Giang Province

Vietnam's April 1999 census showed 63,146 Muslims. Over 77% lived in the Southeast Region, with 34% in Ninh Thuận Province, 24% in Bình Thuận Province, and 9% in Ho Chi Minh City; another 22% lived in the Mekong Delta region, primarily in An Giang Province. Only 1% of Muslims lived in other regions of the country. The number of believers is gender-balanced to within 2% in every area of major concentration except An Giang, where the population of Muslim women is 7.5% larger than the population of Muslim men.[10] This distribution is somewhat changed from that observed in earlier reports. Prior to 1975, almost half of the Muslims in the country lived in the Mekong Delta, and as late as 1985, the Muslim community in Ho Chi Minh was reported to consist of nearly 10,000 individuals.[1][6] Of the 54,775 members of the Muslim population over age 5, 13,516, or 25%, were currently attending school, 26,134, or 48%, had attended school in the past, and the remaining 15,121, or 27%, had never attended school, compared to 10% of the general population. This gives Muslims the second-highest rate of school non-attendance out of all religious groups in Vietnam (the highest rate being that for Protestants, at 34%). The school non-attendance rate was 22% for males and 32% for females.[11] Muslims also had one of the lowest rate of university attendance, with less than 1% having attended any institution of higher learning, compared to just under 3% of the general population.[12]

Official representation

The Ho Chi Minh City Muslim Representative Committee was founded in 1991 with seven members; a similar body was formed in An Giang Province in 2004.[8]

See also



  1. ^ a b c d Farah 2003, pp. 283–284
  2. ^ Levinson & Christensen 2002, p. 90
  3. ^ Taylor 2007
  4. ^ Hourani 1995, pp. 70–71
  5. ^ GCRC 2006, p. 24
  6. ^ a b c Taouti 1985, pp. 197–198
  7. ^ Teng 2005
  8. ^ a b GCRC 2006, p. 26
  9. ^ "Xuan Loc district inaugurates the biggest Minster for Muslim followers", Dong Nai Radio and Television Station, 2006-01-16, retrieved 2007-03-29 
  10. ^ Census 1999, Table 83
  11. ^ Census 1999, Table 93
  12. ^ Census 1999, Table 104


  • Taylor, Philip (2007), Cham Muslims of the Mekong Delta: Place and Mobility in the Cosmopolitan Periphery, NUS Press, Singapore,  
  • De Feo, Agnès (2006), Trangressions de l'islam au Vietnam, Cahiers de l'Orient n°83, Paris 
  • Religion and policies concerning religion in Vietnam, Hanoi, Vietnam: Government Committee for Religious Affairs, 2006, retrieved 2007-03-29 
  • Teng, Chengda (2005), "当代越南占族与伊斯兰教 [Modern Vietnam's Cham People and Islam]", 《西北第二民族学院学报》 [Journal of the #2 Northwest Nationalities Academy] 1 
  • Farah, Caeser E. (2003), Islam:Beliefs and Observances, Barron's,  
  • Hourani, George Fadlo (1995), Arab Seafaring (expanded ed.), Princeton University Press,  
  • Levinson, David; Christensen, Karen (2002), Encyclopedia of Modern Asia, Thomson Gale,  
  • Taouti, Seddik (1985), "The Forgotten Muslims of Kampuchea and Viet Nam", in Datuk Ahmad Ibrahim; Yasmin Hussain; Siddique, Sharon, Readings on Islam in Southeast Asia, Institute of Southeast Asian Studies, pp. 193–202,  

Census tables

  • Table 83: Muslim believers as of 1 April 1999 by province and by sex (Excel), Tổng Cục Thống kê Việt Nam, 1999-04-01, retrieved 2007-03-29 
  • Table 93: Population aged 5 and over as of 1 April 1999 by religion, by sex and by school attendance (Excel), Tổng Cục Thống kê Việt Nam, 1999-04-01, retrieved 2007-03-29 
  • Table 104: Population aged 5 and over as of 1 April 1999 by religion, by sex and by education level (Attending/attended) (Excel), Tổng Cục Thống kê Việt Nam, 1999-04-01, retrieved 2007-03-29 
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