Libmonster ID: VN-1241
Author(s) of the publication: P. TSVETOV

A foreigner visiting Vietnam is unlikely to notice traces of the presence of one of the world's religions - Islam-in this country of the Indochina Peninsula. Nevertheless, in any reference book of Vietnam, among other denominations, the most numerous of which is Buddhist, there is also mention of the presence of a Muslim denomination in this country.

The population of the Socialist Republic of Vietnam at the end of 2003 totaled 80,782 thousand people, of which, according to the Vietnam Father Front, active believers - Buddhists, Christians (mainly Catholics), Taoists, Confucians, adherents of the ancestral cult and syncretic religions, and Muslims - make up 20%. Currently, official statistics of the Socialist Republic of Vietnam classify more than 70 thousand of its citizens as Muslims .1

Vietnam now has more than 60 mosques, including in Hanoi and Haiphong. In these two major cities of North Vietnam, as in Ho Chi Minh City, mosques are primarily used for worship by non - citizens of Vietnam: in Hanoi - by diplomats of Islamic states and students from Arab countries (for example, Palestinians); in Haiphong, a major port, by sailors and merchants from abroad who profess Islam; in Hanoi-by Muslim diplomats and students from Arab countries (for example, Palestinians). Ho Chi Minh City - both. In addition, Islam is practiced by people who have long lived here from the Hindustan Peninsula, for example, Tamils, who in colonial times were engaged in usury and trade in fabrics in Saigon (since 1976 - Ho Chi Minh City).

There are only a few representatives of the titular nation - the Viet (Kinh) - who profess Islam. These are usually mestizos. For example, in Hanoi, there are no more than 20 Muslim Vietas, and 15 of them belong to the same family, whose common ancestor was a native of the area of modern Pakistan, who married a Vietnamese woman in the 20s of the XX century.

The rest, most of the Muslims of Vietnam belong to the Tham (or Cham) people. The Tjamas are an Austroasiatic ethnic group whose ancestors established the state of Tjampa in the second century AD in what is now Central and Southern Vietnam. In the 15th century. Tiampa was conquered by the Vietas, who made their famous "March to the South", during which the Vietas, suffering from agricultural overpopulation in the Red River Delta, seized land up to

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Cape Kamau. It is with Tiampa that researchers associate the penetration, and then the spread of Islam in the territory of modern Vietnam.

As early as the eighth and ninth centuries, Arab and Persian navigators, merchants, and clerics visited the Tyampian ports. A significant proportion of them were Shiites. Two stone stelae with Arabic inscriptions found in the early 20th century by French researchers in the area of the modern city of Fanrang, dating back to the 11th century, indicate that in the main Tyamp port of Pandurang (Fanrang) at that time there was a fairly large Muslim community (about 300 people), represented by merchants, artisans, scientists, and clerics. There are suggestions that in the XIII-XV centuries, the trading community of Panduranga was also actively contacted by Muslims from the southern provinces of China. It is possible that Muslims from Central Asia entered Tyampa via the same "Chinese" route. The influence of Islam on the population of Tiampa was also strengthened by the country's ties with the Malay-Indonesian world, especially in the XIII-XIV centuries. In the course of these contacts, the population of this state was voluntarily Islamized.

After the fall of Tiampa under the blows of the Viet troops, a significant part of the population of this state fled to Malacca and Cambodia. Islamization of Tyams who fled abroad continued within the framework of neighboring states. Later, a significant part of their descendants returned to Vietnam.

The same Tyams who remained in the territory occupied by the Viets retained formal allegiance to Islam, but lost contact with foreign Muslim centers. As a result, elements of the earlier beliefs of the Tyams - Hinduism and animism-were reinforced in their worldview. This so-called "old Islam" or" Bani Islam " is now practiced by 30 thousand Tyams living mainly in the three coastal provinces of Ninh Thuan, Binh Thuan and Khanh Hoa. Currently, they form four communities, each with its own mosque.

Islam-Bani has retained the influence of Shiism, which is reflected in the special reverence of Imam Ali.

But otherwise, the baths can hardly be called devout Muslims. Fasting in Ramadan is not observed by everyone. According to the well-known Vietnamese ethnographer Phan Xuan Bien, eating during Ramadan is avoided only by clergymen-baths and then only for the first three days2 . There is no information that bani perform Hajj to Mecca, but "zakat" is paid. They use a peculiar text of the Koran, where the classical Arabic text is interspersed with Tyam vocabulary, although this version of the holy book remains incomprehensible to many .3

Women at tyam-bani are more free than in the usual Islamic society: they have the right to decide many issues in the family, in particular, they have the initiative in choosing a husband who lives with his wife's family after the wedding. The account of kinship is kept on the female line. Bath women do not cover their faces when going outside. Perhaps this is a consequence of the matriarchy that reigned here for a long time.

And the Tyams have their own banya holidays. The most revered Kate is celebrated in September-October and is associated with the worship of the sun. Next most important holiday-

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nick-Kabua-falls on January-February, is associated with the cult of the earth and mother nature. An important place is given to the holiday in honor of the founder of the Tyamp state. They bury the baths according to the Muslim rite, but there are also remnants of pre-Islamic cults, for example, there is a rite of preventing the return of the souls of the dead, etc.

In contrast to the banya, orthodox Tyam Muslims, who live mainly in the provinces of Anjiang, Taininh, Binh Phuoc, and Ho Chi Minh City, adhere quite strictly to the rules and rituals of Sunni Islam. They live according to the Muslim calendar, including fasting in Ramadan, tend to send their children to study in religious educational institutions in Saudi Arabia, Malaysia, Indonesia and Thailand, and perform the Hajj in Mecca. But the number of pilgrims is small and unstable.

The history of relations between Vietnam's Muslims and the main ethnic group, the Vietas, does not contain particularly dramatic conflicts, but at the same time it cannot be called cloudless. A constant irritant is the historical fact that it was the Vietnamese feudal lords who defeated Tiampa, and its inhabitants found themselves in the position of a national minority in the Vietnamese state. The idea of restoring their own statehood is periodically revived in the minds of individual representatives of tyams. In the late 1950s and early 1960s, the ruling regime in Saigon and American intelligence agencies tried to put together separate organizations from the Muslim peoples of Vietnam. Thus, in 1958, the "Association of Tham Muslims of Vietnam" (CVMA) was established, and in 1966 the "Front for the Liberation of the Tham Race" (FLC). The latter a year later joined the infamous FULRO ("United Front for the Liberation of Oppressed Races"), which during the years of American aggression in Indochina spoke out with anti-communist positions, and after the unification of Vietnam in 1976 and until the end of the 80s.worried the Hanoi authorities with its terrorist acts.

Therefore, the Government of the Socialist Republic of Vietnam in the first twenty years after the reunification of the country, when the areas where mostly Muslims lived came under its control, treated them with a significant degree of suspicion. Attempts by a number of Arab countries to provide material assistance to their brothers in faith in Vietnam (for example, Libyan leader Muammar Gaddafi proposed to build a large mosque) were blocked by Hanoi in order to avoid "alien ideological and political influence" on its citizens.

With the adjustment of Vietnam's foreign policy in the 1990s and the transition to multilateral diplomacy, especially after its accession to ASEAN in 1995, where the weight of such Islamic states as Malaysia and Indonesia is very noticeable, Muslims in Vietnam were able to exercise more of their rights, which are also defined in the country's constitution. Article 70 of the Basic Law of Vietnam states: "Citizens have the right to freedom of conscience, religion, the right to profess any religion or not to profess any. All religions are equal before the law. " 4

In their daily practice, Vietnamese Muslims, as well as representatives of other faiths, should be guided by the Decree of the Government of Vietnam of March 21, 1991 on religious activities, which stipulates that issues of religious propaganda, religious education, the construction of religious buildings, and maintaining ties with co-religionists abroad should be resolved in coordination with the executive authorities of Vietnam. For example, opening a madrasah requires government approval, and building a new mosque in a densely populated Muslim area requires the approval of the provincial People's Committee. In October 2000, an important government decree was issued that defined the ownership of land plots by religious communities. According to this document, land plots on which religious buildings were already located were transferred to them for use (the right of private property in the Vietnamese legislation).-

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ve does not apply to land). As for the acquisition of land for the construction of new churches, these issues were transferred to the local People's Committees.

The authorities of the Socialist Republic of Vietnam are guided by the idea of achieving national unity under the leadership of the Communist Party. One of the ways to achieve this goal is to form associations (fraternities) these or other confessions that would be included in the Fatherland Front led by the Communist Party of Vietnam. Thus, the Vietnam Catholic Unity Committee and the Vietnam Buddhist Congregation were established (it should be borne in mind that not all Catholics and Buddhists are members of these official organizations). It has not yet been possible to create a single all-Vietnamese Muslim organization. By far the largest and most efficient organization, according to the Vietnamese press, is the Representative Office of the Islamic Community of Ho Chi Minh City, established in 1992.

Recent years have been marked by a number of positive steps in the Vietnamese government's relations with Muslims, including the Tjams. The Koran with parallel texts in Arabic and Vietnamese, dictionaries of the Tyam language were published.

Vietnam's diplomacy has traditionally enjoyed good relations with many Arab countries, which during the Cold War were viewed by Hanoi as allies in the anti-imperialist struggle. Vietnam takes the side of the Arabs in the Palestinian - Israeli conflict, as stated by Vietnam's Foreign Minister Nguyen Zi Nien at the 58th session of the UN General Assembly in September 2003: "Vietnam continues to support the just cause and the inalienable rights of the Palestinian people." 5 In the 1990s, the political factors of rapprochement between the two countries led to an increase in the number of economic ties with Muslim countries in the Middle East have increased: Vietnam exported labor there (several tens of thousands of Vietnamese worked in Iraq, Syria, Saudi Arabia and other countries) and the main agricultural product of the country-rice.

It is noteworthy that over the past decade, contacts with Muslim countries abroad have also expanded in a purely religious way. Since 1995, Vietnamese Muslims have participated in the annual "International Festival of Koran Readers" held in Kuala Lumpur.

However, the presence of Muslim culture in modern Vietnamese society is not immediately noticeable. Of course, mosques differ in their architecture from other buildings in this country, and on the facade they have both Latin and Arabic script written that this is a mosque, but there are few of them. And women in a hijab or burqa are rarely seen on the streets of Vietnam. And Muslim cuisine is usually prepared only in restaurants of large hotels or in Indian restaurants in Hanoi and Ho Chi Minh City, but not every tourist will look there.

Speaking about the future of the Muslim community in Vietnam, we can assume that the policy of modernizing all aspects of society in Vietnam, taking into account world experience, and further expanding international relations, including with the Islamic world, will lead to the fact that this denomination will take a more prominent place in Vietnamese society, although the number of adherents of this religion is unlikely li will increase significantly, as Islam will continue to be limited to people who are not part of the main ethnic group of the country. It is possible that Islamic fundamentalists will try to include co-religionists of this country in their geopolitical projects (as is happening in Thailand and the Philippines), but this will certainly cause a negative reaction from the administrative authorities of Vietnam.


1 Nghien cuu ton giao, 2001, N 1, tr. 46.

2 Vietnam social sciences, 1993, N 3, p. 59.

3 Nghien cuu ton giao, 2001, N 1, tr. 48.

4 Hien phap Viet nam (nam 1946, 1959, 1980 va 1992), Ha noi, 1995, tr. 159.

5 "Ha noi moi", 28.09.03.


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