Muslim WakeUp! has an interesting article on East Turkestan.

I thoroughly enjoyed the article, and had a few thoughts that I posted in the comments, and which I am including here in the entirety. I’m doing this re-publication because I need it to set-up a post I’m working on regarding Shi’ism.

A very well researched piece, thank you for sharing. I have two comments on it that I’d like to share. You mention that racial divisions in Islam did not really exist until the colonial period, and I’m not sure that is as true as you indicate. In S. H. Nasr’s “Muhammad Man of God,” you can read the Prophet’s (PBUH) last sermon where he talks about not being divided by the color of skin, or point of origin (very broad paraphrase). Bilal and Salman al-Farsi were know to have experienced a great deal of discrimination at the hands of the Muhajir community; even within the Arab community, the Ansar were considered as lesser than the Muhajir, although less linked to race it was a division based on North-South distinctions.

Looking at Arabic, Persian and Urdu poetry, ethnic groups are clearly “othered,” and the group being stylized is based on the time period; the rising minority is often the basis of a new poetic trope.

More recently, the Hazaras in Afghanistan have been butchered because of their ethnicity, and it started in the pre-colonial period.

I do agree with you that the colonial mindset did exacerbate racial and ethnic divisions, but I also believe that those tendencies existed and exhibited themselves long before then.

The other point I’d like to make is that, while I appreciate your focus is on the Turkic Muslims of Xinjiang, there are also substanstial numbers of Tajik/Persian Muslims in the region as well. These Muslims are further marginalized because they tend to be predominantely Shi’ah. The Shi’ah dynamic is an important one in understanding how the situation in the area is ignored by large parts of the ummah.