Yuting Wang

Yuting Wang received her Ph.D. in Sociology from the University of Notre Dame, USA. Her research mainly focuses on Muslim immigrants in the United States and Muslim minorities in China. Her forthcoming book titled Between Islam and the American Dream (Routeldge, 2013) argues that the social contexts shaped by the 9/11 events facilitate rather than impede the "Americanization" of Muslim immigrants. She has also published journal articles and book chapters on Muslim entrepreneurs in China. She is currently Assistant Professor of Sociology at the American University of Sharjah in the United Arab Emirates.

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Tuesday, October 8th, 2013

The “good” and the “bad” Muslims of China

The slim crescent that rose above the skyline on July 9th signifies the beginning of this year’s holy month of Ramadan in the United Arab Emirates (UAE), where I have been teaching for the last four years. Pious Muslims abstain from food, drink, smoking, sex, swearing, and other unlawful behaviors from dawn to dusk, following the traditions of the Prophet to get closer to God. During this sacred month of spiritual renewal, the ritual of sharing food after sunset, known as Iftar, serves important social functions such as bringing families together and reinforcing community bonds. As the last strands of sunlight disappear from the horizon, many celebrate the day by enjoying a lavish dinner with friends and family. In the UAE, as everywhere else, Iftar parties have also become an opportunity for Muslims to reach out to non-Muslims and for non-Muslims to reciprocate the hospitality.

I have been fortunate enough to attend a number of Iftars parties this Ramadan, hosted by several institutions, both secular and religious. The most recent Iftar party that I attended was hosted by the Chinese Consulate General in Dubai, in a popular family restaurant situated on the legendary Sheikh Zayed Road. To strengthen the Unified Front and in the interest of building harmonious relationships among Chinese communities overseas, the Consul General extended invitations to more than 150 Chinese expatriates from various walks of life and different ethnic backgrounds, both Muslims and non-Muslims.

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