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A Journey Through Time : How Vietnam's Muslim Community Thrives
PEOPLE Vietnam

A Journey Through Time : How Vietnam's Muslim Community Thrives

The Muslim community in Vietnam has a long and diverse history, with its origins dating back to the seventh century. While the majority of the population in Vietnam is Buddhist, Muslims have played an integral role in shaping the country's cultural and social fabric. In this article, we will explore the history of the Muslim community in Vietnam.

The earliest records of Islam in Vietnam can be traced back to the seventh century when Arab traders visited the region. 

The origin of Muslim penetration into Vietnam can be traced back to the early 7th century when Arab traders from the Middle East, India, and China began to establish trade links with the Champa kingdom, a Hindu and Buddhist civilization that occupied central and southern Vietnam. The Chams were seafaring people who were renowned for their maritime trade and their ability to navigate the seas.

As the Champa kingdom began to expand its trade network, it came into contact with Arab traders who introduced Islam to the Chams. According to some accounts, the first Muslim to arrive in Champa was Said Ibn Abi Waqqas, one of the companions of Prophet Muhammad. Ibn Abi Waqqas is said to have arrived in Champa in 618 CE, although some scholars dispute this claim.

Vietnamese muslim young girl |
Vietnamese muslim young girl |

Over time, Islam spread among the Chams, who established mosques and Islamic schools throughout the kingdom. The Chams embraced Islam for a variety of reasons, including its commercial benefits and its perceived superiority over the indigenous religions of Vietnam.

The Champa kingdom was eventually conquered by the Vietnamese in the late 15th century, and many Cham Muslims were assimilated into Vietnamese society. However, the legacy of Islam in Vietnam continued, with many Vietnamese adopting the religion and new Muslim communities being established in the country.

The Muslim influence in Vietnam can be seen in the country's architecture, cuisine, and cultural practices. For example, many Vietnamese dishes, such as banh mi and pho, have been influenced by Islamic cuisine. Additionally, many Vietnamese mosques incorporate elements of traditional Cham architecture, such as red brick and terra cotta tiles.

Today, the Muslim community in Vietnam is a diverse and vibrant community that is actively involved in promoting interfaith dialogue and understanding. While the origins of Islam in Vietnam can be traced back to the early 7th century, the religion continues to evolve and adapt to the changing cultural and political landscape of the country.

During the 17th and 18th centuries, Vietnam was ruled by the Nguyen Dynasty. The Nguyen rulers were initially hostile to Islam and persecuted Muslims in the country. However, as trade relations with the Muslim world expanded, the Nguyen Dynasty began to tolerate the presence of Muslims in Vietnam.

In the late 19th century, French colonial rule brought a new wave of Muslims to Vietnam. Many Muslim soldiers from Algeria and Tunisia were sent to Vietnam to fight in the French army. These soldiers settled in Vietnam and established communities in cities such as Hanoi and Ho Chi Minh City.

During the Vietnam War, the Muslim community played an active role in supporting the North Vietnamese government. Muslim soldiers fought alongside their Vietnamese counterparts, and Muslim charities provided assistance to the civilian population.

According to the April 1999 census in Vietnam, there were 63,146 Muslims, with over 77% living in the South Central Coast region. The majority of this population resided in Ninh Thuận Province, Bình Thuận Province, and Ho Chi Minh City, while an additional 22% lived in the Mekong Delta region, primarily in An Giang Province. Only 1% of Muslims lived in other regions of the country. This is a significant shift from earlier reports, which indicated that almost half of the Muslim population lived in the Mekong Delta prior to 1975, and the Muslim community in Ho Chi Minh City alone was reported to consist of nearly 10,000 individuals as late as 1985.

Despite facing discrimination and marginalization in the past, Vietnamese Muslims have made significant contributions to the country's cultural and economic development. Muslim entrepreneurs have established successful businesses in Vietnam, and the community has played an important role in promoting interfaith dialogue and understanding.

In recent years, the Vietnamese government has taken steps to promote religious freedom and tolerance in the country. In 2016, the government passed a new law on belief and religion, which aims to protect the rights of religious groups in Vietnam.

However, challenges remain for the Muslim community in Vietnam. Some Muslims continue to face discrimination and harassment, and there have been reports of government surveillance of Muslim communities.

Despite these challenges, the Muslim community in Vietnam remains resilient and committed to promoting peace and understanding in the country. As Vietnam continues to grow and develop, the Muslim community will undoubtedly play an important role in shaping the country's future.


  1. Huynh, K. T. (2011). Muslims in Vietnam: a minority amidst integration and identity crisis. Journal of Muslim Minority Affairs, 31(4), 513-525.
  2. Fisher, S. (2006). Muslims in Vietnam: A Review of Recent Research. Journal of Southeast Asian Studies, 37(2), 267-278.
  3. Thayer, C. A. (2015). Muslims in Vietnam: a demographic overview. Contemporary Southeast Asia, 37(3), 357-380.
  4. "Vietnam". Encyclopædia Britannica. Encyclopædia Britannica, Inc. Retrieved 27 April 2017.


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