BEIJING-China's Northwest Xinjiang Uyghur Autonomous Region recently held training classes for Muslim clerics, which is aimed at guiding them to resist extremism and contribute to regional stability and prosperity.

The class was recently held in Urumqi, the capital city of Xinjiang, according to a statement released on the website of the United Front Work Department of the Communist Party of China Central Committee.

Muslim clerics are required to have a comprehensive understanding of Xinjiang's stability and development, the statement said and added the religion department should strengthen their politics, law and religious education.

The training sessions require the Muslim clerics to study traditional Chinese, the history of the country and the Party, especially the modern history of the country and of Xinjiang. They also need to learn Putonghua.

Xinjiang is home to 24,400 mosques and about 29,000 Muslim clerics. Since 2001, the State Administration for Religious Affairs has held 12 training sessions for Muslim clerics and has trained approximately 500 clerics for the region.

"Muslim clerics generally refer to imams, who are respected by Muslims. Trained imams can help tens of thousands of believers nurture patriotism and national unity," Gao Zhanfu, a vice dean of the

Beijing-based China Islamic Institute, told the Global Times.The China Islamic Association is about to compile textbooks for Muslim clerics around the country, which will further standardize their training. Professors who specialize in a certain subject are usually invited to train the clerics, Gao noted.