Islamic Thought in China: Sino-Muslim Intellectual Evolution in the 17th–21st Centuries


This summer Edinburgh University Press will publish a new edited collection, Islamic Thought in China: Sino-Muslim Intellectual Evolution from the 17th to the 21st Century. I am proud to have a chapter included with this group of amazing international scholars.

The volume grew out of a number of panels on Islam in China that occurred over a few years at the Association for Asian Studies (AAS). Jonathan Lipman, our sheikh of Sino-Islamic history, worked tirelessly to complete the project despite his own health issues. Overall, this is a great collection that will be valuable for anyone interested in the subject but not sure where to start. You can find out more from EUP or Oxford University Press.

Book DescriptionHow can people belong simultaneously to two cultures, originating in two different places and expressed in two different languages, without alienating themselves from either? Muslims have lived in the Chinese culture area for 1400 years, and the intellectuals among them have long wrestled with this problem. Unlike Persian, Turkish, Urdu, or Malay, the Chinese language never adopted vocabulary from Arabic to enable a precise understanding of Islam’s religious and philosophical foundations. Islam thus had to be translated into Chinese, which lacks words and arguments to justify monotheism, exclusivity, and other features of this Middle Eastern religion. Even in the 21st century, Muslims who are culturally Chinese must still justify their devotion to a single God, avoidance of pork, and their communities’ distinctiveness, among other things, to sceptical non-Muslim neighbours and an increasingly intrusive state.

The essays in this collection narrate the continuing translations and adaptations of Islam and Muslims in Chinese culture and society through the writings of Sino-Muslim intellectuals. Progressing chronologically and interlocking thematically, they help the reader develop a coherent understanding of the intellectual issues at stake.

Table of Contents

Editor’s Introduction: Four Centuries of Islamic Thought in Chinese; Jonathan Lipman

Part I: The Qing Empire (1636-1912)
Chapter 1. A Proper Place for God: Ma Zhu’s Chinese Islamic Cosmogenesis, Jonathan Lipman

Chapter 2. Liu Zhi: The Great Integrator of Chinese Islamic Thought, James D. Frankel

Chapter 3. Tianfang Sanzijing: Exchanges and Changes in China’s Reception of Islamic Law, Roberta Tontini

Chapter 4. The Multiple Meanings of Pilgrimage in Sino-Islamic Thought, Kristian Petersen

Part II: Modern China
Chapter 5. Ethnicity or Religion? Republican-Era Chinese Debates on Islam and Muslims, Wlodzimierz Cieciura

Chapter 6. Selective Learning from the Middle East: The Case of Sino-Muslim Students at al-Azhar University, Yufeng Mao

Chapter 7. Secularization and Modernization of Islam in China: Educational Reform, Japanese Occupation, and the Disappearance of Persian Learning, Masumi Matsumoto

Chapter 8. Between ‘Abd al-Wahhab and Liu Zhi: Chinese Muslim Intellectuals at the Turn of the 21st Century, Leila Chérif-Chebbi



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