Review #2: Islamic Thought in China: Sino-Muslim Intellectual Evolution

A second review of Islamic Thought in China: Sino-Muslim Intellectual Evolution in the 17th–21st Centuries just came out in Cross-Currents: East Asian History and Culture Review.

Zvi Ben-Dor Benite, Professor at New York University, and author of The Dao of Muhammad: A Cultural History of Muslims in Late Imperial China (Harvard, 2005), provides a brief history of scholarship on Islam in China before reviewing three new books, including our volumeMatthew S. ErieChina and Islam: The Prophet, the Party, and Law (Cambridge University Press, 2016), and Roberta Tontini, Muslim Sanzijing: Shifts and Continuities in the Definition of Islam in China (Brill, 2016). The review titled “Chinese Islam: A Complete Concert” covers a great deal and gives a comprehensive overview of this field (34 pages long!).

Commenting on my contribution to the volume, “The Multiple Meanings of Pilgrimage in Sino-Islamic Thought,” he says:

Petersen’s reading of how these three well-known Chinese Muslim thinkers grappled with the obligation to perform the Hajj is innovative in the sense that he approaches them as Islamic thinkers first and foremost and investigates a specific question: how did they approach this fundamental “pillar of Islam” as Muslims? Petersen, who brings the discipline of religious studies into the fold, interrogates the Chinese texts as Islamic texts, paying attention to matters of language and theology. This kind of comparative exercise is a novelty in the field, and the outcome of this framing of the research is thus different than what we have been familiar with (184-5).

My chapter in Islamic Thought in China is expanded in chapter 3 “Routes of the Hajj Pilgrimage: Belief, Practice, and Performance” of my book, Interpreting Islam in China: Pilgrimage, Scripture, and Language in the Han Kitab.

Benite also adds a brief note about my book Interpreting Islam in China (the first citation, and its not even out yet):

Petersen (2017) is the first serious introduction of this last and least-studied Han Kitab scholar, Ma Dexin; at same time, the book offers a systematic reading of key religious issues in the Han Kitab as Islamic studies, like no one before.

You can read the entire review here.


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