Islam in China

Screen Shot 2017-05-02 at 11.13.47 AMInterpreting Islam in China: Pilgrimage, Scripture, and Language in the Han Kitab. Oxford University Press, 2017.

Interpreting Islam in China explores the contours of the Sino-Islamic intellectual tradition through the works of some of its brightest luminaries in order to identify and explicate pivotal transitions in their engagement with the Islamic tradition. Three prominent Sino-Muslims authors are representative of major junctures within the history of Sino-Islamic thought and are used to illustrate discursive transformations within this tradition, Wang Daiyu 王岱輿 (1590-1658), the earliest important author; Liu Zhi 劉智 (1670-1724), the most prolific scholar; and Ma Dexin 馬德新 (1794-1874), the last major intellectual in pre-modern China. Through an analysis of the subjects of pilgrimage, scripture, and language this project fosters an exploration of broader issues of vernacularization, dialogics, translation, centers and peripheries,  and tradition in their writings.


Future Projects

The Treasure of the Heavenly Scripture: Translating the Qur’an in China. (In Progress).

This project explores the Sino-Islamic intellectual engagement with the Qur’an. I focus on several key authors, including Wang Daiyu 王岱輿 (1590-1658), Zhang Zhong 張中 (ca. 1584-1661), Wu Zixian 伍子先 (1612-1680) , Ma Zhu 馬注 (ca. 1620-1711) , Liu Zhi 劉智 (1670-1724), Lan Xu 藍煦 , Ma Dexin 馬德新 (1794-1874), and Ma Jian 馬堅 (1906-1978). The overall objective of this book is to introduce the Sino-Islamic intellectual tradition to a broad audience through the lens of Qur’anic exegesis. Since the Qur’an was the foundational text for Sino-Muslim authors, and all Muslims, it serves as a distinct lens for understanding Chinese resemblances and variations from other Muslim communities. This historical narrative is examined through both specific Sino-Muslim historical circumstances and broader theoretical concerns that pertain to all Muslim communities, especially the notion of translation of scripture. Through an analysis of various authors’ writings I attempt to respond to several questions: how did key authors in the Sino-Islamic intellectual tradition employ the Qur’an and why did they not compose traditional tafsir works, why was there no complete Qur’an translated into Chinese until the mid-nineteenth century, how did increasing contact with Muslims in the Middle East and exposure to Arabic effect Sino-Muslims Qur’anic engagement, and what theological concerns did Sino-Muslim address when translating scripture. The specific patterns and methods utilized by Sino-Muslims will help understand broader questions: how malleable are religious categories, why are they variously interpreted across time, how do changing historical circumstances affect the interpretation of scripture, and how do individuals navigate multiple sources of scriptural authority. These queries add to our understanding of Sino-Islamic intellectual history but will also present comparative models for examining other non-Arabic speaking Muslim communities more generally. It is hoped that the results of this book will also foster further discussions across research in Qur’anic engagement within Asian Muslim communities more generally. This project is being developed as part of the  Qur’anic Studies Series with the Institute of Ismaili Studies published by Oxford University Press.

Heirs of Tradition, Authors of Originality: Islam South of the Clouds

This project investigates how Ma Dexin (1794-1874) and his primary students, Ma Lianyuan 馬聯元 (1841-1895) and Ma Anli 馬安禮 (d. 1899), transformed Sino-Islamic thought in the late nineteenth century. They represent a school of thought that embraced their Chinese intellectual forefathers while integrating broader trends of Islamic thought. They demonstrate the culmination of the intellectual tradition in which Chinese Muslims reestablished their reliance on Arabic for scholarly production in conjunction with traditional Chinese scholarship. I determine how they skillfully balanced Arabic and Chinese discourses in their representation of Islam.

Evangelical Encounters: Muslim Responses to Missiological Projects in China

This project analyzes the work of American and French missionaries throughout China during the nineteenth and twentieth centuries among Sino-Muslims. It assesses the differences in approach and findings between the two camps. It also looks at Sino-Muslim responses to the Christian missions, specifically Ma Lianyuan’s Chusan chongyi 黜三崇一 (Dismiss the Trinity and Honor the One) and Ma Dexin’s Juli Zhizheng 據理質證 (Reasonable Evidence)/Akadhib al-Nasara (Lies of the Christians).