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Is China a House of Islam? Chinese Questions, Arabic Answers, and the Translation of Salafism from Cairo to Canton, 1930-1932

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Rashīd Riḍā's six fatwas to China, disregarded by historians of China and by historians of Salafism, greatly expand our historical understanding of transnational intellectual exchanges between Muslim reformers in the interwar period. The
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   󰀳󰀳 󰁉󰁳 󰁃󰁨󰁩󰁮󰁡 󰁡 󰁈󰁯󰁵󰁳󰁥 󰁯󰁦 󰁉󰁳󰁬󰁡󰁭? 󰁄󰁩󰁥 󰁗󰁥󰁬󰁴 󰁤󰁥󰁳 󰁉󰁳󰁬󰁡󰁭󰁳 󰀵󰀹 (󰀲󰀰󰀱󰀹) 󰀳󰀳-󰀶󰀹   󰁄󰁩󰁥 󰁗󰁥󰁬󰁴 󰁤󰁥󰁳 󰁉󰁳󰁬󰁡󰁭󰁳 󰀵󰀹 (󰀲󰀰󰀱󰀹) 󰀳󰀳-󰀶󰀹 Is China a House of Islam? Chinese Questions,  Arabic Answers, and the Translation of Sala󰁦󰁩sm from Cairo to Canton, 1930-1932  Leor Halevi   Vanderbilt University  leor.halevi@vanderbilt.edu  Abstract Rashīd Riḍā’s six fatwas to China, disregarded by historians of China and by historians of Sala􀁦􀁩sm, greatly expand our historical understanding of transnational intellectual exchanges between Muslim reformers in the interwar period. The questions that prompted the fatwas shed new light on the speci􀁦􀁩c issues that divided Sino-Muslim nationalists in the republican era, when a Chinese awakening coincided with an Islamic awakening. They also reveal why a Sino-Muslim scholar, seeking external arbitration, decided to write to a Muslim authority in Cairo. The fatwas that ensued show, in turn, the care that Riḍā took to transmit his legal methods and religious values to a foreign country, where Muslims mainly followed the Ḥanafī school of law. On the basis of the fatwas, which were translated into Chinese, the article o󐁦fers not an arbitrary, abstract, or ahistorical understanding of the srcins of Sala􀁦􀁩sm in China, but a concrete grasp of Sala􀁦􀁩sm in translation. Keywords Chinese-Egyptian intellectual exchanges – globalization of Islamic reform – Sala􀁦􀁩sm – Rashīd Riḍā – Ma Ruitu – fatwas – al-Manār   – Dār al-Islām, Dār al-Ḥarb – Sino-Muslim identity in Republican China – ritual – gender – Westernization – Ḥanafī madhhab  Introduction In 1930, the famous Syrian scholar Muḥammad Rashīd Riḍā (1865-1935), found-er and editor of the reformist Islamic journal al-Manār   (The Lighthouse), re- © 󰁋󰁯󰁮󰁩󰁮󰁫󰁬󰁩󰁪󰁫󰁥 󰁂󰁲󰁩󰁬󰁬 󰁎󰁖, 󰁌󰁥󰁩󰁤󰁥󰁮, 󰀲󰀰󰀱󰀹 | 󰁤󰁯󰁩:󰀱󰀰.󰀱󰀱󰀶󰀳/󰀱󰀵󰀷󰀰󰀰󰀶󰀰󰀷-󰀰󰀰󰀵󰀹󰀱󰁐󰀰󰀳brill.com/wdi  󰀳󰀴 󰁈󰁡󰁬󰁥󰁶󰁩 󰁄󰁩󰁥 󰁗󰁥󰁬󰁴 󰁤󰁥󰁳 󰁉󰁳󰁬󰁡󰁭󰁳 󰀵󰀹 (󰀲󰀰󰀱󰀹) 󰀳󰀳-󰀶󰀹 ceived – at his publishing house in Cairo – an intriguing letter from the mysterious city of Qabūdān, China. The author, ʿUthmān b. Ḥusayn al-Ṣīnī, identi􀁦􀁩ed himself, all too humbly, as the most contemptible of persons, and expressed great joy at his recent acquisition: a copy of the 􀁦􀁩rst volume of Riḍā’s  journal, srcinally published in 1898. He then asked Riḍā for answers to six questions that China’s Muslim scholars were debating. The most politically sig-ni􀁦􀁩cant of these questions concerned the status of China in Islamic law:  whether the nation, as a republic that allowed its Muslims citizens freedom of religion, should count as a House of Islam.Riḍā responded with a set of six fatwas, or legal rulings, which he published in October 1930.􀀱 I myself discovered these rulings – unknown to specialists on Islam in China – while researching systematically al-Manār  ’s fatwas in or-der to write a book about Islam’s material reformation.􀀲 In the course of his career, Riḍā published more than one thousand fatwas in response to religious questions from more than four hundred fatwa-seekers. Through al-Manār  ,  which championed an “enlightened” return to Islam’s ancestral srcins, he ac-quired a broad readership of dispersed Muslims worldwide. Fatwa-seekers  wrote to him – in Arabic – not just from the Middle East and North Africa, but also from Europe and the Americas, as well as from Central, South, and South-east Asia. Hearing from places as far apart as Brazil, Switzerland, Russia, British Raj India, and the Dutch East Indies, he deserves the title “the First Global Muf-ti.” Although he resided in Egypt, nearly two thirds of his fatwa-seekers lived in other countries.􀀳Still, it was not an everyday event for Riḍā to receive a letter from China seeking his legal expertise – and in good Arabic, too. In fact, this was an extra-ordinary occurrence; and Riḍā must have been tremendously pleased because he was a tireless advocate for the global spread of Arabic as the inimitable lan- 󐀱 Muḥammad Rashīd Riḍā,  Fatāwā al-Imām , ed. Ṣalāḥ al-Dīn al-Munajjid and Yūsuf Q. Khūrī (Dār al-Kitāb al-Jadīd: Beirut, 1970-1971), vol. 6, nos. 841-46, pp. 2300-10. Originally the fatwas appeared in al-Manār   31 (1930) 241, 271-78. For clarity and simplicity, I will refer to this set of questions and fatwas in one of two forms: either Ma Ruitu, “Questions from China,” or Riḍā, “Fatwas to China,” followed by the number in the two editions. 󐀲 Leor Halevi,  Modern Things on Trial: Islam’s Global and Material Reformation in the Age of Rida, 1865-1935  , forthcoming in 2019 from Columbia University Press. In this book, I analyze Riḍā’s global enterprise as well as his fatwas concerning novel commodities and technological innovations. 󐀳 Data derived from a statistical analysis of the index to Riḍā’s  Fatāwā al-Imām  that appears on pages 2745-59 of the sixth volume.   󰀳󰀵 󰁉󰁳 󰁃󰁨󰁩󰁮󰁡 󰁡 󰁈󰁯󰁵󰁳󰁥 󰁯󰁦 󰁉󰁳󰁬󰁡󰁭? 󰁄󰁩󰁥 󰁗󰁥󰁬󰁴 󰁤󰁥󰁳 󰁉󰁳󰁬󰁡󰁭󰁳 󰀵󰀹 (󰀲󰀰󰀱󰀹) 󰀳󰀳-󰀶󰀹 guage of the Qurʾan.􀀴 He must have been excited, too, because his journal had long served as a medium for the transmission of knowledge about Islam in China. In 1901 and 1906, for instance, al-Manār   published brief reports on this subject. In addition, shortly after the revolutionary overthrow of the Qing dy-nasty, al-Manār translated into Arabic a series of articles (srcinally published by a Tatar newspaper from Orenburg, Russia) about the conditions of Muslims in the Republic of China.􀀵This article presents and analyzes Riḍā’s fatwas for China. Turning to ʿUthmān b. Ḥusayn’s six questions, it will shed light, in the 􀁦􀁩rst place, on “Sino-Muslim” or “Islamic-Chinese” identity at a critical juncture in China’s modern history: at the dawn of a new era, following the defeat of various warlords at the end of 1928, when nationalists began to hold fervently that all of the country’s Muslims fully belonged, as equal citizens, in the uni􀁦􀁩ed republic.􀀶 󐀴 In 1912, for example, Riḍā preached the importance of Arabic to Nadwat al-ʿUlamāʾ in Lucknow, India. On this lecture, see Muhammad Qasim Zaman, “The Role of Arabic and the Arab Middle East in the De􀁦􀁩nition of Muslim Identity in Twentieth Century India,”  MW 87:3-4 (1997), 272-98, at 282. Quite opposed to nationalistic ventures to translate the Qurʾan, Riḍā insisted on the indispensability of the srcinal Arabic text. On this matter, see Mohamed Ali Mohamed Abou Sheishaa, “A Study of the Fatwa by Rashid Rida on the Translation of the Qurʾān,” purportedly published by the  Journal of the Society for Qur’anic Studies  1:1 (2001), and archived on May 3, 2016, at <http://www.webcitation.org/6hEQIAtBW>; Rainer Brunner, “  Lātinīya la-dīnīya : Muḥammad Rašīd Riḍā über Arabisch und Türkisch im Zeitalter des Nationalismus,” in Johannes Zimmermann, Christoph Herzog, and Raoul Motika, eds., Osmanische Welten: Quellen und Fallstudien: Festschrift für Michael Ursinus  (Bamberg: University of Bamberg Press, 2016), 73-114. On Riḍā’s political activities as a Muslim pan-Ara-bist, see Eliezer Tauber, “Rashīd Riḍa as Pan-Arabist before World War 󰁉,”  MW   79:2 (1989), 102-12.󐀵 Rashīd Riḍā, “Al-Wafd al-Islāmī ilā al-Ṣīn,” al-Manār   4 (1901), 238; idem, “Muslimū al-Ṣīn wa-l-Islām fī l-Yābān,” al-Manār   8 (1906), p. 879. ʿInāyatullāh Aḥmadī, Waqt  ’s correspondent in Manchuria, srcinally published the articles on Muslims in China. For the Arabic translations, see al-Manār   15 (1912), 233-34, 550-52, 692-94, 790-97; and vol. 16 (1913), 63-64. On connections between Waqt   and al-Manār  , see Stéphane A. Dudoignon, “Echoes to  Al-Manār   among the Muslims of the Russian Empire: A Preliminary Research Note on Riza al-Din b. Fakhr al-Din and the Šūrā  (1908-1918),” in Stéphane Dudoignon et al., eds.,  Intellectuals in the Modern Islamic World: Transmission, Transformation, Communication  (London: Routledge, 2009), 100-01.󐀶 On the complexities of this identity, see Jonathan N. Lipman, “Hyphenated Chinese: Sino-Muslim Identity in Modern China,” in Gail Hershatter et al., eds.,  Remapping China: Fissures in Historical Terrain  (Stanford: Standford University Press, 1996), 97-112. On Sino-Muslim iden-tity under republican ideology, see Yufeng Mao, “Sino-Muslims in Chinese Nation-building, 1906-1956” (Ph.D. Thesis: George Washington University, 2007), 54-70, 90-102; and Wlodzimierz Cieciura, “Ethnicity or Religion? Republican-Era Chinese Debates on Islam and Muslims,” in  Jonathan Lipman, ed.,  Islamic Thought in China: Sino-Muslim Intellectual Evolution from the 17th to the 21st Century  (Edinburgh: Edinburgh University Press, 2017), chap. 5.  󰀳󰀶 󰁈󰁡󰁬󰁥󰁶󰁩 󰁄󰁩󰁥 󰁗󰁥󰁬󰁴 󰁤󰁥󰁳 󰁉󰁳󰁬󰁡󰁭󰁳 󰀵󰀹 (󰀲󰀰󰀱󰀹) 󰀳󰀳-󰀶󰀹 Speci􀁦􀁩cally, it will show how a Sino-Muslim debate over integration into China  was expressed in a dichotomous geopolitical framework that derived from Is-lamic law. In addition to the question about China’s legal status, one other question dealt with a political issue: the pan-Islamist charge that adherence to a school of law, a madhhab , was the cause of Muslim disunity. The remaining four questions concerned ritual and social matters: the recitation of the Qurʾan for the dead; the use of gold teeth and gold crowns; the timing of the fast of Ramadan; and the problem of Muslim women imitating “Western” manners. Signi􀁦􀁩cant historically as well, these were burning and divisive questions for Chinese Muslims around 1930.In the second place, the article aims at expanding our knowledge of Chi-nese-Egyptian ideological exchanges in the period between the world wars. In recent years, there has been a surge of scholarly interest in transregional com-munications within networks of Muslim scholars in the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries, during what James Gelvin and Nile Green evoca-tively titled “the age of steam and print.” Historians of China have made out-standing contributions to this 􀁦􀁩eld by analyzing some of the cultural and intellectual rami􀁦􀁩cations of intriguing contacts between Chinese and Egyp-tian Muslims in the 1920s and 1930s.􀀷 Especially relevant for the present study is the attention that they have paid to the publications that Sino-Muslim trav-elers engendered in two journals, al-Fatḥ  (The Conquest) and Yuehua  (Moon-light), printed in Cairo and Beijing respectively. A young scholar from Yunnan  who formed part of the 􀁦􀁩rst o󐁦􀁦􀁩cial delegation of Chinese students to al-Azhar, Muḥammad Makīn, otherwise known as Ma Jian (1906-78), has emerged as the most compelling example of the literary impact of this time of cross-cultural exchange. In 1934, with the imprimatur of Cairo’s Sala􀁦􀁩yya Press, he published a book about the history of Islam in China – in Arabic.󰀸 One year later, Shang- 󐀷 For two groundbreaking studies of Chinese-Egyptian intellectual exchanges in the 1930s, see Zvi Ben-Dor Benite, “Taking ʿAbduh to China: Chinese-Egyptian Intellectual Contact in the Early Twentieth Century,” in James L. Gelvin and Nile Green, eds., Global Muslims in the Age of Steam and Print   (Berkeley: University of California Press, 2014), 249-67; and Matsumoto Masumi, “Rationalizing Patriotism Among Muslim Chinese: The Impact of the Middle East on the Yuehua Journal,” in Dudoignon et al., eds.,  Intellectuals , 117-42. On the ripe fruits of this transnational exchange, see John T. Chen, “Re-Orientation: The Chinese Azharites be-tween Umma  and Third World, 1938-55,” Comparative Studies of South Asia, Africa and the  Middle East 34 (2014), 24-51.􀀸 Muḥammad Makīn al-Ṣīnī,  Naẓra jāmiʿa ilā tārikh al-Islām fī l-Ṣīn wa-aḥwāl al-Muslimīn fīhā (Cairo: Al-Maṭbaʿa al-Sala􀁦􀁩yya, 1934). In this book on Islam in China, Makīn discussed several of the issues that Ma Ruitu raised earlier, in 1930. He mentioned the legal controversy over recitations of the Qurʾan at funerary repasts (p. 55), the issue of Chinese wearing European or  American clothes (p. 63), and the debate on whether to place China in the Abode of Islam or the Abode of War (p. 63).   󰀳󰀷 󰁉󰁳 󰁃󰁨󰁩󰁮󰁡 󰁡 󰁈󰁯󰁵󰁳󰁥 󰁯󰁦 󰁉󰁳󰁬󰁡󰁭? 󰁄󰁩󰁥 󰁗󰁥󰁬󰁴 󰁤󰁥󰁳 󰁉󰁳󰁬󰁡󰁭󰁳 󰀵󰀹 (󰀲󰀰󰀱󰀹) 󰀳󰀳-󰀶󰀹 hai’s Commercial Press printed his translation into Chinese of a key book in the reformist Muslim canon, Muḥammad ʿAbduh’s Theology of Unity , which historians have begun interpreting to illuminate Islam’s “modern globalization.”􀀹Despite these historiographical advances, additional historical research is needed to reach a more concrete understanding of the speci􀁦􀁩c interests and preoccupations that drove Chinese-Egyptian exchanges in this period. Why, speci􀁦􀁩cally, did Sino-Muslim scholars turn to their counterparts in Egypt for religious and legal guidance? A crucial piece of evidence needed to answer this historical question is ʿUthmān b. Ḥusayn’s request for Riḍā’s fatwas. Their legal exchange is historically signi􀁦􀁩cant, too, because it reveals a great deal about the early transmission of Sala􀁦􀁩sm – in a fragmented form – from Cairo to Can-ton.This article contributes, in the third place, to scholarship on Rashīd Riḍā’s political and legal thought.􀀱􀀰 Much is known about his political orientation after World War 󰁉: his critique of British and French imperialism, his response to the abolition of the Ottoman sultanate, his nationalistic activism for Syrian independence, and his alliance with Ibn Saʿūd, the king of the dual realms of Najd and the Ḥijāz. It has often been argued that he became radicalized in this period. One article goes so far as to claim that, with his “deviation” from the progressive, modernist philosophy of his mentor Muḥammad ʿAbduh, Riḍā embarked on a political and religious trajectory that “transformed Sala􀁦􀁩sm into a backward-looking ideology ill-prepared to confront the challenges of the modern world.”􀀱􀀱 There are good reasons to give him credit for providing le-gitimacy to “Ḥanbalī-Wahhabism” as an authentic expression of Sala􀁦􀁩sm.􀀱􀀲 But the simplistic and, in my view, unjusti􀁦􀁩ed thesis about Riḍā’s radicaliza-tion, which has been endlessly repeated without adequate evidentiary support since the 1960s, has failed to take into account continuities in his approach to 9 On ʿAbduh’s popular book  Risālat al-tawḥīd   as a marker of the globalization of concepts of religion, see Johann Buessow, “Re-Imagining Islam in the Period of the First Modern Globalization: Muhammad ʿAbduh and his Theology of Unity ,” in Liat Kozma et al., eds.,  A Global Middle East: Mobility, Materiality, and Culture in the Modern Age, 1880-1940  (Lon-don: I.B. Tauris, 2015), 273-320. Buessow’s study does not concern the reception and trans-lation of ʿAbduh’s book, yet it encourages historians to pursue the topic.10 Scholarship in this sub􀁦􀁩eld is extensive. For an overview, see Mahmoud O. Haddad, “Muḥammad Rashīd Riḍā (d. 1935),” in David Powers, Oussama Arabi, and Susan Spec-torsky, eds.,  Islamic Legal Thought: A Compendium of Muslim Jurists  (Leiden: Brill, 2013), chap. 21. My forthcoming book,  Modern Things on Trial  , will include an extensive bibliog-raphy.11 Ana Belén Soage, “Rashīd Ridā’s Legacy,”  MW   98:1 (2008), 1-23, at 3.12 Nabil Mouline,  Les clercs de l’islam: Autorité religieuse et pouvoir politique en Arabie Saoudite (󰁘󰁖󰁉󰁉󰁉  e -󰁘󰁘󰁉  e  siècle ) (Paris: Presses Universitaires de France, 2011), 145-46.
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