Rectifying God's Name

Rectifying God's Name: Liu Zhi's Confucian Translation of Monotheism and Islamic Law

JAMES D. FRANKEL
Copyright Date: 2011
https://www.jstor.org/stable/j.ctt6wqh46
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    Rectifying God's Name
    Book Description:

    Islam first arrived in China more than 1,200 years ago, but for more than a millennium it was perceived as a foreign presence. The restoration of native Chinese rule by the Ming dynasty (1368-1644), after nearly a century of Mongol domination, helped transform Chinese intellectual discourse on ideological, social, political, religious, and ethnic identity. This led to the creation of a burgeoning network of Sinicized Muslim scholars who wrote about Islam in classical Chinese and developed a body of literature known as the Han Kitab.Rectifying God's Nameexamines the life and work of one of the most important of the Qing Chinese Muslim literati, Liu Zhi (ca. 1660-ca. 1730), and places his writings in their historical, cultural, social, and religio-philosophical context. HisTianfang danli (Ritual law of Islam)represents the most systematic and sophisticated attempt within the Han Kitab corpus to harmonize Islam with Chinese thought.

    The volume begins by situating Liu Zhi in the historical development of the Chinese Muslim intellectual tradition, examining his sources and influences as well as his legacy. Delving into the contents of Liu Zhi's work, it focuses on his use of specific Chinese terms and concepts, their origins and meanings in Chinese thought, and their correspondence to Islamic principles. A close examination of theTianfang dianlireveals Liu Zhi's specific usage of the concept of Ritual as a common foundation of both Confucian morality and social order and Islamic piety. The challenge of expressing such concepts in a context devoid of any clear monotheistic principle tested the limits of his scholarship and linguistic finesse. Liu Zhi's theological discussion in theTianfang dianliengages not only the ancient Confucian tradition, but also Daoism, Buddhism, and even non-Chinese traditions. His methodology reveals an erudite and cosmopolitan scholar who synthesized diverse influences, from Sufism to Neo-Confucianism, and possibly even Jesuit and Jewish sources, into a body of work that was both steeped in tradition and, yet, exceedingly original, epitomizing the phenomenon of Chinese Muslim simultaneity.

    A compelling and multidimensional study,Rectifying God's Namewill be eagerly welcomed by interested readers of Chinese and Islamic religious and social history, as well as students and scholars of comparative religion.

    eISBN: 978-0-8248-6103-2
    Subjects: Religion

Table of Contents

  1. Front Matter
    (pp. i-vi)
  2. Table of Contents
    (pp. vii-viii)
  3. PREFACE
    (pp. ix-x)
  4. ACKNOWLEDGMENTS
    (pp. xi-xiv)
  5. INTRODUCTION
    (pp. xv-xxii)

    A simple confluence of facts—that China may soon be challenging the United States in its demand for foreign oil, that world oil production will peak and begin to decline within decades, and that China acts as a major supplier of arms and military technology to oil-rich, predominantly Muslim, Middle Eastern states whose region becomes less stable as oil supplies wane—all but guarantees the importance of Chinese-Islamic relations in the foreseeable future. Given this situation, the informed observer of international affairs would be well served not only by an examination of current relations between China and global Islam, but...

  6. CHAPTER 1 THE WORLD OF LIU ZHI
    (pp. 1-25)

    The multifaceted nature of lslam in China invites us to view it with an adjustable lens, sometimes focusing widely over a span of centuries and across vast geography, sometimes requiring a narrower scope to view particular circumstances of time and place. Our overview of the writings of Liu Zhi requires a similar flexible perspective. A wide focus allows us to place Liu Zhi in the grand scheme of the historical development of Islamic and especially Chinese society and culture. A narrow perspective reveals that neither “China” nor “Islam” is the seamless monolith it appears to be from a distance.

    At...

  7. CHAPTER 2 CHINESE MUSLIM TRADITION AND LIU ZHI’S LEGACY
    (pp. 26-55)

    With the formation and spread of the Jingtang Jiaoyu educational reforms came the demand for texts to fill out the new curriculum. Previously, the founder of the nascent educational system, Hu Dengzhou, had been driven by the scarcity of texts to venture away from his hometown, and eventually outside China, in search of Islamic knowledge. Specifically, he felt that Chinese Muslim communities lacked texts and methods for teaching Muslims like himself whose mother tongue was Chinese. The loss of ability among most Chinese Muslims to understand Arabic and Persian had effectively cut the majority off from the printed sources that...

  8. CHAPTER 3 LIU ZHI’S CONCEPTS AND TERMINOLOGY
    (pp. 56-92)

    It is difficult to single out a particular work by Liu Zhi to the exclusion of the others, for Liu Zhi expected his readers to have read his other writings. Chinese Muslim intellectual readers would likely have been familiar with other Han Kitab texts. These, of course, included the original writings of Liu Zhi’s pre-decessors, Wang Daiyu and Ma Zhu, and many of the Chinese translations of Islamic texts that were Liu Zhi’s sources. Any literate Chinese reader of the time would also have been intimately familiar with the texts of the classical Confu-cian canon that informed and influenced these...

  9. CHAPTER 4 RITUAL AS AN EXPRESSION OF CHINESE-ISLAMIC SIMULTANEITY
    (pp. 93-114)

    Liu Zhi viewed his three most famous works, the “Tianfangtrilogy,” as operating together to present a comprehensive, systematic, and holistic view of Islam. So while each of the books can stand on its own, the discourse that runs through them must be viewed as progressive, enabling one to cross-reference the earlier texts in the later ones. The overlapping content of the three books notwithstanding, each has its own distinct focus. Thus, Liu Zhi described theTianfang dianlias “a book that explains the Teaching (jiao),”¹ intended to deal with the concrete, practical aspects of Islam as the only Han...

  10. CHAPTER 5 THE SPIRIT OF RITUAL AND THE LETTER OF THE LAW
    (pp. 115-154)

    That theTianfang dianliis predominantly concerned with what may be termed Islamic orthopraxy is clear: sixteen of the twentyjuaninto which Liu Zhi divided his work are devoted to ritual law and other matters of practical performance. Liu Zhi’s emphasis on ritual in theTianfang dianliis a reflection of the importance attached by the Islamic tradition to correct performance of religious rites and observance. Yet in his presentation of lslam, Liu Zhi also consciously correlated his Islamic heritage with the dominant Confucian paradigm, under which all serious intellectual activity was conducted in the cultural milieu of his...

  11. CHAPTER 6 ALLAH’S CHINESE NAME
    (pp. 155-179)

    TheTianfang dianliis arguably the most syncretic of Liu Zhi’s writings. Because it was the only Han Kitab book dedicated to ritual law, Liu Zhi found in its subject matter a theme especially conducive to his aim of presenting Islam as a Teaching consistent with the fundamental values of Confucian culture and ideology. By focusing as he did on Islamic rites and customs, he was able to demonstrate that Muslims share the Chinese understanding of ritual as one of the guiding principles of human life. Ritual, then, was the perfect vehicle for the harmonization of Confucian and Islamic ideals,...

  12. CHAPTER 7 CONCLUSION
    (pp. 180-184)

    Liu Zhi did not universally convince the Confucian literati establishment of the truth of Islam, yet his efforts were successful in achieving expressed goals. We must not get sidetracked and bogged down by questions of “successful” versus “unsuccessful” assimilation or syncretism, as if there were some objective criteria by which to gauge such things. We should, rather, bear in mind in assessing Liu Zhi’s work that success must be understood in subtle ways. The important question is not whether Liu Zhi successfully syncretized disparate religious, philosophical, and cultural ideas, or whether he facilitated the spread or survival of his faith,...

  13. NOTES
    (pp. 185-224)
  14. BIBLIOGRAPHY
    (pp. 225-236)
  15. INDEX
    (pp. 237-248)
  16. Back Matter
    (pp. 249-251)