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New Publications on Islam in China

Sep 01, 2016

Roberta Tontini, research fellow at the Cluster, published the book “Muslim Sanzijing. Shifts and Continuities in the Definition of Islam in China” and contributed a chapter to the edited volume “Islamic Thought in China”.

In “Muslim Sanzijing, Shifts and Continuities in the Definition of Islam in China (1710-2010)”, Roberta Tontini traces the development of Islam and Islamic law in the country, while responding to two enduring questions in China’s intellectual history: How was the Muslim Sharia reconciled with Confucianism? How was knowledge of Islamic social and ritual norms popularized to large segments of Chinese Muslim society, even in periods of limited literacy?

Through a comprehensive study that includes a rigorous analysis of popular Chinese Islamic primers belonging to the Sanzijing tradition, Tontini offers fresh insights on the little known intellectual and legal history of Islam on Chinese soil to convincingly demonstrate its evolving quality in response to changing social norms.

In addition, her chapter “Tianfang Sanzijing. Changes and Exchanges in China’s Reception of Islamic Law” featured in the anthology “Islamic Thought in China” (Edinburgh University Press, 2016), edited by Jonathan Lipman. The chapter explores Chinese Muslim scholars’ historical commitment to the task of articulating and legitimizing their own interpretation of Islamic law. Through textual analysis of an early Muslim Sanzijing version, Tontini illustrates, how such efforts had the potential to separate Chinese Muslim legal thought from its Arabic and Persian matrix of origin by creating a unique Chinese concept of sharia, based on indigenous cultural paradigms.

The two publications were produced in the context of Project A15 “Patriotic Monotheists”, which explores Islam and Christianity in Contemporary China from a socialization perspective.

Dr. Roberta Tontini is a Postdoctoral Research Fellow at the Cluster. She completed her doctoral work on the development of Islam in China by focusing on the Hui people and the Muslim Sanzijing genre.


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