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Islamic Thought in ChinaSino-Muslim Intellectual Evolution from the 17th to the 21st Century$
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Jonathan Lipman

Print publication date: 2016

Print ISBN-13: 9781474402279

Published to Edinburgh Scholarship Online: September 2017

DOI: 10.3366/edinburgh/9781474402279.001.0001

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Between ‘Abd al-Wahhab and Liu Zhi: Chinese Muslim Intellectuals at the Turn of the Twenty-first Century

Between ‘Abd al-Wahhab and Liu Zhi: Chinese Muslim Intellectuals at the Turn of the Twenty-first Century

Chapter:
(p.197) 8 Between ‘Abd al-Wahhab and Liu Zhi: Chinese Muslim Intellectuals at the Turn of the Twenty-first Century
Source:
Islamic Thought in China
Author(s):

Leila Chérif-Chebbi

Publisher:
Edinburgh University Press
DOI:10.3366/edinburgh/9781474402279.003.0008

This article surveys Chinese Muslim intellectuals at the turn of the 21st century, dividing them into three sociological categories: (1) officials and state-approved scholars; (2) religious clerics (imams); and (3) unofficial scholars, headmasters or laoshi (teachers) in private institutions, writers, journalists, webmasters, and more. It focuses on the divide between advocates of a culturally Chinese Islam, the “Liu Zhi tendency,” as opposed to those who view Islam as a holistic, universal religion, the “‘Abd al-Wahhab tendency.” These definitions distinguish between a national, local expression of religion and an ahistorical, non-national one. In the 1990s, the latter—sometimes called “Salafi” or “Wahhabi”—rejected the Liu Zhi defenders as acculturated non-believers, distant observers rather than members of the umma. All of these participants make use of new media on the Internet as well as print publications and electronic broadcast formats. In the new century, Chinese Muslim intellectuals have sometimes had to compromise, some of them concluding that the core of Islam must remain inviolate while its national expression can be culturally Chinese. These various tendencies are illustrated with multiple biographies of exemplary thinkers, concluding with the striking intellectual evolution of Zhang Weizhen, a charismatic headmaster and teacher.

Keywords:   Salafi, Wahhabi, internet imams, Zhang Weizhen, Liu Zhi

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