From neglected problem to flourishing field: Recent development of studying Muslims and Islam in China

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Abstract

In summarizing the current status of studying Muslims and Islam in China, Frankel (2009) rightly pointed out the field has been shifting from monolith to mosaic. To continue Frankel’s argument and through observing the evolution of the field, this paper suggests the field of studying Muslims and Islam has been growing featured with some emerging trends and challenges. The first feature is the re-spatialization of Muslims population within and beyond China. Geographically, the field is shifting from focusing Muslims solely on Northwest China to Muslims scattering all parts of China (and Muslim diaspora beyond People’s Republic of China). The second feature is the re-engagement of Muslims in civilizational dialogue. Culturally, the field is shifting from viewing Muslims as a familiar stranger to one of the essential China’s religious-cultural traditions that urgently requires mutual understanding (e.g. China’s Muslim-Christian relations). The third feature is the re-imagining Muslims to the tradition of Silk Road connections. In terms of cross-continental connections, China’s Muslims have no longer isolated from international community but actively integrating to the global Muslim brotherhood (ummah), especially China’s ‘go global’ outreach to the Muslim world. The fourth feature is the re-inventing of moderate Islam in the midst of China’s peaceful rise of China. Strategically, the search for a balanced discourse of Islamic middle path (wasatiyyah) has been crucial in the age of global terrorism.
Original languageEnglish
Publication statusPublished - Dec 2015

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cultural tradition
diaspora
terrorism
scattering
road
mosaic
trend

Citation

Ho, W.-Y. (2015, December). From neglected problem to flourishing field: Recent development of studying Muslims and Islam in China. Paper presented at the CCKF and KNAW International Conference 'Framing the Study of Religion in Modern China and Taiwan: Concepts, Methods and New Research Paths', University of Groningen, The Netherlands.