DEVELOPMENT OF ISLAMIC THOUGHT IN CHINA:
A STUDY OF THE VIEWS OF ISMAC
ĪL ZHANG CHENG QIAN
ZAINAB YIN ZHIMING
A dissertation submitted in fulfillment of the requirement for the degree of Master of Islamic Revealed Knowledge and
Heritage (Us ． ūl al-Dīn and Comparative Religion)
Kulliyyah of Islamic Revealed Knowledge and Human Science
International Islamic University Malaysia
This research is a study about the development of Islamic thought in China. The researcher mainly selects the modern Muslim intellectual Ismacīl Zhang Cheng Qian as the subject of the study and explores his thought expressed in his works. The researcher achieved the aims of study based on an investigation of Ismacīl Zhang‟s intellectual background, and elaboration of his controversial views between traditional Muslim scholars and modernist intellectuals, especially on revelation (waḥy), the unseen world (cālam al-ghayb) and miracles (mucjizāt) since his interpretations are different from the orthodox Islamic perspective, as presented in his two works; The Call of Islam (1992) and Chinese Translation and Commentary of Qurʼān (2005). In addition, the influence of Ismacīl Zhang‟s thought on Sino-Muslim was presented, by collecting and analyzing readers‟ letters, book reviews, and Ismacīl Zhang‟s own accounts in interviews by e-mails. There are supporters who donated funds to help him publish his works and spread his thought in China. The researcher puts them into different categories according to their identity characteristic; namely, his followers, educated Muslims and new Muslims. Based on previous studies, the researcher finally recommended some suggestions for further direction and the emphasis on the study of Ismacīl Zhang‟s works and thought.
.ينصلا في يملاسلإا ركفلا روطتل ةسارد نع ةرابع ثحبلا اذى ةثحابلا لوانتت
ويف ملسلما فقثلما راكفأ
اىيرثأتو نايشت غنشت غناشت ليعاسمإ رصاعلما نييصلا في
ينصلا أ اهفصوب جذونم
ا ،ةساردلا هذله
ةثحابلا لواتحو قيقتح
ةصاخ ،غناشت ليعاسمإ ءارآ مييقت للاخ نم كلذ في
تايبيغلاو يحولا اياضق
، ويباتك في ينبم وى امك ليصلأا يملاسلإا روظنلما نع فلتتخ اله وتايرسفت نأ ثيح
١٩٩٢ )م و
ةينيصلا ةغللاب هيرسفتو نآرقلا نياعم ةجمرت ( "
٢٠٠٢ )م ،كلذ لىإ ةفاضلإابو .
غناشت ليعاسمإ يرثأت فصو متيس في
تكل ءارقلا تاظحلام ليلتحو عجم للاخ نم ينصلا وب
مهئارآو ةروشنلما يف
وعابتأو غناشت ليعاسمإ يديؤم نم حئارش ةثحابلا راتتخ امك ،اه فصوب
مه مىأ نيرثأتلما
دحو مهتيوى تاسم بسح مهفينصتب ،هراكفأو وئارآب اثة
،ةيملاسلإا ةيبترلاب مهتقلاعو ملاسلإاب مىدهع
تايصوتلاو يليلحتلا جاتنتسلاا ةثحابلا يطعت فوس فاطلما ةيانه فيو
I certify that I have supervised and read this study and that in my opinion, it conforms to acceptable standards of scholarly presentation and is fully adequate, in scope and quality, as a thesis for the degree of Master of Islamic Revealed Knowledge and Heritage (Uṣūl al-Dīn and Comparative Religion).
Megawati Bt Moris Supervisor
I certify that I have read this study and that in my opinion it conforms to acceptable standards of scholarly presentation and is fully adequate, in scope and quality, as a thesis for the degree of Master of Islamic Revealed Knowledge and Heritage (Uṣūl al- Dīn and Comparative Religion).
Noor Amali Mohd Daud Examiner
This dissertation was submitted to the Department of Uṣūl al-Dīn and Comparative Religion and is accepted as a fulfilment of the requirement for the degree of Master of Islamic Revealed Knowledge and Heritage (Uṣūl al-Dīn and Comparative Religion).
Head, Department of Uṣūl al-Dīn and Comparative Religion
This dissertation was submitted to the Kulliyyah of Islamic Revealed Knowledge and Human Sciences and is accepted as a fulfilment of the requirement for the degree of Master of Islamic Revealed Knowledge and Heritage (Uṣūl al-Dīn and Comparative Religion).
Dean, Kulliyyah of Islamic Revealed Knowledge and Human Sciences
I hereby declare that this dissertation is the result of my own investigations, except where otherwise stated. I also declare that it has not been previously or concurrently submitted as a whole for any other degrees at IIUM or other institutions.
Zainab Yin Zhi Ming
Signature... Date ...
AGEINTERNATIONAL ISLAMIC UNIVERSITY MALAYSIA
DECLARATION OF COPYRIGHT AND AFFIRMATION OF FAIR USE OF UNPUBLISHED RESEARCH
DEVELOPMENT OF ISLAMIC THOUGTH IN CHINA:
A STUDY OF THE VIEWS OF ISMAC
ĪL ZHANG CHENG QIAN
I declare that the copyright holders of this dissertation are jointly owned by the student and IIUM.
Copyright © 2018 Zainab Yin Zhi Ming and International Islamic University Malaysia. All rights reserved.
No part of this unpublished research may be reproduced, stored in a retrieval system, or transmitted, in any form or by any means, electronic, mechanical, photocopying, recording or otherwise without prior written permission of the copyright holder except as provided below
1. Any material contained in or derived from this unpublished research may be used by others in their writing with due acknowledgement.
2. IIUM or its library will have the right to make and transmit copies (print or electronic) for institutional and academic purposes.
3. The IIUM library will have the right to make, store in a retrieved system and supply copies of this unpublished research if requested by other universities and research libraries.
By signing this form, I acknowledged that I have read and understand the IIUM Intellectual Property Right and Commercialization policy.
Affirmed by Zainab Yin Zhi Ming
This dissertation is dedicated to : My beloved parents, my sister and my husband
For their endless love and continuous support and understanding that give strength for me to continue my journey in finishing this Master‟s degree and completing this
May Allāh subḥānahu wa tacāla bless them and reward them with His Jannah.
All praises to the Almighty Allāh, the Most Gracious and the Most Merciful, and peace and blessing upon our beloved Prophet Muḥammad, his family and his companions and all those who follow him until the End of Day. Thank you to the Almighty Allāh for the strength, patience and perseverance that You grant me.
Without your guidance and blessing, I would not be able to complete this research.
Firstly, it is my utmost pleasure to dedicate this work to my dear parents and my family, who granted me the gift of their unwavering belief in my ability to accomplish this goal: thank you for your support and patience.
I wish to express my appreciation and thanks to those who provided their time,effort and support for this project. To the members of my dissertation committee, thank you for sticking with me.
Finally, a special thanks to Assist. Prof. Dr. Megawati Moris, this difficult study could not have been done without her valuable guidance, encouragement and kindness. She has shown admirable patience and dedication as my major academic supervisor. May Allāh the Most Merciful bless her and her family.
Once again, we glorify Allāh for His endless mercy on us which enable us to successfully round off the efforts of writing this research. Alhamdulillah.
TABLE OF CONTENTS
Abstract ... i
Abstract in Arabic ... ii
Approval Page ... iii
Declaration ... iv
Copyright Page ... v
Acknowledgements ... vii
Table of Contents ... viii
Transliteration Tables ... x
CHAPTER 1: INTRODUCTION ... 1
1.1 Introduction ... 1
1.2 Statement of the Problem ... 4
1.3 Research Questions ... 5
1.4 Objectives of Study ... 6
1.5 Significance of the Study ... 6
1.6 Limitation of the Study ... 7
1.7 Research Methodology ... 7
1.8 Literature Review ... 8
CHAPTER 2: ISMACĪL ZHANG’S INTELLECTUAL BACKGROUND ... 15
2.1 Major Trends of Islamic Thought in China ... 15
2.1.1 Sufism (Taṣawwuf) ... 16
2.1.2 Salafiyyah ... 20
2.1.3 Modernism ... 21
2.2 Ismacīl Zhang‟s Intellectual Background ... 23
2.2.1 Ismacīl Zhang‟s Biography and Works ... 23
2.2.2 Ismacīl Zhang‟s Sources of Intellectual Influence ... 31
CHAPTER 3: ANALYSIS OF ISMACĪL ZHANG’S VIEWS ... 34
3.1 Ismacīl Zhang‟s View on Revelation (waḥy) ... 34
3.1.1 Definition of Revelation (waḥy) ... 35
3.1.2 Ismacīl Zhang‟s View on Revelation (waḥy) ... 36
3.2 Ismacīl Zhang‟s View on Unseen World (cālam al-ghayb) ... 40
3.2.1 The World of Jinn ... 41
3.2.2 The Hereafter (al-Ᾱkhirah) ... 45
3.3 IsmacīL Zhang‟s View on Miracles (Mucjizāt) ... 48
3.3.1 The Miracles of Prophet cĪsā (pbuh) ... 51
3.3.2 The Miracles of Prophet Muḥammad (pbuh) ... 53
3.4 Conclusion ... 56
CHAPTER 4: THE INFLUENCE OF ISMACĪL ZHANG’S VIEWS ON MUSLIM COMMUNITY’S IN CHINA ... 55
4.1 The Influence on Ismacīl Zhang‟s Followers ... 58
4.2 Influence on Intellectuals ... 60
4.3 Influence on New Muslims ... 65
CHAPTER FIVE: CONCLUSION ... 69
5.1 Summary of the Important Findings ... 69
5.1.1 The Features of Ismacīl Zhang‟s Views ... 69
5.1.2 Ismacīl Zhang‟s Qualifications on Interpreting the Qur‟ān ... 70
5.1.3 The Characteristics of Ismacīl Zhang‟s Works ... 72
5.2 Recommendation for Further Study ... 73
BIBLIOGRAPHY ... 77
Transliteration Table: Consonants
Arabic Roman Arabic Roman
ب b ط ṭ
ت t ظ ẓ
ث th ع ʿ
ج j غ Gh
ح ḥ ف F
خ kh ق Q
د d ك K
ذ dh ل L
ر r م M
ز z ن N
س s ه H
ش sh و W
ص ṣ ء ʾ
ض ḍ ي Y
Table 2: Transliteration Table: Vowels and Diphthongs
Arabic Roman Arabic Roman
َ a ى ،ا َ An
َ u و َ Un
َ i ي َ In
ٰ ،ا ،
،ى Ā و َ Aw
و Ū ي َ Ay
ي Ī و َ
uww, ū (in final position)
iyy, ī (in final position)
1 CHAPTER 1 INTRODUCTION
Islam in China has existed for 1,400 years within Chinese society.1 According to historical accounts, 651 C.E was the first year for Islam to have entered China; Arab missions and Muslim merchants came to China by land and by sea. It is recorded in the History of the Tang Dynasty (618-907 C.E) that the third Caliph of Arabia sent envoys to pay tribute to the Tang Dynasty in the second year of the reign of Emperor Yong Hui (651C.E).2 Chinese historians consider that this year as the beginning of Islam in China. During the period 651C.E to 798C.E, with the rise of the silk route, Arab Muslim traders began to arrive in China to do business.3
With the development of Chinese history, by the end of the Ming Dynasty to the early Qing Dynasty (1644-1912), Islam further developed in China. Many Muslim scholars of the Ming and Qing dynasties, such as Wang Dai Yu (1560-1660), Ma Zhu (1640-1711), Liu Zhi (1655-1745), Jin Tian Zhu (1736-1795) and Ma Fu Chu (1794- 1847) were renowned as scholars who not only had a good knowledge of the four religions (Islam, Confucianism, Taoism and Buddhism), but were proficient in two languages (Chinese and Arabic). They used Confucianism and ancient Chinese philosophical concepts to expound the Qurʼān and Ḥadīth, and wrote or translated numerous works. Thus, Chinese Islamic thought gradually came into being.4
1M. Rafiq Khan, Islam in China, (Delhi: National Academy, 1963), 90.
2Jing Luo, China Today: An Encyclopedia of Life in the People's Republic (Westport, CT and London:
Greenwood Press, 2005), 299.
3Zhang, Guang Lin, Islam in China, translated from Chinese by Chang Min (Beijing: China Intercontinental Press, 2005), 1.
Sino-Muslims5 have long wrestled with a problem of translation. Unlike Persian, Turkish, Urdu, or Malay, the Chinese language has never adopted vocabulary from Arabic to enable a precise understanding of Islam‟s religious and philosophical foundations. Islam thus had to be translated into Chinese, which lacks words and arguments to justify Islamic thought.6 As a result, Islamic thought in China became integrated with Chinese traditional culture and modern ideologies.
Regarding the trends of Islamic thought in China, it is difficult to adopt a typology that would cover such a wide range of trends and thinkers. However, the researcher will try to encapsulate, at least at a fairly broad level, the major trends that exist in China today which are Sufism, Salafism and modernism.7 In this research, combining with previous research, the researcher will broadly outline these trends of Islamic thought in China today and focus especially on modernism and its main representative, Ismacīl Zhang Cheng Qian.
As a trend of Islamic thought formed in the 19th century, modernists had great impacts on the Muslim world in the first half of the 20th century. Under this influence, in recent years, many Sino-Muslim intellectuals are keen to write their views on Islam without referring to original Islamic works. Ismacīl Zhang Cheng Qian‟s works are representative of this trend.
Ismacīl Zhang Cheng Qian (1938-present)8 is a controversial Muslim intellectual in China. There has been much debate on his works and views, with The
5 The term Sino-Muslims will be used in this research. Sino-Muslims are usually called Hui in Chinese
to indicate their bicultural heritage. They live in mainland of China, the other Muslims in China, or other Chinese Muslims living abroad are not considered in this research.
6 Jonathan N. Lipman, ed. Islamic Thought in China ― Sino-Muslim Intellectual Evolution from the
17th to the 21st Century, (Edinburgh: Edinburgh University Press, 2016), 1.
7 Ding Shi Ren, “Contemporary Islamic Thought Patterns in China”, Chinese Muslim,
<http://www.360doc.com/content/15/1103/08/1417717_510354674.shtml> (accessed 29 December, 2016).
8Ma, Nooḥ Yu Long, “Chinese Translations of the Holy Qurʼān: A Study and Analysis”, (Ph.D. thesis, Islamic Science University of Malaysia, 2012), 3.
Call of Islam9 and Chinese Translation and Commentary of Qurʼān10 as the two most typical examples. The work entitled The Call of Islam by Ismacīl Zhang has triggered heated debate since its publication in 1992. In its 2013 edition, he added a foreword to the book, and modified a part of the content. Thirteen years later, he completed another of his work, Chinese Translation and Commentary of Qurʼān which he published under his mother‟s name “Li, Fatimah Jing Yuan”. The publication of this book has already created more shock waves in the field of Islamic studies in China.
Given this, many reviewers and researchers such as Ibn Ibrahīm Li Shan Mu, Nooḥ Ma Yu Long, and Ibrahīm cAli Sulaymān Ma Wen Lin consider these two works as fully reflecting his thought and understanding of Islam. Thus this research will study and analyse the development of Islamic thought in China by focusing on the views of Ismacīl Zhang based on his two works.
His views on revelation (waḥy), the unseen world (cālam al-ghayb) and miracles (mucjizāt) will be evaluated in this research, because they are the most controversial perspectives reflected in previous studies by Sino-Muslim scholars.
Many researchers of more recent works related to Islamic thought in China mostly mention Ismacīl Zhang‟s views on these three conceptions, such as in Ibn Ibrahīm Li Shan Mu‟s works Imān, Human Reason and Philosophy,11 On Mixed-Religions,12 The Theory of Islamic Creed,13 and Liang Gong Tang Wen Ji,14 where he has sharply criticized several times Ismacīl Zhang‟s views on them. Thereby, he concludes that
9 Zhang, Ismacīl Cheng Qian. Yi Si Lan de Zhao Huan, (The Call of Islam), (Hong Kong: Tian Ma Press, 2ndedn., 2013).
10 Zhang, Ismac ̅l Cheng Qian. Under the name Li, Fatimah Jing Yuan, Gu Lan Jing Zhu Shi, (Chinese Translation and Commentary of Qurʼān), (ShangHai: The International Chinese Press, 2005).
11Li, Ibn Ibrahīm Shan Mu, Yi Ma Ni, Li Xing Yu Zhe Xue, (Imān Human Reason and Philosophy), (Hong Kong: Tian Ma Press, 2009).
12Li, Ibn Ibrahīm Shan Mu, Lun Hun He de Zong Jiao, (On Mixed-Religions), (Hong Kong: He Ping Publishing House, 2011).
13Li, Ibn Ibrahīm Shan Mu, Yi Si Lan Jiao Yi Xue Yuan li, (The Theory of Islamic Creed), (Hong Kong:
Tian Ma Press, 2014)
14Li, Ibn Ibrah ̅m Shan Mu, Liang Gong Tang Wen Ji, (Hong Kong: Tian Ma Press, 2014)
Ismacīl Zhang‟s works embody certain extreme rationalistic thought and syncretistic strands. Nonetheless, the views on revelation (waḥy), the unseen world (cālam al- ghayb) and miracles (mucjizāt) have become the core issues of debate between traditional Muslim scholars and modernists. Given this, from an academic perspective in this research, the researcher will try to provide a systematic study in an objective manner.
1.2 STATEMENT OF THE PROBLEM
As an influential Muslim scholar Ismacīl Zhang‟s works are of great importance. His full Chinese translations of the Holy Qurʼān and Chinese Islamic books are considered on important and popular sources for understanding Islam. So far, there are about twenty one versions of Chinese translations of the Qurʼān15 and various Chinese translations of Ḥadīth. In addition, there are many Chinese Islamic books published every year. The written works are primary references for the Chinese to learn about Islam. Thereby, the contents of Chinese Islamic works published in recent years would directly express Islamic thought in China.
As a school of thought formed in the 19th century, modernism had great impacts in the Muslim world in the first half of the 20th century.16 Under this influence, contemporary Chinese Muslim scholars have tried to construct a combination of Islamic thought, modernist thought and Chinese culture in recent years. Among those writers and scholars, Ismacīl Zhang is considered the foremost representative and his
15<https://de.wikipedia.org/wiki/Liste_chinesischer_Koran%C3%BCbersetzungen>Wikipedia, (accessed 20 December 2016).
16Yan, Qiong Ying "Islamic Modernism in South Asian and China: Comparing the Qurʼ ̅nic Exegesis of Sir Sayyid Ahmed Khan and Chengqian Zhang",Sino - Western Communications, Vol. 4, no.1 (Jul 2012): 61-74.
works The Call of Islam and Chinese Translation and Commentary of Qurʼān are the focus of debate for a long time.
Therefore, it is necessary to carry out research on the development of Islamic thought in China focusing upon the works of Ismacīl Zhang and then make an analysis of his main ideas, in order to bring to the attention of Chinese Muslims the ideological crisis faced by them. This study aims at evaluation of Ismacīl Zhang‟s views especially on revelation (waḥy), the unseen world (cālam al-ghayb) and miracles (mucjizāt) since his interpretations are different from the Islamic perspective, as expressed in his two works The Call of Islam and Chinese Translation and Commentary of Qurʼān.
1.3 RESEARCH QUESTIONS
This research attempts to carry out a detailed study on Ismacīl Zhang‟s works, and a critical analysis of his thought, as a reflection of Islamic thought in China today.
Hence, the researcher attempts to investigate and respond to the following questions:
1. What is the intellectual background of Ismacīl Zhang?
2. What are the views of Ismacīl Zhang on revelation (waḥy), the unseen world (cālam al-ghayb) and miracles (mucjizāt)?
3. What is the influence of Ismacīl Zhang‟s views in China?
1.4 OBJECTIVES OF STUDY
This research seeks to identify the views of Muslim scholar Ismacīl Zhang based on his two works, and accordingly to discover the problems of Muslim thought in China in recent years.
As mentioned previously, The Call of Islam and Chinese Translation and Commentary of Qurʼān, are the two most important books of Ismacīl Zhang, which
fully express his main ideas on Islam. Therefore, the objectives of this research are as follows:
1. To describe the intellectual background of Ismacīl Zhang.
2. To analyse Ismacīl Zhang‟s views on revelation (waḥy), the unseen world (cālam al-ghayb) and miracles (mucjizāt).
3. To examine the influence of Ismacīl Zhang‟s views in China.
1.5 SIGNIFICANCE OF THE STUDY
In recent years, considerable research has been conducted to study and analyse Ismacīl Zhang‟s works, and some reviews of these works have been published. Unfortunately, most of these articles are in Chinese, accessible to Sino-Muslim community only.
These articles are not published in academic journals in China or abroad. The practical significance of this research written in English is to arouse the attention of international academics on the state of Islamic thought in China.
Its theoretical significance lies in the fact that, it classifies Ismacīl Zhang‟s views, generalizes the characteristics of his views and examines the influence of his views. Therefore the findings of this research can be useful for finding out the Chinese Muslims‟ intellectual situation, and it can be used as reference for further research on the development of Ismacīl Zhang‟s thought in particular and Chinese Islamic thought in general.
1.6 LIMITATIONS OF THE STUDY
As the topic suggests, the study sample is limited to Ismacīl Zhang‟s views expressed in his two works which were published in 1992 and 2005, respectively. Due to these
dates and their influence, the time scope of the study is limited to the period from 1992 until the present.
Ismacīl Zhang wrote many articles and books and among these published works The Call of Islam and Chinese Translation and Commentary of Qurʼān are considered to best express his views yet considered as controversial by the Chinese Muslim community. Thus, his other works are not covered in this research.
1.7 RESEARCH METHODOLOGY
This study will use the qualitative approach to analyse the views of Ismacīl Zhang.
Through critical content analysis, the researcher will focus on the contents of the two works mentioned above. It will evaluate the thought of Ismacīl Zhang, based on Islamic perspective. Some Sino-Muslim scholars, including Ismacīl Zhang will be interviewed to obtain their views on the selected issues. Interviews by email will be carried out in this research to assess the influence of Ismacīl Zhang on Chinese Muslims.
1.8 LITERATURE REVIEW
Regarding Islamic thought in China in general and Ismacīl Zhang‟s views in particular, numerous research have been done and they have formed many valuable conclusions. The following is a discussion of the relevant and important works.
In order to refute Ismacīl Zhang‟s opinions expressed in his book The Call of Islam, Chinese Muslim scholar Ibn Ibrahīm Li Shan Mu wrote an online article entitled Be careful of Reading “The Call of Islam”17 in 1992. This paper analyses and
17Li, Ibn Ibrahīm Shan Mu, “Be Careful of Reading of „The Call of Islam‟”, Chinese Muslim,
<http://www.2muslim.com/forum.php?mod=viewthread&tid=21238&extra=&page=1> (accessed 8 May, 2015).
criticizes Ismacīl Zhang‟s disputable view and points out how to understand the meaning of particular terms based on reliable and authorized source, terms such as revelation (waḥy), the Messenger of Allāh (rasūl Allāh), spirit (rūḥ) and so on.
However, this article did not arouse much concern at the time it was written as it was just posted on the forum on the Internet; after that, the article was included in Ibn Ibrahīm‟s anthology entitled The Theory of Islamic Creed18 (Yi Si Lan Jiao Yi Xue Yuan li) in 2014.
Islamic Thought: An Introduction19 was written by Abdullah Sacīd and published in 2006. The book focuses on Muslim thought across the globe, as well as the development, production and transmission of religious knowledge, and the trends, schools and movements that have contributed to the production of this knowledge.
Key topics in Islamic culture are explored, including the development of the Islamic intellectual tradition, the two foundation texts, the Qurʼān and Ḥadīth, legal thought, theological thought, mystical thought, Islamic art, philosophical thought, political thought, and renewal, reform and rethinking today. Sacīd presents a fascinating depiction of how Islam was lived in the past and how its adherents practice it in the present. In the epilogue, he summarizes several key trends in Islamic thought today. It focuses on six broad trends which seem to be the most dominant. However, he did not mention about Islamic thought in China and its trends. This research will try to outline the trends of Islamic thought in China according to Saeed‟s taxonomy, combining with the Chinese Muslims‟ conditions.
Since 2005 with the publication of Ismacīl Zhang‟s Chinese Translation and Commentary of Qurʼān, it has attracted controversy and many Muslim scholars have
18Li, Ibn Ibrahīm Shan Mu, The Theory of Islamic Creed, Yi Si Lan Jiao Yi Xue Yuan li, (Hong Kong:
Tian Ma Press, 2014).
19Abdullah Sacīd, Islamic Thought An Introduction, (New York, Taylor Francis Ltd, 2006).
written articles refuting his views especially Ibn Ibrahīm Li who is one of the most outspoken. In the aspect of comparative Islamic epistemology and Ismacīl Zhang‟s main ideas, in Ibn Ibrahīm Li‟s book Imān, Human Reason and Philosophy20 published in 2009, he puts forward the limitation of human reason, and states that human reason is a kind of cognitive method based on secular knowledge. It is also an ability of thinking created by All ̅h which human beings use for recognizing things, and judging truth and error. Human beings perceive the information about things through senses. Later human reason can obtain the knowledge in accordance with the general rules of reasoning. This is the most common inference rule which belongs to the knowledge of the world of phenomenon. However, human reason cannot directly obtain the knowledge of the unseen world (cālam al-ghayb) and cannot know the specific situation of the future, also it cannot confirm all things of the unseen world.
This is the limitation of the human reason.21 He repeatedly stresses that the limitation of human reason in this work, and he definitely points out that all of them are reflected in Ismacīl Zhang‟s Chinese Translation and Commentary of Qurʼān, because he did not have enough Islamic education and did not master Arabic language before he interpreted Qurʼān solely based his own reason.
Ibn Ibrahīm Li Shan Mu then completed his other book entitled On Mixed- Religion22 in 2011. In this book, he adequately elaborates the reason for rejecting Ismacīl Zhang‟s exegesis (tafsīr), particularly as rejecting his qualification in interpreting the Qurʼān. He states that a person who has not mastered Arabic is unqualified to be an interpreter (mufassir) of the Qurʼān. He presents an introduction of pluralism and syncretism, and definitely points out that Ismacīl Zhang‟s thought
20Li, Ibn Ibrahīm Shan Mu, Imān, Human Reason and Philosophy, (Hong Kong: Tian Ma Press, 2009).
22Li, Ibn Ibrahīm Shan Mu, On Mixed-Religion, (Hong Kong: He Ping Publishing House, 2011).
was influenced by these ideologies. He compares the contents between Ismacīl Zhang‟s exegesis and other sound exegeses, and consequentially proves that Ismacīl Zhang‟s exegesis is different from the normal exegeses. This book can be considered as the most comprehensive refutation of Ismacīl Zhang‟s Qurʼānic exegesis and his approach of interpreting the Holy Qurʼān. However, as the cited Chinese references are secondary literature, Ibn Ibrahīm Li‟s critical approach has been criticized for lack of academic rigor in its use of evidence. For these two works, he did not use scholarly and authentic English or Arabic primary sources. Thus, one of the purposes of this research is to reconfirm Ibn Ibrahīm Li‟s conclusion based on scholarly and authentic English and Arabic sources.
Zhang Wei Zhen is the former president of Lin Xia Foreign Language College, translator of numerous books, and author of articles on Islamic thought, whose pen name is Hange.23 He wrote How to Understand and Treat Ismacīl Zhang‟s Thought with the Reasonable Way24 and A Letter to Ismacīl Zhang Cheng Qian,25 in order to openly discuss with Ismacīl Zhang‟s views, and these two articles appeared on the website. Zhang Wei Zhen argues with Ismacīl Zhang who gives personal interpretations of Islam and the Qurʼān. At the end of the letter he repeatedly expresses concern about Ismacīl Zhang‟s thought and the prospect that his views will misguide intellectual Muslims and new Muslims. Undoubtedly, Zhang Wei Zhen‟s arguments are more objective and sound. However, he did not make a comprehensive study on Ismacīl Zhang‟s thought thus this research will try to make an academic study on it.
23Hange is the Chinese transliteration of Arabic Ḥaqq (truth).
24Zhang, Hanga Wei Zhen, “How to Understand and Treat Ismacīl Zhang‟s Thought with the Reasonable Way”, Sina, <http://blog.sina.com.cn/s/blog_b26f85330101arfu.html>(accessed 8 May, 2015).
25Zhang, Wei Zhen, “A Letter to Ismac ̅l Zhang Cheng Qian”, Muslim Online,
<http://www.muslimwww.com/html/2013/jiaoyu_0818/18486_2.html> (accessed 8 May, 2015).
Hasan Bai Run Sheng is recognized as one of the most influential contemporary Muslim scholars in this era. He is dedicated to writing and researching on the topic of Islamic worldview. He has written numerous online articles and some of his academic articles have appeared in Islamic academic journals. The Influence of Modern Hermeneutic on Interpreting the Holy Qurʼān26 as one of the most representative articles, appeared in the journal of Shanghai Muslim in 2010. He introduces the history of hermeneutics, and its background. In his comparison and analysis, he concludes that the method of Qurʼānic exegesis (tafsīr) in Chinese has been affected by modern hermeneutics, and Ismacīl Zhang‟s exegesis is one example.
In this article, he has provided authoritative similarities of these two methods in the commentary of scriptures. In this study, the researcher will analyse Ismacīl Zhang‟s views as reflected in his Chinese exegesis with dense modernism influence from an objective point of view.
Chinese Translations of the Holy Qurʼān27 is a Ph.D thesis written by Nooḥ Ma Yu Long in 2012. This study deals with four types of Chinese translations regarding the meaning of the Holy Qurʼān. The main objective of his thesis is to present the mistakes which occur in translations on the aspect of linguistics and creed. He selected eight models of translations in China that appeared since the beginning of the the millennium until today. The Qurʼānic exegesis of Ismacīl Zhang is included. As a thesis written in Arabic, the researcher objectively analyzes and criticizes the Qurʼānic exegesis of Ismacīl Zhang from the viewpoint of analyzing the methodology of exegesis (tafsīr). Unlike Nooḥ Ma, this research will focus instead on analyzing Ismacīl Zhang‟s thought and summarizing its influence on Sino-Muslims.
26Bai, Hasan Run Sheng, "The Influence of Modern Hermeneutic on Interpreting the Holy Qurʼān", Shanghai Muslim, Vol.3 (2010): 7-9.
27Ma, Nooḥ Yu Long, “Chinese Translations of Holy Qurʼān: A Study and Analysis”, (Ph.D. thesis, Islamic Science University of Malysia, 2012).
The Chinese Qurʼānic Exegesis of Ustaz Ismacīl Zhang Cheng Qian is a thesis written by Ibrahīm cAli Sulaymān Ma Wen Lin.28 For a comprehensive evaluation, the researcher uses historical method to introduce Ismacīl Zhang‟s life, his intellectual background, and his work Chinese Translation and Commentary of the Qurʼān. He also analyzes and corrects questionable views and arguments in the Chinese Qurʼānic Exegesis of Ismacīl Zhang. He concludes that this Chinese exegesis is strongly influenced by Muḥammad cAli (1874-1951), an Indian writer, scholar, and leading figure of the Lahore Aḥmadiyyah Movement.29 The first edition of The English Translation of the Holy Qurʼān and Commentary by Muḥammad cAli was printed in England and published in 1917. Ibrah ̅m cAli Sulaimān Ma affirms that Ismacīl Zhang made significant mistakes and dubious arguments in his commentary. As an Arabic thesis, the author systematically sorts out and classifies Ismacīl Zhang‟s major problems. However, regarding Ismacīl Zhang‟s views and its influence on Sino- Muslims, he did not make much mention. This is exactly the focus of this study.
Islamic Modernism in South Asian and China: Comparing the Qurʼānic Exegesis of Sir Sayyid Aḥmed Khan and Cheng Qian Zhang30 is written by Yan Qiong Ying. She has been engaged in the field of Islamic studies for many years, and has produced many works. As an academic article in a journal, the paper compares the Qurʼānic exegesis by Sir Sayyid Aḥmed Khan and Ismacīl Zhang with a focus on their efforts to reconcile the traditional Muslim world with modernity. Obviously, the focus of this article is to study Islamic modernism in the Muslim world. Thereby, the study
28Ma, Ibrahīm Ali Sulaymān Wen Lin, “The Chinese Qurʼānic Exegesis of Ustaz Ismacīl Zhang Cheng- Qian”, (Master thesis, Kolej Universiti Insaniah, 2015).
29Akhtar Aziz and Zahid Aziz, “A Mighty Striving: Life Story of Maulana Muḥammad cAli,”
(Wembley: Ahamadiyyah Anjuman Lahore Publications, 2011).
30Yan, Qiong Ying “Islamic Modernism in South Asian and China: Comparing the Qurʼānic Exegesis of Sir Sayyid Aḥmed Khan and Cheng qian Zhang”, Sino - Western Communications, Vol. 4, no.1 (Jul 2012): 61.