Hailing the 17th-century Jinling School hides another attempt to create an Islam subservient to the Communist Party.
by Ma Wenyan
On September 6, Yang Faming, the president of China Islamic Association, attended the 3rd Jiangsu Provincial Forum on Adhering to the Sinicization of Islam held in Nanjing, and delivered a speech. Yang also visited the Jingjue Mosque in Nanjing, accompanied by Mi Qizhi, who is vice president of China Islamic Association and president of Jiangsu Islamic Association.
The event offered to Yang the opportunity to state that Chinese Muslims should “further promote the Sinicization of Islam in our country and rely on the profound ideological resources and historical traditions of the Jinling School to do a good job in the application of Confucianism to Islam.” The Jingjue Mosque was in fact an important center of the Jinling School.
The Jinling School was part of a movement that created Chinese-language educational institutions for the Muslims of China in the late Ming period. Ma Zhenwu, Zhang Shaoshan and Ma Junshi, and their disciples, all taught in Nanjing and shared an interest in Sufism and a background in Confucian studies. The Jinling School believed that Confucianism and Sufism had significant similarities and launched a movement of “connection between Islam and Confucianism.” The movement also generated reactions by those who believed it was importing non-Islamic elements into Islam, and eventually declined.
The interest for the Jinling School and its celebration by CCP-controlled Muslim bureaucrats is interesting. However, one can doubt that the latter are able to grasp the subtleties of the 17th and 18th century Muslim Chinese theologians. For them, “Confucianizing” Islam means supporting the movement to vandalize mosques by eliminating “Arabic” architectural elements and replacing them with Chinese ones and promoting, as Yang said on September 6, “a Sinicized approach to the Islamic scriptures.”
Ultimately, what Yang and the CCP likes in the “Confucian” approach to Islam is reading the Holy Quran in a way that would convert it into a tool for supporting the regime in power. While this accusation might have been unfair to the Jinling School theologians, it certainly applies to Yang and his co-workers.
As Yang said in his speech, what “Sinicization of Islam” and “Jinling School approach” really imply is to “comprehensively and accurately study and understand the spirit of the 20th National Congress of the CCP, and deeply understand the decisive significance of supporting the Central Committee of the CCP and General Secretary Xi Jinping and adhere to their political guidance.” This is Communism disguised as Confucianism, a frequent tool of Xi Jinping’s rhetoric, and a way of emptying Islam and their scriptures of their genuine content.