James FrankelDec 9, 2011
Rectifying God's Name
Liu Zhi's Confucian Translation of Monotheism and Islamic Law
University of Hawaii Press 2011
For some, ritual can conjure visions of static practices performed in a systematic manner. However, ritual also guides proper modes of behavior as individuals encounter one another and establishes moral and ethical means for acting within the world. In Rectifying God's Name: Liu Zhi's Confucian Translation of Monotheism and Islamic Law (University of Hawaii Press, 2011), we are introduced to the dynamic relationship between Chinese and Islamic systems of thought and how the most important Chinese Muslim scholar, Liu Zhi, navigated these two worlds in his explanation of how to act in the world. James Frankel, professor or Religion at the University of Hawai'i, explores how Liu interpreted the outer and the inner manifestations of Islam through the vocabulary of Buddhism, Daoism, and Neo-Confucianism. He introduces us to Liu's most famous text Rituals of Islam (Tianfang dianli) and explores how Liu translated Islamic monotheism into an intelligible Chinese worldview. He does this in relation to the smaller Chinese Christian and Jewish communities and shows how they borrow from or influenced each other. Overall, the Tianfang dianli became the most famous Chinese Islamic text when it was included (at least by name) in Qianlong's giant compendium of Chinese literature (Siku Quanshu). This is a wonderful contribution to the still developing field of Islam in China.