Monday, January 4, 2016

Chinese and Islam



Asalamu Alaykom,



When I was teaching at an Islamic school in Florida, I was appalled at how the Muslim children in my English class couldn't read a story about a Chinese-American boy without making fun of Asians.  No matter how much I stopped and corrected, the ill treatment continued.  I am a firm believer in teaching children (and adults) not to make fun of anyone; act only as you would if they were standing in front of you.  That fifth grade class got a surprise writing assignment:  write a page on Chinese Muslims.

Here's an article from Emel if you'd like to read more in depth on them.

One of the more interesting facts we discovered back in my classroom is that there are actually 10 million Chinese Muslims which means there are more Muslims in China than there are in Saudi Arabia.  Think about that!



Maybe from that time of standing up for my Chinese brothers and sisters, I have developed a special affinity for them.  They have NO REASON to be Muslim other than they feel it necessary for their soul.  These days, there is a crackdown in China which is squeezing them and testing their faith so please make du'a for Chinese Muslims.

Today, as I research some Chinese language for my upcoming lessons on Hung Wu, the founder of the Ming Dynasty.  Hung Wu helped to build The Great Mosque of Xi'an which is really an amazing testament to the spread of Islam.  I once again became enlivened by Chinese Muslims.

Take a look at this:

huí

I find that character quite simple and beautiful.  I found it when I was looking up the word for "to answer".  Yes, it has that meaning but it also means


to circle
to go back
to turn around
to return
to revolve
Hui ethnic group (Chinese Muslims)

It's the word for Chinese Muslims!





Isn't that great?!  It is like "revert" in that it is someone returning back.  The symbol looks exactly like what it is--a turning around in a circle.  It is like tawaf; the ritual circling of the Kabbah.  If you think of it as such, then see how the inner symbol is a square THE KABBAH.  Subhanallah.  I see that.

I found it on yabla.com and, being the curious person I am, started to search for more.

Here are some of the most important words in Islam written in Chinese.

This is actually how to write Kabbah

克尔白 
Traditional 克爾白

Kè ěr bái
Ka'aba, sacred building in Mecca


安拉

Ān lā
Allah (Arabic name of God)


伊斯
Traditional 伊斯蘭

Yī sī lán
Islam


兰经 
Traditional可蘭經




Kě lán jīng
Quran (Islamic scripture)

Here's something that blew me away.  The word for the Muslim Holy Book in Chinese is not "quran" because that word already has meaning.  If you say "quran" in China, it means quiet, still and silent. 





阒然 
Traditional 闃然
qù rán
quiet
still and silent

 How amazingly true is THAT?





清真

qīng zhēn
Islamic
Muslim
halal (of food)
clean
pure



朝向

cháo xiàng

Qibla (Islam)


The Qibla is the direction Muslims face while praying and it is to the Kabba in Mecca.
To me, it looks like the faith of 回 has an open door to reach the inside and isn't that a beautiful way to think of the qibla?

To go on Hajj has an interesting connotation. 






 
Traditional 朝覲

cháo jìn
to give audience (of emperor)
retainers' duty to pay respect to sovereign
hajj (Islam)

Isn't that kind of interesting?  The same words for hajj are what you'd say if you were going to visit a head of state---like an emperor...or a caliph.

哈里 
Traditional 哈里發

Hā lǐ fā
Khalīfah or Caliph (Arabic: successor), head of state in Caliphate  


It brings an earthly understanding of how important going to Mecca is.

麦加 
Traditional 麥加

Mài jiā
Mecca, Saudi Arabia

圣地 
Traditional 聖地

shèng dì
holy land (of a religion)
sacred place
shrine
holy city (such as Jerusalem, Mecca etc)
center of historic interest


耶路撒冷

Yē lù sā lěng
Jerusalem


Someone who goes on hajj gets an honorary title and here is that.

哈吉

hǎ jí
haji or hadji (Islam)



This is getting ready for the Eid at the end of Hajj.

古尔邦 
Traditional 古爾邦節

gǔ ěr bāng jié
Eid al-Azha festival of sacrifice on tenth of twelfth month of Muslim lunar calendar




If you're racking your brain on which Eid is "Azha", it is known as Eid-Al-Adha here in Egypt or as the Eid Kabeer the big holiday when the sheep are slaughtered at the end of Hajj.

There are the other observances of Islam like fasting in Ramadan. 



 
Traditional 封齋

fēng zhāi
fast (in several religions)
Ramadan (Islam)
see also 齋月|斋月[Zhāi yuè]


斋月 
Traditional 齋月

Zhāi yuè
Ramadan (Islam)


尔德 
Traditional 爾德

Ěr dé
Eid (Islam)




斋节 
Traditional 開齋節

Kāi zhāi jié
Eid ul-Fitr (Islam)
Hari Raya



There are the words for the observance of prayer.




清真寺

qīng zhēn sì
mosque

 
Traditional 教長

jiào zhǎng
dean
mullah
imam (Islam)
see also 伊瑪目|玛目[yī mǎ mù]


When I looked up "wudu" this is what was brought up.
  

无毒 Traditional 
無毒

wú dú
harmless
innocuous
lit. not poisonous

I love this!  I don't know if this is what you'd say to speak about the Islamic absolution but it's very cool to think of the literal meaning as not poisonous.  I always imagine my wudu as cleaning off the toxins of the day so this has real meaning to me.    


I looked but couldn't find "hijab".




This may or may not be what a hijab gets called.

 
Traditional 蓋頭

gài tóu
cover
cap
topping
head covering
veil


朝向

cháo xiàng
Qibla (Islam)


The Qibla is the direction Muslims face while praying and it is to the Kabba in Mecca.
To me, it looks like the faith of 回 has an open door to reach the inside and isn't that a beautiful way to think of the qibla?





祷 
Traditional 
dǎo
prayer
pray
supplication


顶拜 
Traditional 頂拜

dǐng bài
to prostrate oneself
to kneel and bow the head (in submission, supplication, worship etc)


念珠 
Traditional 唸珠

niàn zhū
prayer beads



I looked up the prophets (peace be upon them all). Not all were listed and for many I used the Christian names for them.


亚当 
Traditional亞當

Yà dāng
Adam


诺亚 
Traditional 諾亞

Nuò yà

Noah


亚伯拉罕 
Traditional 亞伯拉罕

Yà bó lā hǎn
Abraham, father of Judaism and Islam in the Bible and Quran
same as Ibrahim 易卜拉

Just from seeing a few names, I can guess that 亚 means prophet or something like it.


依撒格

Yī sā gé
Issac (name)

摩西

Mó xī
Moses

This one made me laugh.  I know it isn't pronounced exactly the same, but in English, "moxie" means a force of character, determination or nerve and that CERTAINLY was Nabi Musa/Prophet Moses (peace be upon him).

亚伦 
Traditional 亞倫

Yà lún
Aaron (name)

雅各

Yǎ gè
Jacob (name)

耶利米

Yē lì mǐ
Jeremy or Jeremiah (name)

约瑟夫 
Traditional 約瑟夫

Yuē sè fū

Joseph (name)

约纳 
Traditional 約納

Yuē nà
Jonah

施洗约翰 
Traditional 施洗約翰

Shī xǐ Yuē hàn
John the Baptist

 
Traditional耶穌

Yē sū
Jesus

穆罕默德

Mù hǎn mò dé
Mohammed (c. 570-632), central figure of Islam and Prophet of God





It is incredible how Islam spread to China.  We can thank Abi Wakas (ra) who went to China and died and was interned in China.  Read more about him here and about the mosque he founded here.



There is a hadith (although of only deserving the grade of "fair" believability) that the Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him) said, "Seek knowledge, even as far as China."  For certain, Islam encourages knowledge and learning about other languages and cultures helps us and helps the ummah.  Why China specifically?  It is unfathomable that it could have been brought to such a far flung place by a sahabi...but it was.  Subhanallah!  If a sahabi (ra) can travel so far a distance, when travel was so long and dangerous, to such a diverse group of people and BRING ISLAM and have it remain for centuries in their hearts, then what can't be done?!