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Chinese Rituals for Muslim Ancestors

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Southeast China’s Lineages of Muslim Descent穆斯林祖先的中国式仪式: 中国东南部的穆斯林后裔群体

This paper explores unique ritual traditions of descendants of Song-Yuan Muslim sojourners in Southeast China, and the mechanisms they apply to shape their own identity. Today, members of the lineages examined here are not practicing Muslims. Though they resemble their Han neighbors almost completely, many still preserve distinct traditions of ancestral worship, aimed at commemorating their forefathers’ foreign origin. So far scholars have tended to address these communities in ethnic terms. Under current government policies, some Muslims’ descendants were granted Chinese-Muslim minority (Hui) status. Therefore, the widely accepted approach interprets their unique traditions as evidencing an affinity with Islam. The present paper offers an alternative approach to the one focused on contemporary ethnic classification by studying the self-perceived identity of Muslims’ descendants as part of the Chinese environment. Focusing on the worship system into which their “Islamic” traits were incorporated, it demonstrates that Muslim faith has marginal significance for establishing their identity, and that Chinese religion and culture actually play the central role. 摘要 该论文探索宋元时期中国东南部穆斯林寄居者后裔的独特传统仪式,以及他们用以塑造自己身份的机制。现今,该文中研究的家族成员已不再信奉伊斯兰教。虽然跟他们的汉族邻居几乎完全相似,不过许多成员仍然保存着一些独特的敬奉祖先的传统,目的是为了纪念他们祖先的异族血统。学者们迄今一般都倾向于用少数民族这个术语来称呼这些社群。根据目前的政府政策,一些穆斯林后代被归入中国–穆斯林少数民族(回族)身份,也表明了与伊斯兰教的近亲关系,这成为解释他们独特传统的被广泛接受的方式。该研究提供了一种不同的解释方式,研究他们作为中国环境下的一份子的自我身份认同。本文集中于具有“伊斯兰”特征的祖先崇拜,以此来表明穆斯林信仰对于建立他们的身份认同仅有边缘意义,而中国宗教与文化实际上发挥着中心作用。

Affiliations: 1: The Harry S. Truman Research Institute for the Advancement of Peace, Hebrew University, East Asian Studies Department, Tel Aviv University,


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