Both Chinese and Muslim: moral challenges for a Sufi community in Northwest China
(Asian University for Women)
Paper short abstract:
This paper focuses on the anxieties of a particular Sufi community in Northwest China who fear the moral decline of their lineage in a country that they perceive to be, at times, "materialistic, chaotic and vulgar."
Paper long abstract:
Since the 17th century, Sufi communities in China have pursued an imported religiosity in a foreign setting - an existence which has come with a unique set of moral challenges. They have had to sustain a religious identity in the face of both changing orthodoxy amongst the Chinese Muslim community, and oscillating degrees of tolerance from the Chinese state. As the historian Jonathan Lipman has noted, the contradictions amongst Islamic groups in China, internal and with one another, "represent symbolically the difficulties of being both Chinese and Muslim" (Lipman, 1997:92). These difficulties continue to varying degrees today. This paper focuses on the anxieties of one particular Sufi community in Northwest China - a branch of the Qadiriyya named Guo Gongbei. Some amongst the community fear the moral decline of their lineage in a country that they perceive to be, at times, "materialistic, chaotic and vulgar." It explores both their concerns and their responses to the historical and contemporary challenge of being, to borrow a phrase from Lipman, 'familiar strangers' in a changing moral landscape.
In search of faith: itinerant religiosities and negotiated moralities in Asia