chapter  1
7 Pages

The Mosque and Scripture-Hall Education

ByJianxiong Ma, Jide Yao

This chapter introduces the role of mosques and genealogies in a Ming–Qing historical perspective. For much of the Ming dynasty (1368–1644), Hui communities’ affairs were managed by religious heads of mosques who became hereditary officials appointed by the Ministry of Rites. That manner of governance closely followed the Ming household registration (lijia) arrangement assigning administrative responsibilities to the heads of household units. An important development of community institutions occurred in the 1570s after Hu Dengzhou (1522–1597) founded mosque-based scripture-hall education centers, teaching Islam in the Chinese language. The use of Chinese texts contributed to standardizing Islamic teachings, employing Confucian terms and concepts. A century later, a renowned scholar, Ma Zhu (1640–1711), compiled a unified genealogy of the Yuan dynasty Muslim governor of Yunnan, Sayyid Ajall Shams al-Din (1211–1279). Many Muslim families in different parts of China regarded Sayyid Ajall as their ancestor, while tracing his own descent, from the Prophet Muhammad. Ma Zhu gathered those accounts to compile The Genealogy of Sayyid Ajall Shams al-Din, highlighting their common origin in the lineage of the Prophet to advance the belief that “the Muslims belong to one family.” This endeavor contributed to creating transregional networks of mosque communities sharing a common heritage.