Atelier Eurasie Centrale (GSRL/EPHE-PSL) – Séance 5

La cinquième séance de l’Atelier Eurasie centrale pour l’année 2024 aura lieu le mardi 20 février, de 11h00 à 13h00 en salle 5.067, Bâtiment Nord, 14 cours des Humanités, 93300 Aubervilliers. Séance sur site uniquement Nous y accueillerons une communication de : Unno Noriko (Université Waseda, Tokyo & directrice d’études associée de l’EHESS/IISMM)

Mirror of Fear or Desire? Chinese Emperors in Muslim Folklore and Modern Historiography

Sino-Muslims, roughly equivalent to the present-day Huizu in the People’s Republic of China (PRC), are said to be the descendants of Middle Eastern, Central Asian, and Southeast Asian Muslims who settled in China from the 7th to the 14th centuries CE. According to Sino-Muslim origin myths such as the Huihui yuanlai (HHYL: Origin of Muslims), which reportedly emerged in 1628, between the late Ming and early Qing periods, Prophet Muhammad dispatched his associate Sa‘d ibn Abi Waqqās Malik al-Zuhri (ca. 595–674) to China to exorcise a ghost that had appeared to the Tang emperor in his dream. Although several scholars dismissed this folktale as baseless and even contrary to the Islamic doctrine, myths and legends were generally accepted by the Sino-Muslims, and became the basis of their sense of belonging to the Islamic world of Arab ancestry linked back to the Prophet Muhammad. They are important when considering Sino-Muslims’ self-understanding and their views of the state, because they mirror the Muslims’ desire that Islam would obtain imperial approval. The images of the Tang emperor, who actually never converted to Islam, and of the Kangxi Emperor (r. 1661–1722), who in the HHYL was generous to Muslims, indicate the Muslims’ trust in, expectations of, and disappointment to China’s rulers. Some Sino-Muslims who were active in the modern period and foreigners who had interactions with them attacked these myths of origin, characterising them as groundless and contrary to Islam. These trends notwithstanding, folklore had an impact on the modern historiography of Sino-Muslims and their genealogies, often cited as ‘historical facts’. Even Turkic Muslim historians in early-twentieth-century Xinjiang quoted a story reminiscent of the HHYL in which, unlike the versions circulated among Sino-Muslims in China proper, the Tang emperor had indeed converted to Islam in secret and his descendants remained Muslims for generations. Thus, this presentation seeks to reconstruct the emotional history of Islam in China through an exploration of how Turkic Muslims expressed their desire that a Muslim ruler would, one day, govern China. Dans l’attente de vous y retrouver, Stéphane Dudoignon, Léo Maillet, Lina Tsrimova