Embracing the Sage: Sa’d ibn Abi Waqqas as Hui Cultural Hero and Muslim Saint
Invited conference paper presented and published in conference proceedings


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AbstractA longstanding traditional narrative among Hui Muslims in China attributes the arrival of Islam in China to a mission led by Sa’d ibn abi Waqqas, a relative and faithful Companion of the Prophet Muhammad. Although the historicity of this story has been questioned to the point of virtually disproving it, Sa’d ibn abi Waqqas is associated with two important sites in the southern Chinese port city of Guangzhou ¬– the Huaisheng Mosque, which he is said to have built, and a tomb where he is purportedly buried. Guangzhou was one of the original centers of Muslim commerce and immigration in the Tang dynasty (618-907), and in recent decades has seen a resurgence of both Hui Muslim domestic migrants as well as international Muslims coming to do business. The Huaisheng Mosque and Waqqas tomb have emerged as focal points for both groups of Muslim newcomers to Guangzhou, as symbols of the city’s ancient Islamic heritage. The tomb in particular attracts Muslims from around the world, who treat it as a sacred site, and the person buried there as a saint, in demonstrations of popular devotion. The mythic power of the Sa’d ibn abi Waqqas tradition has not only persisted among Hui Muslims, who invoke it as a source of legitimate identity, but has also expanded well beyond China to Muslim communities around the world, who treat the tomb as a mazar, a shrine for pilgrimage. These overlapping trends have helped situate Guangzhou as a center for trade and religious tourism, building links between China, its Hui Muslim population, and the global Muslim Ummah in the era of the Belt and Road Initiative.
All Author(s) ListFRANKEL James D
Name of ConferenceInternational Conference on Islam in the China Seas
Start Date of Conference23/03/2018
End Date of Conference24/03/2018
Place of ConferenceThe Chinese University of Hong Kong
Country/Region of ConferenceHong Kong
Year2018
LanguagesEnglish-United Kingdom

Last updated on 2019-04-01 at 09:12