While reading Sachiko Murata’s “Chinese Gleams of Sufi light” I found that I was confused by the notion of the “Real One” and the “Numerical One.” It is interesting that Wang felt as though his Chinese audience would have a hard time understanding the difference between the two yet here I am familiar with Western and Islamic notions and I am just as confused.
I felt that Wang’s use of Neo-Confucian terminology and examples in interpreting Islam had a nice twist, although he may have led a group of believers to want to mix aspects of the two, or a sinification of Islam, which could be interesting. On the other hand, I have always thought that following the Confucian ideals of how humans should behave work well with those held by the monotheistic religions. Regardless, I guess to understand something we need to use our own terminology to explain it and that is what Islam had to go through to be received in China.
Architecture has always been interesting to me because it physically embodies time and influence into something tangible. Looking at different architectural pieces, one can see the mixture of cultures and thoughts at a given time erected into something meant to exist until the time of its destruction. The two types of mosques discussed in “The Mosque: History, Architectural Development and Regional Diversity” are prime examples of the narrative architecture can provide about a people. Just as Islam the religion had to go through a Chinese medium to be understood, so did its mosques and its calligraphy. This resulted in beautiful and very distinct forms than what is found in the Middle East and the rest of the Muslim world. Even within China there are different architecturally designed Mosques representing the different faces of the Muslim community of the country.
Even the differences between Islamic calligraphy in China are interesting to note. As the “Islamic Calligraphy in China” article indicates, “Arabic writing is most readily distinguished by the flowing tails of its letters, while Chinese characters are neatly contained within a square form”. Again this could stem from tendencies such as the boxy nature of Chinese script.
Regardless of the differences found in the various aspects of Islam in China, each synthesis is just as beautiful as the original.