Reviews

This bibliographical guide is the work of three researchers from three different cultural backgrounds: Western, Arabic-Persian and Chinese.  It aims at a mapping out of the most essential sources on Islam in China (books and surveys in Chinese, Arabic, Persian, English, Japanese, French and German).  Assuming that a totally exhaustive work on bibliography is out of reach, the authors have chosen to present a close-up view of the most important primary and secondary sources in the languages mentioned above.  A brief introduction precedes the five main parts, and the volume ends with fifty pages of indices (Chinese and Japanese titles, names, topics) and appendixes listing secondary works in Western languages and Chinese, that refer to the most recent publications.

The first part (31-48) introduces a history of the main sources and locates them in libraries, archives and catalogues.  The second part (49-108) describes the historic sources, Chinese (including Muslim) as well as  Arabic, Persian and Western.  It also includes invaluable lists of secondary sources quoting primary ones, mostly in Western languages and Chinese.  Part three (109-32) is devoted to secondary sources (bibliographies, collections, journals, theses and dissertations), but references to the sources are very succinct, making it difficult to find out the original book.  Part four (133-86) classifies the materials by topics, with brief introductions to them: mosques and Islamic communities; cities and provinces; the origins of Islam in China, etc.  The survey devotes thirty pages to the most important biographical works on Muslims in China, divided up into (a) biographies written by Chinese Muslims and (b) biographies written by other authors.  This section provides brief biographic and bibliographic indications on nearly 240 personalities.  The last pages review general topics such as demography, scientific contributions by Chinese Muslims, dynasties, religion and sociology.  The fifth and last part, the most significant, comprises a classification of references to secondary works, listed by author, in Western languages (189-254), Chinese (255-309), Japanese (307-326), Arabic and other languages (326).

The present book is the most complete work existing on Chinese Islam bibliography.  Donald D. Leslie had written acclaimed works on the history of Islam and Judaism in China, particularly on bibliographical sources, but this Guide achieves a research work on sources that lasted for decades, and provides readers with a considerable amount of invaluable information.  D.D. Leslie’s collaboration with Ahmed Youssef and Yang Daye results in a uniquely diverse selection of sources, from the most ancient Chinese texts to Arabic tales, up to current Chinese publications.  Though it pretends to avoid surveying the modern and present times, the book actually makes interesting references that reflect the important studies and publishing activities on Chinese Islam by Chinese researchers (often Muslims themselves) in the People’s Republic.  One must notice, at the same time, that this collection might have included the particular primary sources written in xiaoerjin [小児錦].  (Xiaoerjin is an Arabic-Persian alphabetic transcription of the Chinese language, created and used by Chinese Muslims, who were often illiterate in Chinese—see on this matter the project led by Machida Kazuhiko, in Japan, on the collection and digitalisation of those texts <http://www.aa. tufs.ac.jp/~kmach/xiaoerjin/xiaoerjin-e.htm>.)  This Guide might also have included references to Chinese Muslim private publications.  Those publications usually reprint classical Arabic, Persian and Chinese religious books, as well as numerous translations of past and contemporary Muslim authors and significant, if non-academic, pieces of erudition.  Though explicitly not meant as a comprehensive bibliography, this work remains nonetheless the most complete and useful reference book for those curious of Islam in China, and should remain for many years an indispensable tool for students and researchers.

Leila Chérif-Chebbi, National Foundation for Political Science, Paris
CER: I-1.1.A-7