Jielian Liu.

The Arabian prophet; a life of Mohammed from Chinese and Arabic sources online

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resided for thirteen years at Kambalu, and who stated that
there were m^ny Jews, Christians, and Mohammedans
living Iher^. ^ It i's strange that apparently little or nothing
of what may have been written by Moslem Chinese during
several centuries has survived, or is accessible in these days.
We begin with their literature written about the middle of
the seventeeth century, and for two hundred and fifty )»ears
•comparatively little seems to have been written. Wyjie, in ^is
comprehensive " Notes on Chinese Literature," fifty years
ago said: "Although the disciples of Mohammed have been
in China now for more than twelve centuries, yet we do not
find that they have done much towards the introduction of
a native literature in connexion with their religion; and
notwithstanding the great number belonging to this sect at
the present day, who know nothing but the Chinese, the
publications they have in the native language are quite in-
significant." He then proceeds to mention five works. But
there were others available, which apparently he was not
acquainted with ; and of recent years there has been quite a
little activity in producing tracts and magazines, so that
a complete list of Moslem productions in Chinese will^
number about one hundred and fifty titles. Some of the
recent literature is polemical, attacking both Christianity and
Buddhism. For the most part, recent writers add little or
nothing to our knowledge or understanding of their beliefs

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and practices, and in some cases only succeed in beclouding;
matters. The variety of different characters used to rep-
resent the same names or subjects is a continuous annoy-
ance to anyone reading after different authors; we have
noted ten different names for the Koran, half a dozen for
Mecca, and about as many different ways of writing Allah
and Abraham, and nearly always two or three ways of
writing other names. Sometimes the same writer will give-
different versions of the same name. But curiosities of
nomenclature are not confined to Moslem writers; the
variations of names used by Christian missionaries plus^ be
very puzzling to many Chinese readers, 'as well as to-

The average missionary knows but little of his Moham-
me,dan neighbours. My own may be a typical case : I met
Mohammedans in Szechwan for over twenty years, was
friendly with them, exchanged visits, have been inside
mosques, and yet knew little of their religious thought or
practices. This was partly due to the fact that many
Moslems have very slight appreciation of their own religion^ '^.
and I remember one military official who told me that he
only knew he was not to eat pork nor worship idols, and
knew very little else about his religion. Some Moslems,
with better knowledge, are either reticent in speaking, or on
the other hand are so insufferably conceited in religious
matters that it is not easy to find out what one would really
like to know. Morever, most of us have given our time and
efforts chiefly to the Chinese of other religions or of na
religion, as these have so greatly outnumbered the Moslems,
we have met. In places where idolaters abound and Mos-
lems are few% the Moslems are apt to claim us as religious^
allies, and say we are ** about the same,** as wx both wor-

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ship the true God and reject idols; we have much of the Old
Testament in common, and we acknowledge the samq
prophets, Moses, David, and Jesus, called by Moslems Mu
Sa, Da Wu Deh, and Er Sa respectively.

But no missionary ought to accept the well-meant saying
as altogether complimentary, nor as the real truth. Some
examination should be made into the points of similarity and
of difference, and the points of real antagonism, so as to
face the subject with understanding, and know how we may
best try to win the Moslems, and so have a share in the
world-wide effort being made to enlighten and convert the
followers of the Prophet.

It is a simple matter for anyone to read about Moham-
medanism in the excellent books available in English; but
as we are more concerned with this religion as it exists in
China, I shall present things as they are found in Chinese
works, written by Chinese Moslems. The conception of
God, as to His Unity and His attributes, is much the same
as in the Christian or Jewish faith. No single article of
faith is more insisted upon by the Moslem than that God is
One and only One. In a booklet called "The Correct
Foundation of Religion " the Writer, a Tientsin Mohamme-
dan, says: *'God is without beginning and without end. He
is eternal, and not affected by the dual powers * Yin ' and
* Yang.' He is without peer or mate, the Only One most
honourable. He is not restricted to certain regions; there
are no traces of His form. He cannot be said to be above
or below, to be near or distant. He is without likeness,
there is no pattern of Him, and there is nothing to which
He can be compared. He can command that things be or
cease to exist. He is able to create all things, and that

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without depending upon means. His eternal life does not
depend upon any decree. Such is the Originally-existent .
Essence of God."

" The Christians' recognition of God is by no. means \
the same as the above. Having said that God is only One, ^
they further proceed to discourse about three in one, and
bne in three. Is not this far removed from what is said
above about God being without peer or mate, and being the
Only One most honourable? They take God and Jesus to
be one, and thus rebel against the God who created all
things. Jesus had a visible body which had life imparted
to it, and was not the Self-created, Originally-existent
Source. Jesus was also a created being, needing outside
assistance; he had beginning and end, was aflfected by *Yin'
and 'Yang'; he also had equals. Although he had power
over life and death, yet he was put to death. In these things
was he not as far removed from God as the sea is from the

As regards the attributes of God, the Moslem writers
say very much the same as do Christian writers, and they
use beautiful language, equal to some in our own theological
works. But the writer above referred to adds this sentence :
" Christians say that the Spirit of God descended upon Jesus
like a dove. They should know that the life of God is not
a life requiring a Spirit; if He required a spirit in order to
have life, would His life not be just the same as all other

The Moslem belief in angels is very prominent. The
four principal angels, who are styled the "Szu Shih," four at-
tendants, are Gabriel, Michael, Asrafil, and Azrail. It was
with these angels that God consulted when He was about to
create Adam and He commanded them to bring the earth

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out of which man was made. There are also two recording
angels, and two inquisitors of the dead.

Mohammedanism claims to be the original and oldest
religion of all. We read that " God spake to the Prophet
saying * Had it not been on thy account, I certainly would
not have created the world.' Also the Prophet has stated
* The foremost thing which God created was my spirit/
Before heaven and earth were named, all the wonders of
the coming creation were enfolded potentially in the soul
of Mohammed. " It is therefore claimed that all the prophets
and worthies from Adam to Mohammed were believers in
Islam, though the name Mohammedan or "Hui Hui " (0 0)
or " Mu Ming " (ffi R) followed the advent of the Prophet.

The Moslem believes in a pre-exi&tent supernatural
world, which, in Chinese phraseology, might be called the
" Yin " of which our world is the ** Yang." Adam and Eve
were placed in the garden in a world outside ours, and it was
after they had transgressed that they were expelled and sent
to this earth, Adam falling in Ceylon, and Eve in Arabia;
and after a separation of two hundred years, Adam was,
on his repentance, conducted by Gabriel to meet his wife.
Our author says, " Christians, when speaking of the
heavenly kingdom, confound the world to come with the
pre-existent supernatural world, counting them as one,
which is unintelligible.'*

As an example of Moslem-Chinese reasoning the follow-
ing may be given:—" Christians say God created man in His
own image, made him the same as God; and moreover male
and female were both of the same order. Now having said
that God has no equal and has no likeness or comparison
how can they say that God made man in His own likeness?
Furthermore male and female are spoken of ; is it the male

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or the female which is in the likeness of God? Truly
though we think this over one hundred times, we cannot
arrive at a satisfactory explanation of it." '* The Prophet
has said, * God truly created Adam after his likeness, that
is, Adam^s likeness. Before God created anything He first
fixed its likeness on the immortal tablets in the seventh
heaven, and afterwards created things according to the like-
ness already fixed, and so it was with Adam.' '*

** God commanded Adam to establish religion on His
behalf. The first thing to make clear was the doctrine of
the recognition of God. Next, to firmly establish the moral
obligations, and then religion was on a good foundation.
The Doctrine which Adam propagated was that which God
commanded. What are the matters appertaining thereto?
They are, Recognition of God ; Purification; Fasting; Prayer
and Worship; the Pilgrimage to Mecca; Sacrifice; Alms-
giving, etc." It is interesting to note that Adam had a
share in the pilgrimage to Mecca ! Who built the city, or
who lived there, these are points not requiring explanation
apparently !

Adam was one of the Six Eminent Prophets, the others
being Noah, Abraham, Moses, David and Jesus. Of other
special prophets there were 313, and of ordinary prophets,
over lOOjOoo.

** The Sacred Books given by God from the beginning
number 104. Of these, ten were committed to Adam; fifty
to Seth ; thirty to Enoch ; and ten to Abraham. All these
have disappeared ; and only four Sacred Books remain, the
Tourat, given to Moses: the Psalms given to David; the
Injil (Gospel) given to Jesus; and the Koran, given to
Mohammed. The Books of the Canon are the mandates of
God, and are not made by the prophets themselves. The

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contents of the books were first written on tablets in heaven,
and ih^ angels having seen them, carried their messages to
the prophets to give to the world; such is the meaning of
the Books having been * received.' All the books mentioned
above remained without any revision or alteration. For
over thirteen hundred years the Koran of Islam has never
been altered a single letter. The Bible of the Christians has
been altered many times. But there are some conservative
people who, to the present, accept the Old Book. The
names 'T'ien Chu' (Roman Catholics) and * Yie Su'
(Protestants), are known all over the world, but it should
be understood that neither of these sects has the ancient
Doctrine, and their books are not the Books given by God,
but are compilations of men. just as they pleased.

" Someone may say, * It is only natural that our Faith
should respect the Koran and obey it, as the Koran is the
Canon of the Law, and the Law should be recited to the
living, and they be commanded to observe it. But why
must it be recited when praying for forgiveness for those
who are dead ? Are there some duties of obeying the Laws
which the dead also have to observe?' We reply, In the
Book ii is said * Recite the words of the Koran over the
departed; it may be that the deceased was a rustic not
accustomed to seeing officials, and perhaps he may have
been very wicked. The avenging angels will be like officials
who, on hearing of the sins, will want to proceed to punish ;
then if the words of the Koran be recited over the grave of
the departed, the angels will hear the true words of Ood,
and they will not dare to inquire into the sins, but will
depart. Are not the words of God immeasurably better
than the prayers of men?' "

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While the Moslems profess to accept the Taurat of
Moses and the Psalms and the Gospel, it must be mentioned
that their versions of these differ in some matters from those
accepted by Christians. Probably Mohammed only came in
contact with distorted or spurious scriptures, and even these
had to be made to accommodate his teaching. It is said
that the Kaaba, or Heavenly Cube, ** T*ien Fang " — which
gives one of the Chinese names for Arabia — was erected by
Adam. The Sacred House was destroyed by the Flood,
and rebuilt by Abraham. Adam is credited with having
known Mohammed's name, and to have prophesied regard-
ing him as follows, quoting a Chinese writer, — **Adam said,
*In two things Mohammed is superior to me; (1) his wifje
will escape the wiles of the devil; my wife assisted his
wiles. (2), In Mohammed's case, the devil will have no
prospect of succeeding m inducing him to do evil, so he will
submit to the Doctrine of Mohammed; in my case, the devil
did not submit to me.* "

We shall look in vain for any of these particulars in our
Scripture, or for other things, such as that Abraham ofTered
up Ishmael, not Isaac; that the Greatest Prophet was to
<:ome through the line of Ishmael; that the well of Zem-Zem
at Mecca is the one made by God to relieve the thirst of
Hagar. Also for this account of the Psalmist, "David said
* 1 saw in the Book of Psalms a ray of light, and when I
prayed to the Lord saying, 'Lord what is this light?* the
Lord answered, saying, 'This is the light of Mohammed; on
his account have I created the present world and the world
to come, and Adam, Eve, Heaven, and Hell.' *'

Coming to the New Testament, the Moslems ao*
knowledge Jesus as one cf the Eminent Prophets. He was
the son of Maryam, **ihe sister of Aaron," so that Maryam is

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sometimes confused with Miriam, and chronology is hope-
lessly mixed. Jesus has designations such as no other prophet
has, for example, '*The Word of God"; and **The Spirit of
God "; and He is also acknowledged as the ** Sinless One/'
His miracles are admitted, but it is added that all the
prophets performed miracles. It is claimed ihat Jesas bore
testimony to Mohammed by saying: " Children of Israel, I
am the Messenger appointed by God to you; the Taurat
which bare witness before nie is true and not false, and it
testifies that after me there will appear a Great Appointed
One, whose name is Mohammed the Prophet."

** Jesus while an eminent prophet and a servant of God
was not the Son of God as Christians affirm. If the point
is urged about Jesus having no earthly father, then we
might say that Adam had neither father nor mother, and
moreover God commanded angels to do obeisance to him,
so it would really be more appropriate to consider him as
the son of God, and Jesus would come next. Jesus was
very much troubled because certain Jews slanderously called
him the Son of God, so at the setting of the sun he wor-
shipped with three obeisances, one because he himself knew
certainly that he was God's servant, for which he thanked
God; the second obeisance was because he knew that his
mother was by no means the wife of God, but was also the
servant of God, for which he thanked God: the third
obeisance was because he knew that Cod is the Only Most
High God, and he wished to have nothing to do with false
sayings. Jesus spake from his cradle saying, * Verily I am
God's servant; He has given me the Holy Book, and made
me an eminent apostle.' This saying all the more demon-
strates the errors of the Christians."

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" Christians further say that Jesus was God's son from
the beginning. This is a still greater error. If Jesus
existed from the beginning, then he could be called God,
why call him the Son of God? Again, it is said Jesus is
God's son, but not a materially born son, but he was
delighted in, and honoured, and made most high, on which
account he is called the Son of God. If this be so, then
the name of son is spurious, as he is not really God's son.
If he is not a real son, why must he be called a son at all ? "

** When it is said that God divided His Being, and part
came down to. earth, — seeing that the divided portion was
on earth, would there not be an incomplete God in heaven?
Moreover, to say that God came down and was born as a
man, this is really supporting the doctrine of transmigra-
tion. The way in which we Moslems recognise God is that \
God is God Himself, and Jesus is Jesus himself, an Eminent \
Prophet; this is quite clear. This talk about one Body
having three Persons, is it not quite erroneous? ''

The Moslems assert that Jesus was not crucified, but
was taken up to God, while some other person suffered in
his likeness. This is stated in the Koran, but the idea did
not originate with Mohammed, as some of the sects of early
Christianity had the same belief. The following translation
of a brochure written by a Honan Moslem in 1914 may be
of interest as showing whit some Moslems believe concern-
ing Jesus and his reported crucifixion and resurrection: —

A Fragmentary Document,

*' In the first year of the reign of P*ing Ti of the Han
dynasty,on the eleventh day of the fifth month, Jesus was born
in the city of Bethlehem in the country of Judea, At the
time of His birth, Jesus said, ' I am a great Prophet sent by

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God'; and this was afterwards verified. Up to twenty*
nine years of age, Jesus was at home doing all that a. filial
^n should do. In His thirtieth year, He became a Prophet.
Jesus said, *When I open my mouth or raise my hand, I can
cause the blind to sec, the deaf to hear, the dumb to speak,
the lame to walk, and the sick to be healed.' These works
of Jesus verified his being a Prophet. After Jesus had
shown these miracles, all the people of the city of Judea
(Jerusalem) said, 'This Jesus surely is the Prophet Er-sa
who has come to the world, because many evidences con-
tained in the Koran are now verified.' The people of
Jerusalem with one heart praised God and praised the
Prophet. There were some heretics who would not accord
with the rest of the people, as they considered there were
no proofs in evidence.

** After this, on the wilds of the mountains, there was a
band of shepherds who started a rumour that Jesus was the
only-begotten Son of God who had come to earth, and all
the beginning of Christianity sprang from the spreading of
this rumour of the shepherds (See Luke's. gospel. Chap. 2).
When this false story of the shepherds went forth, heretics
joined their names together to help it forward by means of
other fabrications, saying one to another that Jesus was the
only-begotten Son of God who had descended to earth,,
whereupon the people of Jerusalem entered upon discussions
on this matter with great warmth. At Jerusalem there was
an official, a Commandant of three divisions of soldiers,
named Judas, who, hearing of these discussions among the
people, and fearing there might some unfortunate trbuble
arise, made up his mind to injure Jesus. Judas said, *Jesus
is clearly an evil demon who must be quickly arrested
and punished.' And all the soldiers of Judas together said

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that Jesus should be arrested. When Jesus heard thereof
he went outside Jerusalem to where there was a Mount of
Olives, which mount Jesus ascended. On the Mount of
Olives there was a great Holy Temple, which had been built
by Moslems. Jesus having come within the Temple used
angry words, saying, * Ah, Judas, thy diabolical plans will
not injure others, but only injure thyself.'

"When Jesus disappeared from the city, some of the
officials said, * This Jesus surely is an evil demon, for Judas
took three divisions of soldiers and failed to catch him.*
Subsequently each led his soldiers and horses and together
they went to the Mount of Olives to arrest Jesus, But when
the soldiers of the city came to the foot of the mount, not
one of them dared to ascend the hill. Then the soldiers of
Judas kept guard over the passes of the mount, and Judas
alone went up to arrest Jesus, thinking to get merit thereby,
but on the contrary he wrought injury to himself. When
Judas reached the top of the mount and saw the great Holy
Temple, he entered the door and saw the clothing of Jesus
in the Temple, but saw no trace of Jesus. While Judas
was seeking Jesus, God manifested His great power; in the
back wall of the Temple there suddenly appeared a door,
Jesus went out of this door and ascended on high; Judas in
great wonder saw for a moment the road of ascent to
heaven, then the road no longer existed; then he saw in
space a white cloud, from the midst of which a voice said:
.**Judas ! Jesus has ascended and is now in the fourth heaven.
God will now manifest in thee a wonderful thing. Take
thou the clothing of Jesus and put them on and arise.*
Judas having heard the words from space took the clothes
of Jesus and put them on, and then he was transformed into
the likeness of Jesus. Judas said, 'Jesus by his super-

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natural powers could raise the dead, I will pretend to be
Jesusand frighten my soldiers and see what kind of courage
they have/ So Judas, after the watch of the 'shen' period,
pretending to be Jesus, went down the mount, this being
what he was fated to do. Meanwhile the soldiers guarding
the passes had been changed for soldiers of PiFate, the
Chief Magistrate of the city. These soldiers did not recog-
nize Judas, and said, 'This is Jesus coming down the
mount*; so all the soldiers rose up together and arrested
Judas and put him to death by crucifixion on a cross. This
cross was made of two pieces of wood, one upright and
one horizontal, and criminals were nailed to it by hands
and feet, such being the most severe punishment among the

** Afterwards the soldiers of Judas and the soldiers of
the Magistrate quarrelled and fought, the soldiers of Judas
saying, 'Why have you crucified our commander?' the
soldiers of the Magistrate replying, 'Because he represented
himself as Jesus ' ; the fighting between the two parties was
very fierce, until on the third day God manifested His great
power and caused Judas to come to life again, and when
the soldiers saw Judas alive again after being dead they
marvelled greatly, and rejoiced. The two factions stopped
their fighting and took Judas down from the cross and took
great care of him, but after forty more days Judas died of
paralysis. Because of these things, heretics fabricated false
reports saying that Jesus died upon the cross, and on the
third day rose again, and forty days after his resurrection
ascended to heaven. Gentlemen, reflect a little; if Jesus
really arose thus miraculously from the dead, the religion
of Jesus would have flourished at that time; how is it that
the place where Jesus lived is now under Moslem rule?

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Christians say that Moslems in calling Jesus a Prophet do
not give him the intimate relationship which is conveyed
by calling him the Son of God. lif this were so, why should
we call the Gospel a Holy Book? In a Prophet the ethereal
and the gross are both in evidence, and the inward and the
outward both find their due expression. The material body
is that by which he has relations with men, and the inner
nature is that by which he connects with God. To ac-
knowledge the material body and not acknowledge the inner
nature, is to come short; to acknowledge the inner nature
and not the material, is to unduly stress the inner at the
expense of the outer. Jesus is a great Prophet, but it is a
mistake for men to call him the Son of God, and to call him
an incarnation of God is a still greater mistake."

To the Moslem, the idea of atonement and remission \
of sins through the death of Jesus Christ is inexplicable,^/
One of the Chinese writers says : —

** Seeing that God can forgive men's sins, why should
He not forgive them without Jesus being put to death?
Movcover, as it is said that Jesus is God's Son, could it be
right to slay His son to save the world? If, for example,
the people rebel against their prince, and the prince sends
his minister to pacify them, and the people listen to the

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Online LibraryJielian LiuThe Arabian prophet; a life of Mohammed from Chinese and Arabic sources → online text (page 22 of 24)