Sinicizing Islam: Translating the Gulistan of Saʿdi in Modern China

In: International Journal of Islam in Asia
Alexander Jabbari Farzaneh Family Assistant Professor, College of International Studies, Department of International and Area Studies, University of Oklahoma Norman, Oklahoma USA

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Tiffany Yun-Chu Tsai Assistant Professor, Department of Modern Languages, Literatures & Cultures, The Citadel Charleston, South Carolina USA

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This article examines the translation and domestication of an important piece of Persian didactic literature, the Gulistan of Saʿdi, into modern Chinese. We address all of the Chinese translations of this text, focusing on Yang Wanbao’s translation published in 2000. Yang transforms the text according to the imperatives of the Chinese state, altering the homoerotic scenes of the original and rendering Sufi Islamic concepts into a Confucian or Buddhist idiom. The result is a translation that serves as a significant text for the Jahriyya Sufi order in China, but also an articulation of Chinese Islam countenanced by the People’s Republic.

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