The Heart of Wang Daiyu’s Philosophy: The Seven Subtleties of Islamic Spiritual Physiology

in Journal of Sufi Studies
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Abstract

The True Explanation of the Orthodox Teaching (Zhengjiao zhenquan 正教真詮), published in 1642 by Wang Daiyu 王岱輿 (ca. 1590–1658), is the oldest extant text in the Han Kitab, a Sino-Islamic canon. This literature employed Confucian, Daoist, and Buddhist language and imagery to explain Islamic thought. Wang was a pioneering figure in the institutionalization of this distinct Sino-Islamic discourse and crystallized much of the terminology used throughout subsequent Han Kitab literature. In the Zhengjiao zhenquan, Wang analyzes the spiritual nature of the heart, dividing it into three aspects and seven levels. These seven levels are correlative of the classification of subtleties (laṭāʾif ) or stages (aṭwār) developed by authors affiliated with the Kubrawi Sufi order. In this article, Wang’s spiritual taxonomy is analyzed in comparison with delineations of the multiple levels of the heart determined by Najm al-Dīn Rāzī (d. 1256) and Nūr al-Dīn Isfarāyīnī (d. 1317). Through a close reading of the sources I establish the intellectual influences from these authors’ thought on Wang’s explanation of Islam. By doing so we begin to determine the various sources for Sino-Islamic thought and determine an exact lexical register of Chinese language Islamic literature.

The Heart of Wang Daiyu’s Philosophy: The Seven Subtleties of Islamic Spiritual Physiology

in Journal of Sufi Studies

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References

7

See BeniteThe Dao of Muhammad39–43; and Petersen “Reconstructing Islam.”

11

MaZhongguo yisilan jiaopai88–93; and Lipman Familiar Strangers 47–51.

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Tony Stewart“In Search of Equivalence: Conceiving Muslim-Hindu Encounter through Translation Theory,” History of Religions 40.3 (2001): 261–88.

19

MurataChinese Gleams20.

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BeniteDao of Muhammad135.

21

WangZhengjiao zhenquan16. Quoted in Murata Chinese Gleams 20.

22

MurataChinese Gleams21.

24

BeniteDao of Muhammad136–7.

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MurataThe Tao of Islam289.

38

ErnstThe Shambhala Guide to Sufism45.

42

WangZhengjiao zhenquan58. The original reads “Neither the earth nor the heavens are wide enough for Me but there is room for Me in the gentle meek heart of My faithful servant.” Cited in al-Ghazālī The Elaboration of the Marvels of the Heart (Kitāb sharḥ ʿajāʾib al-qalb) book 21 of the Revival of the Religious Sciences (Iḥyāʾ ʿulūm al-dīn) quoted in John Renard Knowledge of God in Classical Sufism: Foundations of Islamic Mystical Theology (New York: Paulist Press 2004) 304.

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WangZhengjiao zhenquan59.

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WangZhengjiao zhenquan59.

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Algar (trans.)The Path of God’s Bondsmen296.

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WangZhengjiao zhenquan60.

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WangZhengjiao zhenquan60.

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Algar (trans.)The Path of God’s Bondsmen294.

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MurataChinese Gleams97.

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WangZhengjiao zhenquan60.

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