Hung Tak Wai, Wong Ting Chueng, and Lee Yee Lak Elliot, eds.
Using digital keyword search method from the perspective of conceptual history, this sourcebook systemically traces the appearance of the 18th-century neologism “Huimin” (roughly translated as “Muslim subjects”) in the Chinese historical imperial court record – the Veritable Records of the Qing 《清實錄》. The appearance of “Huimin” in the official Qing court history testifies to the imperial efforts to legitimize the incorporation of Muslims into the empire while maintaining a distinction of these subjects’ unique communal identity, i.e., them being Muslims. This ambiguous conceptualization of Muslims as “us” in the legal-political sense but “them” in the cultural sense had repercussions on the “ethnicization” of Muslimness in China from the 19th century to these days. While the high Qing emperors, in various instances, issued edicts favoring the treatment of Muslims in the former sense as legitimate subjects of the empire, their Confucian bureaucrats contested and regarded Muslims as constant suspects of heterodoxy – thus, elements of instability. In other instances, the emperors resorted to delimiting Islamic practices such as cattle slaughter by arguing with economic rationales; nor were they able to go beyond the orthodox/heterodox binary when discussing measures in pacifying different uprisings involving Muslims in the late 18th century. In these imperial discourses, “Huimin” was further juxtaposed with conceptual distinctions along geography, ethnicity, language, and Islamic institutions (Sufi orders or not). By following the concept of “Huimin,” the sourcebook illuminates how Muslims were subjugated to Qing imperial rule and, in turn, participated in the very dynamics that kept reshaping the imperial governance. These dynamics included Eurasian early modern imperial struggles, transregional migration and (religious) knowledge circulation, regional economy, politics, and the construction of state orthodoxy and imperial local indirect rule. The conceptual history of “Huimin” will shed new light on the distinction and entanglement of Islam in Qing China with imperial (geo)politics together with the material/social processes and conditions that enabled this history.
Hung Tak Wai, Wong Ting Chueng, and Lee Yee Lak Elliot, eds. Huimin (Muslim Subjects): Pre-1800 Historical Sources about the Qing Empire and Islam in the Veritable Records of the Qing [「回民」──《清實錄》所載1800年前大清帝國與伊斯蘭教史料彙編]. Hong Kong: Centre for the Study of Islam Culture, the Chinese University of Hong Kong, 2022.