Islam in China Working Group
Initiative on the Economic, Institutional and Ritual Practices of Muslims in China
Indiana University’s School of Global and International Studies’ Islamic Studies Program (ISP), in initial collaboration with the now former Research Center for Chinese Politics and Business and the East Asian Studies Center, propose to develop an Initiative on the Economic, Institutional and Ritual Practices of Muslims in China. The objective of the Initiative is to explore the intersection of economy, religion, ritual, law and policy among Chinese Muslims (primarily, but not limited to Hui) and connect Chinese and international scholars researching Muslim communities in China with students and faculty at Indiana University.
The study of Islam and Muslims in China has been growing rapidly in recent years. But the study of Muslim economic thought and practice is still in its infancy, with only isolated papers devoted to such themes as zakāt (alms-giving), ribā (excessive interest), Islamic tax, finance, inheritance, etc. At the same time, our review of recently completed Chinese-language dissertations in Chinese universities shows a rising – and distinctive – interest in these themes.
Thematically, the Initiative will explore economic and institutional life by discussing commerce, finance, marriage, waqf (charitable endowment), and other social structures of Muslim communities in China – past & present – and legal traditions as compelling, encouraging or hindering certain practices. Expertise in this particular area is underrepresented on campus among our faculty researching Islam, China, and/or China’s ethnic and national minorities. Our intent is to stimulate cross-disciplinary conversations and provide faculty and students with new, diverse perspectives.
The initiative will kick off in September, 2017, with a talk at IU by Dr. Matthew S. Erie (University of Oxford), author of the recently published China and Islam: The Prophet, the Party, and Law (Cambridge Studies in Law and Society, 2016).
Two paired events will follow: a workshop at the IU China Gateway, and a symposium on the IU Bloomington campus. Chinese scholars of Islam and Muslim communities, other international experts and IU participants will be invited to introduce research and discuss key issues in the field. The symposium will result in publishable proceedings, presentations, and policy memos.
A visit to IU by Prof. Zvi Ben-Dor Benite (New York University) in the Spring, 2018, will provide an opportunity to evaluate our progress.
Notes  Ma Yuxiu and Cao Qing Feng, “The Study of Islam and Islam Economic Thought in China,” World Journal of Islamic History and Civilization 3/1 (2013), 24.  See Appendix: Recent Chinese Dissertations.