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《天方至圣实录》THE ARABIAN PROPHET · $2 Preface

2020-7-17 21:02| 发布者: admin| 查看: 733| 评论: 0

摘要: PREFACEThe story of the life of Mohammed may be read in English from well-known and standard works, so it may be wondered why Chinese books should be laid under contribution, especially as these are t ...
PREFACE

      The story of the life of Mohammed may be read in English from well-known and standard works, so it may be wondered why Chinese books should be laid under contribution, especially as these are themselves chiefly trans
lations from the Arabic in the first instance. There is,
however, an interest in securing the Chinese view-point and
occasional comment, which makes it worth while to translate
some of the accounts of what is more generally known, as
well as some portions which are omitted or but lightly
touched in the standard lives of Mohammed' to be found in
English. The story of Mohammed must have made a deep
impression on the minds of his followers in China in order,
not only to keep alive the Faith for over one thousand years
at such a distance from the Cradle of Islam, and amid
surroundings so alien from those in which the Faith arose,
but also to cause the number of adherents to so increase that
to-day they are estimated at eight or ten millions. Nes
torianism disappeared like water into the sand, leaving no
known adherents in the country; and the same is practically
true of the Jewish communities of the past. What, then, is
the dynamic of this religion which steadfastly refuses to be
absorbed by its surroundings, and persistently boasts its
superiority, to all other systems? While fully recognizing,
and giving due credit to, other causes, I believe that the personality of the Prophet as understood and believed in by
his followers, has been a powerful factor in maintaining the Moslem religion. A study, therefore, of the Founder of
V
vi PREFACE
Islam Ks he has been known for centuries in China, and especially as pourtrayed in the standard " Life " written by a Chinese Moslem, may be not without interest to some
readers. During a residence of many years in inland China, though I cultivated the friendship of some individual
Moslems and visited a few mosques out of curiosity, I yet knew very little about the Mohammedans of this land. When Dr. S. M. Zwemer visited China in 1917 and 1918, he greatly stimulated the interest of many in the Moslem, people and problems concerning them, and it was my
privilege to be closely associated with him in considering
methods of approach for the Christian message. In under
taking to assist in preparing special Christian literature, I was led to make a study of Chinese Moslem literature of
which I gradually secured a considerable amount. There is
a fascination in reading of the doctrines and practices of
Islam as set forth in Chinese, but there is little inducement
to translate these accounts, as, in the main, they coincide with what may be found in English books already existing. The case seemed different with the book entitled 5? :;i^ H li 3K jl ^ H, "The True Annals of the Prophet of Arabia "; this was written about two hundred years ago by L,iu Chih (S0@) the most famous of Chinese Moslem writers, of whom a
brief account will be found following this preface. These " Annals " are widely known amongst Moslems in China,
and they appear to . be of sufficient interest to justify a
translation. Students of Islam will be interested in com
paring this account with others and noting the variations
in some cases these are quite important, e.g. the marriage of Zeinab, who is here described as a virgin who had refused to marry anyone except the Prophet, instead of being the
PREFACE yii
wife of Mohammed's adopted son Zeid, divorced to accommodate the Prophet,—one account causing a great scandal, while the other gives little ground for complaint. Other
concessions to Chinese ideas and behef s will also be found. To readers who have not much acquaintance with the life of Mohammed, this book will be found to present the salient facts, as well as many of the traditions, which have been handed down through the ages. It will, of course, be borne
in mind that the Text is written by a Moslem, and the
translator is not responsible for the views expressed therein,
nor for the accuracy of the statements made. The translation now ofifered will help missionaries and others who
read it, to a better understanding of their Moslem neigh
bors, and it is hoped the result will be a fuller appreciation
of each other's beliefs when Christians and Moslems meet
;
I have usually found Moslems in China friendly, even when
bigoted, and when approached with tact and in a benevolent
spirit, they respond to overtures for friendly intercourse. On beginning this translation, I had not read Sir Wm. Muir's "Life of Mohammed," but from about the middle
of the work I have had the advantage of comparing with
that classic on the subject. I have had access to smaller works on the life of Mohammed, including those by Canon Sell and P. D. ly. Johnstone. I am greatly indebted to
Hughes' "Dictionary of Islam," by the aid of which I have been able to identify many names and places which had
been put into Chinese from the Arabic, and also to get light
on many references. The first half of the " Annals ' ' is given in fairly full
and close translation, as dealing with subjects less fully dealt
with in other books; but from the Hegira (removal to
Medina) onward, as the story is largely one of continuous
viii PREFACE
conquests, I have felt free to indulge at times in selections,
and have occasionally summarized tedious accounts, or have
omitted somewhat irrelevant portions, to keep the book within moderate limits. The numerous " Forewords " at the commencement of the Chinese work, as well as much
relating to doctrines and practices, have also been omitted as
not essential to the immediate purpose of this translation. I wish to acknowledge my indebtedness to the "Chinese Recorder " for blocks kindly lent, and also acknowledge the
courtesy of Mr. D. E. Hoste of the China Inland Mission" in giving permission to reproduce some illustrations from Mr. Marshall Broomhall's "Islam in China"—a classic on its subject, and one to which reference is frequently made in the
following pages. Mr. Broomhall says in his book (footnote, p. 74), that Liu Chih's life of Mohammed "has been
translated [summarized] into Russian by Archmandrite
Fallidius. There also exists a French translation of the
Russian precis." I have riot seen either of these, nor heard
of them otherwise than in the above note; presumably they
are nothing like so full as the present translation, which is, so far as I am aware, the first ever published in English. The first two chapters may be of interest chiefly to those who care to read of traditions, curious and apocryphal ; they give the background of some Moslem beliefs ; but they may
be passed over by those who wish to begin at once with the life of Mohammed, and who are advised to commence at
Chapter 3.
Isaac Mason.
Shmighai, 1—1—1921.
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