|Imam Hu Songshan|
|Religion||Yihewani Hanafi Sunni islam|
Tongxin County, Ningxia, China
|Based in||Ningxia, China|
|Period in office||1927–1955|
|Post||Imam and scholar of the Yihewani, scripturalist, theologian.|
Hu Songshan (1880–1955), a Hui, was born in 1880, in Tongxin County, Ningxia, China. His Muslim name in Arabic was Sa'd al-Din (Arabic: سعد الدين Sa'd ad-Dīn; simplified Chinese: 赛尔敦丁; traditional Chinese: 賽爾敦丁; pinyin: sài ěr dūn dīng). Although he was born Sufi and turned Wahhabi, he changed his views and turned his back on Wahhabism after a Hajj to Mecca and later became an important Imam, scripturalist, and leader of the Yihewani Muslim sect in China. He was influential and played an important role in Chinese Islam in this position as he propagated reformist doctrines in Ningxia in his later life. Hu also played a role in rallying Muslims against the Japanese invasion of China.
Early life and education
Hu's father was a Gansu ahong (imam) belonging to the Khafiya menhuan, a Chinese-style Naqshbandi Sufi order. When Hu Songshan was 18, he joined Wang Naibi of Haicheng. At age 21, he became imam of the anti-Sufi Yihewani (Ikhwan in Arabic) sect, which was founded by the Wahhabi Ma Wanfu. Hu opposed wasteful rituals and cash payments for religious services, which Sufi orders practiced. Being a member of the Yihewani, he was so against Sufism and the menhuan to the point where he destroyed his own father's gongbei (a Hui Islamic shrine centered around a Sufi master's grave) built at Tongxin.
He went on Hajj to Mecca in 1924 at age 45, traveling through Shanghai and he reached Mecca in 1925. When Hu was in Mecca, he did not feel solidarity with other Muslims, he was treated racistly on hajj because he was from China, so he became a Chinese nationalist working to build a strong China, and abandoned his Salafism. Instead of advocating an Islamic state, he wanted Muslims to practice their religion in a strong China. He saw that Hui and Han people were treated the same and abused by foreigners. He rallied against foreign Imperialism and preached Chinese nationalism and unity between all Chinese. In Wuzhong County, Ningxia, Hu was the principal of an Arabic school. Hu Songshan had changed from being a Wahhabi Salafi to a modernist and influenced the Yihewani to change its ideology along that trend. One of his followers was Muhammad Ma Jian. Another one of his followers was the Yihewani Imam Ma Fulong (d. 1970). Hu became a prominent reformist and modernist Imam and Muhammad Ma Jian studied alongside him in 1928.
Hu encouraged unity and cooperation both between Muslims in China, and between non-Muslims and Muslims in China too, using Chinese classics to advance Chinese nationalism. He studied modern science, promoted sports for his students, and permitted people to take pictures of his mosque and him, which made him stand out from less-liberal Yihewani. Hu promoted reform of traditional Islamic education as his views while a follower of the Yihewani changed.
Hu Songshan and the Hui Muslim warlord of Ningxia, General Ma Hongkui cooperated in founding several Sino-Arabic schools in Ningxia to promote Chinese and Arabic language Islamic education for Chinese Muslims in the 1930s and 1940s. Hu Songshan became head of the Ningxia Private Sino- Arabic College at Dongdasi Mosque, which was founded by Ma Hongkui in Yinchuan, the capital of Ningxia province 1932. Students flocked to it from province across China after it became a public institution in the following year. Ten days prior to Ramadan's end in 1935, Ma Hongkui arranged for Chinese New Year celebrations. Hu Songshan pronounced kufr upon Ma Hongkui for this, while delivering an aggressive and fierce sermon in public. Ma Hongkui then sacked Hu from his position and exiled him. Hu then received clemency from Ma and was sent to head the Sino-Arabic Normal School in Wuzhong in 1938.
When Japan invaded China in 1937 during the Second Sino Japanese War, Hu Songshan ordered that the Chinese Flag be saluted during morning prayer, [clarify]. A prayer was written by him in Arabic and Chinese which prayed for the defeat of the Japanese and support of the Chinese government. The Quran was used to justify struggling against the Japanese. Hu Songshan helped spread anti-Japanese propaganda among Muslims during the war. Unlike his teacher Ma Wanfu, a strict Wahhabi scripturalist who led the Yihewani with an anti modernist and anti Chinese culture and language ideology, Hu Songshan encouraged Muslims to study Chinese language and learn about modern sciences and education in Chinese.
Imams such as Hu Songshan led the Chinese Muslim Brotherhood (the Yihewani) to incorporate Chinese nationalism and emphasize education and independence.
Hu added subjects such as Chinese language and other modern subjects such as foreign sciences, mathematics and foreign languages to the Islamic curriculum and he translated Islamic texts into Chinese. Hu was close to the Kuomintang Muslim General and governor of Ningxia, Ma Hongkui, and cooperated with him. All imams in Ningxia were required to preach Chinese nationalism during prayer at the mosque during the war with Japan. Hu was active in promoting this curriculum at Sino-Arabic schools in Ningxia. Hu often reminded the Muslim masses that "If we object to natural science, then clothing, food, and shelter could not be talked about.", whenever someone challenged his introduction of modern subjects such as mathematics and science to the Islamic curriculum.
Hu also cited a Hadith(圣训), a saying of the prophet Muhammad, which says "Loving the Motherland is equivalent to loving the Faith" (traditional Chinese: 愛護祖國是屬於信仰的一部份; simplified Chinese: 爱护祖国是属于信仰的一部份; pinyin: àihù zǔguó shì shǔyú xìnyǎng de yī bùfèn) (Arabic: حب الوطن من الایمان ḥubb al-waṭan min al-imān). Hu Songshan harshly criticized those who were non patriotic and those who taught anti nationalist thinking, saying that they were fake Muslims.
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- It is not a real Hadith but was a popular slogan among Arabic speakers in Middle East in the 19th-20th centuries. It spread to China via Hui Muslim students like Muhammad Ma Jian who studied at Al-Azhar in Egypt
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