Sunday, May 18, 2014

China to follow the Middle Path?

Group of Islamic Scholars during a Symposium in Urumqi
Will China follow the Middle Path?
Yes, if one is to believe what was reported by the Chinese press a couple of days ago.
The Ta Kung Pao in Hong Kong titled: “In Urumqi, a group of Imams called on the congregation to keep the Middle Path.”
But a day later, the reference to ‘Middle Path’ was removed from the English communique of Xinhua which just says “Muslims urged to resist religious extremism”.
It explained: “Religious leaders and scholars have called on Chinese believers in Islam to resist religious extremism and condemn terrorism. The call was made at a symposium that ended Thursday [May 15] in Urumqi, capital of northwest China's Xinjiang Uygur Autonomous Region, which gathered over 100 participants including officials of Islamic associations, well-respected religious people and academic scholars. The symposium is hosted by the China Islamic Association.”
But in the earlier Chinese version, many references were made to the Dalai Lama’s favorite political concept: the Middle Path.
According to the Chinese version, the China Islamic Association organized for the first time such symposium, gathering a hundred well-known Islamic scholars, imams and mullahs from around China. They met to discuss Islam’s ‘Middle Path Thinking’. They called upon Chinese Muslims to "stick to the Middle Path, away from extreme ideology”.
The Muslim imams and scholars strongly condemned the recent violent terrorist incidents which occurred in the Mainland [in Kunming, Yunnan].
It says that in recent years, serious terrorist attacks repeatedly occurred in Xinjiang; it has now spreads to the Mainland. This cannot be ignored as religious extremist ideas have become the ideological basis of these violent terrorist activities. Under the banner of Islam, by tampering and distorting the teachings of Islam, some people advocates the so-called ‘holy war’ [jihad], says the Chinese version.
The scholars agreed that this way of thinking not only undermines communal peace, but also desecrates Islam. The seminar exposed the 'really ugly forces' of violence and terrorism speaking and acting in the name of Islam; it urged the mobilization of the Muslim masses to fight terrorist violence, maintain national unity and social stability. Islam should be the guardian of peace, love and tolerance of Islam.
According to the Chinese news agency’s report, many of the participants spoke of the ‘Middle Way Thinking’, away from extremism.
This sounds like a Tibetan Buddhist teaching, isn’t it?
Professor Pan Shijie from Henan Academy of Social Sciences said that most of the scholars emphasized that the ‘Middle Way Thinking’ was a basic idea in the Koran.
Xinhua, in the later English version, removed all references to ‘Middle Path’.
In a more politically correct (for Beijing), Xinhua just states that the keynote speakers “illustrated the spirit of harmony and unity implied in the thinking of Islam and called on Muslims to resist religious extremism and condemn terrorism. They also upheld the spirit of respecting others, upholding fairness, being tolerant and friendly and rejecting excess in the thinking of Islam.”
The organizer, Chen Guangyuan, chairman of China Islamic Association stated that the aim of the symposium was to carry forward the fine tradition of Islam, guide Muslims to understand of real meaning of Islam, advocate peace and oppose violence, so as to defend the purity of Islam.
The symposium was called by the State Administration of Religious Affairs.
Wang Zuo'an, director of the State Administration of Religious Affairs declared that religious extremism is ‘completely off the page’ of the fundamental spirit of Islam. [Extremism] maliciously distorts and kidnaps the religion. Religious extremism is a deliberate blasphemy, and has become the most viperous enemy of Islam.”
Let us hope that more and more people will follow the Middle Path approach in China, including the central leadership in Beijing.
But if it is good for Islam, it should also be good for Buddhism, don't you agree?
It seems logical to me, not as yet in Zhongnanhai.

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