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Rectifying God's NameLiu Zhi's Confucian Translation of Monotheism and Islamic Law$
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James D. Frankel

Print publication date: 2011

Print ISBN-13: 9780824834746

Published to Hawaii Scholarship Online: November 2016

DOI: 10.21313/hawaii/9780824834746.001.0001

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Allah’s Chinese Name

Allah’s Chinese Name

(p.155) Chapter 6 Allah’s Chinese Name
Rectifying God's Name

James D. Frankel

University of Hawai'i Press

This chapter deals with the single greatest challenge facing Liu Zhi and his fellow Han Kitāb scholars: the translation of Islam's uncompromising monotheism into Chinese. Likely wishing to avoid attaching any possible negative or misleading implication to the sacred name of God, Liu Zhi did not resort to transliteration of the Arabic Allāh. Neither did he attempt to find a matching concept for Allah in the classical Chinese canon, for example, one of the ancient Chinese designations for divinity, such as Shangdi, tian (“Heaven”), or the more generic shen (“god”). Instead of his usual techniques, as a matter of fact, he opted to use newly coined Chinese terms for the most central concept of the Islamic faith, and in the process, whether consciously or unconsciously, he retraced the steps of Jewish, Christian, and Muslim writers in Chinese before him.

Keywords:   translation, Allah, transliteration, Islamic faith, neologisms

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