Islam in China has a long history. Relations between China and the Arabs began to improve 19 years after the death of the Prophet Muhammad (PBUH). The third Caliph, Uthman (RA), was the first Muslim ruler to purposefully promote Islam in the region, in particular by establishing trade relations with it.
Connection Between Islam and Martial Arts
The majority of Hui Chinese are Muslims. It is known that already in the XIII century, Muslims held high positions in the army of the Middle Kingdom. This was the impetus for the formation of a unique connection between Islam and the martial arts.
Chinese culture is one of the oldest in the world and includes a variety of traditions. Martial arts are an integral part of this culture. Chinese martial arts, known as Wushu and Kung Fu, include hundreds of martial styles. Each of them was inspired by various Chinese religions, philosophies, and legends. One of the religions that influenced their formation was Islam.
If traditional Chinese philosophy based on the idea of harmonizing internal and external energy and achieving physical and spiritual perfection, then the worldview of the Hui, a Muslim ethnic group living in China, was influenced by the principle expressed by the Prophet Muhammad (PBUH):
The strong is not the one who overcomes the people by his strength, but the strong is the one who controls himself while in anger.
(Sahih al-Bukhari, Book 78, Hadith 141)
The Hui people have committed themselves to creating a fusion between the Islamic faith and the Chinese tradition expressed in the martial art. Among them was born a large number of masters of the martial arts at the highest level. In this article, we will talk about two of them.
Wang Zi-Ping and His Life
Wang Zi-Ping (1881-1973) was a Chinese-Muslim performer of Chinese Martial Arts and traditional medicine from Changzhou, Mengcun, Hebei Province. He served as the leader of the Shaolin Martial Arts Institute’s Kung Fu division in.
One of the main achievements of his life is that he managed to restore the title of “Lion of Chinese Kung Fu”. His father and grandfather were also famous martial artists. However, they refused to teach Zi-Ping. They didn’t want him to experience the suffering they had to go through. But Wang Zi-Ping loved Wushu that he started training on his own when he was seven years old.
His Path in Martial Arts
As an adult, he decided to travel around the country. During the journey, the famous Wushu master Yang Hong Xiu notices him and began to teach him. Many dared to challenge Wang Zi-Ping, but he remained invincible. Neither the German workers, nor a group of judoists, nor an American named Sullivan could not defeat him. After the 1949 revolution, he gained fame as a hero of China. He was elected to the Shanghai Multi-Party People’s Congress, vice-president of the National Wushu Association, and a member of the All-China Sports Federation.
Master Wang Zi-Ping was not only skilled in Wushu, but was also considered an expert in religion. There is a legend that he lifted heavy stones while reading the Quran.
Also, Chinese Muslims remember that there is a story about how Wang Zi-Ping prevented German soldiers from removing the doors of a masjid in Qinzhou. Master Wang did not want the soldiers disturb Muslim shrine, so he challenged the soldiers to a weight-lifting duel and defeated them.
Proficient in various types of martial arts, Wang Zi-Ping inspired a lot of people. During his life, he defeated many fighters, left a memory in the hearts of devoted students, and served the cause of spreading Islam among the Chinese.
What Islam and martial arts have in common is that they are both means to a higher end. Islam in China has made its way to the most eastern regions of the continent. So the practical nature of martial arts has always helped Muslims to protect their religious tradition – there was a tandem of the uniqueness of Chinese culture and the perfection of the Islam religion.
Martial arts not only met the practical need to protect trade caravans. But for Muslim masters they were also tools of spiritual growth, as they required endurance and self-control, which Islam considers very commendable qualities.
- Wang Zi Ping – Plumpub
- Lives of Chinese Martial Artists (22): Wang Ziping and the Strength of the Nation – Chinese Martial Studies