What Is Confucianism?
There are a number of striking similarities between Islam and Confucianism, both in ideals and historical experience. For example, through the Hadith of the Prophet (s.a.w.) is similar in structure to the Analects, in that they lay the framework to incorporate ethics and morality from the public sphere. In other words, the Islamic argument against secularism, that is, the separation of politics and other societal concerns from religion and morality, is not dissimilar to the Confucian perspective presented by the pre-eminent Modern Neo-confucian (當代新儒學) scholar Tu Wei-ming (杜維明) in his book Way, Learning and Politics. Similar attempts at reconciling the Confucian and Islamic worldviews a Qing dynasty Islamic scholar, Ma Dexin (馬德新), who also wrote the first Chinese translation of the Quran, and Liu Zhi (劉智) an earlier Islamic scholar from Nanjing.
The endless quest for knowledge is the mark of a “superior man” in Confucianism. In the context of the Muslim consciousness, the search for knowledge and the quest for greater understanding in a diverse world is sanctioned by no less than a Quranic imperative: “Oh mankind! Verily we have created you all from a male and a female, and have made you into nations and tribes that you may come to know one another.”
Filial piety is a central concept in Confucianism. Confucius said: “[Filial piety is] that parents, when alive, be served according to propriety; that, when dead, they should be buried according to propriety”. And the Holy Quran states: “And We have enjoined on man (to be good) to his parents: in travail upon travail did his mother bear him, and in years twain was his weaning: (hear the command), “Show gratitude to Me and to thy parents: to Me is (thy final) Goal.” (Qur’an 031.014).
These are a few examples. I certainly am not insinuating that Confucianism and Islam are the same. Indeed, there are many differences. However, both posess a highly Traditional Weltanschauung, so the relationship between the two is well-worth investigating from its many facets.
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