Sunday, December 14, 2008

Corban Festival - Origin

The Corban Festival (Festival of Sacrifice) is the second most important festival for the Hui (回) Muslims, after the Feast of the Fast Breaking, which came 70 days earlier. It commemorates the willingness of Ibrahim 易卜拉欣 (Abraham 亚伯拉罕) to sacrifice his son in obedience to Allah 安拉 (God). For the Muslims, that son was Ishmael 伊希梅爾 (以實瑪利). For the Jews and Christians, of course, that son was Issac 易司哈格 (以撒). When God saw that Ibrahim was willing to sacrifice his son, He sent a ram to be sacrificed in place of Ibrahim’s son. Hence the slaughtering of sheep.

As far as I know, the Muslim version of the story came from the Koran through Mohammed, some 600 years after the time of Jesus. And the Jewish canon, the equivalent of the Christian Old Testament, predated Jesus.

Hui is a short form of HuiHui (回回), one of the 55 minorities in China. They seem to be an amalgamation of many peoples, starting with some Persians who drifted into China in the Tang Dynasty. Later they were supplemented by many other Central Asian peoples who migrated to China for various reasons.

Now they are spread all over China, with large numbers in Xinjiang, Gansu, Qinghai, Ningxia, Inner Mongolia, Hebei, Yunnam, Guizhou, and other places. During this trip, I was deeply impressed by the diversity of the Chinese people. The Hui’s are certainly Chinese, but they are rather different in appearance, culture, history, religion, ... from the Han Chinese. What exactly is the meaning of nationalism in this context? Perhaps nationalism is really outdated as a concept?

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