International Ibnu Batuta Conference on Travel, Trade, Tradition and Trajectories

Dr. Shaojin Chai

Department of International Relations, University of Sharjah

Shaojin Chai Details: Dr. Shaojin Chai is a faculty member in Department of International Relations, University of Sharjah. He worked as senior research fellow in the Ministry of Culture and Knowledge Development in UAE and actively participates in the projects of inter-faith dialogues, mutual cultural understanding , and initiatives on cultural innovation and industry. He has taught and given public lectures on global governance and China's soft power in the UAE and China. His research interests include comparative political theory, global ethics, Arab-China cultural relations and China's soft power.


Between Shahnameh and ZizhiTongjian(Comprehensive Mirror in Aid of Governance): Understanding Virtue Ethics  in KUTADGU  BILIG In CHINA.

My paper examines the relationship between ethics, religion and politics in a medieval Islamic and Turkic epic Kutadgu Bilig in the historical context of Chinese-Islamic interaction. As an exemplary of inter-cultural fusion and ethical syncretism, Wisdom of Royal Glory (English translation of Kutadgu Bilig), was completed in 1069 by Yusuf Khass Hajib, and presented to the Kashgar ruler as “a mirror for princes”. Infusing themes on political regimes, state-craft, and religious devotion into beautiful verses, it absorbed the diverse influences from Indo-Persian, Sufist, Chinese and even ancient Greece traditions, especially on the ideas of sage-kingship and law. To highlight the two cardinal virtues: compassion and justice in political rule and their possible tension, I compare the four major characters who represent four virtues/principles in political philosophy---the king Rising Sun (Justice), the vizier Full Moon (Fortune), the sage Highly Praised (Wisdom) and the ascetic Wide Awake (Eternal life) in the poetic story and analyze their recommendation on how to rule, what is the best regime and what is good life. I consider that the book advocates virtue politics as the best regime because the author repeatedly emphasizes that piety and wisdom is the key to sage-kingship. My reading of the work indicates that religion is the foundation of both ethics and politics but politics is not the end of human life.