This article attempts to relativise the nationalism of Chinese-speaking Muslims, which has tended to be overemphasized in previous studies, focusing on a movement in which Muslims in North China cut off their braids or queues--Manchu men’s traditional hairstyle imposed on Chinese people under the Qing rule--and related debates among the Muslim elite before and after the Xinhai Revolution. Unlike some Chinese men who cut off their braids for patriotic reasons or anti-Manchu sentiment, Muslims did so for religious reasons, arguing that Islam forbids queues because they look like the tail of a pig, an animal considered to be unclean in their religion. It is notable that some Muslims simply followed the social trend among the majority and cut off their queues, while a young Muslim scholar in Tianjin chose not to do so to prevent conflicts among Muslims and save face. This study thus illustrates the complex and diverse opinions of Muslims at that time, which cannot be completely explained by patriotism or piety.
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