There’s a sensational article making its rounds in Facebook now, claiming that Wong Fei Hung was a Muslim.
If you haven’t read it yet, you should. It will brighten your day.
The article is found on the Pertubuhan Jamaah Islah Malaysia (JIM) website, an Islamic group dedicated to proselytising and social development. It’s got a pretty cool picture of Jet Li too.
Curiosity got the better of me and I clicked on the link to read what proofs the JIM had to offer that Wong Fei Hung was a Muslim.
What I found was an article that read more like a hastily put together first draft of a Back to the Future, Part 4 script – it was full of laughable scenarios that involved a lot of time-shifting!
Some of the bigger (and most clearly wrong) claims made by the article are:
1 - "Fei Hung merupakan dialek Canton untuk menyebut nama Arab, Fais. Sementara Nama Hung juga merupakan dialek Kanton untuk menyebut nama Arab, Hussein. Jadi, bila di-bahasa-arab- kan, namanya ialah Faisal Hussein Wong."
(Fei Hung is the Cantonese dialect’s pronunciation of the Arab name Fais. While the name Hung is also the Cantonese dialect’s pronunciation of the Arab name, Hussein. Thus when his name is Arabic-ised, it is Faisal Hussein Wong)
First of all, Chinese is a monosyllabic language. Thus to express the name "Fais", it would be translated into either 2 or 3 monosyllables. Typically, it would be FA-YEE or FA-YEE-SAR (actual pronunciation depends on which words are used in the translation). "Hussein" will also be similarly translated into 2 or 3 characters.
If Wong Fei Hung’s real Muslim name was Faisal Hussein, it will not be written in the typical Chinese 3-name system. Even a simple Western name like Will Smith is translated in Cantonese as “WAI-YEE SEE-MAT-SI”. So it's impossible that a multi-syllable name will be simplified into 2 monosyllables that fits into the traditional Chinese naming system!
2 - "Dinasti Ch'in ialah Dinasti yang merubuhkan kekuasaan Dinasti Yuan yang memerintah sebelumnya"
(The Ch’in Dynasty was the dynasty which overthrew the Yuan Dynasty which ruled before it)
Wong Fei Hung was born in 1847, during the Qing Dynasty (1644-1912), which overthrew the Ming Dynasty (1368-1644). The Ch'in Dynasty existed over 2000 years before his time (around 200+BC), and was established by Qin Shihuang, the first emperor who unified China under him. The Yuan dynasty was established in the 1200s by the Mongol Khans (yup, Kublai Khan, et al).
3 - "Dinasti Yuan ini dikenal sebagai satu-satunya Dinasti Kaisar Cina yang anggota keluarganya banyak yang memeluk agama Islam."
(The Yuan Dynasty is known as the only Chinese Imperial Dynasty where many members of its household converted to Islam.)
While the Mongol emperors of the Yuan Dynasty did encourage various foreign religions to be propagated in China (Islam, Christianity, Buddhism), ALL Chinese emperors ruled under the "Mandate of Heaven" which includes seeking heaven’s favour and blessings through Chinese worship rites. The Emperor and his household also counted priests as royal advisers. The entire imperial household has no choice but to follow the state religion or else the Dynasty would fall apart from religious differences within the family.
4 - "Wong Fei-Hung mula mengasah bakat beladirinya sejak berguru kepada Luk Ah-Choi. Hung Hei-Kwun, abang seperguruan Luk Ah-Choi...seorang pendekar Shaolin yang terlepas dari peristiwa pembakaran dan pembantaian oleh pemerintahan Dinasti Ch'in pada 1734."
(Wong Fei Hung began honing his martial arts skills since he came under the tutelage of Luk Ah-Choi. Hung Hei Kwun, who trained in the martial arts with Luk Ah Choi…was a Shaolin warrior who escaped the burning and sacking by the Ch’in Dynasty in 1734.)
OK, there's some serious time-warping here. Wong Fei Hung was born in 1847 and started learning kungfu at age 5. Hung Hei Gun and Luk Ah Choi are believed to have taught Wong Fei Hung’s father AND grandfather! Hung Hei Kwun lived from 1745-1825, so it’s not likely that he joined his classmate Luk Ah Choi in the 1734 incident cited above. In fact, it’s quite unlikely that Luk Ah Choi would be involved too as there are indications that Luk Ah Choi is even younger than Hung (because Luk had also studied martial arts under Hung).
ASSUMING Luk Ah Choi was still around to teach Wong Fei Hung, he would be over 100 years old, or about 150 years old (according to this article’s timeline)! Besides, nowhere in Wong Fei Hung’s history does it mention that Luk Ah Choi was his master.
And the Ch'in Dynasty's timeline has been shifted (again) from 200+BC to the 18th century now.
5 - "Jika saja pemerintah Ch'in tidak meminta bantuan pasukan-pasukan bersenjata bangsa asing (Rusia, Inggris, Jepun), pemberontakan pimpinan Hung Hei-Kwun itu nescaya akan berjaya mengusir pendudukan Dinasti Ch'in."
(If the Ch’in had not asked for the help of the armed forces of foreign powers (Russia, England, Japan), the rebellion led by Hung Hei Kwun would have succeeded in ousting the Ch’in Dynasty)
NO emperor in China has ever asked foreign militaries for help (except for the Battle of Shanghai with the Taiping rebels, but it was the city government who asked for help, not the emperor)! In fact, the Qing dynasty fought several wars with foreign powers who were trying to conquer China during Wong Fei Hung's lifetime - including Russia, Britain and Japan!
I’ll admit that I’m no historian. I’ll even admit that there may be evidence somewhere out there that Wong Fei Hung was indeed a Muslim. But if there is proof, it’s certainly not in the Jamaah Islah article. And the factual errors really don’t inspire confidence at all in that claim.
Note: The JIM website states www.penainsan.blogspot.com as the source of this article.