Hui people

Hui people

Infobox Ethnic group
group = Hui حُوِ ذَو _zh. 回族 (Huízú)

caption = Hui people
poptime =20 million (approx)
regions = flag|China
languages = Chinese language
religions = Islam
related = Dungan, Panthay, Han Chinese, other Sino-Tibetan peoples
The Hui people (zh-cp|c=|p=Huízú, Xiao'erjing: حُوِ ذَو ) are a Chinese ethnic group, typically distinguished by their practice of Islam. They form one of the 56 ethnic groups officially recognized by the People's Republic of China. They are concentrated in Northwestern China (Ningxia, Gansu, Shaanxi, Xinjiang), but communities exist across the country. Most Hui are similar in culture to Han Chinese with the exception that they practice Islam, and have some distinctive cultural characteristics as a result. For example, as Muslims, they follow Islamic dietary laws and reject the consumption of pork, the second most common meat consumed in Chinese culture (chicken being the most), and have also given rise to their variation of Chinese cuisine, Chinese Islamic cuisine and Muslim Chinese martial arts. Their mode of dress also differs only in that adult males wear white caps and females wear headscarves or (occasionally) veils, as is the case in most Islamic cultures.

The definition of Hui does not include ethnic groups such as the Uyghur, who live in China and practice Islam, but are Turkic people and are thus different from Han Chinese.

Included among the Hui in Chinese census statistics (and not officially recognized as a separate ethnic group) are several thousand Utsuls in southern Hainan province, who speak an Austronesian language (Tsat) related to that of the Cham Muslim minority of Vietnam, and who are said to be descended from Chams who migrated to Hainan.

A traditional Chinese term for Islam is 回教 (pinyin: "Huíjiào", literally "the religion of the Hui"), though the most prevalent is the transliteration 伊斯蘭教 (pinyin: "'Yīsīlán jiào", literally "Islam religion").


It was under the aegis of the Communist Party in the 1930s that the term Hui was defined to indicate only Sinophone Muslims. In 1941, this was clarified by a Communist Party committee comprising ethnic policy researchers in a treatise entitled On the question of Huihui Ethnicity (Huihui minzu wenti). This treatise defined the characteristics of the Hui nationality as follows: the Hui or Huihui constitute an ethnic group associated with, but not defined by, the Islamic religion and they are descended primarily from Muslims who migrated to China during the Mongol-Yuan dynasty (1206-1368), as distinct from the Uyghur and other Turkic-speaking ethnic groups in Xinjiang. The Nationalist government had recognised all Muslims as one of "the five peoples"—alongside the Manchus, Mongols, Tibetans and Han Chinese—that constituted the Republic of China. The new Communist interpretation of Chinese Muslim ethnicity marked a clear departure from the ethno-religious policies of the Nationalists, and had emerged as a result of the pragmatic application of Stalinist ethnic theory to the conditions of the Chinese revolution. [China Heritage Newsletter [] ]

Huis anywhere are referred to by Central Asian Turks and Tajiks as "Dungans." In its population censuses, the Soviet Union also identified Chinese Muslims as "Dungans" (дунгане) and recorded them as located mainly in Kyrgyzstan, southern Kazakhstan, and Uzbekistan. In the Russian census of 2002, a total of 800 Dungans were enumerated. In Thailand Chinese Muslims are referred to as "chin ho", in Myanmar and Yunnan Province, as Panthay.



The Hui Chinese have diverse origins. Some in the southeast coast are descended from Arab and Persian Muslim traders who settled in China and gradually intermarried and assimilated into the surrounding population keeping only their distinctive religion. A totally different explanation is available for the Mandarin Chinese-speaking Yunnan and Northern Huis, whose ethnogenesis might be a result of the convergence of large number of Mongol, Turkic or other Central Asian settlers in these regions who formed the dominant stratum in the Mongol Yuan Dynasty. However, even Cantonese Muslims, of the southeastern coast, typically resemble northern Asians much more so than their typical Cantonese neighbours.

It was documented that a proportion of these nomad or military ethnic groups were originally Nestorian Christians many of whom later converted to Islam, while under the sinicizing pressures of the Ming and Qing states.

This explains the ethnonym "Hui," in close affinity with that of "Uyghur," albeit Sinicized and contradistinctive from "Uyghur" in usage. The ethnonym "Hui," though for a long time used as an umbrella term (at least since Qing) to designate Muslim Chinese speakers everywhere and Muslims in general (for example, a Qing Chinese might describe a Uyghur as a "Chantou" who practiced the "Hui" religion), was not used in the Southeast as much as "Qīngzhēn", a term still in common use today, especially for Muslim (Hui) eating establishments and for mosques ("qīngzhēn sì" in Mandarin).

Southeastern Muslims also have a much longer tradition of synthesizing Confucian teachings with the Sharia and Qur'anic teachings, and were reported to have been contributing to the Confucian officialdom since the Tang period. Among the Northern Hui, on the other hand, there are strong influences of Central Asian Sufi schools such as Kubrawiyya, Qadiriyya, Naqshbandiyya (Khufiyya and Jahriyya) etc. mostly of the Hanafi Madhhab (whereas among the Southeastern communities the Shafi'i Madhhab is more of the norm). Before the "Ihwani" movement, a Chinese variant of the Salafi movement, Northern Hui Sufis were very fond of synthesizing Taoist teachings and martial arts practices with Sufi philosophy.

In early modern times, villages in Northern Chinese Hui areas still bore labels like "Blue-cap Huihui," "Black-cap Huihui," and "White-cap Huihui," betraying their possible Christian, Judaic and Muslim origins, even though the religious practices among North China Hui by then were by and large Islamic. Hui is also used as a catch-all grouping for Islamic Chinese who are not classified under another ethnic group.


During the mid-nineteenth century, the Muslims and the Miao people of China revolted against the Qing Dynasty,most notably in the Dungan revolt (1862-1877) and the Panthay rebellion 1856-1873) in Yunnan. These little known revolts were suppressed by the Manchu government in a manner that amounts to genocide, [Levene, Mark. Genocide in the Age of the Nation-State. I.B.Tauris, 2005. ISBN 1845110579, page 288] [Giersch, Charles Patterson. Asian Borderlands: The Transformation of Qing China's Yunnan Frontier. Harvard University Press, 2006. ISBN 1845110579, page 219] [ [ Muslim History in China] ] [Dillon, Michael. [ China’s Muslim Hui Community] . Curzon, 1999. ISBN 0700710264, page xix] killing a million people in the Panthay rebellion, [Damsan Harper, Steve Fallon, Katja Gaskell, Julie Grundvig,Carolyn Heller, Thomas Huhti, Bradley Maynew, Christopher Pitts. LonelyPlanet China. 9. 2005. ISBN 1740596870] Gernet,Jacques. A History of Chinese Civilization. 2. New York: CambridgeUniversity Press, 1996.ISBN 0521497124 ] several million in the Dungan revolt andfive million in the suppression of Miao people in Guizhou. A "washing off the Muslims"(洗回 (xi Hui)) policy had been long advocated by officials in the Manchu government. [Jonathan N. Lipman, "Familiar Strangers: A History of Muslims in Northwest China (Studies on Ethnic Groups in China)", University of Washington Press (February 1998), ISBN 0295976446.]

Huis outside China

Hui in Malaysia

There is evidence that Chinese Hui migrated to Peninsular Malaysia in the influx of Chinese labourers during the nineteenth and late twentieth century. Chinese who have the surname Ma are suspected to have Hui ancestry. A number of them settled in the region of Lumut in Peninsular Malaysia. It is speculated that these Muslims assimilated with the local non-Muslim Chinese and now most of them are no longer Muslims. Nonetheless, there are those who still maintain their Islamic faith. A famous Chinese Muslim missionary in Malaysia has the surname of Ma.

If they are married to Muslim Malaysian indigenous persons, their offspring are officially accepted as part of the "Bumiputra" (indigenous people or "sons of the land"). Otherwise, the society might treat them as party of the large Chinese minority group. However as Islam is also an ethnic marker in Malaysia, many Chinese converts in Malaysia tend to adopt and assimilate into the indigenous culture. However, there is a trend since the 1900s for Chinese converts to retain their original pre-Muslim Chinese surname, probably to maintain their cultural identity.


Panthays form a group of Chinese Muslims in Burma. Some people refer to Panthays as the oldest group of Chinese Muslims in Burma. However, because of intermixing and cultural diffusion the Panthays are not as distinct a group as there once were.


Dungan (zh-stp|s=东干族|t=東干族|p=Dōnggānzú; _ru. Дунгане) is a term used in territories of the former Soviet Union to refer to a Muslim people of Chinese origin. Turkic-speaking peoples in Xinjiang Province in China also refer to members of this ethnic group as Dungans. In both China and the former Soviet republics where they reside, however, members of this ethnic group call themselves Hui. In the censuses of Russia and the former Soviet Central Asia, the Hui are enumerated separately from Chinese, and are labelled as Dungans.


These are surnames generally used by the Hui ethnic group:Fact|date=January 2007

* Ma for Muhammad
* Han for Muhammad
* Ha for Hasan
* Hu for Hussein
* Sai for Said
* Sha for Shah
* Zheng for Shams
* Koay for Kamaruddin
* Chuah for Osman

Prominent Hui

* Bai Chongxi (白崇禧), a general of the Republic of China
* Bai Shouyi (白壽彝), prominent Chinese historian and ethnologist
* Hui Liangyu (回良玉), a Vice Premier of the People's Republic of China
* Lan Yu was a Ming Dynasty general who ended the Mongol dream to reconquer China.
* Li Zhi (李贄), a famous Confucian philosopher in Ming Dynasty, would perhaps be considered a Hui if he lived today because of some his ancestors being Persian Muslims.
* Ma Dexin (马德新), Islamic scholar in Yunnan
* Ma Bufang ( 馬步芳), was a warlord in China during the Republic of China era, ruling the northwestern province of Qinghai.
* Ma Hualong (马化龙), one of the leaders of the Muslim Rebellion of 1862-77.
* Shi Zhongxin, mayor of Harbin from 2002 to February 2007, whose ancestors came from Jilin
* Zhang Chengzhi (張承志), contemporary author and alleged creator of the term "Red Guards"
* Zheng He (鄭和), a Semu Muslim, probably the most famous Muslim in Chinese history, would perhaps be considered a Hui if he lived today

Related group names

*Dungan (in Kyrgyzstan, Kazakhstan)
*Panthay (in Burma)
*Utsul (in Hainan Island; speakers of a Malayo-Polynesian language, but officially classified by the Chinese government as Hui)

See also

* Hui pan-nationalism
* Islam in China
* Hui Minorities' War
* Panthay Rebellion

Further reading

* cite journal
quotes =
last = Chuah
first = Osman
authorlink =
coauthors =
date =
year = 2004
month = April
title = Muslims in China: the social and economic situation of the Hui Chinese
journal = Journal of Muslim Minority Affairs
volume = 24
issue = 1
pages = 155–162
issn =
pmid =
doi =
id =
url =
language =
format =
accessdate =
laysummary =
laysource =
laydate =
quote =


* Dru C. Gladney, "Ethnic Identity in China: The Making of a Muslim Minority Nationality (Case Studies in Cultural Anthropology)", 1997, ISBN 0155019708.
* Dru C. Gladney, "Dislocating China: Muslims, Minorities, and Other Subaltern Subjects", 2004, ISBN 0226297756.
* Dru C. Gladney, "Muslim Chinese: Ethnic Nationalism in the People's Republic". 1st ed. 1991; 2nd ed., 1996. ISBN 0-674-59497-5.
* [ "CHINA'S ISLAMIC HERITAGE"] China Heritage Newsletter (Australian National University), No. 5, March 2006.

Wikimedia Foundation. 2010.

Look at other dictionaries:

  • Hui — (hwē) also Hwei (hwā) n. pl. Hui or Huis also Hwei or Hweis A member of a Muslim people of northwest China, descended chiefly from the Han and an important minority of the Chinese population; a Chinese Muslim.   [Chinese (Mandarin) Huí.] * * * I… …   Universalium

  • Hui — can refer to:China* Hui people (回族 Huízú ), a Chinese ethnic group. They form one of the 56 nationalities officially recognized by the People s Republic of China * Huizhou Chinese (徽 Huī ), a subdivision of spoken Chinese. * Hui (secret society) …   Wikipedia

  • People's Republic of China–Kyrgyzstan relations — China Kyrgyzstan relations China …   Wikipedia

  • Hui — noun a) Hui people (回 Huí), an ethnic group of China, distinguished by their practice of Islam, their language is Mandarin or Dungan in Kyrgyzstan, Kazakhstan, Russia. b) a Chinese dialect (徽 Huī), spoken in Southern Anhui and neighbouring… …   Wiktionary

  • Hui, Ann — (Hui On wah/Xu Anhua) b. 1947, Liaoning Film director, producer The only woman and one of the most respected figures of the ‘Hong Kong New Wave’ of the late 1970s, Ann Hui has used her versatile talents to create a distinct, original voice. Her… …   Encyclopedia of Contemporary Chinese Culture

  • People's Liberation Army —   中国人民解放军   Emblem of the People s Liberation Army Founded August 1, 1927 Service branches …   Wikipedia

  • People for the ethical treatment of animals — Pour les articles homonymes, voir PETA. Logo de PETA L’association People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals (PETA) est une ass …   Wikipédia en Français

  • Hui Qiao Hotel Beijing (Beijing) — Hui Qiao Hotel Beijing country: China, city: Beijing (City) Hui Qiao Hotel Beijing Location Hui Qiao Hotel is located just against the west gate of Beijing University of International Business and Economics and also very close to the north fourth …   International hotels

  • Hui of Balhae — Hangul 희왕 Hanja 僖王 Revised Romanization …   Wikipedia

  • Hui (Longnan) — Hui (徽县; Pinyin: Huī Xiàn) ist ein Kreis der bezirksfreien Stadt Longnan in der nordwestchinesischen Provinz Gansu. Hui hat eine Fläche von 2.722 km². 1999 zählte er 209.113 Einwohner.[1]. Ende 2004 wird die Einwohnerzahl immer noch mit ca.… …   Deutsch Wikipedia

Share the article and excerpts

Direct link
Do a right-click on the link above
and select “Copy Link”