The Hui ethnic minority group is the result of ethnic integration of Chinese, Arabs, and Persians who came to China along the Silk Road in the 13th century. The Hui are mainly distributed in the Ningxia Hui Autonomous Region, and some also live in the Qinghai , Henan , Hebei , Shandong, and Yunnan Provinces, with its population ranking third among China’s 55 ethnic groups. Thepopulation has reached as high as 9.8 million according to the 5th national population census in 2000. Traditionally, the Hui people are mainly engaged in the farming, cattle herding, handicrafts , as well as catering industries .
The history of the Hui ethnic minority people can date back to the Tang Dynasty (618 -907 ). With the introduction of Islam to China, more and more Arab s and Persians c ame to China in the 2nd (651) year of Emperor Gaozong in the Tang Dynasty . They persisted to live in Guangzhou, Quanzhou, Hangzhou, Yangzhou, and Chang ’an ( present-day Xi ’an); built a series of mosques; and were called Huihe by the local Chinese. During the 14th year (755) of Emperor Xuanzong in the Tang Dynasty, the Tang government borrowed armies from Huihe to repress the domestic An-shi Rebellion.
Later in the Yuan Dynasty (1 206 -1 368 ), the number of Hui people increased rapidly due to the mollification policy taken by the Yuan governor. In the Ming Dynasty (1368-1644), t he Hui ethnic group was officially accepted by the central government . However, the central government provoked many religious conflicts with the Hui in the Qing Dynasty (1 616 -1 911 ), which stimulated the people to revolt many times. After the foundation of the People ’s Republic of China, the Chinese government carried out the National Autonomy Policy in the Hui communities, and the Hui ethnic minority group officially beca me a member of the 56 Chinese ethnic groups. On October 25, 1958, the Ningxia Hui Autonomous Region was established due to the good policies taken by the Chinese government to build a harmonious socialist society. This was followed with many autonomous prefectures and counties in the Gansu Province and the Xinjiang Uygur Autonomous Region in the following years.
The mostly widely used language among the Hui ethnic minority group today is Mandarin . In addition, the Arabic language also plays an important part in people ’s liv es, which is now used as the Hui’s second language; m any Arabic and Persian vocabulary terms have been absorbed into their daily communication.
The Hui ethnic minority believes in Islam, and most of the Hui are Muslims.
The only God for Muslims is Allah. Below are some of the basic practices of Islam:
1. Hui Muslims are not permitted to eat pork, dog, donkey, or mule meat, nor any of those animals’ blood.
2. Hui Muslims do not eat fowl killed by non-Muslims.
3. It is impolite to smoke and drink in the presence of Muslims.
4. It is impolite to wear décolletages and other immodest clothing in the presence of Muslims
Hui men still wear traditional Central Asian clothing , most characteristically displayed by a small white round hat . The round hat can be divided into 2 kinds: the flat-headed style and the six-winged style, and sometimes delicate patterns are embroidered on them. The men also prefer to wear white shirts and loose trousers.
Women, on the other hand, wear different kinds of veils on the head. The veils are tailored: aged women wear white veils which look pure and practical; middle-aged women wear black veils which look graceful and solemn; and unmarried girl wear green veils which look refreshing and beautiful. As well, the young women wear red, green, or blue headscarves in the winter, and thin gauze kerchiefs in the summer.
Food and drinks
The gastronomy among the Hui ethnic people varies from one region to another . For example, the Hui are fond of wheat grain foods in the Ningxia Hui Autonomous Region, with noodles as the main staple. In the Qinghai and Gansu Provinces, the people feed on corn , barley, and potatoes , also preferring pickled vegetables. Finally, those living in the city usually drink milk in the morning every day.
But there are still come common ingredients and dishes that tie the community together. The main meats for the Hui people are beef, mutton, and different kinds of fish. They are masters of many cooking methods including frying, roasting, quick-frying, and braising. The most popular typical Muslim dishes are sheep tendon with vegetables, Jinfeng braised chicken, pita bread soaked in lamb or beef soup, as well as Wengzi dumplings.
As for drinks, the Hui enjoy drinking tea, among which the famous ones are covered bowl tea and babao tea.
The main architecture of the Hui ethnic people is the Muslim mosque which functions as the place for conducting religious activities, and it plays an important part in people ’s liv es. The mosques can be divided into two kinds: imperial -palace style (with a perimeter wall and corridors) and domed style, which is noted more holy, solemn, and grand. The two types of mosques are both composed of a worshipping hall, a scripture -preaching hall, and a bathing room, with the worshipping hall as the main body. The mosques were initially built with domes in the traditional Arabic style , but since the Ming Dynasty, they have been built in the ancient imperial-palace style which is based on the traditional Chinese courtyard homes.
Besides the traditional Chinese festivals, there are mainly 3 great festivals of the Hui ethnic minority people: Lesser Bairam, Corban Festival, and Maulid al-Nabi.
1. Lesser Bairam
Lesser Bairam is very popular among the 10 Islamic ethnic minority groups throughout China, and each group has its own characteristics during the festival. Islam stipulates a month each year that Ramadan should be practiced by all Muslims; this is a period of religious reflection and purity during which Muslims are not allowed to eat, drink, or engaged in sexual activities from daybreak to sunset every day . The purpose of Ramadan is to encourage Muslims to meditate on the sins they made in the past and consider how to avoid sins in the following years. The festival takes place on the last day of the Ramadan month period where people dress up in their best, gather in the mosque to listen to the sermons, and go from one door to another presenting treats and greetings to their friends and relatives.
2. Corban Festival
The Corban Festival is celebrated 70 days after Lesser Bairam in memory of the prophet Ibrahim for his loyalty to Allah and Islam. A grand sacrificial rite is held during the festival, and families offer sacrifices such as cows a nd sheep to Allah. All the sacrificed animals (which must be healthy and strong) must be divided into 3 equal sections: one for the Muslims themselves and their immediate family, one for their relatives and friends, and one to be donated to the poor . After the sacrifice, people gather together to enjoy the feast. Particularly entertaining activities are held in some Hui ethnic communities in the Xinjiang Uygur Autonomous Region.
3. Maulid al-Nab
Maulid al-Nab is celebrated as the birthday and sacrificial date in honor of the founder of Islam, M ohammed, which is on 12th of March every year. During the festival, the Hui ethnic people first go to the mosque to recite the Holy Scriptures, praise the history of Mohammed , and donate meat, oil, and money to have a feast together. Maulid al-Nab is a chance for the Hui people to do good deeds on this day.
The main travel resources of the Hui ethnic minority people are concentrated in the Ningxia Hui Autonomous Region, which is famous for its deep Hui ethnic folk customs and wonderful frontier landscapes. The primary tourism attractions include the mysterious Western Xia tombs, unique Helan Mountain rock paintings, Xumishan grottoes, and Sounding Sand Bay. One of the highlights of Hui ethnic group lies in its unique mosque architectures; the most famous ones in China are Hetian Mosque and Aitigaer Mosque in the Xijiang Uygur Autonomous Region, Nanguan Mosque in the Ningxia Hui Autonomous Region, and Tuogu Mosque in the Yunnan Province.
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