Hui Nationality

 Distribution and population:

Elder Women of Hui Nationality
Elder Women of Hui Nationality, Xinjiang

Hui nationality is descended from the Arabic and Persian merchants who came to China during the 7th century. With a population of 643,238, the majority of the group lives in the Ningxia Hui Autonomous Region. However, there are some living in almost all the provinces and cities of China.

Most of them are Muslim and there is typically a mosque in each community. The Imam led the religious activities and their sutra is Alcoran.

Chinese is the native language. In addition, they retain some of the Arabic and Persian words.


Islamism has played a vital role in the development of this ethnic minority. In fact, the religious thought has influenced them in all walks of life, ranging from etiquettes of living, dining, and marriage to funeral customs.
A wedding ceremony of Hui minority held in Shaanxi Grand Mosque, Urumqi
A wedding ceremony of Hui minority 
held in Shaanxi Grand Mosque, Urumqi
The living customs differ from the other ethnic groups. For example, marrying people is not encouraged. In the event a Hui wants to marry a girl from Han or other ethnic minorties, the girl must understand and respect the Hui culture as well as convert to Islamism, or the marriage will be denied. For the marriage feast, there are usually 8 to 12 dishes. The even number of dishes is important as it symbolizes that the new couple will be a pair permanently.

Funerals are simple, but there are many taboos which must be avoided. For example, they do not wail, as that will be regarded as the complaint or hatred for the dead.

They live a puritanical life. They do not like to joke nor do they describe things with food. Smoking, drinking and gambling are frowned upon and young people are not permitted to sit with the elder members of the group. Use of a fortune teller to predict the future is prohibited. They also obey many rituals. For example, before meals, they must wash their hands with fluid water. Also, they avoid sitting or stepping on any threshold, for it is said Muharmmad used the threshold as his pillow.

Hui People in Xinjiang Food and Food Culture
The cuisine is diverse and varies from region to region. If you visit them, you will be served a wide variety of distinctive food. Hui people living in the Ningxia Hui Autonomous Region prefer food with flour; in Gansu and Qinghai, they favor wheat, corn, barley, and potatoes. Gaiwan Tea contains not only with tea, but also many other nutritious ingredients such as longan, jujube, sesame, sugar candy, and medlar. Pigeons are considered a 'divine bird' that may be eaten only under certain circumstances. For example, a pigeon are fed to the sick as a tonic, but only after it is approved by the Imam. They are generally forbidden to eat the meat of pigs, dogs, horses, donkeys, mules as well as the blood of animals. Moreover, if people of other nationalities use a pot or dish to hold pork, then they will not use or touch the dish.

Visiting guests receive infused tea and are served fruits or home-made cakes. All the family members will come to greet their guests, and, if the guest is from afar, he will be seen off even out of the Hui people's village.


Hui People in Great Mosque, Xi'an
Hui People in Great Mosque, Xi'an

The primary festivals are Lesser Bairam (End of Ramadan), Corban, and Shengji Festival.

During the entire ninth month of to the Hui calendar, men older than 12 and women older than 9 will fast, which means they cannot eat anything from sunrise to sunset. Lesser Bairam is celebrated on the first day of the tenth month and lasts three days. Relatives and friends are served choice beef and mutton, and fired cakes which are their favorite food.

Corban Festival is on the tenth day of the last month. The morning of the festival, they do not eat breakfast. After attending the mosque, they kill oxen and then share them with the poor families and relatives. Selling of the oxen is not permitted on this day.

Hua'er is a form of folklore among Hui people, especially prevalent in Ningxia, Gansu and Qinghai. During festivals and the sixth month of the year, there is a pageant and people sing joyfully for six days.

 More Ethnic Groups in Ningxia Area:  Manchu     Mongol

- Last updated on Apr. 20, 2021 -
Questions & Answers on Hui Nationality
Asked by Abby from USA | Feb. 09, 2015 17:40Reply
What are Hui people really good at making? Can you describe what Hui people wear?
Answers (2)
Answered by Tim from FRANCE | Feb. 09, 2015 21:50

Well, I heard that Hui people are good at cook and music.
I know that they usually wear long gown and headcloth.
Answered by Abby from USA | Feb. 10, 2015 10:53

Thank you Tim from France.
Asked by Mr.yahya from JORDANI | Feb. 11, 2011 13:43Reply
al slam alaikom
i would like to know more about hui and islamic school ,mosque etc in Qiqihar
my best regard
Answers (1)
Answered by Mr.Colin | Feb. 12, 2011 23:44

I know Qiqihar Bukui Mosque, located in the business center, in a lane of Bukui Street
Asked by Mr.Haji rusly abdullah from MALAYSIA | Nov. 01, 2010 08:13Reply
asalamualaikum. I'd like to know more about the Gaiwan Tea especially the way it is prepared and served among Hui community in Ningxia, China. I welcome all brothers/sisters in Islam to email me|datorusly58
Answers (1)
Answered by Mr.Sandy | Nov. 01, 2010 21:39

Drinking Gaiwan Tea is a tradition of Hui people which can be traced back to the Tang Dynasty. For various materials, there are different names for the tea. They like to use melt snow water or spring water to make the tea. There is not only jasmine tea, but also other things, such as sugar, jujube, longan, medlar, dried persimmon etc. While serve the tea, the cup will be filled by boilt water to show the guest this is not the tea left by others. Then spill the water and put tea and other things inside the cup. Fill in boilt water and give it to the guest by using two hands, to show respect. While driking, don'r remove the cover on the cup. leave a gap and drink the tea from there. If you want more tea, keep your cup left with few water.
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