Hui Muslims: The Milieu of Radicalization and Extremism

  • Rohan Gunaratna
  • Arabinda Acharya
  • Wang Pengxin


The Hui are the largest Muslim group in China and the second largest of China’s fifty-five minority nationalities. According to Chinese pop- ulation census (renkou pucha), the Hui minority numbered 7.2 million in 1982 and the figure has grown to 9.8 million by 2000.2 The Chinese term “Hui” or “Hui jiao,” according to some Chinese and foreign historians, derives from a Chinese transliteration for the ancient Uighur people (Huihe) or for all Muslims in China (Huihui) for hundreds of years.3 The Chinese character for “Hui” means “return,” which is explained by these Chinese Muslims as “return towards their religion.”4 Under the government of Republic of China, “Hui jiao” (Hui teaching) was the term used in Chinese to indicate “Islam” in general.5 Since the 1950s, the PRC government has used the term specifically to refer to the Chinese-speaking Muslims, differentiating them from the other Turkic Muslim groups. The Hui Muslims are also called Dungan in Russia and Panthay in Yunnan province and Southeast Asia.6 In English literatures, the Hui are often referred to as the “Chinese Muslims” since the majority of them are Chinese-speaking and more culturally similar to the Han Chinese. It has been argued that this term is inap- propriate and misleading because, by law, all Muslims in China are citizens of the PRC, or, Chinese; in this respect, the Hui are no more Chinese than the Turkic-speaking Muslims.7


Qing Dynasty Ming Dynasty Islamic School Islamic Movement Muslim Minority 
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© Rohan Gunaratna, Arabinda Acharya and Wang Pengxin 2010

Authors and Affiliations

  • Rohan Gunaratna
  • Arabinda Acharya
  • Wang Pengxin

There are no affiliations available

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