Distinguishing the Huihui from the Hui

Distinguishing the Huihui from the Hui

Squatting just inside the glass doors of his family store, Hassan watches the residents of the quarter walk by as they head home from work. Hassan is not an intimidating figure. He is a short, bony guy with a thin wispy goatee hanging from his chin. As he sees strangers come into view, he hops up and opens the door while waving us over.

We are excited to find someone who wants to talk. We have heard stories about the Huihui, but we are hoping to meet someone and hear directly about their history and culture. We quickly learn that Hassan is a teacher at the local mosque. He has traveled overseas to study Islam and is very comfortable talking about Islam and the history of his people.

The Chinese Muslims of Hainan Island

The Chinese Muslims of Hainan Island

It is often stated that Hui can be found in every county across China. It is debatable whether or not that is true, but Hui do stretch all the way across China from the far northwest of Xinjiang to the far southeast on the beautiful island of Hainan. China is not known for its beaches, but Hainan Island has beautiful vacation spots and a few Hui. About ten thousand Hui call Sanya, the southern city on the island, their home year around, and during the winter months when temperatures drop below freezing in the northwest another 50,000+ Hui travel to Sanya to escape the cold winters of their hometowns.