The Hui

Oh sing to the LORD a new song; sing to the LORD, all the earth! Sing to the LORD, bless his name; tell of his salvation from day to day. Declare his glory among the nations, his marvelous works among all the peoples! For great is the LORD, and greatly to be praised; he is to be feared above all gods.

Psalm 96:1-4

The Basics:

The Hui, made up of about 15 million people, are the largest and most widespread of China’s Muslim nationalities. They also comprise the third largest minority group in China. Remarkably, Hui live in 2,310 of China’s 2,369 counties and municipalities. Small pockets also live in Taiwan, Myanmar, Thailand, Kyrgyzstan, Kazakhstan and Mongolia. Only .006% of them know Christ!

Their Beliefs:

To be Hui is to be Muslim – it is the core of who they are. Even if they don’t fully understand it, or even follow it the same as some other countries do, it has been hidden deep inside of them from the time they were very young. For the Hui, Islam is more than just a set of religious beliefs – it is a total way of life.

Their Culture:

The Hui are some of the most hospitable people you will ever meet. Some of this comes from just being Chinese, and the rest of it comes from just being Hui. Either way – you never want to visit the Hui on a full stomach! Many of the Hui own restaurants. You can find them in cities all over China and they serve some of the best food you will ever eat. As you walk down the street, you can often recognize the men by their prayer caps and the women by their head scarves. Hui with other Hui are like family. Even if they are strangers, you would never know.

Their Language:

Mandarin Chinese is the heart language of the Hui in both spoken and written. But the spiritual language of the Hui is a mixture of Arabic and Persian.

Their History:

The Hui are descendants of Muslim traders, soldiers and officials who came to China between the 7th and 14th centuries. They settled and intermarried with Arab Muslims and Han Chinese.

The Situation:

Although there are around 15 million Hui scattered throughout China, very few (including the Chinese church) are intentionally planting their lives among the Hui to tell them about Christ. It is estimated that every five minutes one Hui person dies. Currently, more Hui people are dying daily than are hearing the gospel. The Hui are in desperate need of more laborers to boldly proclaim the gospel and reap the harvest that God has prepared.

Hui People

%

Muslim

  • Christian .006%

Not the Muslims You Might Expect

I sat around the lunch table and couldn’t help reflecting on the irony of it all. Here we were, celebrating the national Spring Festival (which Muslims don’t participate in) where our Hui friend’s family were smoking and drinking alcohol (which Muslims don’t consume) asking their non-muslim friend why Muslims in fact are not allowed to eat pork! This was not the Islam I had read about in most books.

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The Couch Full of Tears

I have a friend who is Hui. She might be my best friend in the city. Why are we so close when it seems like it takes so long for relationships to be built here in East Asia? Many times when I try to become friends with people here I get surface answers of “I’m fine, life is great, no problems here.”

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Wrapping Dumplings

One o’clock rolls around, and what had previously filled the table – a feast of chicken, beef, sweet rice, special bread, and stir-fried vegetables – now fills our bellies. As I begin standing up from the table, my Chinese grandmother, a sweet Hui lady in her late 70’s, tells me, “Don’t you run away now; we still have to wrap the dumplings. You are staying to wrap the dumplings, aren’t you?” Her question leaves room only for a Yes.

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Tats and Consequences

“The True God must really care for your son!” I approached my friend in his clothing shop to take some advice and medicine to him to help with a pesky rash his son had been battling. I had it all worked out – I was going to tell him about how I had been to a graduation ceremony, 50,000 people in attendance at a huge stadium, I looked up and there was an old friend … who happens to be a dermatologist!

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The Girl Next Door

I met my Hui Chinese friend through a mutual friend, and it didn’t take long at all for me to discover she lives in the same building I do and also owns a nearby restaurant that I visit pretty often. Our friendship started out with me asking her if she’d like to come over to have tea (because why else would one invite a stranger over?), and from there we progressed into a sort of “language exchange.”

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“I am Hui.”

She was adamant about there being a difference between us; whatever I said or showed her to read that had to do with Jesus, she responded with something like the above.

We had other conversation, some of which was about what she does during the day. After thinking and then listing off some things, she said, “Maybe I am not a good Muslim.”

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A Call to Prayer

I had never seen Friday prayers at a mosque before. On our way back from a trip to another city, we decided to stop and watch as the men assembled for worship.

It was a cold, cloudy afternoon, eerily quiet, the square almost void of people. A few minutes passed as I wandered around in front of the intricately decorated mosque, looking at the buildings and attempting but not succeeding to read the characters written on the walls.

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Who is Who?

Buddhist jewelry, short-shorts and neighborhood bars. These are typically not the first things that pop into one’s mind when thinking of Muslims. I live in a city with mostly Han people and roughly thirty percent Hui people. Despite the people group categorization, at first glance it can be difficult to differentiate the Hui from their Han neighbors. Traditionally, the Hui people have a distinct culture that can be characterized from the outside by their clothing and lifestyle choices. However, cultural lines between the Han and the Hui are becoming more and more blurred.

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What’s in a Story?

Storytelling has been around for generations uncountable. It spans countries, cultures, and people groups. It’s a major component in the lives of people from oral cultures, and it sneaks its way into the everyday lives of people from written cultures as well.

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Pray for the Hui

 

  • Pray for laborers called by God to reach the Hui – laborers from other countries as well as Chinese Christians currently living among the Hui.
  • Thank God for ongoing gospel proclamation efforts among the Hui. Pray that effective strategies can be identified and implemented to make Christ’s love known to the Hui.

  • Pray for God to tear down the barriers that keep the Hui from hearing the Good News of Jesus’ forgiveness and love.

  • Pray that Hui believers will gather together and form churches that will multiply.
  • Pray for followers of Jesus to boldly proclaim the gospel to the Hui, believing that God is at work among them.