Prayer Profile
The Hui of China

[IMAGE] Numbering over nine million, the Hui are the largest and most widespread of China's Muslim nationalities. They can be found living in almost every city, province, and region of northwestern China. While they do not make up a majority in any of the provinces, they have been culturally and politically dominant throughout China. Their influence has caused much of the Northwest to be regarded as Muslim territory.

The Hui trace their ancestors back to Muslim traders, soldiers, and officials who came to China during the seventh through fourteenth centuries, settling and marrying local Han women. They differ from other Chinese Muslim groups in that they do not have their own language. Instead, they speak the Chinese dialect of their locality, mixed with a few Arabic and Persian words. The Hui have so well assimilated into the Chinese society that they are almost indistinguishable from the Han Chinese, except in dietary and religious practices.

What are their lives like?
The Hui are famous traders. In fact, it was their interest in profitable business ventures that caused them to become scattered throughout China. However, to retain religious purity and group identity, the Hui have always remained socially segregated.

The rural Hui of northern China grow wheat and dry rice, while those farther south raise wet rice. Some may also engage in small-scale industries, raise sheep and cattle, and grow some vegetables for profit.

Urban Hui are most often laborers or factory workers who are employed, housed, and educated by the state. Others are shopkeepers and butchers. The butchers still provide halal meat. This refers to meat slaughtered according to Islamic standards.

The Hui diet consists of rice, flour, beef, mutton, and chicken. There is a religious taboo on pork as well as on the meat of horses, donkeys, mules, and all wild animals.

Since the 1949 Socialist reforms, Hui traditions such as early marriages, arranged marriages, and polygamy (having more than one wife at a time) have been outlawed. Women now have the same divorce and inheritance rights as men. The government rewards "late" marriages (those in the late to middle twenties), and adherence to the family planning norm of only one child per couple. According to Muslim custom, Hui women are forbidden to marry non-Hui, but Hui men may marry Han or other non-Hui women who are willing to follow Islamic practices.

What are their beliefs?
Ninety percent of the Hui (81 million) are Muslims. It is no wonder that Islam in China is often called "the Hui religion."

Among the Hui, there are many different Islamic sects. The older factions arose out of the need to adapt Islam to Chinese culture. The newer sects developed out of the desire to 'purify' Chinese Islam. Ironically, however, there is a wide range of devotion to Islam among the Hui. In northwestern China they are quite conservative; while in northeastern China, they are more liberal. There, they smoke, drink, and eat pork when away from home. Overall, the Hui are said to be among the least radical Muslims in the world. Visiting Muslims are often disgusted with their lack of depth.

The Chinese government continues to allow the Hui to bury their dead in Muslim cemeteries while all Han must now be cremated. Presently, the Hui are exempted from some aspects of China's controlled birth program.

What are their needs?
The Chinese government clearly favors Islam. Mosques are exempted from property and housing taxes, and several famous old mosques have been renovated with government funds. The government also pays for the training of new ahongs, or religious leaders.

Chinese Muslims are reluctant to become Christians since persecution often follows such a decision. Christian broadcasts and literature are available to the Hui, but there are presently no known Christians among them.

Prayer Points

  • Ask the Lord to call people who are willing to go to China and share Christ with the Hui, no matter what the cost.
  • Pray that the doors of China will soon open to missionaries.
  • Ask God to raise up loving Chinese believers who will take Christ to their Muslim neighbors.
  • Pray that God will call qualified linguists to complete translation of the Bible into Kuoyu, the Hui language.
  • Ask the Holy Spirit to soften the hearts of these Muslims toward Christians so that they will be receptive to the Gospel.
  • Pray that God will open the hearts of China's governmental leaders to the Gospel.
  • Ask the Lord to raise up a strong local church among the Hui by the year 2000.

Latest estimates from the World Evangelization Research Center.


  • People name: Hui
  • Country: China
  • Their language: kuoyu
  • Population: (1990) 8,613,300
    (1995) 9,105,500
    (2000) 9,578,200
  • Largest religion: Muslims (Hanafites) 90%
    Nonreligious 10%
  • Christians: 0%
  • Church members: None
  • Scriptures in their own language: Bible
  • Jesus Film in their own language: Available
  • Christian broadcasts in their own language: Available
  • Mission agencies working among this people: 11
  • Persons who have heard the Gospel: 2,640,600 (29%) Those evangelized by local Christians: 0 (0%)
    Those evangelized from the outside: 2,640,600 (29%)
  • Persons who have never heard the Gospel: 6,464,900 (71%)
  • Country: China
  • Population: (1990) 1,135,043,400
    (1995) 1,199,901,200
    (2000) 1,262,195,800
  • Major peoples in size order: Han Chinese (Mandarin) 67.7%
    Han Chinese (Wu) 7.5%
    Han Chinese (Cantonese) 4.5%
  • Major religions: Nonreligious 55%
    Chinese folk-religionists 17%
    Atheists 12.7%
  • Number of denominations: 42

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Bethany World Prayer Center

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