Hui Hui (回回族)
The word Huihui (回回), which was the usual generic term for China's Muslims during the Ming and Qing Dynasties, is thought to have its origin in the earlier Huihe (回纥) or Huihu (回纥), which was the name for the Uyghur State of the 8th and 9th century. Although the ancient Uyghurs were neither Muslims nor were very directly related to today's Uyghur people, the name Huihui came to refer to all Muslims, regardless of language or origin, by the time of the Yuan (1271–1368) and Ming Dynasties (1368–1644).
While Huihui or Hui remained a generic name for all Muslims in Imperial China, specific terms were sometimes used to refer to particular groups - e.g. Chantou Hui ("turbaned Hui") for Uyghurs, Dongxiang Hui and Sala Hui for Dongxiang and Salar people, and sometimes even Han Hui ("Chinese Hui") for the (presumably Chinese-speaking) Muslims more assimilated into the Chinese mainstream society.
Under the aegis of the Communist Party in the 1930s the term Hui was defined to indicate only Sinophone Muslims. In 1941, this was clarified by a Communist Party committee comprising ethnic policy researchers in a treatise entitled "On the question of Huihui Ethnicity" (Huihui minzu wenti). This treatise defined the characteristics of the Hui nationality as follows: the Hui or Huihui constitute an ethnic group associated with, but not defined by, the Islamic religion and they are descended primarily from Muslims who migrated to China during the Mongol-founded Yuan dynasty (1271–1368), as distinct from the Uyghur and other Turkic-speaking ethnic groups in Xinjiang.
The Hui Chinese have diverse origins. Some in the southeast coast (Guangdong, Fujian) and in major trade centers elsewhere in China are of mixed local and foreign descent. The foreign element, although greatly diluted, came from Arab (Dashi) and Persian (Bosi) traders, who brought Islam to China. These foreigners settled in China and gradually intermarried into the surrounding population while converting them to Islam, while they in turn assimilated in all aspects of Chinese culture, keeping only their distinctive religion
The Hui are originally from China, where they comprise the largest of China's Muslim nationalities, numbering over 10 million.
The Hui trace their ancestry back to Muslim traders, soldiers, and officials who came to China during the seventh through the fourteenth centuries. The Muslims settled and married local Han Chinese women.
There were two later major Hui immigrations, the first during the mid-seventeenth century and the second during the Communist takeover of China in 1949. Many Hui, however, may have moved to Malaysia with the hope of establishing overseas branches of Chinese businesses.
Today, the Chinese in Malaysia number as the largest immigrant group. Many are Buddhists who have had difficulty fitting into Malay society; the Hui have been more easily accepted because the Malay and the Hui share the Muslim faith.
What Are Their Lives Like?
At one time, the Hui may have been farmers and estate laborers, but today they have begun to work more in commerce, industry, and the service sector. Nearly all Hui live in or around the cities and many work in restaurants, butcheries, industry, mining, and trade.
The life of the Hui generally revolves around the mosque and its activities. Malay law defines a Malay as "a person belonging to any Malay race who habitually speaks the Malay language and professes the Muslim religion." Even the bonds of common religion cannot stretch beyond certain limitations. In the case of the Chinese Muslims, their differences of origin persist. These differences are reinforced through their position in the economic structure and by the formal institution of the Chinese Muslim Association.
In general, the Hui are energetic, aggressive, self-confident, and very business-minded. They have certain customs which distinguish them from other Chinese populations in Malaysia. For example, they are forbidden to eat pork or the meat of horses, donkeys, mules, or any wild animal. Also, according to Muslim custom, Hui women are forbidden to marry non-Hui men; yet Hui men may marry non-Hui women who are willing to convert to Islamic practices. Family descent is traced through the father's line and families also are structured according the father's lineage.
Hui Hui in Trengganu
This is the story of the 7 Hui Hui (Chinese Muslim) who came from Guangdong and settled in Terengganu at the beginning of the 20th century, as told in the foreword of the family book published by the ‘Keluarga Al-Yunani’ (The Al-Yunani Family) in Terengganu. Keluarga Al-Yunani is a sort of a clan association of which today, Mohd. Yacob bin Hj. Abdullah is the Chairman, and Abdul Majid bin Hassan is the Secretary. The book gives an extensive picture of the family trees of the 7 Chinese Muslims of Hui descent who first settled down in Terengganu. First Musa Li [李務初], Ali Zhang bin Idris [張連福], and Abdullah Dong bin Sulaiman [董盛泉], and later his brother Daud Dong and Hassan Liu [劉] bin Salleh came to Terengganu during the reign of DYMM Sultan Zainal Abidin III (1881-1918). In the second or third decade of the 20th Century, two relatives of the Dong family, Muhammad Yussof Xiao [蕭] bin Salleh and Haji Ibrahim Fu [傅守志] bin Muhammad came to Terengganu and also settled down during the reign of DYMM Sultan Sulaiman Badrul Alam Syah (1921-1942).
he 7 Hui Hui mentioned at the start of this article came to Terengganu at the beginning of this century. Between the 7 of them, they had 52 children and hundreds of grand and great-grand children. Today there are the 4th generation for all families, and 5th generation for some. For Ali Idris Zhang’s family, there are even the 6th generation, as the pioneers who first came to Terengganu were Ali’s parents-in-law, Haji Mohammed Ali and wife Hajjah Maryam. The Al-Yunani family, as they are called, collectively number around 800 to 900 today. Many of them still live in Terengganu, and others have settled in various states in Malaysia, and overseas.
From these seven Hui Muslim ancestors, today there is this large Al-Yunani Family, related by blood and / or marriage, who wish to retain a common bond of kinship. This clan association and the book with names and addresses of the family members could materialize probably because there still are 5 or 6 people (out of the 52) from the second generation who are alive, and at least two are still active. From the third generation, amounting to more than 200, only a few have passed away until today. There are not many pure Chinese Muslim intermarriage among this third generation, which means that most have intermarried with Malays. But they still hear Chinese (mainly Cantonese) spoken by relatives of their parents’ generation, and they remember the Chinese grandparents. This means that they still have some kind of firsthand Chinese connection. Therefore the forming of this association, and the publishing of the Al-Yunani Family book. Looking at many of the 4th and 5th generations today, the common Chinese Muslim heritage may not be a bonding factor anymore, mainly because the children are not told much about it.
However for most of the families, assimilation with the Malays started as early as in the second generation. In fact, out of the 7 pioneers, Pak Musa, Pak Lah, and Pak Hassan had already married Malay women as second wives or when their Chinese wife had passed away. Mohd. Yusoff’s Chinese Muslim wife Aminah (Daud Dong’s daughter) married a Malay husband after her husband passed away. Among the second generation, of course many married Malays, and in many of these mixed families, Chinese language and culture immediately took a back seat. Many of them still spoke some Cantonese, their home dialect; but it was Malay that became the foremost communication language. Some of the children were taught Mandarin at home in the evenings, while going to Arab religious schools in the morning, and at the same time learning Malay and English as well. There were also children from the Yunnan families who attended the Chinese Primary Schools.
Tan Chee Beng describes the assimilation of these Hui Hui in these following steps:“Identification with the Malays is not merely because of the small size of the community. The absence of religious boundary ensures their greater interaction and eventual identification with the Malays who are Muslim too.” So, if at first “Islam and acculturation have pushed them toward identification with the Malays, yet they still know their Chinese origin.” Later, with “the loss of Chinese language, and not giving Chinese names to younger generation, …….. by the fourth generation, assimilation is almost complete.”18 If at first there were still some kind of acknowledgement that there is a common bond between these people resulting from a common origin different from the Malays, with each passing generation, “the increasing assimilation by the Malays is fast breaking the boundary.”
(Extract from Chinese Muslims in Malaysia, by by Rosey Wang Ma)
One of them is Muhammad Yussof Xiao [蕭] bin Salleh. There are 5 families descended from Yusoff Salleh Xiao. We did not know his name, his descents may not be using the surname of Xiao anymore like Hui Hui family in China; and may not even know the great great grandpa's actual name. Anyhow it is gland to know that he is from Xiao family.