chapter  3
Settling in China: The Hui during the Ming Dynasty
Pages 16

The Ming ruling house (1368-1644) is viewed by many Chinese historians as one of the greatest dynasties in China's history. This is because it apparently marked the re-emergence of Chinese cultural supremacy after a period of almost a century under Mongol rule. It is, therefore, usually designated as a Chinese dynasty in contrast to the Mongol Yuan dynasty that preceded it and the Manchu Qing that followed, which are both labelled as foreign conquest dynasties. For the nation as a whole, the reality was far more complicated than this, and the history of all three of the dynasties is the history of other ethnic groups as well as that of the majority Han. In the history of Muslim communities in China, the Ming dynasty was a crucial turning point. During the Ming dynasty Muslims gradually became an ethnic minority permanently settled in China rather than an immigrant community looking towards Central Asia as their homeland. In Donald Leslie's words, they 'changed from being "Muslims in China" to "Chinese Muslims" '.1 Muslim communities continued to spread throughout the country as they had during the Yuan, and it is possible to detect during this period the emergence of a distinctive culture, a culture that was not just a transfer of Persian or Central Asian culture and yet was distinct from Han Chinese culture. From this time onwards it is possible to speak of a group of Muslim Chinese with common bonds who can be called the Hui.