"Huihui" and "Hui"
The words 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 foreigners, regardless of language or origin, by the time of the Yuan (1271–1368) and Ming Dynasties (1368–1644), since during the Yuan Dynasty massive amounts of Muslims came from the west, since the Uyghur land was in the west, this led the Chinese to call all foreigners of all religions, Muslims, Nestorian Christians, and Jews as "HuiHui".
Among all the alien peoples only the Hui-hui say “we do not eat Mongol food”. “By the aid of heaven we have pacified you; you are our slaves. Yet you do not eat our food or drink. How can this be right?” He thereupon made them eat. “If you slaughter sheep, you will be considered guilty of a crime.” He issued a regulation to that effect ... all the Muslims say: “if someone else slaughters we do not eat”. Because the poor people are upset by this, from now on, Musuluman Huihui and Zhuhu Huihui, no matter who kills will eat and must cease slaughtering sheep themselves, and cease the rite of circumcision.
The Chinese called Muslims, Jews, and Christians in ancient times by the same name, "Hui Hui" (Hwuy-hwuy). Crossworshipers (Christians) were called "Hwuy who abstain from animals without the cloven foot", Muslims were called "Hwuy who abstain from pork", Jews were called "Hwuy who extract the sinews". Hwuy-tsze (Hui zi) or Hwuy-hwuy (Hui Hui) is presently used almost exclusively for Muslims, but Jews were still called Lan Maou Hwuy tsze (Lan mao Hui zi) which means "Blue cap Hui zi". At Kaifeng, Jews were called "Teaou kin keaou "extract sinew religion". Jews and Muslims in China shared the same name for synagogue and mosque, which were both called "Tsing-chin sze" (Qingzhen si) "Temple of Purity and Truth", the name dated to the thirteenth century. The synagogue and mosques were also known as Le-pae sze (Libai si). A tablet indicated that Judaism was once known as "Yih-tsze-lo-nee-keaou" (Israelitish religion) and synagogues known as Yih-tsze lo née leen (Israelitish Temple), but it faded out of use.
Islam was originally called Dashi Jiao during the Tang Dynasty, when Muslims first appeared in China. "Dashi Fa" literally means "Arab law", in old Chinese (modern Arabs are called alabo). Since almost all Muslims in China were exclusively foreign Arabs or Persians at the time, it was barely mentioned by the Chinese, unlike other religions like Zoroastrism, Mazdaism, and Nestorian Christianity which gained followings in China. As an influx of foreigners, such as Arabs, Persians, Jews, and Christians, most of them, but not all of them were Muslims who came from western regions, they were labelled as Semu people, but were also mistaken by Chinese as Uyghur, due to them coming from the west (uyghur lands). so the name "Hui Hui" was applied to them, and eventually became the name to refer to Muslims.
Another, probably unrelated, early use of the word Huihui comes from the History of Liao Dyansty, which mentions Yelü Dashi, the 12th-century founder of the Kara-Khitan Khanate, defeating the Huihui Dashibu (回回大食部) people near Samarkand – apparently, referring to his defeat of the Khwarazm ruler Ahmed Sanjar in 1141. Khwarazm is referred to as Huihuiguo in the Secret History of the Mongols as well. The widespread and rather generic application of the name "Huihui" in Ming China was attested by foreign visitors as well. Matteo Ricci, the first Jesuit to reach Beijing (1598), noted that "Saracens are everywhere in evidence . . . their thousands of families are scattered about in nearly every province" Ricci noted that the term Huihui or Hui was applied by Chinese not only to "Saracens" (Muslims) but also to Chinese Jews and supposedly even to Christians. In fact, when the reclusive Wanli Emperor first saw a picture of Ricci and Diego de Pantoja, he supposedly exclaimed, "Hoei, hoei. It is quite evident that they are Saracens", and had to be told by an eunuch that they actually weren't, "because they ate pork". The 1916 Encyclopædia of religion and ethics, Volume 8 said that Chinese Muslims always called themselves Huihui or Huizi, and that neither themselves nor other people called themselves Han, and they disliked people calling them Dungan. A French army Commandant Viscount D'Ollone wrote a report on what he saw among Hui in 1910, during the Qing Dynasty, he reported that due to religion, Hui were classed as a different nationality from Han as if they were one of the other minority groups like Miao.
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 (漢回) ("Chinese Hui") for the (presumably Chinese-speaking) Muslims more assimilated into the Chinese mainstream society. Some scholars also say that some Hui used to call themselves 回漢子 (Hui Hanzi) "Muslim Han" but now the Communist regime has separated them from other Chinese and placed them into a separate minzu, "Huizu".
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 Nationalist government had recognised all Muslims as one of "the five peoples"—alongside the Manchus, Mongols, Tibetans and Han Chinese—that constituted the Republic of China. The new Communist interpretation of Chinese Muslim ethnicity marked a clear departure from the ethno-religious policies of the Nationalists, and had emerged as a result of the pragmatic application of Stalinist ethnic theory to the conditions of the Chinese revolution.
These days, within the PRC, Huizu and is the standard term for the "Hui nationality" (ethnic group), and Huimin, for "Hui people" or "a Hui person". The traditional expression Huihui, its use now largely restricted to rural areas, would sound quaint, if not outright demeaning, to modern urban Chinese Muslims.
A traditional Chinese term for Islam is 回教 (pinyin: Huíjiào, literally "the religion of the Hui"). However, since the early days of the PRC, thanks to the arguments of such Marxist Hui scholars as Bai Shouyi, the standard term for "Islam" within the PRC has become the transliteration 伊斯蘭教 (pinyin: 'Yīsīlán jiào, literally "Islam religion"). The more traditional term Huijiao remains in use in Singapore, Taiwan, and other overseas Chinese communities.
Qīngzhēn (清真, literally "pure and true") has also been a popular term for the things Muslim since the Yuan or Ming Dynasty. Dru Gladney suggests that a good translation for it would be Arabic tahára. i.e. "ritual or moral purity" The usual term for a mosque is qīngzhēn sì (清真寺), i.e. "true and pure temple", and qīngzhēn is commonly used to refer to halal eating establishments and bathhouses.