Acculturation of Halal Food to Chinese Food Culture through the Ancient Silk Road and Hui Minority Nationality

Abdelhadi Halawa




This meta-analysis study examined the acculturation of halal food to the Chinese food culture. Acculturation is a sociocultural transition through which a group of people or an individual assimilates to a different dominant culture or a country by adopting a set of linguistic skills, social traits, and dietary practices of the host culture. Consuming halal food prepared according to certain Islamic regulations is a mandatory religious dietary obligation required of all Muslims irrespective of where they live or travel to. The word “halal food” in Arabic denotes food that is legal and permissible to consume. Among other dietary requirements, Islamic tenets require the consumption of meat obtained only from animals that have been slaughtered according to strict rules, prohibiting consuming porcine food products, meat from beasts, dead animal meat, animal blood, and any quantity of alcohol. Islam and halal food traditions were introduced to China in the early 7th century through the Central Asian, Arab, and Persian merchants, soldiers, and missionaries who trekked the treacherous ancient overland and maritime Silk Road trade routes. Throughout its history, China has been a non-Muslim country hitherto halal food practice has been securely acculturated and even has been flourishing as a seminal constituent of the contemporaneous Chinese food culture. This paper discusses the three key factors that have contributed to the effective acculturation of halal food to the Chinese food culture. First, the role of the Chinese Hui Minority Nationality that has been living, practicing Islam and halal food consumption uninterruptedly in China for nearly 14 centuries. Second, the existence of the ancient Silk Road that then served as a gateway to northwestern China for the migratory Muslim progenitors of the modern-day Hui people. Third, the open-mindedness of the Chinese people that enabled them to readily accept non-traditional Chinese food ingredient imports from foreign cultures, which has led to the relative facilitation of the natural acculturation of halal to the Chinese food culture. This paper further investigates the current economic impact of halal food on the burgeoning halal products market that has the potential of positioning China on the global halal food map as one of major producer and exporter in the international halal products economy that is valued at approximately $2.3 trillion.


Acculturation, Halal food, Islam in China, Silk Road, Chinese Hui Minority Nationality, Dietary practice.

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