Menhuan (simplified Chinese: 门宦; traditional Chinese: 門宦; pinyin: Ménhuàn) is a term used by Chinese-speaking Muslims for a Chinese-style Sufi order. The leaders of a menhuan over the ages form a chain of spiritual succession, known in Arabic as silsilah, which goes back to the order's founder in China (e.g., Ma Laichi or Ma Mingxin), and beyond, toward his teachers in Arabia.
Origin of the term
The term menhuan itself is of comparatively recent origin: according to Ma Tong (1983), it was first attested in an essay by the Hezhou Prefecture Magistrate Yang Zengxin dated 1897. It has been suggested by Chinese researchers that it has developed from menfa (门阀), meaning "powerful and influential family", or menhu (门户), which has been used in the Northwestern China to mean "gateway" or "faction".
- Michael Dillon (1999). China's Muslim Hui community: migration, settlement and sects. Routledge. pp. 113–114. ISBN 0-7007-1026-4. One of Dillon's main sources is: 馬通 ( Ma Tong) (1983). 中国伊斯兰教派与门宦制度史略 (Zhongguo Yisilan jiaopai yu menhuan zhidu shilue) (A sketch of the history of Chinese Islamic sects and the menhuan system). Yinchuan: 宁夏人民出版社 (Ningxia Renmin Chubanshe).