Kashmiri Muslims

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Kashmiri Muslims are ethnic Kashmiris originating from the Kashmir Valley of Jammu and Kashmir or the erstwhile state of Kashmir. Presently Kashmiri Muslim population is predominalty found in Kashmir valley as well as significant population of Kashmiri origin in Chenab Valley of Jammu region with Kashmiri language being the main language in both these regions. Muslims of Kashmiri origin are also found in the upper region of Pakistani Punjab since their settlement there many generations back. This article does not include other ethnic groups of Kashmir such as the Pothwari/Pahari, Gilgiti, Balti or Ladakhi Muslims who have their own distinct identities. Kashmiri language, or Kashur, belongs to the Dardic group and is the only Dardic language which has ancient script and is widely spoken.


Prior to the introduction of Islam, Buddhism and Hinduism had been the main religions prevalent in Kashmir. Islam was first introduced in Kashmir by Syed Sharaf-ud-Din Abdur Rahman Suhrawardi popularly known as Bulbul Shah to common masses. He was an extensively travelled preacher and came to Kashmir during the reign of Raja Suhadeva (1301–20). Impressed by Bulbul Shah's simplicity and noble character, King Rinchan Shah the ruler of Kashmir accepted Islam and came to be known as Sultan Saddrudin Shah. He was the first Muslim ruler of Kashmir. Following Rinchan's conversion his brother-in-law who was the army commander in chief also became muslism. Subsequently according to some traditions ten thousand Kashmiris adopted Islam and hence the seeds of Islam in Kashmir were sown. The spread of Islam among Kashmiris was further boosted by arrival of a host of other Sayyids, most prominent among them being Sayyid Jalal-ud-Din, Sayyid Taj-ud-Din and Sayyid Hussain Simanani.[1][2] However the greatest missionary whose personality wielded the most extraordinary influence in the spread of Islam in Kashmir was Mir Sayyid Ali Hamadani of Hamadan (Persia) popularly known as Shah-i-Hamadan. He belonged to the Kubrawi order of Sufis and came to Kashmir along with seven hundred disciples and helpers. His emphasis was on the Islamization of royal family and the court as a pre-requisite for Islamizing people. This was an important modus operandi adopted by Syed Ali and his deciples. He was of the firm belief that the common masses followed the conduct and culture of their rulers. His disciples established shrines with lodging and langar at many places in Kashmir which served as centres for propagation of Islam. His preaching resulted in a colossal number of Kashmiri people and priestly Hindu gurus along with thousands of their followers converting to Islam which became the vastly dominant religion of the Kashmiri masses by the fourteenth century. Mir Sayyid Ali Hamadani's impact in Kashmir was not only confined to religion but had a great say on culture, industry and economy of Kashmir. Spread of shawl making, carpet manufacturing, cloth weaving, etc. gained great prominence by his efforts.[3]

Khanqah-e-Moula - one of the oldest masjid in Kashmir dedicated to Mir Syed Ali Hamdani.

Kashmiri clans or krams[edit]

The major clans of kashmiri Muslims are Dar, Butt, Lone, Kakro, Chak, Wani/Wain and Mir. However many other clans (and surnames) are also found among kashmiri Muslims. A brief description of these clans is given in the following text.


Dar is a Kashmiri Muslim tribe of land cultivators and farmers in rural Kashmir. They are by far the largest tribe (46%) of Kashmiri Muslims and are predominantly derived from indigenous dardic population of Kashmir. It is believed that Dar is modified form of Damara the pre-Islamic powerful feudal chiefs of rural kashmir who although were cultivators but also used to carry arms[4] and frequently engaged in local warfare and were difficult subjects to control for the ruling kings in srinagar. This is reinforced by the fact that a pre-Islamic influential kashmiri damara chief Chandra Damara was also mentioned as Chandra Dar in history books.[5] Many powerful agricultural clans of kashmir rose to the status of the Damaras at various times in the history of kashmir, however in later periods most of the Damaras (modern dar) of kashmir were predominantly derived from ancient kashmiri tribe of lavanya (modern Lone) [6] so much so that just before the arrival of Islam into kashmir valley around end of the 13th century the damara (dar) status had become synonymous with the lavanya tribe. In modern times they are also found in the urban areas of Kashmir due to increased mobility and declining prospects from agrarian economy. Dar clan has its presence in Pakistan also especially in Punjab. Aleem Dar is a prominent Dar living in Jhang Pakistan.


Lone is the indigenous Kashmiri dardic tribe that migrated from Chilas to Kupwara and Baramulla district in Kashmir in ancient times where they are a major tribe. Due to increased mobility in modern times, many lones are also found in various other cities of Kashmir Valley. Some sections of lone tribe still continue to speak their ancestral shina language (which is closely related to Kashmiri language) in regions bordering shina speaking areas such as Gurais valley.


Butt (Kashmiri surname) is a common surname used in Kashmir Valley. In Pakistani Punjab, the local Punjabis use "Butt" as a collective term to refer to the huge community of Kashmiri settlers who are actually of diverse origin - e.g. Dar, Lone, Mir, Sheikh etc. (in a similar vein to using "Khan" for all Pashtuns). In Kashmir itself, Bhat or Bhatt is generally used. Bhat, But or Butt are shortened forms of Bhatt or Bhatta, meaning scholar in Sanskrit.


Khawaja is a title that was awarded by mughal emperors to some families in kashmir, many such families have retained this title.

Kashmiri Sheikh[edit]

Kashmiri sheiks may be converts from Brahmin and khatri sections residing in Kashmir Valley.


Main article: Malik clan (Kashmir)

The Malik tribe are mostly descendants of the small Rajput section of Kashmir, all of whom have long since embraced Islam.

Wain or Wani[edit]

Wain and Wani are actually the same name and they have the same source. Those who came to be known as Wani in the beginning, their offspring are now known as Wani; similarly those were known as Wain from the start, their offspring are known as Wain (pronounced like "wine" except with a nasal "n", without touching the palette with the tongue). Whether Wani came from Wain, or Wain came from Wani ... It is difficult to accurately say anything about this issue. But the popular theory is that Wain is the original name, and Wani is a distorted form of it.[7]

Wain or Wani are extracts from some Hindu tribe. There are many different traditions about which tribe they come from, but all historians agree that before accepting Islam they were part of the Hindu caste known as Waish. In fact, some people think that the word Wain comes from Waish. Waish is the merchant caste among Hindus. Even after accepting Islam, Wains and Wanis have kept trade and commerce as the source of their livelihood. These people can get involved with the largest to the smallest trade. Perhaps it is for this reason that the census report of 1891, on page 167, says about them, "Wains and Wanis are the merchants of Kashmir and Laddakh".[7]

The Wain tribe is divided into many castes, such as the Tal-Wain (those who sell oil), Pui-Wain, Baand-Wain, Bas-Wain, Tarangar-Wain, Kakar-Wain, and Par-Wain. Due to the adoption of different trades by different clans, various branches of the tribe have come into existence.[7]

People from this tribe who have moved to Punjab (most of whom call themselves Khawaja) have achieved great prosperity.[7]


There is some doubt as to the origin of the Tsak of Chak tribe, which played so prominent a part in the history of Kashmir in the sixteenth century, and it is believed that they were not descendants of the Kashmir Hindus but Musalman Dards from Chilas. There are many families in the valley of the Tsak Kram, but they are in no way distinguished from the other Musalmans.


The Kakru families, who are settled in Baramula, are said to be descendants of the Ghakkar tribe, and like the Tsak have no connection with the original Hindus of Kashmir. Kakroo’s are Gakhars and their ancestor, Kaid Raj ruled over Punjab for 43 years in 390 BC before the invasion of Alexander, the great.


Rather is a Kashmiri kaqazghar (Paper Makers) tribe or other tribes that traces its origins to Srinagar, Kashmir. Many have migrated to various parts of South Asia. It is held that Rathers originated from Rathore- the descendents of Rathore rajputs Jai chand Rathore etc. Rathore who dwell in Kashmir are called Rathers while those outside Kashmir are Rathores, whether Mulsims or Hindus . There is enough population of Rathores in Kashmir.

Descendants of saints[edit]

Some Muslims of Kashmir claim to be direct descendants of Sufi saints.

  • Naqshbandi — claim to be descendants of Moinuddin Naqshbandi of Bukhara, of the Nashbandi Sufi Order.[8]
  • Makhdoomi — claim to be descendants of Hamza Makhdoom of tujar.[9]
  • Bukhari — claim to be descendants of Bahauddin Naqshband of Bukhara, of the Naqshbandi Sufi order.[10]
  • Kakaus - claim to be descendants of the village head of kakaus. This tribe has descended from a small village near Jammu.
  • Reshi — claim to be descendants of Sheikh Noor-ud-din Wali, of the Reshi Sufi order, commonly called Nund Reshi.[11]
  • Jilani — claim descent of Abdul Qadir Jilani of Iraq, known as Dastgeer Sahib in Kashmir.


  1. ^ http://www.islamicity.com/articles/printarticles.asp?ref=IC1202-5019&p=2
  2. ^ http://www.kashmirgateway.com/sufism-shrines/index.html
  3. ^ http://www.kashmirfirst.com/articles/history/070520_shah-i-hamadan.htm
  4. ^ Al- Hind: The slave kings and the Islamic conquest. 2, Volume 1: André Wink Published by BRILL, 1997, Page 238
  5. ^ Kashmir Under the Sultans: Mohibbul Hasan Published by Aakar Books, 1959, Page 73
  6. ^ History of the Panjab Hill States, Volume 1: John Hutchison, Jean Philippe Vogel Published by Asian Educational Services, 1933, Page 17
  7. ^ a b c d http://genforum.genealogy.com/wain/messages/15.html citing Tawaareekh Aqwaam e Kashmir {Histories of the Tribes of Kashmir}, vol. 1, by Muhammad Deen Fauq, written in 1934; Published 2003 by Nigarshat, 24 Muzang Road, Lahore, Pakistan, pages 259 to 260.
  8. ^ http://www.risingkashmir.in/news/hazrat-khwaja-moin-ud-din-naqshbandi-ra-19850.aspx
  9. ^ Kashmir: Sufis, Saints and Shrines. Koausa.org. Retrieved on 2013-07-12.
  10. ^ Sufism & Shrines in Kashmir. Kashmir Gateway (2009-08-22). Retrieved on 2013-07-12.
  11. ^ Gems of Kashmiri Literature and Kashmiriyat - Nund Reshi. Koausa.org. Retrieved on 2013-07-12.