Kashmiri Muslims

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Kashmiri Muslims are ethnic Muslims from the Kashmir Valley currently living in the Valley or those originally with Kashmiri kinship and descent living outside of Kashmir (mainly in Pakistani Punjab). This article does not include ethnic Punjabi/Pothwari/Pahari, Gilgiti, Balti or Ladakhi Muslims who have their own distinct cultures but are sometimes mistakenly lumped together with Kashmiris due to geographical proximity albeit separated by high mountain ranges from Kashmir Valley. Kashmiri Muslim culture has been deeply influenced by Central Asian Muslim traders on the ancient Silk Route of which Kashmir Valley was a tributary. Kashmiri language, or Kashur, belongs to the Dardic group and is the only Dardic language which has ancient script and is widely spoken.


Up to about the beginning of the 14th century, the population of the Kashmir Valley had been predominantly of various Indic (such as Hindus of various castes) Dardic (indigenous) races. In the 13th century, Muslims formed a significant proportion, and by the end of the 14th century, Islam became the dominant religion in Kashmir as most Kashmir indigenous population embraced Islam by the hand of great sufi preacher Mir Sayyid Ali Hamadani[1] The pandits or Hindu Brahmins made around 5% of the total population of Kashmir valley in 1940s[2] in Hindu or Buddist times, it now stands at 1-2% as they were forced to leave Kashmir after targetted violence against them[3][4] The current Muslim population of Kashmiri Muslims is an amalgamation of many of later arriving races from what is now Afghanistan that assimilated among the indigenous Muslim populations of Kashmir. Apart from higher castes, the menial and lower castes also exist in Kashmir and form considerable portion of Kashmiri Muslim population. The caste structure in Kashmiri Muslims in Kashmir Valley is the most similar to the one found in Pakistani Punjab, i.e. a combination of various higher, middle and lower castes are found in every village, town and city of Kashmir Valley.

Kashmiri clans or krams[edit]

The major tribes/castes of kashmiri muslims are Dar, Butt, Lone, Wani/Wain, Rathore, Malik, Khawaja, and Mir. However many other castes/tribes are also found among kashmiri muslims. A brief description of various castes/tribes of kashmiri muslims 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[5] 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.[6] 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) [7] so much so that just before the arrival of islam into kashmir valley around end of 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.


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 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).

Kashmiri Mir[edit]

Kashmiri Mir descendants from an Sufi linage Mir syed ali hamadani. Kashmiri Mir have various origins ranging from what is now Afghanistan, to Central Asia, they appeared in Kashmir only after the introduction of Islam and are principally an amalgamation of various Afghan and central Asian Muslim traders, craftsmen in Art and jewelry. Mir is quite numerous clan of kashmiri Muslims both in rural and urban areas of Kashmir Valley and Kashmiri origin Muslims in Punjab Pakistan.


Khawaja is a title that was awarded by mughal emperors to people. Often times Kashmiri tribe members of various clans would be given 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.[8] Taareekh Hassan and official reports by the census department from 1891 have mentioned Wains as belonging to the upper class of the Shaikh caste of Kashmir; they came from Persian Gulf for trade and business, they brought handicrafts and many other technical skills to Kashmir Valley. Wains are well respected and have one of the top pedigrees among tribes.[8] 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".[8]

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.[8]

In the census of 1911 the total population of this tribe (listed under the name Wani) in both provinces of the state of Kashmir, are reported to be 59,487. In the census of 1931 the population of this tribe is written (this time under the name Wain) as totaling 72,113 persons. Those Wain who live in villages are agriculturalists.[8]

People from this tribe who have moved to Punjab (most of whom call themselves Khawaja) have achieved great prosperity.[8]

Islamic schools of thought[edit]

Whilst Kashmiris have traditionally followed Sufi Islam brought to them by traders along the Silk route from Central Asia, Afghanistan and Pakhtunkhwa, there are also other minorities. The Altashi people are the Shia minority and it is thought that the mother of Ayatollah Khomeini was of Kashmiri Altashi descent. Many youth of Kashmir have recently turned to the Ahl-e Hadith group which is a group advocating a return to the basic and simple version of Islam followed by the earliest Muslims. It is not uncommon to find families with both Sufi and Ahl-e Hadith adherents. Although Kashmir is overwhelmingly a deeply religious and conservative society, there are also pockets of secular Muslims - mainly the "wealthy elite" and "neuveau riche" - but these people are generally unrepresentative of Kashmiri society.


Rathar is a Kashmiri butt tribe that traces its origins to Srinagar, Kashmir. Many have migrated to various parts of South Asia. It is held that Rathars 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.

Shoru clan[edit]

Shoru clan originally belongs to " Shoru " area in Balauchistan, Pakistan. People from Shoru migrated to Afghanistan where they were appointed as officials and tax collectors due to their high intellectual qualities. Many families from Afghanistan migrated to Kashmir and settled in Dalgate area of Srinagar where they named their neighborhood as " Shoorie mohalla ( local language) .

Descendants of saints[edit]

Some Muslims of Kashmir claim to be direct descendants of Sufi saints, mainly from the Middle East.

  • Shah - claim descent from the Middle East.
  • Mir - claim to be descendants from a Sufi linage.
  • Naqshbandi — claim to be descendants of Hazrat Khwaja Moin-Ud-Din Naqshbandi of Bukhara, of the Nashbandi Sufi Order.[9]
  • Bukhari — claim to be descendants of Hazrat Baha-ud-din Naqsband Bukhari of Bukhara, of the Naqshbandi Sufi order.[11]
  • 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-nur-ud-din Noorani of Kaimuh, of the Reshi Sufi order, commonly called Nund Reshi.[12]
  • Chisti.
  • lanker -claim to have descended from the sufi saint bul bul lanker.lanker clan has long served kashmiri people

via religious upliftment. islam in kashmir was brought by lankers.

  • Qadri and Jilani — claim descent of Hazrat Syed Moh-ud-din Abdul Qadir Jilani of Iraq, Ghaus-e-Azam, Peer-e-Peeran, Shah-e-Jilan known as Dastgeer Sahib in Kashmir.
  • Andrabi - claim to have Tajik origin, from what is now Afghanistan.


  1. ^ All history of kashmir
  2. ^ Zutshi 2003, p. 318 Quote: "Since a majority of the landlords were Hindu, the (land) reforms (of 1950) led to a mass exodus of Hindus from the state. ... The unsettled nature of Kashmir's accession to India, coupled with the threat of economic and social decline in the face of the land reforms, led to increasing insecurity among the Hindus in Jammu, and among Kashmiri Pandits, 20 per cent of whom had emigrated from the Valley by 1950."
  3. ^ http://www.ikashmir.net/atrocities/index.html
  4. ^ http://www.ikashmir.net/history/fundamentalism.html
  5. ^ Al- Hind: The slave kings and the Islamic conquest. 2, Volume 1: André Wink Published by BRILL, 1997, Page 238
  6. ^ Kashmir Under the Sultans: Mohibbul Hasan Published by Aakar Books, 1959, Page 73
  7. ^ History of the Panjab Hill States, Volume 1: John Hutchison, Jean Philippe Vogel Published by Asian Educational Services, 1933, Page 17
  8. ^ a b c d e f 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.
  9. ^ http://www.risingkashmir.in/news/hazrat-khwaja-moin-ud-din-naqshbandi-ra-19850.aspx
  10. ^ Kashmir: Sufis, Saints and Shrines. Koausa.org. Retrieved on 2013-07-12.
  11. ^ Sufism & Shrines in Kashmir. Kashmir GATEWAY (2009-08-22). Retrieved on 2013-07-12.
  12. ^ Gems of Kashmiri Literature and Kashmiriyat - Nund Reshi. Koausa.org. Retrieved on 2013-07-12.