Kashmiri Muslims

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Jump to: navigation, search

Kashmiri Muslims are ethnic Kashmiris living in the Kashmir Valley. They refer to themselves as "Kashur" in their mother language. Presently the Kashmiri Muslim population is predominantly found in Kashmir valley along with a significant population of Kashmiris in the Chenab valley region, which comprises the Doda, Ramban and Kishtwar districts of Jammu. The Kashmiri language is the main language in both these regions. Smaller Kashmiri communities also live in other regions of the Jammu and Kashmir state. This article does not include other ethnic groups of the former princely state of Jammu & 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 most widely spoken dardic language.[1][2]

Srinagar Khanqah - one of the oldest masjid in Kashmir.


Buddhism, Hinduism and Animistic type religions had been prevalent in Kashmir at various points of time. Islam started making inroads in the 12th and 13th centuries. The earliest copy of Quran in Kashmir dates back to 1237 AD and was calligraphed by Fateh Ullah Kashmiri who is believed to be a then Kashmiri Islamic scholar.[3] The first Muslim missionary in Kashmir was 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 Muslim. In 1339 Kashmir throne was captured by Sultan Shahmir who founded Shahmiri dynasty in Kashmir. 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.[4] 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 priests of the aforementioned religions 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.[5][6]