Tibetan Muslims

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Lhasa Great Mosque Lhasa mosque.JPG
Lhasa Great Mosque

Tibetan Muslims, also known as the Kachee (Tibetan : ཁ་ཆེ་, Wylie : kha-che; also spelled Kache), form a small minority in Tibet. Despite being Muslim, they are officially recognized as Tibetans by the government of the People's Republic of China, unlike the Hui Muslims, who are separately recognized. The Tibetan word Kachee literally means Kashmiri and Kashmir was known as Kachee Yul (Yul means Country).

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History

Entrance to the old mosque in Lhasa (1993) Entrance to old mosque in Lhasa - 1993.jpg
Entrance to the old mosque in Lhasa (1993)

The first contacts with Tibet and the Islamic world began around the mid-eighth century when it grew out of a combination of trade via the Silk Road and the military presence of Muslim forces in the Fergana Valley. Despite the vague knowledge the Islamic world had about Tibet, there were a few early Islamic works that mention Tibet. One such source is from a work authored by Abu Sa'id Gardezi titled Zayn al-Akhbar. In it, the work mentions the environment, fantastical origin of the Tibetans (through the Himyarites), the divinity of the king, major resources (like musk) and a description of the trade routes to and from Tibet. Another source, Hudud al-'Alam (The Regions of the World) written by an unknown author in 982 or 983 in Afghanistan, contains mainly geography, politics and brief descriptions of Tibetan regions, cities, towns and other localities. This source has the first direct mention of the presence of Muslims in Tibet by stating that Lhasa had one mosque and a small Muslim population. [1]

During the reign of Sadnalegs (799-815), there was a protracted war against Arab powers to the West. It appears that Tibetans captured a number of Arab troops and pressed them into service on the eastern frontier in 801. Tibetans were active as far west as Samarkand and Kabul. Arab forces began to gain the upper hand, and the Tibetan governor of Kabul submitted to the Arabs and became a Muslim about 812 or 815 [2]

Extensive trade with Kashmir, Ladakh, and Baltistan also brought Muslims to Tibet especially after the adoption or growing presence of Islam in these regions starting from the fourteenth century. The ongoing growth of Muslims continued as an affect of the Tibetan-Ladakhi treaty of 1684 in which the Tibetan government allowed trade missions from Ladakh to enter Lhasa every three years. Many Kashmiri and Ladakhi Muslims joined these missions with some settling in Tibet. [3]

During the reign of the Dalai Lama Ngawang Lobsang Gyatso (1617-1682), a permanent Muslim community settled down in Tibet. They were permitted to elect their own council of representatives, settle their group's legal disputes with Islamic law, and some land was donated to them for the construction of a mosque close to Lhasa. [4]

An influx of Kashmiri Muslims in Nepal (originally having trade contacts with their kin in Tibet) fled to Tibet starting from 1769 as a consequence of the invasion of the Kathmandu Valley by Prithvi Narayan Shah. As early as the seventeenth century, Ningxia and other northwestern Hui (Chinese Muslims) began to settle in the eastern regions of Tibet (like in Amdo). They intermarried with the local Tibetans and continued to have to extensive trade contacts with other Muslims inside China. [3]

Another recent wave of new Muslim settlers began after the Dogra conquest of Tibet in 1841. Many Kashmiri and Ladakhi Muslim troops (who were taken as prisoners when fighting against the Dogra army) stayed behind to settle in Tibet. A few Hindu Dogras also settled in Tibet and subsequently converted to Islam. [3]

After the Chinese conquest of Tibet in 1950, the Tibetan Muslims faced brutal persecution just like their Buddhist brethren. Since then, Chinese Muslims (along with the Han and others) have settled in Tibet. [3] The Chinese government classified the Tibetan Muslims as Hui. However, the Tibetan Muslims are often called Zang Hui (Tibetan Hui) as they speak Tibetan and have a material culture almost identical to their Buddhist counterparts. The Tibetan Hui in Lhasa (unlike other Tibetan Muslims living elsewhere) consider themselves to be very different from the Chinese Muslims and sometimes marry with other Tibetans (including Buddhist) instead of their fellow Muslims from China. [5]

Question of citizenship

In 1959, Prime Minister Jawaharlal Nehru had come to the conclusion that the Barkor Khache were Indian citizens. [6] The first letter written by the Barkor Khache community in Lhasa was to Tibetan Muslims in Kalimpong in 1959: [6]

It is vitally important for us to let you know that the Chinese Government, after the recent trouble in Lhasa, has threateningly asked us about our ancestry. In reply we declared ourselves with cogent evidence as Kashmiris and subjects of India. The Chinese Government is trying its best to subjugate us and make us Chinese Nationals.

After the 1959 Tibetan uprising, the state government of Jammu and Kashmir granted permanent resident/state subject status to Tibetan Muslim refugees. Voting rights for the Jammu and Kashmir legislative assembly were also granted by the government. [7] [8]

Converts in Qinghai

Islam was spread by the Salar people to the formerly Buddhist Kargan Tibetans in Lamo-shan-ken. [9] [10] Some Tibetans in Qinghai who converted to Islam are now considered Hui people. [11] [12]

Balti people

The Balti people of Baltistan in Pakistan and Kargil in India are descendants of Tibetan Buddhists who converted to the Noorbakshia sect of Islam. With the passage of time a large number converted to Shia Islam, and a few converted to Sunni Islam. Their Balti language is highly archaic and conservative and closer to Classical Tibetan than other Tibetan languages.

See also

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Ladakh Union territory of India

Ladakh is a region administered by India as a union territory, and constituting a part of the larger Kashmir region, which has been the subject of dispute between India, Pakistan, and China since 1947. It is bordered by the Tibet Autonomous Region to the east, the Indian state of Himachal Pradesh to the south, both the Indian union territory of Jammu and Kashmir and the Pakistan-administered Gilgit-Baltistan to the west, and the southwest corner of Xinjiang across the Karakoram Pass in the far north. It extends from the Siachen Glacier in the Karakoram range to the north to the main Great Himalayas to the south. The eastern end, consisting of the uninhabited Aksai Chin plains, is claimed by the Indian Government as part of Ladakh, and has been under Chinese control since 1962. Until 2019, Ladakh was a region of the state of Jammu and Kashmir. In August 2019, the Parliament of India passed an act by which Ladakh became a union territory on 31 October 2019.

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Maryul Medieval kingdom in West Tibet

Maryul of Ngari, or the Kingdom of Ladakh, was a west Tibetan kingdom based in modern-day Ladakh and Tibet Autonomous Region. The Maryul kingdom was based in Shey and evolved into the modern Ladakh.

Nepalese Muslims are people residing in Nepal who follow the religion of Islam. Their ancestors arrived in Nepal from different parts of South Asia, Central Asia and Tibet during different epochs, and have since lived amidst the numerically dominant Hindus and Buddhists. About 97% of the Muslim community live in the Terai region, while the other 4% are found mainly in the city of Kathmandu and Gorkha and the western hills. The community numbers 971,056, about 5% of the total population of Nepal. Districts with large Muslim population include Sarlahi (9.9%), Rautahat (17.2%), Bara (11.9%), and Parsa (17.3%) in the central Terai region bordering the Indian state of Bihar, Kapilbastu (16.8%) and Banke (16%) in the western Terai and Siraha (7%) and Sunsari (10%) and Saptari (10%) eastern Terai Gorkha (2.8%) hill.

History of Gilgit-Baltistan

Gilgit Baltistan is an administrative territory of Pakistan, disputed by India that borders the province of Khyber Pakhtunkhwa to the west, Azad Kashmir to the southwest, Wakhan Corridor of Afghanistan to the northwest, the Xinjiang Uyghur Autonomous Region of China to the north, and the Indian administrated region of Jammu and Kashmir to the south and southeast.

Dogra–Tibetan War

The Dogra–Tibetan War or Sino-Sikh War was fought from May 1841 to August 1842, between the forces of the Dogra nobleman Gulab Singh of Jammu, under the suzerainty of the Sikh Empire, and Tibet under the suzerainty of Qing China. Gulab Singh's commander was the able general Zorawar Singh Kahluria, who, after the conquest of Ladakh, attempted to extend its boundaries in order to control the trade routes into Ladakh. Zorawar Singh's campaign, suffering from the effects of inclement weather, suffered a defeat at Minsar and Singh was killed. The Tibetans then advanced on Ladakh. Gulab Singh sent reinforcements under the command of his nephew Jawahir Singh. A subsequent battle near Leh in 1842 led to a Tibetan defeat. The Treaty of Chushul was signed in 1842 maintaining the status quo ante bellum.

The Tibet–Ladakh–Mughal War of 1679–84 was fought between the Central Tibetan Ganden Phodrang government, with the assistance of Mongol khanates, and the Namgyal dynasty of Ladakh with assistance from the Mughal Empire in Kashmir.

India–Tibet relations

India–Tibet relations are said to have begun during the spread of Buddhism to Tibet from India during the 7th and 8th centuries AD. In 1959, the Dalai Lama fled to India after the failed 1959 Tibetan uprising. Since then, Tibetans-in-exile have been given asylum in India, with the Indian government accommodating them into 45 residential settlements across 10 states in the country. From around 150,000 Tibetan refugees in 2011, the number fell to 85,000 in 2018, according to government data. Many Tibetans are now leaving India to go back to Tibet and other countries such as United States or Germany. The Government of India, soon after India's independence in 1947, treated Tibet as a de facto independent country. However, more recently India's policy on Tibet has been mindful of Chinese sensibilities, and has recognized Tibet as a part of China.

The Ladakh Chronicles, or La-dvags-rgyal-rabs, is a historical work that covers the history of Ladakh from the beginnings of the first Tibetan dynasty of Ladakh until the end of the Namgyal dynasty. The chronicles were compiled by the Namgyal dynasty, mostly during the 17th century, and are considered to be the main written source for Ladakhi history.

References

Citations

  1. Schaeffer, Kurtis; Kapstein, Matthew; Tuttle, Gray (2013). Sources of Tibetan Tradition. New York: Columbia University Press. pp. 24–29. ISBN   978-0-231-13599-3.
  2. Beckwith, Christopher I. The Tibetan Empire in Central Asia. A History of the Struggle for Great Power among Tibetans, Turks, Arabs, and Chinese during the Early Middle Ages, 1987, Princeton: Princeton University Press. ISBN   0-691-02469-3, p. 14, 48, 50.
  3. 1 2 3 4 Berzin, Alexander. "History of the Muslims of Tibet". studybuddhism.com. Retrieved 22 October 2019.
  4. Schaik van, Sam (2011). Tibet: A History. New Haven: Yale University Press. p. 128. ISBN   9780300194104.
  5. Gladney, Dru (1996). Muslim Chinese: Ethnic Nationalism in the People's Republic (2 ed.). Cambridge: Harvard University Press. pp. 33, 34, 36. ISBN   0-674-59497-5.
  6. 1 2 Atwill, David G. (2018), "The Tibetan Muslim Incident of 1960", Islamic Shangri-La, Inter-Asian Relations and Lhasa's Muslim Communities, 1600 to 1960 (1 ed.), University of California Press, pp. 103–104, ISBN   978-0-520-29973-3, JSTOR   j.ctv941r61.9 , retrieved 2020-09-21
  7. "Full text of document on govt.'s rationale behind removal of special status to J&K". thehindu.com. The Hindu. 6 August 2019. Retrieved 10 November 2020. Ironically, the Muslim refugees from Xinjiang and Tibet, who had migrated to Kashmir following the Chinese occupation of their countries in 1949 and 1959, respectively, have been granted “state subject” status, along with voting rights in the Assembly by the J&K government.
  8. Singh Chauhan, Advocate, Dinesh. "Article 35-A Biggest Fraud on Constitution of India". legalserviceindia.com. Legal Service India. Retrieved 10 November 2020. The Muslim refugees from Xinjiang and Tibet, who had migrated to Kashmir following the Chinese occupation of their countries in 1949 and 1959, respectively, have been granted state subject status, along with voting rights in the Assembly by the J&K Government.
  9. The Geographical Journal. Royal Geographical Society. 1894. pp. 362–.
  10. The Geographical Journal. Royal Geographical Society. 1894. pp. 362–.
  11. 樊, 前锋 (2008-06-18). "青海,那些说藏语的回族乡亲". 中国民俗网.
  12. "青海,那些讲藏话的回回". 宁夏新闻网. 2008-06-19.

Sources

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  • Sheikh, Abdul Ghani. (1991). "Tibetan Muslims." The Tibet Journal. Vol. XVI, No. 4. Winter, 1991, pp. 86–89.
  • Siddiqui, Ataullah. (1991). "Muslims of Tibet." The Tibet Journal. Vol. XVI, No. 4. Winter, 1991, pp. 71–85.