The name associated with its earliest propagation in Kashmir is that of Bulbul Shah, who is said to have visited the tract first about 1310 AD. He was a widely travelled Syed from Turkistan who had a long stay at Baghdad and was a disciple of Shah Nizamatullah Farsi of the Suhrawardy school of Sufis. He had an enormous influence on the people among whom he worked and lived.
When Sahadeva, the last Hindu king fled the kingdom following the invasion of Gaddi tribesmen from across the Banihal Pass, his army commander, Ramchandra, defeated the marauding tribesmen but was assassinated by Rinchin. The latter was another adventurer from Ladakh who, seizing power, married Ramchandra's daughter, Kota Rani.
Rinchin was Lamist in religion but wanted to strengthen his position by adopting the religion of his new subjects and requested the religious head of the Shaivas to let him be submitted to the Hindu fold but he was curtly refused as the caste of his birth was not known.
In the early hours of the morning he heard the call of the muezzins and saw the devout Bulbul Shah at prayer. He asked to be admitted to his religion which was readily done and it was in this way that Rinchin became the first Muslim king of Kashmir and Islam became the state religion of Kashmir. But this hardly changed its political and cultural conditions, the administration remaining in the hands of the traditional official class (the Brahmins) and Sanskrit continuing to be the court language for about two centuries after the advent of Muslim rule and the medium of official communication.
Sultan Shahab-ud-din (1345-73) refused to melt the silver and copper idols of a Hindu temple for coinage. He held that as past generations had set up idols to obtain fame and earn merit, to demolish them would be a great crime. But there were religious zealots like Sultan Sikandar, Yaqub Shah Chak and a number of Mughal and Afghan governors, though their persecution of non-Muslims was resented by many local Muslims, who protected their compatriots.
Mughal rule, which brought peace and prosperity to Kashmir, completely crushed the martial qualities of the Kashmiris. The brief Afghan rule from 1753 to 1819 brought suppression and tyranny. The Sikhs, who succeeded were also hard and rough masters so were the Dogras who followed.
(Last Updated on : 08-04-2009)
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