History of Kashmiri Muslim Community
The earliest history of the Kashmiri Muslim community can be traced back to the 13th and 14th centuries. About 2000 years ago or more, Kashmir was a great centre of Buddhism and some famous Buddhist councils were held there. From then onwards it continued to be one of the principal centres of Sanskrit learning. Arab and Persian influences first affected Kashmir nearly 1000 years ago and later, Persian became the official language. The influence and teachings of Islam had penetrated the valley long before a Muslim king ascended the throne in the 14th century. The advent of Islam during the 13th and the 14th centuries surely but slowly changed the social structure of the Kashmiris, though they maintained their traditions of love and tolerance.
Society of Kashmiri Muslim Community
With the coming of Islam, the social set up of the Kashmiris underwent a sea of change. The inter-marriage among the low caste is still a taboo. There is, however, a sort of caste system prevalent, in as much as the members of one profession prefer to marry their sons and daughters among the followers of a similar profession.
The dress of the Kashmiri Muslims comprises of a long loose smock worn over salwar, by both men and women. Women wear a skull-cap surrounded by a fillet of red and a shawl or white chuddar thrown over the head and shoulders. Men wear turbans as a sign of status and affluence.
Krams of Kashmiri Muslim Community
The old krams or nicknames of Pandit, Bhat, Dar, etc. are, however, still retained and new ones also added by reason of the special calling of the head of the family or any of his ancestors or because of such peculiar circumstances which may have occurred to him.
The Sheikhs, Sayyids and Pirzadas are still considered to be krams of respectability among the Muslims. Mullahs or priests, though not numerous, are a class by themselves and every village has got a family or two to minister to the religious needs of the people and to officiate at the birth, marriage or death ceremonies. Recently they have taken to agriculture as well, but otherwise they live by the free gifts of grains bestowed on them by the villagers at harvest time.
Sects within Kashmiri Muslim Community
The Muslim population of Kashmir is divided into the Sunni sect and the Shia sect, the former being in an overriding majority. In certain Tehsils and villages there is, however, a concentration of Shias. They have monopolised the papier mache trade and during the hey-day of the shawl industry they were the proprietors of shawl factories. Since there was an unbalanced economy between the shawl weavers who were generally Sunnis and the capitalists, numerous Shia-Sunni riots took place then, the interested parties lending a religious tinge to these.