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24 I SPECIAL FEATURE Passion Islam I February 2009
in Tibet
Tibetan mosque in LhasaThe Tibetan
Muslims, also known as the Kachee
(Kache), form a small minority in
Tibet. Despite being Muslim, they are
classified as Tibetans, unlike the Hui
Muslims, who are also known as the
Kyangsha or Gya Kachee (Chinese
Muslims). The Tibetan word Kachee
literally means Kashmiri and Kashmir
was known as Kachee Yul (Yul =
Owing to their small population,
the Tibetan Muslims are scattered
throughout Tibet, much of whom can be
found in Lhasa and Shigatse. If those
not living in the Tibet Autonomous
Region are not excluded, ethnic
groups such as the Balti and Burig,
who are also of Tibetan origin and
consider themselves to be ethnically
Tibetan, are Muslims as well. These
groups, however, are predominantly
retaining Persian or Urdu surnames. Kashmiris, and thus Indian citizens,
found in the Indian-controlled
However, this is not as common as unlike the other Tibetan refugees, who
Ladakh and the Pakistani-controlled
those among the Burig and Balti. In carry Refugee Satus Certificates.
Baltistan or Baltiyul as the natives call
it, youngster Muslims have started History
naming themselves in local Tibetan The appearance of the first Muslims
Generally speaking, the Tibetan
language like Ali Tsering, Sengge in Tibet has been lost in the mists of
Muslims are unique in the fact that
Thsering, Wangchen, Namgyal, time, although variants of the names
they are largely of Kashmiri and
Shesrab, Mutik, Mayoor, Gyalmo, of Tibet can be found in Arabic history
Persian/Arab/Turkic descent through
Odzer, Lobsang, Odchen, Rinchen, books.
the patrilineal lineage and also often
Anchan, and so forth. Among During the reign of the Ummayad
descendants of native Tibetans
Khaches, although the majority uses Caliph Umar bin Abdul Aziz, a
through the matrilineal lineage,
Tibetan for daily communication, delegation from Tibet and China
although the reverse is not uncommon.
Urdu or Arabic are used for religious requested him to send Islamic
Thus, many of them display a mixture
services. missionaries to their countries, and
of Aryan and indigenous Tibetan
After the Chinese invasion of Salah bin Abdullah Hanafi was sent
Tibet, Muslims were granted Indian to Tibet. Between the eighth and
Owing to Tibetan influence, they
citizenship by the Indian Government, ninth centuries, the Abbasid rulers
have adopted Tibetan names while
which considered the Tibetan Muslims of Baghdad maintained relations
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