Despite the fact that Tibet is popularly known as a monolithic nation, Tibetan muslim community have blended in and thrived for around a thousand years now. The muslim population is a minority in Tibet as well as in the exile, they are equally identified as a member of the Tibetan family. To celebrate the diversity of Tibetan culture, we bring out 5 things you would be happy to know about Tibetan muslims who are traditionally known as Khache (ཁ་ཆེ་) in Tibetan.
Tibetan Muslim Community Formed Almost 1000 Years Ago,
More than almost a 1000 years ago, sometime in the 12th century, it is believed that a group of Muslim traders from Kashmir and Ladakh came to Tibet as merchants. Many of these traders settled in Tibet and married Tibetan women, who later converted to the religion of their husbands leading to the birth of the very community in Tibet.
Peacefully Co-existed In Tibet
The Tibetan muslims despite having flourished in Tibet many years before, they are known for having peacefully co-existed with the rest of Tibetan community. They have been recognised by the Tibetan government in the past and have been allowed to live on their own, building mosques, schools and making a livelihood of their own. This has therefore enabled them to sustain their own identity.
They Have Also Been Affected By China Invasion
The Tibetan muslim community have also faced the same fate of national crisis following the Chinese invasion. They have also fled from Tibet after the Chinese invasion that led to the end their peaceful livelihood and sought refuge in India with most of the community getting settled in their ancestral state of Kashmir. These Tibetans are living in separate communities in the state where they are survived by distinct community with facilities as their own schools, etc.
They Believe In The Dalai Lama As Their Leader
The Tibetan muslims also respect the spiritual leader His Holiness the Dalai Lama as their leader. While historically also the fifth Dalai Lama is said to have invited Muslim merchants to stay in Tibet, granting them privileges and giving them land in Lhasa for a mosque and a cemetery. They were also exempted from taxes in addition to exempting them from other Buddhist rules such as ‘no meat’ rule at certain places. The present Dalai Lama has also shown unwavering fondness towards the community and always speaks highly of them.
Tibetan Muslims Takes Similar Responsibility In Tibet Struggle
The Tibetan muslim community in exile have taken similar responsibility in the Tibet struggle as the rest of the Tibetans. Most of the Tibetan muslims live in their own communities in Kashmir where they preserve their own culture and identity, using Tibetan as their primary language. They have also taken part in the Tibetan Youth Congress conferences where they expressed their aspirations of having their representation in the Tibetan Parliament in Exile. Recently, the Dalai Lama also clarified that the Tibetan muslims also have the same responsibility in the Tibetan struggle.