بلتی حسٹرے

History of Islam in Baltistan starts with arrival of Ameer Kabeer Syed Ali Hamadani (A legendary Sufi Saint of the Muslim History) from Iran during 15th Century A.D. He was followed by other Sufi legends afterwards, such as Shah Syed Muhammad Noorbaksh (no historical record of these visits exists). Soon the whole region converted to Noorbakshi order of Islamic Sufism. The core edicts of this order of Sufism are as follows: complete elimination of all evil desires and immoralities of human nature from one’s self; total submission of one’s wills before Allah (by following the Qur'an and Sunnah) and finally love and peace for the whole mankind.

During the start of 19th century the predominant population converted to other Islamic schools of thought such as Shias and Sunnis. Today, the Baltis are; Shia' denomination (54%), Sufi Noorbakshi (43%)and Sunni sect (3%). Today, Noorbakshis are found in Baltistan and Ladakh regions of J&K, as well as a large number of Noorbakshis are native to Iran, Kurdistan and Central Asia.

Local Muslims, who converted from Bon-po and Tibetan Buddhism still retain many traits of pre-Islamic Bon and Lamaist rituals, which makes Islam of Baltistan and Ladakh unique from other Muslim societies. Swastika (Yung drung) sign is considered auspicious and is carved on wooden planks that can be seen in historical mosques and Khankas. Showing respect to Lha and Lhu (Bon Gods) is customary during many village rituals.

The Balti, who converted to Islam from Tibetan Buddhism in the 16th century, regard congregation in the Mosques and Khankah as an important religious ritual. The Khankahs are a kind of typical training school of Noorbakshi Sufis which was introduced by the early Sufi saints arrived in the region. The Sufi students gain spiritual purity (tazkiah) through these trainings (meditations and contemplations) under well-practiced spiritual guides, who have already attained certain degree of spirituality. Mosques in Baltistan are mainly built in the Tibetan style, though several mosques constructed have wood-finish and decorations of Iranian origin which can also be seen in Ladakh and Kargil. On every Friday, the men folk would generally attend the prayers sometime a little after noon. All Muslims will fast in the day during the month of the Ramadan, and a celebration will be held at the end of the celebration.

Small pockets of Bön and Tibetan Buddhist believers that amounted up to 3000 people are found in Kharmang valley of Baltistan[1] and in West Kargil. East Ladakh (Leh district and Zanskar) are predominantly Buddhist.