Kashmir has changed its primary religions from Buddhism to Hinduism and finally to Islam. Botyaar and Bodgheer, in the old city, are thought to be the most established Buddhist residences in Kashmir. These two areas are said to have remained Buddhist even after Hinduism spread in Kashmir. Buddhism proposed a much less structured and more egalitarian society. This is probably why it spread so quickly in Kashmir once it was introduced there. In the mid-seventh century, the famous Chinese Buddhist scholar Hiuen Tsang travelled to Kashmir and found more than a hundred Buddhist temples in the city of Srinagar alone.
Brahmins were powerful and rich, and they were administering Kashmir at this time. The Muslim migrants who came as traders or missionaries confined to a region that was assigned for lower castes, they were called the Mlecchas. Mlecch is a Sanskrit word. It implies impure. The vast majority of the Sanskrit writing has alluded to medieval time Muslims with this word.
Islam was spread in the region with the deluge of Muslim Sufi preachers from Central Asia in the 14th century. The primary surge of Islam in the valley was neither spiritual nor indigenous. It was a complete political invasion by a Turkic-Mongol named Dalucha or Zulju. As his motivation was only to increase political and monetary suzerainty over Kashmir, he handed over the province to a Tibetan-Buddhist ruler named Rinchana after deciding on a few agreements.
At that point, every single neighbouring state had been invaded by Muslim rulers. Rinchana converted to Islam after coming into contact with Sayyid Sharfudin, a Sufi preacher generally known as Bulbul Shah, who had come to Kashmir during the rule of Suhadeva. Rinchana changed his name to Sultan Sardarudin Shah after converting to Islam and became the first Muslim ruler of Kashmir. Following the conversion of Rinchan, his commander-in-chief and many other Hindus converted to Islam.
In 1339, Shah Mir established his own kingship and founded the Shah Mir Dynasty, which lasted till 1561. His administration was noted for the visits of Sufi saints who contributed to the propagation of Islam in Kashmir. The most well-known Sufi person who preached Islam in Kashmir was Saied Ali Hamdani, popularly known as Shah-I-Hamadan. It was Shah Hamadan who committed himself to the task of ensuring that Kashmir was primarily an Islamic state. Sikandar’s successor, Ali Shah proceeded with the strategy of coercive conversion. But Zain-ul-Abidin earned a name for himself for his policy of religious tolerance and public welfare activities.
There were various favourable factors which helped Islam’s development in Kashmir. The then shortcomings of the Hindu society significantly encouraged the spread of Islam. The monetary disparities and oppression of the public in the hands of higher castes attracted them towards Islam which preached monotheism and equality. People from lower castes were introduced to monotheism, and they were treated kindly by the Sufis, and as a result, they converted to Islam. Islam got patronage when rulers converted to Islam. Some of them adopted tolerant religious policies while others forced people to convert.