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Abstract

The influences of two major religions – Buddhism and Islam - are interwoven in Ladakhi history and contemporary society. However, by comparison with Buddhism, the study of Islam has often been neglected. This essay offers a reading guide as a basis for further study. It draws on a range of sources in Asian and European languages, including texts published locally in Ladakh, as well as academic monographs and articles in specialist international journals. The essay begins with a discussion of the key historical texts before looking more closely at Ladakh’s links with Central Asia, and the political and cultural impact of Islam in its relationship with Baltistan and Kashmir. The essay then examines the role of Ladakhi and Kashmiri (Kha che) Muslims in facilitating Ladakh’s diplomatic and commercial exchanges with central Tibet. It concludes with a review of recent studies on contemporary social and political developments.

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