The appearance of Islam in Tibet is contributed mainly to Muslim merchants. Early in the 7th or 8th century of the Tubo Kingdom (7th Century-877), some Muslim merchants from Arabia were in business with Tibet. In the 11th century when Islam was prospering in Kashmir, to the west of Tibet, more Muslim merchants came to Lhasa . From the 14th century these merchants began to settle down and formed a separate ethnicity. Due to the widespread Tibetan Buddhism in Tibet especially in Lhasa, Islam was not able to be developed. However, abiding by Tibetan Buddhism, Tibetans felt less motivated to do business, not to mention killings. This gave the chance for Islam to spread among Muslim merchants and butchers.
The Hui ethnic people (believers of Islam) in Tibet came from Gansu, Shaanxi, Qinghai, Sichuan, Yunnan and other provinces from around the early Qing Dynasty (1644-1911).There are now about 4,000 Muslims in Tibet, the majority of whom are concentrated in Lhasa. They used to be engaged in a variety of business including the handicraft industry, but now can be found in various fields. The Tibetan Muslims, aside of their own religious beliefs and customs, have native characteristics of Tibetans. For example, they wear Tibetan costumes, but with a white cap or veil on their heads. In church, they will first recite in Arabic and then in Tibetan language. They also have almost the same dining habits and lodging styles as Tibetans.
There are now four mosques in Tibet, two located in Lhasa City, one in Shigatse City and the other in Chengguan Town of Chamdo County. The earliest and the most famous one is the Lhasa Great Mosque , which was initially built in 1716 of the Qing Dynasty. It is a must-visit spot for all the Muslims to Lhasa from home and abroad.