Contributed to by Dr. Hussein Randathani. Posted on December 16 2005

The long-standing Arab contact with the coastal areas of India has left its permanent mark in the form of several communities. These communities came into existence through the marriage of local women to Arab sailors and traders. The native rulers extended all facilities and protection to them because their presence was needed for the economic prosperity of the rajas. Malabar was the most important state on the western coast of India where the Arabs found a fertile soil for their trade activities. The community, which arose in Malabar as a result of the Arab contact, is termed as Mappilas.1

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It is clear that the Arab contact with Malabar existed long before and became predominant in the post Roman period. Therefore the history of the Mappilas goes back to the Pre-Islamic period. In the Gazetteer of Bombay Presidency, Khan Bahadur Fazlullah Faridi, mentions the settlement of pre-Islamic Arabs in Chaul, Kalyan Supara and Malabar Coast2 Arab merchants passed along the Coromandel Coast on their way to China.

There is the story of one Uppukutan Mappila in the legend of Parayi Petta Pandiru Kulam, (The Twelve Tribes Born to a Paryai) and he is said to have lived in 378 BC3. According to another legend Ouwayi, who through extreme devotion, made the goddess of Kozhikode to appear before him, was a Jonaka Mappila.4 Since the pre- Islamic Arabs were idolaters many of their practices might have crept into Malabar.

It was with the advent of Islam that the Arabs became a prominent cultural race in the world. The Arab merchants and traders now became the carriers of the new religion and they propagated it wherever they went. When Islam spread among the Arabs, the Arab traders brought it to Malabar during the time of Prophet Muhammad itself. Francis Day’s assumption that the first settlement of the Muslims on the western coast took place sometime in the seventh century strengthens this view5. George Sarton says in his, Introduction to the History of Science, that the most outstanding event of the seventh century was, of course, the brith and explosive development of Islam spread through out Arabia, in parts of Africa and might have reached Malabar coast during those early days.6 In Malabar the Mappilas may be the first community to come to the fold of Islam because they were more closely connected with the Arabs than others. Intensive missionary activities went on the coast and a number of natives also embraced Islam. These new converts were now added to the pile of the Mappila community. Thus among the Mapilas, we find, both the descendants of the Arabs through local women and the converts from among the local people.7

The Mappilas has spread on the southern part of the western coast, in the contiguous tract from Cape Comorin in the south to about Managlore in the north. But it is in Malabar these people are called as Mappilas and for practical purpose the name is applied for the entire community. They are also found in the Laccadive islands, where the population consists of Mappilas alone.

Unlike Brahmanical Hinduism and like Christianity, Islam is a missionary religion. The Qur-an denounces and discourages forcible conversions and the Qur-anic injunctions like “let there will be no compulsion in religion”8 and “will thou then compel mankind against their will be believe!”9 etc., clearly show that conversion has to be made by persuasion and preaching and it has been left to the people’s conviction. The underlying emphasis behind this tolerance is the Qur-anic concept of equal power of God over good and evil and it is by His will that evil and unbelief exist as the antithesis of goodness and faith. 10

Proselytization to Islam on the coast of Malabar was done in conjunction with the letter and spirit of the Quar-an. The egalitarian ideals of Islam, the existence of Arab colonies, the social and economic systems in the region and the positive attitude of the native rulers were the main factors which made Malabar a fertile region for Islam. The Majority of the people had become fed up with religious exploitation and land lordism of feudal jenmis and they found refuge in a new system which provided them relief and emancipation. With the decline of Buddhism and later its gradual absorption by Brahmanism, a vacuum was developed where the oppressed people suffered without a philosophy to depend on. Islam filled the vacuum and offered them an alternative. Thus the statement that “Islam spread more rapidly in those areas where Buddhism had lingered on until the time of its arrival”11 was true in the case of Malabar. And also the social, economic, political and religious factors made easy the spread of the new faith in Malabar.

1. Social and Economic Factors

Malabar was indeed the most caste preservative part of southern India and there the untouchability was very rigid and extreme. Even in the nineteenth century it was this abhorrent system which compelled Swami Vivekananda to call Malabar a “mad house”.

He said: Is there anywhere in the world a folly which I have witnessed in Malabar? A poor Paraya cannot walk through the streets where the caste Hindus walk…. The people of Malabar are mad and their houses are mad houses. What judgement will you reach, other than that the different races of India will treat them with abhorrence and aversion until they reformed themselves and enriched their knowledge. Those people who observe such satanic and obnoxious customs are shameless.12

To assert their obnoxious practices, the Brahmins had the support of the scriptures, Rigveda, for example, syas that Brahmin, Kshatriya, Vyshya and Sudra were created respectively from the face, the hands, the thighs and the feet of the Brahma and since Brahmins are created from. His face, they are entitled for the highest status in the society and others come below him.13 Rules and regulations were strictly followed to maintain this supremacy. They were based on (i) keeping prescribed distance in order not to pollute the superior person (ii) removing the cloth if any covering the shoulders and the head, (iii) using in conversation self denouncing form of speech with pthe special standardised servile expressions 14 and (iv) asserting bodily poses 15 which have been culturally standardised.16.

The distance prescribed to avoid pollution is different according to the position of the castes. Thus a Nair shouldn’t come nearer than six paces to a Namboodiri, a man of the Barber caste nearer than twelve paces, a Tiyyan than thirty six paces and a Pulayan than ninety six paces.17 For Kammalan and artisan the distance is twenty four feet and for the Nayadis, seventy four 18 C.A. Innes records in the first decade of the twentieth century that, “at present day higher caste men when walking along the road utters a warning grunt or hoot to person of any lower castes who there up on retire to the necessary distance.” 19 This hoot called ochar differs from cast to caste.20 The Nayadis who were interviewed by Thurston in 1901 at Shornur, had by the reason of pollution which they traditionally carry with them. to avoid walking along the long bridge which spans the Bharatha Puzha(Ponnani river) and follow a circuitous route of many miles. 21 Gilbert Slater reports. “Uptill 1916 no man….. other than the …. jenmis was allowed to tile his house, to build an upstair building or a gateway. Even now it is rash for a ryot to ask for such permission….22 No man should approach him with more than a single cloth around his waist which shouldn’t fall below his knees.23

The minimum panalty to those who violated the law was excommunication or often death. ‘Under the native rajas, Nairs thought nothing of cutting down on the spot a number of lower castes who had approached with polluting distance of his person.24 If a man of lower caste were by misfortune to touch a Nair lady her relatives would immediately kill her and like wise the man who touched her and all his relatives 25 This shows that even blood relations were undermined to maintain the caste laws.

The author of Cochin State Manual observes that, “the tradition fostered by the Brahmins ascribes to the mandate of Parasurama which ordained that Sudra women would put of chastity and devote themselves to satisfy the desire of Brahmins.26 We have interesting accounts of the social customs like sambandham by which a Namboodiri can cohibit with any Nair lady be likes without bothering of future obligations or liability.27 Writing in the year 1900. T.K. Gopala Panikkar describes that, at present day there are families, especially in the interiour of the district (Malabar) who look up on it as a honour to be thus united by Brahmins.”28 Giving evidence before the Malabar Marriage Commission of 1891, the District Munsiff of Badagara said; “ Polyandry seems to have been largely prevalent in its worst form in South Malabar in the earliest times.

Instances in which a woman has 27 and 12 husbands who visited her by rotation are even now mentioned by some old men.”29

Another social custom imposed by the aristocracy was that except the Namboodiris no men and women should cover the upper half of their body.

Shaikh Zainuddin gives interesting details of this mode of dress; only a single loin cloth is girdled round the waist leaving the upper part exposed. In this respect males and females, rajas and nobles, rich and poor are equal.”30 None of the Hindu ladies except Brahmins thought that the breast was to cover; and to them to cover the breast was an act of immodesty. “The caste law prohibits a Nair lady to cover her breast.”31 There are instances of cruelties inflicted upon the ladies for violating these laws. An Ezhava lady who happened to travel abroad and returned well dressed was summoned by the Queen of Attingal and her breast was cut off for covering them.32 In Travancore a riot occurred when a group of upper caste men assaulted a lady of Ezhava caste for wearing cloth below her knees.33 In 1859 another riot took place in Travancore and continued for several days, when the ladies of Channar caste started to cover the breast. The revolt was called chela kalapam (cloth revolt). It became very important that later scholars regarded it as a part of the struggle for independence.34

Besides the above social taboos and cruelties, the low castes were forbidden access tro temples and bazaars. They wer enot permitted to drink from the well used by the upper castes. Education was forbidden to them. The prohibition was so stringent that they couldn’t go even to a post-office to buy postal articles.”35
The Brahmins were not only the religious heads but they also stood at the apex of the economic system as well. As owners of the land they exploited the lower castes who were their tenants. “ The smallest show of independence by the tenant was resented as an affront. The Hindu tenants were the worst sufferers.”36 The tenants were required to contribute to the expenses of wedding and other ceremonies in their jenmi’s house and to make presents for asking permission to celebrate wedding in his own family. Excommunication was the most painful punishment meted out to those tenants who violated the traditions, that all the kith and kins kept “the culprit” off. He could’t escape even if he changes his residence to another village.37 He would also be evicted from his land. Thus the punishments ruined the tenant for ever. His last resort was to change his religion and thus claim a new identity in Society beyond the reach of jenmis and Brahmins.

The Brahmins maintained their authority with the weapon of religion to exploit the low castes. Temples and gods were the symbols of their landlordism. Revolt against a land lord meant the curse of gods which the tenant feared more than excommunication or eviction. So a Hindu tenant never dared to become a rebel and at the same time he was bound to protect the social and economic privileges of upper class, that in all walks of his life he took utmost care not to pollute a Brahmin or a Nair for the pollution meant a sin.38 Temples became the centres of the feudal structure which no tenant was allowed to enter and at the same time he had to contribute to the festivals and ceremonies at the temples to please the land lord and his gods as well.

To escape the disabilities and discriminations of upper castes, the only way opened before the tenant was to convert either to Islam or to Christianity. “Conversion”, says the author of Islam in India.” Certainly occur in the Musalman community, but they are largely due to social causes. The out caste groups of Hindus popularly known as untouchables have begun to realise that as the object of contempt to all who follow the strict rule of Brahmanism, their position is intolerable. To such people Islam offers full franchise after conversion…39

In the words of Prof. Humayun Kabir, there was a willing aceptance of new faith by large numbers on whom the existing social order pressed heavily.40 The lower class welcomed Islam as a chance to win some degree of social freedom denied to them by Brahmanism through its cruel and rigid caste system.

Since the Muslims had no problem of pollution, they made close contact with the low castes who were employed in vrious professions. At the same time the low castes worked more freely under their Mappila masters than under Brahmins or Nairs. This induced them to accept the religion of their masters. The sixteenth century Portuguese writer, Gaspar Correa reports that,”by becoming Moors they could (the lower class) go wherever they liked and eat as they pleased. When they became Moors, the Moors gave them clothes and robes with which to cloth themselves.”41 In many cases the low caste Hindus who had been brought up by Muslims, ultimately embraced Islam.

Secondly, the Muslim traders were wealthy and maintained a higher standard of life and culture and this might have induced, the upper and lower classes alike, to accept Islamic faith. Al Biruni, an eleventh century scholar, confirmas this fact when the visited India. He says that “ their (Muslims) style of living and working aroused curiosity even among Hindu elites who stayed in the urban centres and got into contact with them in consequence. As regards the artisans and the daily wage earners, they didn’t enjoy a good position in the traditional Hindu system. The Hindu law and customs had already dehumanised them.”42 The attitude of the artisans towards Islam and Muslims is clear from the cases of Kunhelu the martyr of Malappuram and Asari Tangal of Ponnani. Kunhelu was a Hindu goldsmith, but fought on the side of Muslims in their battle against the Hindu chieftain. Paranambi at Malappuram in 173843 Asari Tangal was the carpenter whoheaded the construction of Ponnani Juma Masjid in the sixteenth century. After completing the construction he mounted atop of the roof and when looked towards the west he is said to have witnessed the vision of Ka’ba at Makkah. Immediately he embraced Islam. He was later, so respected by Muslims that after his death he was buried in the grave yard of the Makhdums , the Muslim religious leaders at Ponnami.44

When epidemics of any such miseries took place among the low castes, Muslims came for their help and relief. On the other hand, caste obligations prevented the upper castes from approaching and helping these victims. Muslims also took the responsibility of the relief of the affected persons and their families. These people also embraced Islam as a gratitude.45 The social equality maintained by Muslims was a new experience to Hindus who often cited it as an important character of Muslims. The lines, “to the beloved Kunhali of Kottakkal. Tiyyans and Nairs are alike,”of the northern ballads46 indicates the attitude of Muslims towards the upper and lower castes. It was a common practice among the lower castes to visit the Muslim saints and their shrines to invoke blessings inorder to solve their problems. The shrine at Mambram is one such centre where even now a number of low castes come with their grievances. Kozhikkaliyattam, a low caste festival at Kaliyattamukku near Tirurangadi was started with the blessings of Sayyid ‘Alawi of Mambram. The story of the festival goes like this; Kunhan Cheeru Amma or Kaliyattakkavilamma was the seventh and the youngest daugher of the Goddess of Tirumandamkunnu. When her brothers grew jealous of her, she was forced to leave the place and after wandering many places reached at the feet of Sayyid ‘Alawi who is said to have provided her a place to live. The place later came to be called as Kaliyattamukku where the Kaliyattam festival takes place. The day of the festival was fixed by Sayyid “Alawi as Friday and even now it is held on the same day.47 The following lines of a traditional song about Kaliyattakkavilamma bears testimony for this:

On 15th Edavam,
A good festival (Kaliyattam),
Was fixed on Friday, a good day.
By Sayyid ‘Alawi Tangal’
Who inaugurated the festival,
And it continues as
Blessed by him.48

This and similar stories reveal that Muslims maintained a close relationship with low castes and this influenced them to a large extent for conversion.

The conversion of upper caste Hindus was mainly due to excommunication, a punishment which the caste regulations inflicted up on the society. Those who on account of the breach of social observances such as the eating of forbidden food, association with the people considered to be impure , violation of rules of marriage or sexual connections, were expelled from the community and all connections with them were severed. To such people life became dificult and they resorted to Islam or to Christianity. Describing the excommonication of Nairs. Barbosa says that, the excommunicated Nair was forced to run away from the country. Otherwise they were sold to the lower castes. Such people found refuge either in Christianity or in Islam.49 According to Narayana Panikkar, “the caste discrimination became acute during the Portuguese period and this facilitated the growth of Islam and Christianity.50

Though legally considered as mlechas, or impure or impure, the Hindus of Malabar respected the Muslims. Ibn Battuta had pointed out this fact in his travelogue: “Muslims are most highly honoured amongst them…. Except they (Hindus) do not eat with them and allow them into their homes.”51 Same status was accorded to the converts from the low castes whose pollution and degradations were forgotten. The economic factor behind this friendly inter-relationship was that the Kings and Hindus largely depended upon Muslims for their transactions. Since there was no Vysya or trading caste among Hindus of Malabar, the Mappilas filled the vacuum and the inter-relationship became an inevitable one. More over the Mappilas neither interfered in the political affairs nor disturbed the social structure of Hindus. The converts participated in the new cultural and social process and they were successful in manoeuvering respectable positions in the same society.

Another point to be noted is that” the conversion of low caste Hindus to Islam did not lead to estrangement between the followers of the two religions. The change of faith among the low castes or out caste Hindus never seemed to have been a matter of concern to upper caste Hindus”52

Shaikh Zainuddin reports:

The unbelievers never punish such of their countrymen
When embrace Islam, but treat them with the same respect
shown to the rest of the Muslims though the convert
belongs to the lowest of the grades of their society.53

When the lower castes realised that conversion to Islam accorded them higher status in the society and they would surpass many vexations and discriminations, they accepted Islam in large scale, C.A. Innes had pointed out that a “number of recruits come from time to time from the ranks of Tiyyans and from the Cherumans and the serf caste to whom the “honour of Islam,” bring franchisement from all the disabilities of an out caste.”54 Thus a low caste through conversion rushes ahead several steps higher than that which he originally occupied.

Graeme in his report submitted to the government in 1822, had noted the point thus:

He (the converted low caste) is no longer a link in a chain
Which required to be kept in a particular place. His new
Faith neutralises all his former bad qualities. He is no
Longer a degraded pariah whose approach disgusted and
Whose touch polluted the Hindu of caste, but belonging
now to a different scale of being; contact with him does
not require the same ablution to purify it.55

After emphasizing Graeme’s view Logan observes: “The conversion of a Pariah or low caste Hindu to Mohammedanism raised him distinctly in the social scale and he is treated with more respect by Hindus.”56 This attitude continued down to the twentieth century. C. Kesavan, a social reformer, in his book, has quoted an appeal submitted by the Ezhava community to the maharaja of Kochi. The appeal points to the plight of the Ezhava in a very pathetic manner: “Even now in certain schools, especially in the girls’s schools, we, the slaves. 57 had no permission. We, the slaves, are never admitted in the students houses. Even We the slaves, cannot go near a post office. The notice boards which prevents our movements didn’t decrease, but increase. We, the slaves are not appealing for higher privileges and had no desire to enter temples of caste Hindus. Our appeal is very moderate and it is that, while we are continuing as Hindus we may be provided the right and liberties which we get when we are converted either to Islam or Christianity.”58
It was about the same time Kumaranasan, the Ezhava poet in his lines, mocked at the Brahmins who maintained strange and irrational practices:

A Cheruman (a serf caste) who keep off,
The way many a distance
When embraces Islam,
Can be seated aside.
Don’t be afraid, oh, Lords’59

However the main fact remains that a low caste Hindu obtains by conversion many a substantial benefits, for Mappilas as a class, pull well together and he is a bold ”Hindu” who tramples on their class prejudices and feelings.

Logan had mentioned an interesting episode about the conversion of some Tiyyans (toddy-drawers) at Munniyur near Tirurangadi. This was through superstitions and threatening prophecies. At Munniyur “some influencial Mappilas led their ignorant Hindu neighbours to believe that a ship would arrive with necessary arms, provisions and money for 40,000 men, that if that number (40,000) could be secured meanwhile, they could conquer the country, and that the Hindus would then totally vanish. It appears that it was about that time some Tiyyans and others became converts.”60 Concept of life after death, paradise and hell might also have induced many to embrace Islam.

Attitude of the rulers

Except the reign of the Arakkal Ali Rajas of the north and a short interlude of the Mysorean overlordship, practically there was no Muslim rule in Malabar. This, however, doesn’t mean that Muslims got no official support in propagating their religion. We have the accounts of a number of historians and travellers, of the native Rajas protecting the Muslims and assisting directly or indirectly, the propagation of their faith.

Shaikh Zainuddin reports: “… these rulers had respect and regard for the Muslims, because the increase in number of cities was due to them. Hence, the rulers enable the Muslims. In the observation of their Friday prayers and celebration of Id. They fix the allowance of qazis and mu-addins.61 and entrust them with the duty of carrying the laws of shariath.62

Zainuddin further says that, “the Muslims and their trade prospered because of the regard shows to them by the rulers not withstanding that these rulers and their troops were all unbelievers their respect for the ancient customs of the Muslims, and the absence of enmity except on rare occasions.63

Ibn Battuta writing in the early years of the fourteenth century noted the rich Muslim merchants by whom every town of Malabar was crowded , the respect and affection in which they were held by the reigning sovereigns and the public and the way side pandals alll over the country of Malabar started for passers by to quench their thirst pouring water in these places into the hands of the followers of Islam. He also refers to the five mosques which stood as an ornament to the noble emporium of Kollam and bestows high praise on the generosity and power of its Hindu sovereigns.64

The traditional story regarding the origin of Islam in Malabar, itself is connected with the conversion of a native ruler called Cheraman Perumal who is said to have gone to Makkah and embraced Islam at the feet of Prophet Muhamad.

Though many scholars doubt the authenticity of this tradition , the fact remains, that an organized and scientific missionary net work started in Malabar following the conversion of a king. As suggested by M.G.S. Narayanan, “ there is no reason to reject the tradition that the last Chera king embraced Islam and went to Makkah, since it finds a place, not only in Muslim chronicles, but also in Hindu brahmanical chronicles like the Keralolpatti which need not be expected to concoct such a tale which is no way enhances the prestige or the interests of the Brahmins or Hindu population.”65

Traditions give different dates for the conversion of the Chera king to Islam. According to one version the Chera king called Shankara Varman or Chenkal Perumal (621-640) met the prophet Muhammad around 627 A.D., when he was fifty seven years old.66 It is recorded in Tarikh Zuhur al Islam fil Malibar , once of the earliest manuscripts on the genesis of Islam in Kerala, written by Muhammad b. Malik.67 that a group of pilgrims led by Zahiruddin b. Taqiyuddin, while going to visit the foot of Adam in Sri Lanka (Ceylon) landed at Kodungallur (Cranganore) and met the Chera king. The team explained to the king about Prophet Muhammad and his mission. They also told him about the miracles shown by the prophet including the splitting of the moon which was witnessed by the kind himself. The king was attracted to the faith and he told the team his desire to embrace Islam. When the team returned after their pilgrimage to the Foot of Adam, the king accompanied them to Arabia. The king met the prophet at Jeddah on Thursday 27th Shawwal, six yeas before Hijrah (617 A.D.) . He embraced Islam and accepted the name Tajuddin ( the crown of the faith) . After remaining in Arabia for few years the king returned to Malabar, but on the way he died at Shahar Muqalla in Yemen on Monday Ist Muharram in the first year of Hijrah (622 A.D.)68

According to “Umar b. Muhammad Suhrawardi, the conversion of Cheraman Perumal was due to the influence of Raja of Mahaldeep (Maldive) who had business relations with the Middle East and he was friendly with Cheraman. The Raja knew Malik b. Dinar, a resident of Basara. He got a book describing the miracles of the prophet and there was the splitting of the moon in it. He read it out to Cheraman Perumal and his Prime Minister Krishna Munjad. All the the three became interested in Islam and secretly decided to proceed to Arabia and visit the tomb of the prophet. Meanwhile the queen of the Perumal, by failing to get the prime minister to her chamber for an illegal sexual connection, forged a false story about him trying to molest her. The king believing the story, ordered the execution of the minister. But he escaped the punishment miraculously with a warning to the king that he had been misguided by the queen and to wash out the sin the king should convert to Islam and go to Makkah.

The minister reached Maldive and along with the raja he accepted Islam. The disappointed Perumal in order to redeem of his sin left for Makkah along with his nephew prince Kohinoor. Coming to know that Perumal was proceeding to Arabia the relatives of the minister living at Chaliyam decided to join him. All of them boarded the ship from Cranganore in the year 82 AH (701 A.D) during the caliphate of Walid 1.69 They reached Basara where Malik b. Dinar and his relatives received them. At Basara they were initiated to the faith by Jafar b. Sulyaman. From Basara they moved to Arabia and stayed there for about twelve years. In 94 (713 AD) the party returned to Malabar , and on the way at Shahar Muqalla the Perumal died.70

Shaikh Zainuddin thinks that the conversion of the Chera King might have taken place two hundred years after the Hijrah (822 A.D) 71 Keralolpathi written by Dr. Herman Gundert speaks of two Chera Kings who went to Makkah. One Banaperumal after embaracing Boudha shastra (the religion of Buddha) went to Makkah. At the same time Gundert claims that Banaperumal had converted to Christianity. Whether the king had been converted to Christianity or Buddism, the doubt exists that why he had gone to Makkah. If the king had gone to Makkah it can be assumed that he might have embraced Islam. The second Perumal who had gone to Makkah as mentioned in Keralolpathi is Cheraman Perumal. The year of his departure mentioned in the work as 332 A.D. 73 cannot be correct, since the preaching of Islam by prophet Muhammad started only after 600 A.D. Another version says that Cheraman Perumal left for Makkah in 210 AH (825 A.D.)74

After analysing the variance in the chronology and the departure of two Perumals to Makkah as mentioned in the Keralolpathi some inclines to think of the possibility of the conversion of two Perumals Shankaravarma 75 during the life time of the prophet and Rama Varma Kulashekaran in later period. Both of them have died in Arabia, but the latter paved the way for the missionary activities under Malik b. Dinar. Dr. M.G.S. Narayanan suggests that, the conversion of the Chera king might have taken place not during the Propher’s time but in 1122 AD.76 However, according himthis doesn’t mean that in Malabar there were no Muslims before this date.77 But it was the conversion of Cheraman Perumal that accelerated the growth of Islam in Malabar.

It was as directed by Cheraman Perumal the first group of missionary landed at Kodungallur and started their preaching.78 Though all the sources speak on the mission of Malik b. Dinar and his party there also the chronological differences exist as in the case of the conversion of the Perumal. Since there are more persons bearing the name Malik b. Dinar in the early centureies of Islam confusion arises who among them came to Malabar. As indicated by A. Shusterry, the name Malik b. Dinar indicates that he is of Iranian origin rather than a genuine Arab.79 Most of the sources say that Malik b. Dinar, after his Mission at Malabar had gone to Khurasan and on the way he had died80 then there is every possibility to believe that Malik b. Dinar who led the missionary to malabar might be the disciple of the famous sufi hasan of basara who died at Khurasan around 744 A.D. If this is to be correct the statement in Rihalat al Muluk, that Cheraman Perumal with whose instruction Malik b. Dinar and his party came to Malabar set off sail to Arabia in 82 A.H. (701.AD) comes near to the fact.81 This period of Kerala history was that of political turmoil and uncertainty and as observed by Sreedhara Menon the period was also characterised by great religious and intellectual activity.82 Hence the possibility of the conversion of one perumal becomes more evident during this period . In this connection it may be noted that there is the widely held tradition that Kaladi where Shankara was born belonged to a small principality whose king had accepted Islam.”83

It is also said that Malik b. Dinar and his party was responsible for constructing the first mosque in Malabar. If we believe the words Keralolpathi tradition that before leaving for Makkah, Cheraman Perumal entrusted the duty to protect and look after the jonakas (Mappilas) including the qazi to Punturkkon (the Zamorin).84 It means that there were Muslims and qazi in Malabar before the departure of Cheraman Perumal and then a mosque becomes inevitable for the qazi to maintain the Islamic laws. If it is so, the credit of constructing the first mosque wouldn’t come to Malik b. Dinar and his party who came years after the departure of the Perumal.

Logan is right when he says that Malik b. Dinar and his party, even with the exceptional advantages they possessed, would hardly have been able in so short a time, to establish mosques at various places unless the ground had been prepared earlier for them, to some extent, at least.85

The traditions say that Malik b. Dinar and his party had with them letters from the Perumal to different native rulers seeking their assistancfe to the missionary activities and construction of the mosques. Thus the ruler of Kodungallur, where the Muslim missionary is said to have landed first, vacated a Buddist vihar to Muslims and this came to be known as Cheraman Palli. It is said that this vihar was constructed by Pallibana Perumal, a convert either to Buddism or to Islam in the seventh century A.D. At the time when Muslim missionaries started their work Buddism had lost its importance and this may be the reason for changing the vihar into the mosque.86 Thus according to the traditions Cheraman palli became the first mosque in Malabar. Likewise the mosque at Madayi was constructed with the assistance of the Kolathiri Raja to whom also there was a letter from the last Perumal.87

It was another Kolathiri Raja who constructed the mosque at Valapatanam (Baliapattam) and accorded all facilities for proselytizing activities to Sayyid Abubakkar who was the first qazi of the place.88 C.A. Innes had quoted a story from the travelogue of Ibn Battuta, about the conversion of a king of Dadkanan (Baliapattam). When Ibn Battuta visited here the ruler was an infidel “ whose grand father, who had become Muhammadan, built the mosque and made the pond. The cause of grandfather’s receiving Islamism was a tree over which he had built the mosque.”89

The History of Arakkal dynasty reveals that its founder was a nephew of Cheraman Perumal, named Kohinoor with whom he went to Makkah, embraced Islam and accepted the name Saifuddin Muhammad Ali.90 Another theory about the origin of the family is that its founder was a Nair minister of Kolathiri Raja. He embraced Islam having broken caste by marrying a Muslim woman.91 Thus unlike the Sultans or the Mughals of the northern India. Ali Rajas, the only Muslim dynasty of Malabar was of Indigenous origin.

The Zamorins of Calicut: Among the native rulers of Malabar, the Zamorins92 of Calicut showed special regard towards the welfare of Muslims in his kingdom. The coalition between the Zamorins and Muslims was economically beneficial for both the parties. On the one hand, the Arabs could control the Arabian sea trade and exercise strong influence to the east and on the other, with the help of Muslims, the Zamorins whose chief source of income was custom duty, could enrich themselves. The brisk trade carried on with the east and the west increased the prosperity of the kingdom. Militarily, the Zamorins gained additional loyal forces to supplement his unstable Nair fighters in his wars of aggression.

When large number of Muslim merchants settled in Calicut and its surroundings, the city grew in to a big metropolis. A number of Muslim colonies grew around Calicut. Thus, the Arabs not only made Calicut the greatest port on the west coast of India, they even helped to spread the name and fame of the Zamorins to Europe.93

The policy of equity and justice, characteristic of the Zamorins ‘rule and the complete security of person and property that the Zamorins vouchsafed to all those who frequented their dominions had attracted many trading communities to Calicut among whom the Arabs predominated. This accelerated the growth of Muslims in Malahar and as stated in keralolpathi, it was through the aid rendered by Muslims that the Zamorins were enabled to conquer the surrounding countries and obtained a paramount position in Malabar. Ibn Battuta tells us that “the greatest part of the Mohammedan merchants of this place (Calicut) are so wealthy that one of them can purchase freightage of such vessels as put in here and fit out others like them.”94 The Muslims stood in such esteem with the Zamorin that as Barabosa says, “the king gave each one (Moorish merchant) a Nair to guard and serve him, a Chetty scribe for his accountant and to take care of his property and a broker for his trade”95 The friendship developed between the Zamorins and the Arabs became so close that in the nineth century a Zumorins is said to have embraced Islam 96 and presented a rob of honour (gil’a) to Ka’ba.97

Most of the travellers had praised the scrupulous honesty showed by the Zamorins. Abd-al Razaq (1442) a persian envoy, found, “such security and justice” reigning in the city that large bundles of goods off loaded from the ships could be left on the streets for any length of time without guard and without threat of theft.98

The Keralopathi had preseved two traditions on the honesty of the Zamorin. One of the story is connected with Muslims. The story runs that, “ in the town of Muscut two sons were born to a Muhammadan; after they had grown up father addressed to the elder of the two sons saying:- ‘After my death you two will fight each other. The other will kill you. Both of you shouldn’t be in the same place. You had better go to some land and pass your days. I shall give you enough of gold for that. Thus the father sent away the elder son in a ship. He visited various countries and laid presents before their respective sovereigns. The presents consisted of pickle boxes full of gold, and he used to represent each king whose honesty he wished to test that the box contained only pickles. All the kings he visited, on discovering what the boxes really contained concealed the fact and appropriated the gold, but at last the experiment was tried on the Zamorin, and the Zamorin at once called him up and said:- You mistook one thing for another. This is not pickles but gold. The traveller, there upon on concluded that, here at least was a trust worthy king and so he settled down at Calicut and became the Koya of Calicut.”99

It was the Koya said above, provided assistance to the Zamorin to conquer Tirunavaya from the Valluvanad Raja. This victory secured for him the proud position of Raksha Purusha at the Mamankam festival. Muslims supproted the Zamorin to extend his authority over Valluvanad and as a reward for this, the king gave the right of fire works during the festivals to Koya of Kozhikode.100 Later Koya was accorded all the privileges which a Nair chieftain got. At the ceremony called Ariyittu Vazhcha, the Zamorin used to dress like a Mappila, by shaving the head and putting over it a turban and he takes the oath that he will rule the country was a representative of the Perumal who had gone ot Makkah.101 Connected with the Ariyittu Vazhcha, there was a procession in which the Zamorin was accompanied and received by Muslim leaders like the qazi of Calicut, Shah Bandar Koya, Tura Marakkar and the Musliyar. 102 When the procesison reaches on the banks of the river Kallai, a man dressed like a Mappila woman will received the king.103 f We have already quoted the statement of Shaikh Zainuddin regarding the privileges accorded by the Zamorin to the Muslims.104

The Zamorins and Muslims respected the customs and traditions of each other, Ma Huan )ca.1491), a Chinese Muslim traveller who wrote the Description of the Coasts of the Ocean observes that the Zamorin and his Muslim overseer made a compact, the former agreeing to give up pork, the latter beef.105

Qazi Muhammad, (d. 1025/1616), the qazi of Calicut compiled his poetical work called Fath-al Mubin (Manifest Victory) on the exploits of the Zamorin and the Mappilas against the Portuguese, in order to spread the might and glory of the Zamorin in various countries. He prays for propsperity to Zamorin’s kingdom and says that the Zamorin loves Islam and assists to uphold the laws of the sari ath.106 He asks all Muslims to pray for his success and blames the Muslim rulers for their inaction in the fight against the Portuguese.107 The king welcomed the Muslim missionaries from Arab and Persian countries and extended them all facilities.

In the seventeenth year of Hijrah (638 A.D.) Uthman (644-656 AD), the third khalifa is said to have sent a party under Mughira b. Shu’ba, a companion of Prophet Muhammad to India. When the party reached at Calicut, the Zamorin extended them a warm reception.; The King himself was attracted to Islam and became a Musalman.108 It is said that the Zamorin accepted the name “Abdu Rahman and went to Makkah where he presented a robe of honour to Ka’ba . On his return to Malabar, he died at Zafar (Yemen) where his grave still exists with the name Abdu Rahman Samiri.109 When Ibn Battuta. The Arab traveller, visited Malabar in fourteenth century, the Zamorin received him as a royal guest and accorded him all facilities. Ibn Battuta says that, a monastery was maintained in Calicut to reside for the spiritual leaders and Arab Muslims. Here offerings were made in the name of Shaikh Abu Ishaq Gazeruni (d.1034). Shaikh Shihabuddin Gazeruni was the head of the monastery.110

In 1442 Abdu Razzaq visited the Zamorin as an ambassador of Shah Rukh, the Persian king. He found Calicut “to contain a considerable number of Musalimans, who are constant residents and have built two mosques, in which they meet every Friday to offer up prayer. They have one kadi (qazi) a priest and for the most part, they belong to the set of Shafie (Shafi school of law) “111 Again the same writer observes that the Zamorin, in sending an embassy to Shah Rukh” charged the ambassador with a despatch in which he said: In this port on every Friday and on every solemn feast day (Id), the Kotabah (Khutba) is celebrated, according to the prescribed rules of Islamism. With your Majesty’s permission, these prayer shall be addressed and honoured by the addition of your name and of your illustrious titles.”112

When Shaikh Zainuddin Mukhdum Ma’bari came to Malabar, the Zamorin honoured him and extended support for his religious activities. Zainuddin founded the famous mosque at Ponnani on the land donated by a local jenmi and the mosque became the centre of Islamic learning in Malabar. “After his arrival in Kerala” says, C.Gopalan Nair, ‘he sent books and recommendation letters to Arab countries seeking their support to the rulers of Kerala, particularly to the Zamorin. As a result men and ships came from Arab countries, fought against the Portuguese and spead the way of Islam. For all these the Rajas of the southern Malayalam especially the Zamorin, had rendered all helps”113 When Shaikh Mamukkoya (d.1572) reached Calicut as a spiritual leader the Zamorin visited him and sought his advice regarding the facilities which have to be done to Muslims. The Shaikh himself led the Mappila army in the battle against the Portuguese at Chaliyam and the Zamorian’s mother appealed to the Shaikh to pray for the victory of her son in the battle.114 The qazis of Chaliyam and Calicut were honoured at the court of Zamorins. 115 Muhammad alias Mammikkutty Qazi (d.1217 AH/1801) the successor of Zainuddin Makhdum was granted the land called Kuttadan Nilam by the chieftrain of Kottayam and the Zamorin granted him the coconut groove called “ Tangal Namburam”. 116 the famous Malappuram mosque was built on the land donated by Para Nambi, a chieftain of Zamorin’s family. 117 He helped its construction with men and money. This was done in 1731 A.D as a reward to Muslims who had assisted the Nambi in the battle against his enemy.118 He entrusted the leadership of Muslims of Malappuram to Qazi Hassan Kutty who supervised the construction of the mosque and the Muslim village surrounding it.119 There was the practice of providing grants to the maintenance of the mosques. The inscription on one such land grant has been found in the Muchunthi mosque of Calicut. With details of the land given by the Raja to that mosque.120

It was the tolerance and respect shown by the Zamorin towards the Muslims that attracted Shaikh Sayyid Jifri, a prominent sufi of Hadhramaut in south rabia to come and settle at Calicut in 1746 A.D. He was received by Manavikraman, the Zamorin along with Muhyaddin b. Abdussalam, the qazi of Calicut. The king requested the shaikh to settle at Calicut and granted him a coconut groove on the banks of the Kallai river and a land and a house near the pond at Kuttichira. He was exempted from all the taxes.

Following Shaikh Jifri his brother Hasan Jifri reached Calicut in 1754 AD. He later settled at Tirurangadi. More members from the Jifri and other sayyid families migrated to Malabar and settled at various parts, Quilandy became a centre of sayyid families from Hadhramaut. Shaikh Aloi Barami, a lieutenant of Shaikh Jifri and a pious business man from the same place also reached at Calicut in 1797 and the Zamorin granted him a place on the coast for his business activities.

The Qazis of Calicut were appointed and paid by the Zamorins. In the darbar the qazi was given a special seat near the king. Shari’ath laws were strictly followed in the the kingdom. Fines were imposed up on those who gave up the jum’a prayer. Muslim criminals were given the punishments according to the penal code of the shari’ath.121

Above all these friendly engagements, to satisfy his own economic benefits, the Zamorin and his officers, like Muslim monarchs, encouraged conversion. Barabosa informs us about the power of Hindu officers as Calicut and how they helped Muslims to increase their number in Malabar: “And if this governor” says Barbosa, “finds any youths or young men, who are vagrant and have no employ, nor father, nor mother, nor master with whom they dwell, those are forefeit to him and he sells them as slaves to the Moors (Muslims) or to any other person whatsoever who is willing to purchase them at a very low price from three to five cruzados (coins) each whether men or women.”122 These slaves were thus converted to Islam.

To quote the words of william Logan: The race is rapidly progressing in numbers, to some extent from the natural causes, though they are apparently not so prolific as Hindus and to a large extent from the conversion from the lower (the servile) classes of Hindus –a practice which was not only permitted but in some instances enjoined under the Zamorin Rajas of Calicut who in order to man their navies , directed that one or more male members of the families of Hindu fishermen should be brought up as Muhammadans and this practice had continued down to modern times.123

Among other rulers who supported the Mappilas in their proselytizing activities were the rajas of Vellatiri. They were hereditary enemies of the Zamorins. “The reigning chief had endeavoured by favouring the Mappilas, to counter balance the influence gained by the Zamorin through his Muhammadan subjects. Mappilas consequently abounded in this chief’s territory, but as Muhammadan immigrants were few in his inland tracts he had perforce to recruit his Mappila retainers from the lowest classes of all the slaves of the soil or Cherumar.”124

The Raja of Kolathiri accorded full facilities to Sayyid Abubakkar, Sayyid Hasan and Sayyid Muhammad for the propagation of Islam at Valapatanam,. The Kakkulangara Palli at Valapatanam is said to have built by Sayyid Muhammad with the help of the Raja.

Role of Sufi Missionaries

It may be emphasised that the role of sufis was also an important factor in the spread of Islam in Malabar as else where in the world. Their peaceful means of propagation, policy of sulh-I-kul (peace with all) and simple and poious life attracted a number of people to Islam. The sufis lived amongst the people and shared their joys and sorrows.

People were always associated with them seeking their blessings and visiting their shrines. But quoting I.H. Quereshi and others. R.E. Miller. Tends to suggest that the sufi missionary activities were very meagre in Malabar.”125 At the same time the indigenous sources reveal the names and activities of several Muslim sufis and saints who propagated Islam in Malabar. The existence of a number of sufi devotional songs called malas 126 about the sufi saints like Shaikh Muhyaddin ‘Adhul Qadir Jilani, Shaikh Rifa’I Sayyid Alawi and Nafeesat-at Misri 127 clearly indicates the deep influence exerted by the sufis on Mappilas life. The memorization of Muhyaddin Mala was an obligation to a Mappila girl who was going to get married.

Malik b. Dinar, at whose efforts Islam accelerated its growth in Malabar was said to be a disciple of Hasan al Basari a sufi preacher in Iraq. Malik was responsible for a systematised missionary work after constructing mosques at different parts of Malabar.128

According to Rihlat al Muluk there were forty four persons in the group of Malik b. Dinar including twelve of his relations, twenty persons who had memorized the Quar-an by heart, and some from Basara along with Prince Kohinoor, the nephew of the Perumal and the founder of Arakkal dynasty who was later named as Saifuddin Muhammad Ali. The prince had with him four companions from Chaliyam. The party landed at Dharmadam.129

As per Rihlat at Muluk eighteen mosques were constructed by the party and in each mosque qazis were appointed. They are:

1. Chaliyam – Ja’far b. Sulyman
2. Kollam(Calicut) – Abdullah. B. Dinar
3. Chombal – Ja’farb. Malik
4. Peringadi – Habib b. Malik
5. Dharmadam – Hasan b. Malik
6. Ezhimala – Abdullah b. Malik
7. Kasaragode (Ullal) – Jabir b. Malik
8. Mangalore – Hameed b. Malik
9. Tanur (Tirur) – Ali b. Jabir
10. Ponnani – Abdul Majid b. Malik
11. Chavakkad – Jabir b. al Harith

Umar b. Muhammad Suhrawardi speaks of the arrival of ali of Kufa in the year 208 AH/824 A.D. He was a sufi responsible for the spread of Islam in north Malabar. His abode was at Kanakamala in Peringathur near Talassery. The Hindu saint Pakkanar was a contemporary of Ali131 At valapattanam Qazi Sayyid Abubakkar and Qazi Muhammad were the early sufi missionaries. In seventh century a sufi named Olakkal ‘Abdul Lateef was engaged in the propagation of the religion in Ezhimala region. Malik b. ‘Abdurahman of Madayi, Sayyid Mawla of Kannur, shaikh Nurudddin. Ibn Battuta had given the names of important sufis who gave the lead to religious activities of Malabar during his visit. Shaikh Avista of Basarur, Shaikh Shihabuddin Gazeruni of Calicut, Qazi Qazvini and Muhammad Shah Bandar and Faqruddin of Kollam are among them.132


When Sufism developed in to orders (tariqat) in the twelth century their activities reached in Malabar also.133 All the four important orders had their preachers and centres at different parts of the district and among them the most popular order was Qadiriyya. In Malabar the order was planted by the Makhdums who came to Malabar from Yemen of South Arabia.

It was infect the advent of the Makhdum family and their activities centering round the big Juma Masjid, made Ponnani a centre of Muslim learning so much so that it came to be called the ‘little Makkah’ (Kochu Makkah) of Malabar. The oldest mosque at Ponnani is said to have been built in the twelth century two centuries before the advent of the Makhadums at the behest of Shaikh Fariduddin b. ‘Abdul Qadir Khurasani, a well known disciple of Shaikh Muhyaddin Abdul qadir Jilani. Qazi Muhammad and his successors, the hereditary qazis of Calicut were also actively engaged in the spread of the Qadiri order. Qazi Muhammad (d. 1025/1616) who had his education at the feet of ‘Abdul’ Aziz Makhdum (d.994/1585) composed the famous devotional song called Muhyaddin Mala in praise of Shaikh ‘Abdul Qadir.

Arrival of Shaikh Jifri of Hadhramaut at Calicut in 1748 brought a turning point in the history of Sufism in Kerala. He introduced his family sufi order called the Ba ‘Alawi134 an offshoot of the Qadiriyya in Malabar. About the same time Sayyid Abdul Rahman ‘Aidarus (d.1164/1751)135+ from Hadhramaut, a relative of Shaikh Jifri had established his Khanqah at Ponani. Both became the spiritual leades and the people particularly the lower castes moved in flocks to these leaders to accept Islam. The Valiya Tangals, the successors of ‘Abdurahman Ai darus continued as the spiritual leaders while the line of Shaikh Jifri was continued by his nephew Sayyid ‘Alawi (d.1260/1844) who established his centre at Mambram near Tirurangadi. The popularity of Sayyid ‘Alawi became increased so much so that he came to be regarded as the Qutb-al Zaman (the Pivot of the Age) by his contemporaries . Renowned ‘ulama and sufis of the time became his spiritual disciples. He gave leadership to the Mappilas in the period of troubles and paradoxically it was during the same period the conversions increased rapidly. After his death his son sayyid Fazl (d. 1318/ 1901) continued the work of his father and inaugurated an era of conversion and reformation in the society along with the Qadiri lines. The Makhdums of Ponnani, and the renowned ‘ulama of Malabar like ‘Umar Qazi of Veliyancode and Awkoya Musliyar of Parappanangadi actively assisted the proselytizing and reforming endeavour of Sayyid ‘Alawi and his son. A number of mosques in southern Malabar were constructed at their behest.

The litanies and devotional songs belonging to the Qadiri order became common among the Mappilas in nineteenth century, Ratib of ‘Abdullah b. ‘Alawi at Haddad (d.1720)136 and qutubiyyat 137 are chief among them.

Muhammad Shah, who had been considered as Shi’a by the Sunnis138 claimed as the representatives of the Qadiri and the Chishti orders. He was responsible for the conversion of a large number of people in Kondotti, Areacode Palakkad, and Kattuppara areas.

The author of Maslak-al Adkiya says that his father Zainuddin b. Ali al Ma’bari (1467-1521) the first Makhdum of Ponnani had been initiated to the Chisti order.139 Sayyid Ahmad Jalaluddin of Bukhara (d.1480) came to Malabar in the fifteenth century and settled at Valapatanam and he made the town a centre of the Naqshabandi order. He was the Khalifa of the Qadiri order too. His successor Sayyid Ahamad also was an eminent sufi.140 Sayyid Muhammad Mawla (d. 1792), a descendant of Sayyid Jalaluddin came to Malabar from the island of Kavaratti in Laccadive Islands, and spread Islam in Kerala, From Kavaratti, he came to Valapatanam where his brother Sayyid Ibrahim was the qazi. He travelled extensively through the length and breadth of Kerala to propagate the faith. He started a religious centre at Nettur near Kochi and constructed the Chembitta palli. At Chavakkad he was assisted by Hydros Kutty Muppan, a chief of the Zamorin. In Travancore area he constructed the Juma Masjid at Tiruvidamcode. He sent his disciples to Tamil Nadu for preaching the faith . He died at Kannur. He had sent his nephew Sayyid Ahmad Bukhari to Cranganore (Kodungallur) area. He settled at Chavakkad and constructed a mosque. His sons Sayyid Muhammad, Sayyid Ibrahim Mastan, Fakhruddin and Mustafa Kochu Koya were the Khalifas of both the Naqshbandi and the Qadiri orders.

Shaikh ‘Abdu Rahman of Tanur (d. 1904) was a renowned sufi belonging to the Naqshabandi order. He started his mission by constructing a mosque at Tanur in south Malabar. His predecessors came from Yemen for missionary activities and one among them. Shaikh Ahmad al-Yemeni settled at Mahi and constructed a mosque. Among the philosophical works of Shaikh ‘Abdu Rahman the Risalat-fi Tabaqati Naqshabandi , deals exclusively with doctrines and ways of the Naqshabandiyya.141

Muhammad b. ‘Umar suhrawardi, a sufi belonging to the suhrawardi order spread Islam in the area surrounding Mahi. His Rihlat al Muluk is an important source of Kerala Muslim history. Puratheel Muhammad Shaikh also belonged to the same order.

The presence of a number of dargahs (mausoleum) of sufis and maystics also shows that there existed extensive sufi missionary work in Malabar. The mausoleum of Sayyid Alawi of Mambram, had been the chief centre of pilgrimage from ninenteenth century onwards. The mausoleums of Sayyid Sharif Madani of Ullal (Mangalore), Puratheel Shaikh “Abdul Qadir of Kanur, Abul Wafa Muhammad alias Mamukkoya of Calicut, Shaikh Nuruddin of Chaliyam, Shaikh Hajiyar Pappa of Malappuram, Sayyid ‘ Abdur Rahman ‘Aidarus of Ponnani , Shaikh Sayyid Jifri of Calicut, ‘Umar Qazi of Veliyancode, Shaikh ‘Husain Madani of Manjakkulam, Palakkad, Sayyida Majida Bibi and Mahin Abubakkar of Thiruvananthapuram, Shaikh Fariduddin Awliya of Kanjiramittam. Ernakulam, malikh b. Muhammad of kasarogde, Shaikh Kunhahammad of Perumpadappu are the important shrines for Mappilas as pilgrim centres.

More than forty Sayyid families had made their way into Malabar for preaching Islam. Most of these families were attached to some order of sufism and engaged in spiritual pursuits. Al Zahir, Al Shihab , Al Hadi, Ba Hasan, Ba Shamela, Ibn Sahl, Musava, Ba Husain, Aqil, Al Saqaf. Jamal-al Laili, Hamdun, “Aidarus, Ba ‘Alawi, Ba Faqih. Ba ‘Umar, Mahamud, Tahir, Hashim, Ahdal, Bukhari etc. are few among them.142

There exists abundant literature on Sufis in Arabic Malayalam. Most of them deal with the life history and miracles of Sufis and are known as malas (necklace). The oldest among them, is the Muhyaddin Mala, composed by Qazi Muhammad in 1607 AD. The other malas include the Rifa’I Mala on Ahmad al Rifa’I (d.1166 AD), the founder of the Rifa’I order, the Nafeesath Mala on Nafeesa, a woman sufi lived in Egypt in eighth century , the Shaduli Mala on Abu Hasan Ali al Shadili (d. 1258 A.D), the Shahul Hamid Mala on Shahul Hamid (d. 1570 A.D) of Nagur, the Manjakkulam Mala on Shaikh Husain Madani, an eighteenth century sufi who lived at Palakkad, the Farid Mala on Fariduddin Awliya of Kanchiramittam near Ernakulam, the Ajmir Mala on Shaikh Mu’inuddin Chishti of Ajmir (d. 1236 A.D.). Muhyaddin Mala, Rifa’I Mala and Nafeesath Mala had a profound influence in the Mappila life, that the recitation of Muhyaddin Mala is considered as a relief from all calamities while Rifa’I Mala is chanted as a cure from burns and snake bites and Nafeesath Mala is prescribed to pregnant woman for an easy delivery.

Hidayat al Adkiya ila Tariqar/al Awliya written by Zainuddin Makhdum is considered as the manual of Sufism in Malabar. Besides, a number of Arabic and Arabic Malayalam books and monographs on the subject were produced by the Muslim scholars of Malabar. There were regular disputations on religious problems among the followers of different orders. The practice of veneration of the tombs of sufi saints and offering nerchas to them are a part of the religious life of the Mappilas, many of whom or their predecessors were converted to Islam at the feet of these saints.

Conversion to Islam

Often the shrines became medium of conversion. The non Muslims who visit the shrines some times take an oath to accept Islam in of truth and justice only. 146 The law irrespective of faith, race and colour, honours the entire humanity as declared in the Book. We have honoured the sons of Adam.147 These ideals had really attracted the lowest Hindus who were suffering from the Brahmin over lordship and found refuge in Islam. Thus, as observed by I.H. Siddiqui. ‘the pattern in conversion reveals the collective consciousness of a community which had suffered at the hands of caste Hindus; conversion of individuals were few and confined to the educated and the rich.”148 Conversion thus took place mostly in peaceful manner and, we find, the numerical strength of the Mappilas was increasing even when the community, was passing through a critical phase during the Portuguese and the British period . “It was inevitable” says Roland E. Miller, “ that Islam would continue to appeal to those slaves called Cherumans and Pulayans , as well as to other sections of the depressed groups of Hindu society. Not only would Mappilas treat them with equality but in their new social position Mappila forcefulness would compel their former masters to deal with them in a new way.”149 To quote Sulaiman Nadvi, “Islam was making head way quite peacefully and without adopting jingoistic methods.”150 To Shaikh Zainuddin, “God mercifully ordained that the people of Malabar beyond the other nations of India, should evince a ready and willing aceptance of this holy creed. Their profession of it being void of monastic guile and free from distrust.”151

However, the stories of forced conversions during the period under review are not completely lacking in Malabar. Most of them are connected with the rule of Hyder Ali and his son Tipu Sultan. The anonymous author of the Memoirs of Tipu Sultan asks as to believe that Tipu Sultan converted seven lakhs of Christians and ten lakhs of Hindus.152 Another report is that in the country of Coorg 70,000 men were circumcised and made Musalmans.153 but to L. Avvon of Tellichery factory the number is only 40,000.154 Lt. Col. Wilks has reported the conversion of 2000 Nairs with their families at Kuttippuram. 155 Logan accepts the words of the Chief of the Tellichery factory without criticism and says. “ The unhappy captives gave a forced assent and on the next day the reite of circumcision was performed on all the males, every individual of both sexes being compelled to close the ceremony by eating beef.”156 Such stories are plenty in the writings of the Europeans, but the detailed investigations have revealed that most of those stories are fabricated in order to suit the utilitarian purpose of the European imperialists. The news of forcible conversions were so cleverly instilled in the minds of Hindu rulers and chieftains to enlist their support. Namboodiris and Nayars who ran away from Malabar, when Tipu attacked their social and economic privileges, also tried to fabricate and spread stories of terrorism and atrocities against Hindus by the sultan. Some Muslim Historians, who wanted to glorify Tipu as champion of Islam also made similar arguments.157 Even Arnold, a sympathiser of Islam affirms that., “Tipu Sultan is probably the Muhammadan monarch who most systematicaly engaged in the work of forcible conversion”158 while others say that, “ he (Tipu) forced conversion only on those recalcitrant Hindus on whose allegiance he couldn’t rely.

Whatever may be the case, the forced conversions and the so called religious reforms of Tipu had to be studied with reference to the prevailing social and economic conditions of Malabar. Himself abstaining from all excesses and extravagance Tipu was an ardent social reformer and his zeal to eradicate the savage practices among his subjects had become proverbial.160 Unlike his co-religionists in Malabar, Tipu never respected Hindu customs and traditions which Hindus considered as divine and virtuous while to the sultan they were inhumane and obnoxious. His decrees against polyandry and nudity of women really infuriated Hindus who though that Sultan was planning to convert them to Islam. The attitude showed by Hindus when Tipu asked the women of Nair families “to adopt Muhammadan custom of covering their bosom”161 clearly proves their intention towards reforms.

Likewise, the so called proclamation of Tipu issued to Nairs of Kerala also tells us on the zeal of sultan to stop the evil practices maintained in the name of religion. Tipu proclaimed, “Here after you must proceed in an opposite manner, dwell quietly and pay your dues like good subjects and since it is a practice with you for one women to associate with ten men and leave your mothers and sisters unconstrained in their obscene practices and are hence all born in adultery and are more shameless in your connections than the heasts of the filed. I hereby require you to forsake these sinful practices and live like the rest of mankind, and if you are disobedient to these commands, I have made repeated vows to honour the whole of you with Islam and to march all the chief persons to the seat of the Government”.162

Economic reforms of the Sultan also were intended to bring up the down trodden tenants and to liberate them from the economic exploitation of their feudal lords. The reforms curtailed the powers and privileges of the land lords including Namboodiris and nairs who became disappointed and left Malabar for Travancore where Raja of Travancore protected them. These refugees depicted Tipu as bigot and anti Hindu. There is no doubt that the economic reforms of the Sultan such as ryotwari system and imposition of tax on landlord were revolutionary and intended to save the majority who had been hard pressed under Brahmin hegemony.163

A number of Hindus were taken as prisoners by Mysore sultans during their invasion in Malabar. Among them there were respectable persons including princes and chieftains. It is said that Tipu converted many of these prisoners prisoners forcibly, but often this was not the case. Generally the Hindu prisoners of war embraced Islam as they could hardly be readmitted in Hindu society. Their captivity in the hands of Muslims for even a short period of time was supposed to have rendered them unclean for ever . Though many of such prisoners were readmitted to Hinduism after purification ceremoney it was not often accepted by the Brahmins and other caste Hindus. 164 In such circumstances many of them remained as Muslims, among whom there was once Parappanad Raja and a Chief of Nilambur Kovilakam whom tipu had sent back to Malabar, to invite the high castes to Islam.165

Reports of forced conversions had been recorded by the British officials during the period of out breaks, but no official attempt was ever made to calculate the number of those who have been said to be forcibly converted during the period. However the fact remains that the number of conversions increased rapidly during the outbreaks. The social and political factors behind it had been obvious. There is no doubt that the tenants, whether they are Hindus or Mappilas suffered equally at the hands of jenmis. But it was the religious obligations towards the jenmis that prevented the Hindu tenants from making insurrections against the lords. At the same time the Hindu tenants found before them, the Mappilas tenants rising against the oppression. The urge of the former to join the rising, forced them to forsake their religion and accept the faith of Mappilas. Hence, the proselytism promoted the war effort against British rule. And, also it was customary for rebels, when faced with the task of deciding how to treat non-Muslims who were assisting the government forces in their operation against the insurrection, to see conversion to Islam as an appropriate means of dealing with such offenders and render them harmless.

Conversion of a Muslim to any other faith is apostasy, which according to Islam is a major sin. If a Hindu, after his conversion to Islam is reconverted to his old faith, is thus an apostate. The Muslim law maintains that the apostate should be asked to repent and has to be readmitted to Islam. If the apostasy is in any forcible circumstances, the apostate should be forgiven and it is the duty of Muslims to save him from such circumstances . If the apostasy is at ones own will “he should be killed by striking off his neck.166 Thus the law prohibits a man to return to his old faith or to any other, after he had embraced Islam.

In Malabar apostasy was seldom before the advent of the Europeans but when Hindu-Muslim relations became strained with the European arrival, many caste Hindus were inclined to force reconversions, which further weakened the friendship between the two communities. The Mappilas punished not only those who reconverted to Hinduism but also those who assisted in the endeavour.

As reported by Logan, “in April-May 1852 two Cherumars (the property of Kudilil Kannukutti Nair, peon of Cheranand Taluk) after embracing Muhammadanism, reverted to their original faith after the departure of Sayyid Fazl, through whose influence they had become converts. Some Mappilas did not relish this, and consequently determined to murder Kannukutti Nair and the two Cherumars and thus become shahids (martyrs), Although the Nair agreed to relinguish his claims over the Cherumars on receipt of their purchase money, the impression made on the conspirators was that Kannukutti Nair also was instrumental to Cheruman’s apostacy.”167

Another incident of apostacy took place near Malappuram. In December 1834 a group of twelve Mappilas determined to kill an apostate who had escaped from their first attack and marched to his house, where they found that the apostate was not in the house, they returned after firing a volley at his brother.168 In September 1880 at Melattur, a group of Mappilas had killed a Cheruman who had reverted to Hinduism after embracing Islam.169 On 2nd November 1915 a rebellion took place over the problem of apostasy in which Colelctor Inners was attacked by a group of five Mappilas.170

Growth of Mappila Population

With the exception of a few immigrants like Arabs, Pathans, Bhatkals and Rawthars, the entire population of Malabar is composed of Mappilas. In terms of growth rate they had significantly out placed the growth of the general population. The practice of early marriage, intermarriage, and increase in the growth rate had, no doubt, facilitated the growth of the community, but the most important factor, however, was conversion.

Reports of travellers indicate an increasing number of mosques in the port cities in the early period. Mas’udi points out the Muslim population of 10,000 in the town of Samyur somewhere between Mangalore and Cannanore171 Gaspar Correa, the Porltuguese traveller of sixteenth century reports that the increase was to such an extent that they were more people than the natives.”172 But Barbosa, another Portuguese traveller, opines: “It seems to me they (Muslims) are a fifth part of its people, spread over all its Kingdom and provinces.” 173 He adds with regret that “ they (Muslims) are rich and live well…. They hold all the sea trade and navigation in such sort that if the king of Portugal had not discovered India. Malabar would already have gone in the hands of Moors and would have had a Morish king.”174

He continues with contempt: Through out this land they have a great number of mosques. They marry as many wives as they can support and keep as well as many heathen concubines of low caste. If they had sons and daughters by these they make them Moors, and of times the mother as well and thyus this evil generation continues to increase in Malabar , the people of the country call them Mapulers.175

In the period under review there was in increased growth rate which was mainly due to the conversion of the natives. This shows that the proselytizing activities were not only maintained even when the Mappilas were moving through a turbulent state, but also there appears to have been a starting advance in the Mappila numbers especially during the period between 1831-1851 when the rate of out breaks was the highest. In this period the rate of increase was 42.8 percent and at the same time the number of mosques was increased from 637 to 1058 i.e. 50 percent. 176 The following remark on the rapidity of the growth of Mappila population is found in Presidency Census Report of 1881.

…. Conspicuous for their degraded position and humiliating disabilities are the Cherumars. This case numbered 99,009 in Malabar at the Census of 1871 and in 1881 is returned at only 64.725. This is a loss of 34.63 percent, instead of the gain 5.71 percent observed generally in the district. There are there for 40,000 fewer Cherumars than there would have been, but for some disturbing cause, and the disturbing cause is very well known to the District officer to be conversion to Muhammadanism.177

This shows that nearly 50,000 non Muslims had embraced Islam between 1871-1881. Next to Cherumars the group which attracted to Islam largely was the fishermen. We have already pointed out that the Zamorin in order to man his navy ordered the conversion of one or two fishermen from every family to Islam.178 The fishermen boys who were born on Friday were mostly, thus converted. 179 The tremendous growth of conversion in Malabar caused apprehensions to Christian missionaries and authorities as well . In a christian Mission Conference held at Calcutta in 1882. It was reported that the Mappilas were increasing so rapidly, “as to render it possible that in a few years the whole of the lower race of the west coast may become Muhammadan.”180 T.H. Baber, a judge of the Criminal Court once suggested that it might be a good idea to out law conversion altogether.181

The influx of the new converts had sociological as well as numerical implications imposing the necessity to relate, to absorb and to Islamicize a whole set of people. To find out a solution for this acute problem a meeting of about 800 Mappila leaders was convened on 9th September 1900 at Malappuram. Puthiya Maliyakkal Pookoya Tangal was the president of the session. In this meeting an organization called Ma’unath al Islam Sabha was formed. The Mu’unath later started an institution at Ponnani for instructing the new converts to Islam.182 Here special facilities were provided for the profession of faith, circumcision of the male converts and instruction in Islam. The converts received religious d teaching for a minimum period of two months and a maximum period of six months during which time free food, lodging and clothing were provided. Similar institutions and Madrasas were started at various parts of Malabar.

To conclude, Mappilas of Malabar as Muslim community originated with the rise of Islam in Arabia and spread through a process of peaceful communication and economic relationship between the Arabs and people of Malabar; and Islam found a receptive soil in the circumstances of existing social and economic conditions of the region, with the missionary zeal of the Arab traders and the religious tolerance of native Rajas and their subjects.

These factors transformed Malabar into a country dominated by muslim Mappilas and “there is no area”, as stated by Gleason,” so extensive with so concentrated a Muslim population in all of peninsular India as in Malabar.”183


1. The word Mappila is a combination of two Dravidian words, Maha (great) and pilla (Child). Pilla is a term of endearment and intimacy and the Nairs of Travencore even now use this honourary title with their names. The Christians of Travencore are also called Mappilas Muslim Mappilas are clalled Jonaka or Chonaka Mappila (Chonaka stands for Lonion or Greek which may be used as an equivalent of “foreigner”, otherwise there is no reason to connect the Mappilas with the Greeks), while Christians are called Nazrani Mappilas. For the details of vairous theories of origin of the term Mappilas, see William Logan, Malabar Manual, superintendent, govt. Press, Madras, Vol. 1.1951, p. 191: E. Thurston, Castes and Tribes of India, Government press, Madras, Vol. IV. 1909. P. 458; K.P. Padmanabha Menon, A History of Kerala, Cochin, Government Press, Ernakulam, Vol. 1.1924. pp. 534-37; Roland E. Miller, Mappila Muslims of Kerala, A study in Islamic Trends, Orient Longman, Madras, 1976 pp. 30-32. P.A. Said Muhammad et al, Kerala Muslim Directory, Kerala Publications, Cochin, 1960, pp. 482-486.
2. Sayed Mohideen Shah, Islam in Kerala. The Muslim Educational Association, Trichur, 1975.p.2
3. Quoted in Ulloor S. Parameswara Ayyer, Kerala Sahitya Charitram, Trivandrum 1957. Vol. 1. Pp 80-81.
4. P.K. Mohammad Kunhi, Muslimingalum Kerala Samskaravum Kerala Sahitya Academy, Trichur, 1982.p.22.
5. Francis Day, The Land of the Perumals, Gantz Bros., Madras, 1863,p. 365
6. Sayed Mahindeen Shah, op. Cit.p.3
7. Khalasi is another name used to denote the community which came into existence through the matrimonial alliances of Arabs sailors with the local women of the Malabar coast. The word Khalasi technically meant, the mixture of black and white and it corresponds respectively to Indian women and Arab men. See Sayyid Sulaiman Nadvo, Arabikalude Kapplotam, Mal, trans. , Angadippuram, 1973, quoted in Jibid, p.22 Itr seems that the name khallasi was limtied only to those Mappilas who were employed by the rajas in merchant ships . Besides the Mappilas, the Konkani and Nawayats are the other groups of communities who also arose as a result of the Arab contact with native women on the western coast.
8. Qur-an. 2: 256
9. Qur-an. 10: 99.
10. See Qur-an, 10: 99
11. Aziz Ahmad Studies in Islamic culture in the Indian Environment, Oxford University Press, London, 1964, p. 82.
12. Vivekananda Sahitya Sarvaswam, Vol, III, pp. 186-187; Bhaskaranunni, Pathompatham Nuttandile Keralam, Kerala Sahitya Academy, Trichur, 1988.p. 159.
13. See Ibid., p. 165
14. Adiyan (your slave), ran (as order) were the common expressions used by Nairs before Nambudiris, Ibid p. 64.
15. The common poses were like this; bowdown and salute by joining both palms together, pass it upwards and then downwards, open and fold the finges three times, again pass the palm in the former way upwards, corss the palm on the breast, take the right hand from the breast and close the mouth with it and then speak with utmost reverence . ibid.
16. A. Aiyappan, Social Revolution in a Kerala Village, A study in Cultural Change, Asia Publishing House, Bombay 1965, p. 86.
17. Mattison Mines, “Caste and Social Stratification Among Muslim Tamils in Tamil Nadu,” Imtiaz ed; Caste and Social Stratification Among Muslims in India, manohar Publication, New Delhi, 1978.p. 76.
18. C.a. Innes, ICS, ed., FB. Ivans, ICS, Madras District Gazatteers, Malabar, Reprinted by the Superintendent, Government Press Madras, 1952. P. 103.
19. Ibid., P. 104
20. The upper castes hoot as “ho… ho” or hoi….” , Bhaskaranunni, op. Cit… p. 83.
21. Madras Government Museum Bulletin, Vol. IV. No. 1.p. 73, quoted in C.A. Innes, op cit.. p. 103.
22. Mattison Mines. “Social Stratification Among Muslim Tamils in Tamil Nadu south India” (ed.), Imtiaz Ahmad, op. Cit, p. 76.
23. Ibid.
24. Francis Buchanan, A Journey from Madras Through the Countries of Mysore Canara and Malabar, Cadell ad Davies, London, 1807, Vol. 1.p.383.
25. C.A. Innes, op. Cit.. p. 116.
26. C. Achutha Menon, Cochin State Manual, cochin: 1910 p. 193
27. For details of sambandham see Durate Barbosa, The Book of Duarte Barbosa. Tr. M.W. Dames, Hakluyt Society, London, 1981, vol. 1.124: Francis Buchanan, op. Cit., pp. 39 , 472-73 L.K. Ananda Krishna Iyer, Cochin Caste and Tribes, Higginbothams and Co. Madras, 1912 p. 85. Shaikh Zainuddin, Tuhfat-al Mujahidin, Eng. Trans.l S. Muhammad Husyn Nainar, University of Madras, Madras , 1942, pp. 72-73.
28. T.K. Gopala Pankkar, ed. Malabar and Its Falk. Ga.A. Natesan and Company, 1905, Madras, p.36.
29. Malabar Marriage Commisison Report, p. 76 Dr. C.K. Kareem, Kerala Under Hyder Ali and Tipu Sultan, Paico Publishing House, Cochin, 1973, p. 176.
30. Shaikh Zainuddin, Tuhfat…. op. cit., p. 32.
31. Bhaskaranunmi, op.cit., p. 32.
32. Ilamkulam Kunhan Pilllai, Studies in Kerala History Kottayam, 1970, p.275.
33. C. Kessavan Jeevitha Samaram, Bhaskaranunni, op, cit., p.32.
34. Ibid., 747.
35. C. Kesavan, Jeevitha Samaram vol. 1, p.85, Bhaskaranunni, op.cit., p.8
36. C.A. Innes, op.cit., p231
37. For details see K.P. Padmanabha Menon, A History of Kerala, ed., T.K. Krishna Menon, Cochin Government Press Ernakulam, 1939, Vol. II, pp 646 – 647.
38. Bhaskaranunni, op.cit., 18.
39. Jafar Sharif, Islam in India or the Qanum – Islam Eng. Trans. G.A. Herklots, ed., William Crooke, Curuzon press Ltd., London, 1975 (First Published in 1921), p.4.
40. Humanyun Kabir, Our Heritage National Information and Broad casting Ltd., Bombay, 1946.
41. Gasper Correa, Lenda da India Eng. Trans. Henry Stanely, Three Voyages of Vasco de Gama, Hakluyt Society, London, 1849, 155f, quoted in Miller, op.cit., p. 56.
42. Albiruni’s India, Eng. Trans. E. Sachau, London, 1910 Vol. I, p. 101.
43. It is said that just before rushing to the battle field Kunhelu Professed the faith and later became martyr. One the eve of Malappuram festival (nercha) there is a procession (varavu) called “Goldsmith’s Box” (Thattanda Petti). See ‘Malappuram pada,’ Al Irfad Monthly, December 1987, p.20.
44. T.V. Abdu Rahman Kutty, ‘Malabarile Makka’, Ibid, Nov. 1988, p.16.
45. Thomas Arnold, Preaching of Islam Mal. trans., Kalim, Islam Prabhodhanavum Pracharavum, Islamic publishing of Islam Mal. trans., Kalim, Islam Prabhodhanavum Pracharavum, Islamic publishing House, Calicut, 1985, p.352.
46. P.K. Muhammad Kunhi, o. cit., p. 53.
47. The festival is also called as ‘Friday festival’.
48. Salim Idid, ‘Katha Parayunna Mambram, Chandrika Daily, 27th April, 1991, p.3.
49. K.P. Padmanabha Menon, o.cit., Vol. I, p. 467; See also Velayundhan Panikkasseri, Keralm Padinanchum Padinarum Nuttandukalil, 1963, pp. 81-82.
50. R. Narayana Panikkar, History of Travencore, pp. 82-83; Baskaranunni, op.cit., p. 81.
51. Inb Battuta, Travels in Asia and Africa 1325 – 1343, trans. H.A.R. Gibb, Robert, M. M. Bride and Co., New York 1929, pp. 231 ff.
52. Iqtidar Hussain Siddiqui, Islam and Muslims in South Asia – Historical Perspective. Adam Publishers and Distributors, Delhi, 1987, p.4.
53. Shaikh Zainuddin, Tuhfat…, op., cit., p. 73. In fact the low castes which provided Islam with converts in large numbers didn’t belong to the core of Hindu society. At the same time, any reralization of the importance of numerical increase or decrease in a religious community was out of question before the modern age. It was after 1870, when the census was started by the British Indian government on communal basis and each community was given representation in the local bodies in proportion to the population of each community, the numerical strength became a serious problem.
54. C.A. Innes, o.cit., p. 186, see also Diwan Bahadur C. Gopalan Nair, Malayalathile Mappilamar, Base3l Mission Press, Managlore, 1917, pp. 97 – 98.
55. Report paragraph, 21, quoted in Logan, op.cit., p. 197. Graeme was appointed as a special commissioner to Malabar and he completed his report on 14 Jan. 182. Sir Thomas Munro admires the report, as the fullest and the most comprehensive report ever received of any province under the government, see ibid., p. 685.
56. Ibid., 197.
57. Adiyangal (we, the slaves ) is the self discriminating word which the community used before the caste Hindus.
58. C. Kesavan, Jueevitha Samaram, Vol. I, p. 290, in Baskaranunni, op.cit., p. 90. The appeal was submitted in c. 1919.
59. Kumaranasan, Asande Padya Kritikal, Study, Nitya Chaitanya Yathi CBEB fund Kottayam, 1990, p. 509.
60. Logan, Malabar Manual, Vol. I, op.cit., p. 559.
61. Muaddin is the man who gives the call to praryer from the mosque.
62. Shaikh Zsainuddin, Tuhfat… op. cit., p. 51.
63. Ibid., p. 538
64. Padmanabha Menon, Vol. I, op.cit., p. 550.
65. M.G.S. Narayanan, Perumals of Kerala, p. 65
66. A. Balakrishna Pillai, Introduction to Charithra Keralam, P.A. Saidu Muhammad, Kerala Muslim Charithram, Al Huda Book Stall, Kozhikode, 1988 (First Published in 1951), pp. 50-51.
67. Muhammad b. Malik is the grand son of Habib b. Malik, a chief member of the mission led by Malik Dinar.
68. Mohammad b. Malik, Tarikh “Zuhur-al Islam fil Malibar, Mal. trans., K.K. Muhammad Abdul Karim, Markaz al ‘Ulum Souvenir, Kondotti, 1988, pp. 31-32.
69. In 82 A.H., the Khalifa was not Walid I, but ‘Abdul Malik.
70. ‘Umar b. Muhammad Suhrawardi, Rihlat al Muluk, Mal. Trans., Abdu Rahman, K, pp. 20-22.
71. Shaikh Zainuddin, Tuhfat…., op. cit., 39.
72. Herman Gundert, Keralolpathi, Balan publications, Trivandrum, 1961 (First Published in 1843) p. 32.
73. Ibid., p. 85. Here also Islam is mentioned as Boudha Shastra. The convention story of Cheraman Perumanl described in Keralolpathi is almost same as mentioned in Rihalat al Muluk, see above pp. 318 – 19.
74. W Logan, Malabar Mannual, op.cit. Vol. I, pp. 192 – 95.
75. Shankaverman or Chenkal perumal (621 – 40), P.A. Said Muhammad, Kerala Muslim Charithram, Kozhikode, 1988, p. 50.
76. For details are his ‘Political and Social Condition of Kerala under the Kulasekhara Empire (800 AD to 1124 AD)’ (Unpublished Ph. D thesis, University of Kerala, 1972).
77. It is clear that Malabar maintained trade relationship even before the rise of Islam and a number of Arab colonies existed here. As soon as Prophet Muhammad preached his mission it naturally had reached here. “The conversion of the Perumal only accelerated the spread of Islam in the country” (A.P. Ibrahim Kunhu, o.cit., p.20). Besides, the tomb inscriptions at Pantalaynai – Kollam (dt. 782 A.D.) and the Tarisapalli Copper Plates, (dt. 849. AD) are evidences to prove the presence of Muslims in Malabar prior to the conversion of the Perumal. For details se, R.E. Miller, op. cit., pp. 42 – 43.
78. A. Shushterry, Outlines of Islamic Culture, University of Mysore, Mysore, 1938, p. 31.
79. 0
80. See P.A. Said Muhammad, Kerala Muslim Charithram, op.cit., p. 64
81. For the life sketch of Malik b. dinar, see A.J. Arberry, An Introduction to the History of Sufism, Oxford, 1962, pp. 26-31; R.A. Nicholson, Studies in Islamic Mysticism, Cambridge, 1967, pp. 89 – 90.
82. 0
83. Sreedhara Menon, Ernakulam Gazatteer, p. 108, referring to the opinion of Prof. Humayun Kabir, Indian Heritage, Bombay 1946, p. 70.
84. Keralolpathi, op.cit., p.81.
85. William Logan, Malabar Manual, Vol. 1, op.cit., p. 196.
86. See Kondungallur Kunhikkuttan Tampuran, Keralam, Sarga IV, sloka, 35. Since the Buddhist temple was called palli the same name might have continued after changing it into a mosque or palli may be the name called to the places of workship other than those of Hindus when Christian churches also bear the same name.
87. Longan, Malabar Mannul, op.cit., Vol. 1, p.235.
88. C.N. Ahamd Mawlwi and K.K. Muhammad Abdul Karim, Mahathaya Mappila Sahitya Parambaryam, Calicut, 1978, p. 169.
89. Ibn Battuta, travels, translated from an abridged M.S.S. by S. Lee Murray (1829), p. 167; C.A. Innes, op. cit., p. 426. Battuta says tha, the trees was a great wonder, its leaves were green and like those the fiug. Except will only then they were soft. The tree was called “Darakht-I-Shahadat” (the tree of testimoney). For details see, Ibid., p. 426.
90. Syed Mohideen Shah, Islam in Kerala, op.cit., pp. 7-8.
91. Logan, Malabar Manual, op.cit., Vol. I. P. 357.
92. Poonthurakkon was the title used by the Zamorins in their early documents. The word Poonthura is said to havce derived from the Arabic word bandar meaning harbour. See P.K. Muhammad Kunhi, op.cit., p.71. The man who collected tolls at the harbour in the Kingdom of Zamorin was called bandar Koya.
93. K.V. Krishan Ayyar, The Zamorins of Calicut, Norman Printing Bureau, Calicut 1938, p. 52.
94. K.P. Padmanabha Menon, Vol. I, op.cit., pp. 537-38.
95. Ibid., p. 538
96. See Briggs, Ferishta, Vol. IV, pp. 531 – 33, quoted in P.K. Gopala Krishnan, Kerlathinde Samskarika Charitram, Kerala Language Institute, Trivandrum, 1987, p. 302.
97. P.S.M. Burhanuddin, Hazrath Ubaidullah Madaniyum Arbikkadalile Pavizhadweepukalum, By the Author, 1976, p. 25.
98. Ferishta, IV. P. 98, quoted in Miller op.cit., p. 54.
99. Logan, Malabar Manual op.cit., Vol, 1 P., 277.
100. See P.K. Muhammad Kunhi, op.cit., p. 75
101. Ibid., p. 73
102. Se Krishna Ayyar, op.cit., p.31.
103. Logan, Malabar Manual op.cit.,Vol. 1, p. 245
104. See above, p. 48.
105. Miller, op.cit.,55 n., see also, Krishna Ayyar, op.cit., p. 89.
106. Qazi Muhammad, Fath-al Mubin, Mal, trans. K.K. Muhammad Abdul Karim, Amin Publications, Trichur, 1982, p. 23.
107. Ibid, p. 28.
108. Sayyid Shah Kabir Tanafuri, Tadkirat-al Kiram Tarikh-I, Khulafa-I Arab wo Islam, quoted in P.S.M. Burhanuddin, op.cit., p.25. The Zamorin provided Mughira and his party all facilities and the royal house at Tekkumtala, in the south of Calicut was made their residence. This house later came to be called as Mughira dar (the house of Mughira). The present Mukhadar at Calicut may be this place, see, Ibid., Ibid., p. 26.
109. See Ibid., p. 26
110. Velayudhan Panikkasseri, Ibn Battuta Kanda Keralam, National Book Stall, Kottayam, 1993, pp. 82-83. Abu Ishaq Ibrahim Gazeruni belonged to Shiraz in Persia and died at Gazerun. The sufi order called Gazeruniyya was started in his name. It was believed that the offerings in his name were effective safeguard against the perils in seatravel to India and China. A monsatery in his name was alos maintained at Zaitun in China. Triming ham, The Sufi orders in Islam, Oxford, 1971, p. 236
111. K.P. Padmanabha Menon, A History of Kerala, Vol. 1, op.cit., p.538.
112. Ibid., p. 538.
113. C. Gopalan Nair, op.cit., p.73
114. Shihabudin Ahmad Koya Shaliyati, Kawakib-al-Majd al Malakuti (1930) Mal trans. Abdsulla Musliyar, Indianur, M.S.S. P.B. Chaliyam, 198 pp. 28.
115. P.K. Muhammad Kunhi, op.cit., p.78
116. Ibid., p. 158
117. Ibid. p. 158.
118. P.A. Nainan Kutty, Malappuram Rakta Sakshikal, Mujahid Publications, Ernakulam, 1952, pp. 32-33.
119. Ibid., p. 33.
120. For details of the inscription, see, M.G.S. Narayanan Cultural Symbiosis in Kerala. Kerala Historical Society, Trivandrum, 1972, pp. 38-42.
121. P.P. Mammad Koya.Parappil, Kozhikkote Muslimkalude charithram, Focus Publications, Kozhikode, 1994, p: 51.
122. Duarte Barbosa, op.cit., Vol. II, p. 76.
123. Logan, Malabar Manual, op.cit., Vol. I, p.197, see also L.K. Ananda Krishan Ayyar, op. cit., Vol. II, p. 16.
124. Logan, Malabar Manual, o.cit., Vol. I, p. 479.
125. Miller, op.cit., p.53.
126. “Malas are devotional songs which piously praises the admirable events from the glorious life of holymen” O. Abul, Arabi Malayala Sahitya Chritram, National Book Stall, Kottayam, 1970, p. 62.
127. For the malas see, Munnutti Mupati Munnu Vaka Mawlid Kitab, C.H. Muhammad and Sons Tirurangadi, 1992.
128. For details see, Shaikh Zainuddin, Tuhfat…., op.cit., p.38-39.
129. Syed Muhideen Shah, op.cit., p.7.
130. See, Shaikh Zainuddin, Tuhfat… op.cit., p.38-39.
131. Syed Muhideen Shah, op.cit., p.12
132. Ibn Battuta, Travels, op.cit., p.234.
133. For the details of sufism and its orders in India refer, K.A. Nizami, Some Aspects of Religion and Politics in India During Thirteenth Century, Idra-I-Adabiyyati- Delhi, Delhi, 1974; R.A. Nicholson, The Mystics of Islam, London, 1914; Subhan, Sufism; Its Saints and Shrines, Lucknow 1930; Shihabuddin Suhrawardi, Awarif al Ma’arif, Eng. Trans. H.W. Clarke, Calcutta 1819; Order or Tariqat is the name of their founders. Later the orders became powerful movements for proselytization.
134. Ba ‘Alawi is actually the family name of Shaikh Jifri. The family was founded by Muhgammad b. Ali b. Muhammad (d. 1255 AD)
135. Aidarus is the family in Hadhramaut. The members of this family mostly belonged to Kubrawiyya, an off shoot of the Qadiri order.
136. Ratib is a fixed office or litany prescribed by the guide (murshid) to his disciple. For ratib of al Haddad see, 333 Vaka Mawlid, op.cit., p.384.
137. Qutubiyyat is a devotional song written by Sadaqatullah al Qahiri. In the song Shaikh ‘Abdul Qadir Jilani, is invoked by continuous repetition of his name loundly in congression, see, Ibid., p. 460.
138. For details see below, p. 223ff.
139. Ibrahim Kunhu, op.cit., p.22.
140. For details see, Bukhari mala, n.d.
141. See, ‘Abdu Rahman Naqshabandi, Al Ifazat al Qudsiyya fi Ikhtilafat Turqi Sufiya, Mal. trans., Haji, K.V. M. Pandavur, Tirurangadi, 1992, pp. 24-29.
142. For details of the Sayyid families migrated to Malabar, see Abdu Rhman Muhammad b. Hussain, Shams al ‘Zahiyat al Muneera, Hyderabad, 1911.
143. 0
144. 0
145. 0
146. Ibid., XCIX: 7-8.
147. Ibid., XVII: 70
148. I.H. Siddiqui, op.cit., p.5.
149. Miller, op.cit., p.21.
150. Sulaiman Nadvi, “Muslim colonies”, Islamic Culture, Vol. VIII, 1934, p.203.
151. Shaikh Zainuddin, Tuhfat…. op.cit., p.51.
152. Memories of Tippu Sultan (Anon), p. 270; C.K. Karim, op.cit., p.193.
153. Ibid., p. 191.
154. Poona Residency Correspondence, No. 51, p. 43, C.K. Karim op.cit., p.191.
155. Wilks, Historical Sketches, Vol. II, p. 136; C.K. Karim p.190.
156. Logan, Malabar Manual, op. cit., Vol. I, p. 451.
157. For eg. See the statement of Kirmani: “When the Sultan arrived at Seringapatam the prisoners taken in the country of Coorg had all been made Musalmans and styled Ahmadis, quoted in C.K. Karim, op.cit., p.192. The unauthenticity of several such instances is brought into light by Muhibbul Hasan Khan, in his history of Tipu Sultan, 1951 pp. 359-61 and C.KI. Karim in his, Kerala Under Hyder Ali and tipu Sultan, op.cit., p.p. 182-209.
158. T.W. Arnold, Preaching of Islam, Muhammad Ashraf and Company, Lahore, 1961, p. 264.
159. R.C. Majumdar, et-al., Advanced History of India, Mac Millan and Co., Ltd. London, 1948, p. 715.
160. Karim, op.cit., p.178.
161. Clarke, Life of Willington, quoted in Nagam Aiya, Taravancore State Manual, see, C.K. Karim, op.cit., p.185.
162. Wilks, opcit., Vol. II, p. 120, pp. 185-186. Dr. C.K. Karim doubts the authenticity of this proclamation and says that since it is not mentioned in any of the documents or in the contemporary works it is a later invention inorder to malign the tolerant character of Tipu. See Ibid., 196 – 187.
163. Facts tell us that Hyder Ali and Tipu were not opposed to Hindus as Hindus. Hyder Ali had appointed many Brahmin governors and he was in good terms with Nair Rajas of Kolathunad. Governors of Tipu in Mysore as well as in Malabar were mostly Hindus. Ananda Rao, Madanna, Srinivas Rao, Rama linga Pillai, Nonji Pillai, Oudhoot Rao and others were his chief officers and governors. A large number of Hindus held high posts under him. His relations with Hindu priests like Jagath Guru and his gifts and grants to temples and satrams are well known. For details, refer Muhibbul Hasan Khan, o.cit., pp. 354-63; C.K. Kareem, op.cit., p.p. 195-99. Dr. Kareem has brought out a list of 57 temples and Satrams in South Malabar to which Tipu Sultan had provided grants. See ibid., pp. 200-209.
164. Bhaskaranunni, op.cit., p.111.
165. P.C.M. Raja Samuthiriyaum Kozhikodum, p. 217; Bhaskaranunni, p. 112.
166. Shaikh Zainuddin, Fat’ul in bi Sharahi Qurrat al ‘Alin, Mal, trans., Ibrahim Puthur Faizee, Bayaniyya Book stall, Parappangadi: 1984, p. 528.
167. Longan, Malabar Manual, op.cit., p.564.
168. Innes, op.cit., p.81-82.
169. Government Order, Jaudicial, 15 September 1880, No. 2241. This attack is said to be the work of an influential tenant named Muhammad Kutty who failed in a suit at the court withhis jenmis, Apathur Pattar and Krishna Pisharodi. As a retaliation for hisd defeat Muhammad Kutty induced few Mappilas to kill the Cheruman apostate and two jenmis who were the owners of Cheruman and they are said to have induced him to revert to his hold faith, G. Mac. Waters, Acting District Magistrate of Malabar to the Chief Secretary to the Government, 5 October 1880, No. 2732, Para, 14; K.K.N. Kurup, ;Willaim Logan, A Study with Agrarian Relations of Malabar, Sandhya Publcations, Trivandrum, 1981, p. 16.
170. S.F. Dale, op.cit., p.232.
171. Sulyman Nadvi, Islamic Culture, VIII, 1934, 487, quoting Masudi, Muruj al Dahab, Vol. II, pp. 85f.
172. Gaspar Correa, op.cit., p.156.
173. Barobosa, op.cit., p. vol. II, p.74.
174. Ibid., Vol. II, pp. 74-75.
175. Ibid., P. 75, emphasis added.
176. Correspondence of Mappila Outrages in Malabar, 1849-1853, Superintendent, Government Press, Madras, 1863, Vol.I. p.32.
177. Presidency Census (1881) Report, Para, 151.
178. See aboe, p. 70
179. C. Gopalan Nair, op.cit., p.99. The converted fishermen were called Pusalars meaning enw converts.
180. Report of the Second Decennial Missionary Conference, Calcutta, 1882; Arnold op.cit., p.272.
181. Malabar District Records, Magisterial, 1882, pp. 236-237.
182. P.A. Said Muhammad et. al., Kerala Muslim Directory, op.cit., p.305.
183. A Gleason, Religious Communities in the Indias, A Regional Survey, published by the Author, 1946, p. 91