Islam in Kerala

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Islam arrived in Kerala, the Malayalam language speaking region in the south-western tip of India, through Middle Eastern merchants.[1][2] The Indian coast has an ancient relation with West Asia, and the Middle East, even during the pre-Islamic period (c. 4th century AD).[1][3]

Kerala Muslims from north Kerala are generally referred to as Mappilas. Mappilas are but one among the many communities that forms the Muslim population of Kerala.[4] According to some scholars, the Mappilas are the oldest settled Muslim community in South Asia.[1][2] As per some studies, the term "Mappila" denotes not a single community but a variety of Malayali Muslims from north Kerala (former Malabar District) of different origins.[5]

Native Muslims of Kerala were known as Mouros da Terra, or Mouros Malabares in medieval period. Settled foreign Muslims of Kerala were known as Mouros da Arabia/Mouros de Meca.[6]

Muslims in Kerala share a common language (Malayalam) with the rest of the non-Muslim population and have a culture commonly regarded as the Malayali culture.[7] Islam is the second largest practised religion in Kerala (26.56%) next to Hinduism.[8] The calculated Muslim population (Indian Census, 2011) in Kerala state is 8,873,472.[9][10] Most of the Muslims in Kerala follow the Shāfiʿī School, while a large minority follow modern movements (such as Salafism) that developed within Sunni Islam.[11] Very much unlike other parts of South Asia, the caste system does not exist among the Muslims of Kerala. A number of different communities, some of them having distant ethnic roots, exist as status groups in Kerala.[12]

History[edit]

There had been considerable trade relations between West Asia and Kerala even before the time of Prophet Muḥammad (c. 570 - 632 AD).[13][14] Muslim tombstones with ancient dates, short inscriptions in medieval mosques, and rare Arab coin collections are the major sources of early Muslim presence on the Malabar Coast.[15] As per local legend, the Cheraman Jum'ah Masjid at Cranganore in central Kerala was the very first mosque in South Asia.[15]

The earliest major epigraphic evidence of Muslim merchants in Kerala is the Quilon Syrian Copper Plate (9th century AD)

The monopoly of overseas spice trade from Malabar Coast was safe with the West Asian shipping magnates of Kerala ports.[16] The Muslims were a major financial power to be reckoned with in the kingdoms of Kerala and had great political influence in the Hindu royal courts.[17][16] Travellers have recorded the considerably huge presence of Muslim merchants and settlements of sojourning traders in most of the ports of Kerala.[18] Immigration, intermarriage and missionary activity/conversion — secured by the common interest in the spice trade — helped in this development.[19][20]

Some of the important administrative positions in Kerala kingdoms, such as that of the port commissioner, were held by Muslims. The port commissioner, the "shah bandar", represented commercial interests of the Muslim merchants. In his account, Moroccan traveller Ibn Battutah mentions Shah Bandars in the ports of Calicut (Kozhikode) and Quilon (Kollam). The "nakhudas", merchant magnates owning ships, spread their shipping and trading business interests across the Indian Ocean. [20][21]

The arrival of the Portuguese explorers in the late 15th century checked the then well-established and wealthy Muslim community's progress.[22] As the Portuguese tried to establish monopoly in spice trade, bitter naval battles with the zamorin ruler of Calicut became a common sight.[23][24] The Portuguese naval forces attacked and looted the Muslim dominated port towns in the Kerala.[25][26] Ships containing trading goods were drowned, often along with the crew. This activities, in the long run, resulted in the Muslims losing control of the spice trade they had dominated for more than five hundred years. Historians note that in the post-Portuguese period, once-rich Muslim traders turned inland (southern interior Malabar) in search of alternative occupations to commerce.[22]

By the mid-18th century the majority of the Muslims of Kerala were landless labourers, poor fishermen and petty traders, and the community was in "a psychological retreat".[22] The community tried to reverse the trend during the Mysore invasion of Malabar District (late 18th century). [27] The victory of the English East India Company and princely Hindu confederacy in 1792 over the Kingdom of Mysore placed the Muslims once again in economical and cultural subjection.[22][28] The subsequent partisan rule of British authorities brought the land-less Muslim peasants of Malabar District into a condition of destitution, and this led to a series of uprisings (against the Hindu landlords and British administration). The series of violence eventually exploded as the infamous Mappila Uprising (1921–22).[22][29][7][30] The Muslim material strength - along with modern education, theological reform, and active participation in democratic process - recovered slowly after the 1921-22 Uprising. The Muslim numbers in state and central government posts remained staggeringly low. The Muslim literacy rate was only 5% in 1931.[2]

A large number of Muslims of Kerala found extensive employment in the Persian Gulf countries in the following years (c. 1970s). This widespread participation in the "Gulf Rush" produced huge economic and social benefits for the community. Great influx funds from the earnings of the employed followed. Issues such as widespread poverty, unemployment and educational backwardness began to change.[1] The Muslims in Kerala are now considered as section of Indian Muslims marked by recovery, change and positive involvement in the modern world. Malayali Muslim women are now not reluctant to join professional vocations and assuming leadership roles.[2] University of Calicut, with the former Malabar District being its major catchment area, was established in 1968.[31] Calicut International Airport, currently the twelfth busiest airport in India, was inaugurated in 1988.[32][33] An Indian Institute of Management (IIM) was established at Kozhikode in 1996.[34]

Theological orientations/denominations[edit]

Most of the Muslims of Kerala follow the traditional Shāfiʿī school of religious law (known in Kerala as the traditionalist Sunnis) while a large minority follow modern movements that developed within Sunni Islam.[1][2] The latter section consists of majority Salafists (the Mudjahids) and the minority Islamists. Both the traditional Sunnis and Mudjahids again have been divided to a no. of sub-identities.[35][1][2]

Communities[edit]

  • Mappilas: The largest community among the Muslims of Kerala.[4] As per some studies , the term "Mappila" denotes not a single community but a variety of Malayali Muslims from north Kerala (former Malabar District) of different ethnic origins. In south Kerala Malayali Muslims are not called Mappilas.[4]

A Mappila is either,

  1. A descendant of any native convert (mostly from any of the former lower or untouchable castes) to Islam[4] (or)
  2. A descendant of a marriage alliance between a Middle Eastern individual and a Malayali woman[4]

The term Mappila is still in use in Malayalam to mean "bridegroom" or "son-in-law".[4]

  • Pusalans: Mostly converts from the Mukkuvan caste. Formerly a low status group among the Muslims of Kerala. The other Mappilas used call them "Kadappurattukar", while themselves were known as "Angadikkar". The Kadappurattukar were divided into two endogamous groups on the basis of their occupation, "Valakkar" and "Bepukar". The Bepukar were considered superior to Valakkar.[4]

In addition to the two endogamous groups there were other service castes like "Kabaru Kilakkunnavar", "Alakkukar", and "Ossans" in Pusalan settlements. Ossan occupied the lowest position in the old hierarchy.[4]

  • Ossans: the Ossans were the traditional barbers among the Muslims of Kerala. Formed the lowest rank in the old hierarchy, and were an indispensable part of the village community of Muslims of Kerala.[4]
  • Tangals (the Sayyids): Highest state in social order among Muslims of Kerala. Claiming descent from the family of the Prophet Muhammed. People who had migrated from Middle East. Elders of a no. of widely respected Tangal families often served as the focal point of the Muslim community in old Malabar District.[4]
  • Vattakkolis (the Bhatkalis) or Navayats: ancient community of Muslims, claiming Arab origin, originally settled at Bhatkal, Uttara Kannada. Speaks Navayati language. Once distributed in the towns of northern Kerala as a mercantile community.[4]
  • Labbais: merchant community of partly Tamil origin, claiming Arab origin, found in Kerala and Tamil Nadu. In Thanjavur, the Labbais are called "Kodikkalkaran". It seems that they migrated through Shenkottai to South Kerala. They are said to be the "Mappilas of the Coromandel Coast".[4]
  • Nahas: The origin of the name Naha is supposed to be a transformation of "nakhuda" which means captain of ship. Community concentrated mainly in Parappanangadi, south of Kozhikode.[4]
  • Marakkars: once powerful multilingual maritime trading community settled in Kerala, Tamil Nadu, the Palk Strait and Sri Lanka. The most famous of the Marakkar were "Kunjali Marakkars", or the naval captains of the zamorin chief of Kozhikode. The Muslims of pure Middle Eastern descent held themselves superior to Marakkars and Marakkars considered themselves superior to Labbais.[4]
  • Koyas: Muslim community, in the city of Kozhikode. May be of Omani origin. It is said that the name is a corruption of “Khawaja”. Held administrative positions in the Kozhikode court of the zamorins.[4]
  • Kurikkals: a family of Muslims, claiming Arab origin, settled around Manjeri in Malappuram District. The family was first settled in Mavvancheri in North Malabar and moved to Manjeri in the beginning of the 16th century. Many of the members of the family served as instructor in the use of fire-arms in the employ of various chiefs of Malabar.[4]
  • Nainars: a community of Tamil origin. Settled only in Cochin. It is believed that the Nainars first settled in Kerala in the 15th century, entering into contract for certain works with the chiefs of Cochin.[4]
  • Dakhnis or Pathans: "Dakhni" speaking community. Migrated as cavalry men under various chiefs, especially in South Travancore. Some of them came South India along with the invasion of the Coromandel by the Khaljis. Many of the Dakhnis had also come as traders and businessmen.[4]
  • Ravuthars: a community of Tamil origin. Widely distributed in the eastern parts of the Palakkad region. Migrated to Kerala on account of persecution of the "foreigners" in the Tamil country.
  • Bohras (Daudi Bohras): Western (Mustaalis) Ismaili Shiah community. Settled in a few major town in Kerala like Kozhikode, Kannur, Kochi and Alappuzha. Bohras migrated from Gujarat to Kerala.[4]

Culture[edit]

Literature[edit]

Mappila Songs (or Mappila Poems) is a famous folklore tradition emerged in c. 16th century. The ballads are compiled in complex blend of Dravidian (Malayalam/Tamil) and Arabic, Persian/Urdu in a modified Arabic script.[37] Mappila songs have a distinct cultural identity, as they sound a mix of the ethos and culture of Dravidian South India as well as West Asia. They deal with themes such as religion, satire, romance, heroism, and politics. Moyinkutty Vaidyar (1875-91) is generally considered as the poet laureate of Mappila Songs.[38]

As the modern Malayali Muslim literature developed after the 1921-22 Uprising, religious publications dominated the field.[38]

Vaikom Muhammad Basheer (1910 - 1994) , followed by, U. A. Khader, K. T. Muhammed, N. P. Muhammed and Moidu Padiyath are leading Kerala Muslim authors of the modern age.[38] Muslim periodical literature and newspaper dailies - all in Malayalam - are also extensive and critically read among the Muslims. The newspaper known as "Chandrika", founded in 1934, played as significant role in the development of the Muslim community.[38]

Kerala Muslim folk arts[edit]

  • Oppana was a popular form of social entertainment. It was generally performed by a group of women, as a part of wedding ceremonies a day before the wedding day. The bride, dressed in all finery, covered with gold ornaments, is the chief "spectator"; she sits on a pitham, around which the singing and dancing take place. While the women sing, they clap their hands rhythmically and move around the bride in steps.
  • Kolkkali was a dance form popular among the Muslims. It was performed by a group of dozen young men with two sticks, similar to the Dandiya dance of Gujarat in Western India.
  • Duff Muttu[39] (also called Dubh Muttu) was an art form prevalent among Muslims, using the traditional duff, or daf, also called tappitta. Performers dance to the rhythm as they beat the duff.
  • Arabana muttu was an art form named after the aravana, a hand-held, one-sided flat tambourine or drumlike musical instrument. It is made of wood and animal skin, similar to the duff but a little thinner and bigger.
  • Muttum Viliyum was a traditional orchestral musical performance. It is basically the confluence of three musical instruments—kuzhal, chenda and cheriya chenda. Muttum Viliyum is also known by the name "Cheenimuttu".
  • Vattappattu was an art form once performed in the Malabar region on the eve of the wedding. It was traditionally performed by a group of men from the groom’s side with the putiyappila (the groom) sitting in the middle.

See also[edit]

References[edit]

  1. ^ a b c d e f Miller, E. Roland. "Mappila Muslim Culture" State University of New York Press, Albany (2015); p. xi.
  2. ^ a b c d e f Miller, R. E. "Mappila" in The Encyclopedia of Islam Volume VI. Leiden E. J. Brill 1988 p. 458-66 [1]
  3. ^ P. P., Razak Abdul "Colonialism and community formation in Malabar: a study of muslims of Malabar" Unpublished PhD thesis (2013) Department of History, University of Calicut [2]
  4. ^ a b c d e f g h i j k l m n o p q r s t Kunhali, V. "Muslim Communities in Kerala to 1798" PhD Dissertation Aligarh Muslim University (1986) [3]
  5. ^ Prange, Sebastian R. Monsoon Islam: Trade and Faith on the Medieval Malabar Coast. Cambridge University Press, 2018.[verification needed]
  6. ^ Subrahmanyam, Sanjay."The Political Economy of Commerce: Southern India 1500-1650" Cambridge University Press, (2002)
  7. ^ a b Pg 461, Roland Miller, The Encyclopaedia of Islam, Vol VI , Brill 1988
  8. ^ Panikkar, K. N., Against Lord and State: Religion and Peasant Uprisings in Malabar 1836–1921
  9. ^ T. Nandakumar, "54.72 % of population in Kerala are Hindus" The Hindu August 26, 2015 [4]
  10. ^ Miller, E. Roland. "Mappila Muslim Culture" State University of New York Press, Albany (2015); p. xi.
  11. ^ Miller, Roland. E., "Mappila" in "The Encyclopedia of Islam". Volume VI. E. J. Brill, Leiden. 1987 pp. 458-56.
  12. ^ Kunhali, V. "Muslim Communities in Kerala to 1798" PhD Dissertation Aligarh Muslim University (1986) [5]
  13. ^ Fuller, C. J. (March 1976). "Kerala Christians and the Caste System". Man. New Series. Royal Anthropological Institute of Great Britain and Ireland. 11 (1): 53–70. doi:10.2307/2800388. JSTOR 2800388.
  14. ^ P. P., Razak Abdul "Colonialism and community formation in Malabar: a study of muslims of Malabar" Unpublished PhD thesis (2013) Department of History, University of Calicut [6]
  15. ^ a b Miller, R. E. "Mappila" in The Encyclopedia of Islam Volume VI. Leiden E. J. Brill 1988 p. 458-66 [7]
  16. ^ a b Mehrdad Shokoohy (29 July 2003). Muslim Architecture of South India: The Sultanate of Ma'bar and the Traditions of the Maritime Settlers on the Malabar and Coromandel Coasts (Tamil Nadu, Kerala and Goa). Psychology Press. p. 144. ISBN 978-0-415-30207-4. Retrieved 30 July 2012.
  17. ^ Menon, A. Sreedhara (1982). The Legacy of Kerala (Reprinted ed.). Department of Public Relations, Government of Kerala. ISBN 978-8-12643-798-6. Retrieved 2012-11-16.
  18. ^ Miller, E. Roland. "Mappila Muslim Culture" State University of New York Press, Albany (2015); p. xi.
  19. ^ Miller, R. E. "Mappila" in The Encyclopedia of Islam Volume VI. Leiden E. J. Brill 1988 p. 458-66 [8]
  20. ^ a b Prange, Sebastian R. Monsoon Islam: Trade and Faith on the Medieval Malabar Coast. Cambridge University Press, 2018.
  21. ^ Miller, R. E. "Mappila" in The Encyclopedia of Islam Volume VI. Leiden E. J. Brill 1988 p. 458-66 [9]
  22. ^ a b c d e Nossiter, Thomas Johnson. Communism in Kerala: A Study in Political Adaptation. Retrieved 2012-11-15.
  23. ^ Sanjay Subrahmanyam (29 October 1998). The Career and Legend of Vasco Da Gama. Cambridge University Press. pp. 293–294. ISBN 978-0-521-64629-1. Retrieved 26 July 2012.
  24. ^ Henry Morse Stephens (1897). "Chapter 1". Albuquerque. Rulers of India series. Asian Educational Services. ISBN 978-81-206-1524-3.
  25. ^ Mehrdad Shokoohy (29 July 2003). Muslim Architecture of South India: The Sultanate of Ma'bar and the Traditions of the Maritime Settlers on the Malabar and Coromandel Coasts (Tamil Nadu, Kerala and Goa). Psychology Press. p. 147. ISBN 978-0-415-30207-4. Retrieved 30 July 2012.
  26. ^ The Edinburgh review: or critical journal – Sydney Smith, Lord Francis Jeffrey Jeffrey, Macvey Napier, Sir George Cornewall Lewis, William Empson, Harold Cox, Henry Reeve, Arthur Ralph Douglas Elliot (Hon.). Books.google.com. Retrieved 17 February 2012.
  27. ^ Robert Elgood (15 November 1995). Firearms of the Islamic World: in the Tared Rajab Museum, Kuwait. I.B.Tauris. pp. 164–. ISBN 978-1-85043-963-9. Retrieved 25 July 2012.
  28. ^ Prema A. Kurien (7 August 2002). Kaleidoscopic Ethnicity: International Migration and the Reconstruction of Community Identities in India. Rutgers University Press. pp. 51–. ISBN 978-0-8135-3089-5. Retrieved 25 July 2012.
  29. ^ Pg 179–183, Kerala district gazetteers: Volume 4 Kerala (India), A. Sreedhara Menon, Superintendent of Govt. Presses https://books.google.com/books?id=ZF0bAAAAIAAJ
  30. ^ Cultural heritage of Kerala - A Sreedhara Menon - Google Books. Books.google.co.in. Retrieved 2012-11-16.
  31. ^ "Official website of Calicut University - Home". www.universityofcalicut.info. Retrieved 2018-10-11.
  32. ^ "Kozhikode Calicut International Airport (CCJ)". www.kozhikodeairport.com. Retrieved 2018-10-11.
  33. ^ "Silver jubilee does not bring cheer to Karipur airport users - Times of India". The Times of India. Retrieved 2018-10-11.
  34. ^ "Archived copy". Archived from the original on 8 May 2017. Retrieved 10 May 2017. Cite uses deprecated parameter |dead-url= (help)CS1 maint: archived copy as title (link)
  35. ^ Shajahan Madampat, "Malappuram Isn't Mini Kashmir" Outlook 21 August 2017 [10]
  36. ^ a b Miller, Roland. E., "Mappila" in "The Encyclopedia of Islam". Volume VI. E. J. Brill, Leiden. 1987 pp. 458-56.
  37. ^ "Preserve identity of Mappila songs". Chennai, India: The Hindu. 7 May 2006. Retrieved 15 August 2009.
  38. ^ a b c d Miller, R. E. "Mappila" in The Encyclopedia of Islam Volume VI. Leiden E. J. Brill 1988 p. 458-66 [11]
  39. ^ "Madikeri, Coorg, "Gaddige Mohiyadeen Ratib" Islamic religious "dikr" is held once in a year". YouTube. Retrieved 17 February 2012.