Kerala has been in the news for a wide range of subversive activities ranging from promoting terrorist ideology to flying abroad to join the Islamic State. According to court documents and unofficial media sources, Kerala has more records for terrorism-related actions than any other state in India. During this time, dozens of individuals, including women and children, traveled to Iraq, Syria, and Afghanistan to join ISIS. Let us go back in time to see how this problem arose and why Kerala is so vulnerable to fundamentalism and terrorism.
Kerala is also referred to as Keralaputra for the first time in an inscription left by the Maurya emperor Ashoka. In those days it used to be the territory of the Chola, Pandya and Chera dynasties. There was a time when Kerala and Tamil Nadu shared a common language, ethnicity and culture. Malayalam later became the local language, but Hinduism was the dominant religion.
Much of Kerala’s history from the 6th to the 8th century is obscure, but it is known that Islam was introduced by Arab traders during this period.
History – Rise of Islam in Kerala (7th-8th century AD)
Cheraman Perumal Mosque in Kerala – one of the oldest mosques in India
The difference between Islamic influence in north and south India is that in the north, Islam came on the back of invaders, but in the south, it arrived through trade in the 7th and 8th centuries AD. Arab traders came to the coasts of Kerala, and the earliest mosque built in India is the Cheraman Perumal Mosque at Kodungallur in Thrissur district of Kerala. Built in 629 AD, this mosque is the first in India and the oldest in the subcontinent.
It does not have domes and minarets like other mosques. Rather, it resembles a traditional house with a tiled roof and ornate wooden doors. But once you step inside, you find the qibla and prayer mat pointing towards Mecca, like many other mosques. Another unusual feature are the hanging lamps, which are part of the traditional house and temple architecture of Kerala. One of these lamps is said to have burned without extinguishing for 1,000 years, fueled by oil brought by worshippers.
The history of Cheraman Juma Masjid dates back to the 6th century. According to legend it was built on the orders of King Cheraman Perumal, the last Chera king of modern Kerala, who abdicated his throne and converted to Islam before going on a pilgrimage to Mecca.
According to folklore, King Cheraman Perumal had a dream in which he saw the moon split. Since his court astrologers did not know its meaning, the king discussed the matter with some Arab merchants who came to his court. They told him that it was because of Prophet Muhammad, who was preaching the new religion of Islam. Hearing this, the king left for Mecca to meet the Prophet and accepted Islam. He died on the way, but sent Malik ibn Dinar, a Persian convert, to his kingdom with a letter asking the new king to build a mosque.
Arab and Islamic influence in Kerala (9th–14th centuries)
Although it is not yet clear when Islam spread to Kerala, it is believed that Islam gradually reached the coast of Kerala before its arrival in the northern parts of India.
During the 12th century, the region saw the rise of the Zamorin of Calicut, the most powerful and wealthiest monarch in Kerala, who had contacts with Arab countries, Egypt and beyond. Zamorin was considered a friend of the Arabs. The Zamorin granted special rights to Arab merchants who settled in the port city of Calicut and controlled trade.
The word Mappila means “noble child” (maha, “great” and pila, “child”) who were mostly descendants of foreign traders who lived along the southwest coast of India (known as the Malabar Coast) and The Zamorin was a powerful member of the government. , occupying positions of authority and responsibility.
In the 14th century, the Muslim king Zainuddin Makhdum, who is said to have come from Arabia, became the ruler. He is credited with the construction of the first mosque in Kerala, known as the Juma Masjid. The mosque developed as a center of Islamic studies and played an important role in the propagation of Islam in Kerala. Arab traders and academics were instrumental in spreading the teachings of Islam, and the Mappilas developed into a distinct Muslim population in the region. The Arabic presence influenced the cultural, commercial and political history of the region, as well as helping to increase the prominence of Islam in Kerala.
Many mosques in Kerala were built with the financial support of Hindu rulers. The Chera rulers generously donated land and tax-free property for mosques. At least six of the first ten mosques in Kerala were built through the generosity of Hindu rulers.
History of the region (15th–18th centuries)
The Portuguese, who arrived in the region in the late 15th century, launched a series of military campaigns against local rulers, disrupting the commercial networks built by Muslim traders. In 1498, this prompted many Muslims to evacuate the coastal districts and seek sanctuary in Kerala’s interior regions of the Hindu kingdom of Kolathiri in the Malabar region of Kerala, where they were safe.
The movement of the Muslim community into interior Kerala resulted in a large-scale demographic change in north Kerala, making it a particularly communally sensitive area. When Hyder Ali deposed the Wodeyar Raja, Ali Raja, a Mappila Muslim and king of Arakkal, begged for his help in destroying the nearby kingdom of Kolathiri, which he happily accepted. In February 1766, Hyder Ali ravaged Kolathiri, along with its town and temples, as well as a large part of Malabar. However, there was still a large area to be conquered, which was taken over by Hyder Ali’s son, Tipu Sultan.
Tipu Sultan was far more ruthless towards the Hindu community than his father. Tipu’s arrival in Malabar is remembered in the oral history of Kerala as the infamous “Padayottam”, meaning “military march”, in which he burned entire Kozhikode and many areas of Malabar to oblivion. The persecution resulted in many Nairs, as well as about 30,000 Brahmins, fleeing Malabar, and many of them were forced to convert. They were force-fed meat, temples were looted and destroyed, and people were killed, leading to a cultural change in the cultural character of many towns in Kerala.
Pre-independence period (18th and 19th centuries)
In 1852, Connolly, the District Magistrate of Malabar, wrote in his records that the Muslim population in the region publicly ridiculed and attacked Hindus, as well as separate incidents of deaths and disappearances that fueled communal fear among Hindus. established a stable environment of The Moplah killings in the pre-independence era, known as the ‘anti-Hindu riots’, are testimony to this communal sensitivity. This incident happened as a result of the Khilafat movement. The movement began when the British destroyed Turkey in World War I, which was the world center of the Islamic Caliphate. The British deposed the Khalifa, which enraged the Indian Muslims. This group advocated the return of the Khalifa to the throne, while the then Congress leaders supported local British control in India.
The campaign collapsed because of the Arab and Turkish Muslims.
Indifference to the Khilafat and the Khilafat movement. However, this led to an expansion of fury by Indian Muslims against Hindus in the state of Kerala. Hindus had to choose between conversion and death. Thousands of Hindus were forcibly converted, and the bulk of the remaining Hindus were slaughtered. Their houses were looted and set on fire. This “anti-Hindu genocide” was strongly criticized by luminaries like Annie Besant, Veer Savarkar and Dr. Ambedkar.
Post-independence era (20th century)
After India’s independence and subsequent partition, two organizations rose to prominence as pro-Pakistan organizations in India: ‘The Kerela Wing’ and the Razzakars of Hyderabad, founded by Jung Bahadur. The Razzakars of Hyderabad were an extremist organization in South India, which had a political wing, the MIM (Majis-Itihadul-Muslimeen). The MIM, spearheaded by Qasim Rizvi and led by the Indian Army under the strategic guidance of Sardar Patel, suffered a disastrous defeat in ‘Operation Polo’. The main objective of this operation was to establish South Pakistan on the lines of East and West Pakistan. The entire machinery of MIM, including philosophy and infrastructure, was ready to give birth to AIMIM after independence.
AIMIM was founded by Asaduddin Owaisi’s grandfather, Abdul Wahid Owaisi, who was a strong supporter of the creation of South Pakistan or ‘Mopilistan’ as a part of Pakistan. This did not happen due to the great geographical distance.
The second organization was the ‘Kerela wing’ of the Indian Union of Muslim League, which was much stronger than the MIM and had parliamentary representation. Kerala is the only state in which the Muslim block voted entirely for the Muslim League instead of the Congress, the Left or any other party. This shows that the Muslim population in Kerala is more politically organized than the Muslims in Jammu and Kashmir.
Political neglect in the South paid a heavy price
The Jammu and Kashmir region, in the north, closer to Delhi, and fueled by Pakistan-originated terrorism, has long attracted Indian political attention to Kerala’s rapid conversions, communal instability and religious strife, as well as its growing political crisis. Removing In the 1950s, the Muslim population of Kerala was 17.5%, quite high by 1950s standards as they were unable to migrate to Pakistan due to their location in the deep south.
The same population has now increased to 26.56%. The Hindu population was more than 70% before the beginning of the twentieth century, but has declined to 56% in less than 200 years.
Historical revelations related to Kerala show that it has done a lot. This imbalance made the region a hotbed of conversion to Islam, Wahhabism, and Salafism as well as Christian missionaries.
As they say in the South, “caste prevails over religion,” and the weaker castes have become victims of conversions based around Muslim and Christian conversion mechanisms, which are still present and evolving.