Ever since the ancient times, Kerala has played host to various people and their religions from all over the world. We welcomed the foreigners with open arms and then, embraced their religion too. Over time, these religions gradually weaved into the intricate structure of our social framework. So, it really does not come as a surprise that the earliest Muslim place of worship in India was established in Kerala. The Cheraman Juma Masjid was built at Methala village in Kodungaloor by Malik Ibn Deenar. Then, gradually, Islam spread across the state; the Malik and his family playing a pivotal role. During this Holy Ramdan month, we take a look at some of the mosques in Kerala.
Cheraman Juma Masjid, Kodungaloor
The first and the oldest mosque in India, it has an interesting story. Long ago, King Cheraman Perumal decided to abdicate and convert to Islam. He then travelled to Mecca and spent some time there. On his way back, however he fell ill and passed away. Before his death he had passed on letters of introduction to his family for his new friends. Later, Malik Ibn Deenar and his followers arrived at Kodungaloor and showed the ruling chieftains' the letter. They were allowed to establish a place of worship at Kodungaloor. The Cheraman Juma Masjid was built in AD 629. This mosque faces the east, unlike most other mosques that face west, symbolically towards Mecca.
Malik Ibn Deenar Mosque, Kasaragod
Built in AD 642, the Thangalkara Malik Dinar Mosque is one of those established by Malik Ibn Deenar. Situated barely a kilometer off the railway station, it is a very popular place of worship. People from neighbouring Karnataka too frequent this place. It is one of the places where Malik Ibn Deenar taught the ideas of Islam to the people. The flooring is said to have been made from marble which was brought from Mecca by Malik Ibn Deenar.
Mampuram mosque, Tirurangadi
This mosque is not that old, but it has a very unique place in the historic freedom struggle. In the late 1919s and early part of 1920s the Khilafat movement gained momentum. On a national level the Indian National Congress and the Khilafat Movement leaders reached an agreement to rebel against the British rulers. In Malabar, this movement came to be known as the 'Mappila Lahala'. This mosque was one of the main mustering places for the rebels.
Thazhathangady Juma Masjid, Kottayam
The Thazhathangady Juma Masjid also called Taj Juma Masjid is over a 1000 years old. Now part of the Heritage Zones of Kerala, this mosque is known for its intricate wooden carvings and architecture, which follows a Kerala tradition.
Odathil Palli, Thalassery
One of the oldest surviving mosques in Thalassery, the Odathil Palli is a blend of Hindu and Muslim architecture. Long long ago, during the invasion of Tipu Sultan, Moosakka a wealthy trader belonging to the prominent Keyi family helped some hindu families seek asylum in the then Thiruvithamkur. The king, pleased, gifted him some teak wood which went into the construction of Odathil Palli, which is more than 200 years old. Built in the typical Kerala architecture this mosque boasts of intricate woodwork. There has been no major reconstruction which was done to the mosque.
Of course, during all these centuries, much has been added to these mosques, and much taken away. Originally, as the Cheraman Juma Masjid shows, even the architecture was basically Kerala in style. Several other styles were added on, and later adopted. And the latest trend is to build them all anew, in the brand new International Islamic styles. But the tradition remains, though the expressions change.