India is a region of rich cultural diversity and it boasts highly of its “unity in diversity”. As we ascend from North to South, the diversity intensifies with multiple languages, religion and tradition. Every state of India has its uniqueness and contains a wide range of traditions within. One could wonder on the peaceful existence of such a vast variety of ethnic groups, but it is no wonder, welcome to India – the land of diversity. This blog post talk in detail about the first mosque of India.
Photo by Renjith’s Pictures
Advent of Islam before the advent of invaders
Considering the religious facts, majority of Indians are Hindus. But there is a notable number of Muslims and Christians living in harmony with each other. The current population of muslims are believed to be a result of mughal invaders and the like. Though this theory is widely believed, it is contradictory to the historic evidences. The truth stands clear and states that Islam existed in India as early as the seventh century AD, long before foreign invaders.
If we trace back to the ancestral lineage of current Indian muslim population, we may land up at the south-western state of India. Yes, “welcome to Kerala!”
Kerala – the land of resources
Kerala is known to be a hub of trade since ancient times. The region has a rich supply of spices which attracted foreign traders, especially Arabs. Such trade linkage is dated back to 900 B.C. as the Arab traders, mainly from Egypt, sailed across the Indian ocean. The malabar coast served as a main point for exchange of goods.
Such Arab traders used to stay back along the coast for a short period until the weather favours them for return journey. Meanwhile, they married local women and created a generation of mixed ethnicity. Hence, the subject of ethnical tolerance has been prevailing since several centuries. A main point to note here is that, such Arabs were not muslims before the advent of Prophet Muhammad (PBUH) .
After a few generations, when Arabs embraced Islam, the community here embraced Islam as well. They were not subject to any isolation or resistance in the Hindu dominant kingdom. To the contrary, their conversion was welcomed and supported by the then Hindu rulers, which maintained a balance between trade and culture.
The first mosque of India
The first Islamic structure for worship was built following the orders of king, Cheraman Perumal. He was a ruler of Kodungallur region in Kerala. There are several stories, with and without evidence, explaining the history of his conversion to Islam. The most popular belief is that, he dreamt of a split moon, which was one of the miracles of prophet Muhammad (PBUH). His advisories informed him of the Islamic prophet and he travelled to Makkah, the holy city in present Saudi Arabia. He converted to Islam, changed his name to Tajudeen, and passed away during his return journey to Kerala. However, he had left a note to his relatives stating that a mosque should be built in his region and this task was completed by Malik ibn Dinar, as the sources say.
The mosque is named as . It is located around 2 km distance from Kodungallur. It was built around 632 A.D. and renovations took place many times thereafter. It was originally built according to the traditional Kerala architecture.
At present, it serves as a place of worship for not only muslims, but also people from other religions. An interesting part of the masjid is a huge oil lamp which is believed to be burning for several centuries. People from various economic and religious backgrounds donate oil for this lamp.
Though this mosque has a great historical importance, it came under the light of media in 2016 when Indian Prime Minister Mr. Narendra Modi gifted a replica of this mosque to King Salman of Saudi Arabia.
The first mosque of India – Cheraman Jumma Masjid stands high as an evidence of social and cultural stability in the region. Such monuments of great historical importance must be preserved for generations to come.
Featured Photo by Rivard