THIS book focuses on South India’s rich anti-colonial tradition in political and cultural struggles by the Mappila community in Malabar. It essentially describes the legendary anti-imperialist struggle and the societal life of the local Muslim community living in the northern coast of Kerala. The Mappilas share a common history with Muslims of many other contemporary regions and the book talks of the evolution of the Mappila Muslim culture through the synthesis of Islamic culture with the indigenous one.
The long-standing Arab contact with the coastal areas of India began with the marriage of Arab sailors and traders with local women. The native rulers of South extended all facilities and protection to them because their presence was needed for their economic prosperity. Malabar was considered a fertile soil by the Arabs for their trade activities. The community that arose here as a result of the Arab contact came to be called Mappilas. The Mappilas being close to the Arabs took the lead in spreading Islam through missionary activities.
The author continues that among the native rulers of Malabar, the Zamorins of Calicut showed special regard towards the welfare of Muslims as it benefited both. On the one hand the Arabs could control the Arabian Sea trade and exercise influence on the coast, the Zamorins, whose main source of income was customs duty, would enrich themselves. Here he refers to the Keralolpathi where it is written that with the assistance of the Muslims, the Zamorins were able to conquer the surrounding countries. Ibn Battuta has said that the friendship between the Zamorins and the Arabs became so strong that in the 9th century, a Zamorin embraced Islam.
The author talks of widespread conversion to Islam by non-Muslims which shows that the proselytising activities were maintained even when the Mappilas were passing through a turbulent period as in 1871-81, when nearly 50,000 non-Muslims embraced Islam. This thesis has been propounded by the author on the basis of the papers presented at various seminars.
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