Tuesday March 19, 2019
Home India Cheraman Jum&...

Cheraman Jum’ah Masjid : This mosque in Kochi was built during the lifetime of Prophet Muhammad

0
//

Kodungallur (Kerala), One will find nothing unusual about this place of worship for Muslims as one drives past this town in central Kerala, just 30 km north of Kochi. But it’s when you go in and chat up with the volunteers and office-bearers that the enormity of its legacy actually hits you.

For Cheraman Jum’ah Masjid in this town, also known by its anglicised name Cranganore, is not just the oldest in India and the subcontinent but one built during the lifetime of Prophet Mohammad in 629 AD by an Arab propagator of Islam, Malik Ibn Dinar.214248-ali-son-in-law-of-mohammad-the-prophet (1)

 

It is also testimony to two facts. One, Islam came to India long before the Mughals came in from the northwest. Two, the entry of Islam was smooth and Muslims enjoyed the full patronage of the locals irrespective of their religions – a facet that is still visible and cherished here.

This mosque stands proud with two other landmarks of Kodungallur, also known as Muziris. The first is the Saint Thomas Church, also said to be among the first in India built by the Apostle himself around 52 AD. He had arrived here in India and the church has some holy relics from the olden days. The second is the Bhagavathy Temple of Cheran ruler Chenguttavan, also known as Vel Kelu Kuttuvan, around 150 AD.

In fact, in a manifestation of India’s cultural syncretism, many non-Muslims are its devotees and hold “Vidhyarambham”, or the commencement of education ceremony for their children at this mosque. During Ramadan, iftaar offerings are often made by the non-Muslim communities in the area.

There are several legends surrounding the Cheraman Jum’ah mosque. As one goes: It was built under the patronage of the last Chera king, Cheraman Perumal, who is also believed to have abdicated his throne and embraced Islam upon meeting the Prophet at Mecca.

But before he died at Dhufar in Oman due to some illness on the way back to India, he wrote some letters asking the local rulers, to whom he had handed over his empire, to extend all help they could to some Arab merchants who were planning to visit India.

One such merchant, Malik Ibn Dinar, was given permission by local chieftains to build Islamic places of worship around the area. The mosque accordingly is called the Cheraman Mosque in recognition of the help extended by the last Chera ruler.

This apart, Malik Ibn Dinar, who was also a “sahaba” or a companion of the Prophet, was the mosque’s first Ghazi, succeeded by his nephew Habib Bin Malik. Both Habib Bin Malik and his wife are entombed at the Cheraman Juma Masjid.

The original mosque itself has undergone several renovations. The oral traditions have it that the first such refurbishment took place in the 11th century and again some 300 years later. In the modern era a revamp was done in 1974, after which a reconstruction happened in 2001.

But all along, the sanctum sanctorum has been preserved. Minarets and a dome are also modern-day additions. Yet, despite the renovations, a striking amalgam of different cultures and religions is in full play at the grand old mosque.

From some angles, it can even pass off as a temple.

At the center of this striking blend of several architectural styles and practices is a traditional Kerala-style lamp hanging from the ceiling. This lamp also has inscriptions in old Malayalam script Vattezhuthu.

In true style of temples in the south, the mosque also has a pond. Then the minber, or the pulpit from where the Imam delivers sermons, has some intricate carvings and lacquer work, which is again unique to southern India.

The mosque also has a small museum. At the center, inside a glass casing, is a miniature replica of the mosque as it stood around 350 years ago. There are also some other artifacts from the times gone by, such as the redstones that were used to as building material in sizes uncommon today, and an ancient sewage channel.

By Arvind Padmanabhan

 

(IANS)

 

Next Story

Hindus In Delhi Push For A Temple On The Ruins Of a Mosque

The Supreme Court has delayed hearings into the disputed site but hardliners have vowed to lay a foundation stone next year regardless.

0
Hindu
mensuration no more a taboo

Tens of thousands of hardline Hindu protesters marched in New Delhi on Sunday, calling for a grand temple to be built on the ruins of a destroyed mosque in a flashpoint Indian city.

Trident-waving devotees clad in saffron filled a huge parade ground in the Indian capital under tight security, where speakers warned Prime Minister Narendra Modi they would not let up until the temple was sanctioned.

Some of Modi’s supporters feel the Hindu nationalist leader has not done enough to raise a shrine at a site in Ayodhya, a city believed by many to be the birthplace of the deity Ram.

The site was home to a medieval mosque for 460 years until Hindu zealots tore it down in 1992, kicking off riots across India that left thousands dead, most of them Muslims.

Its future has been tied up in courts for decades but some hardliners want Modi, who is seeking reelection in 2019, to push parliament to guarantee the temple by law.

World Hindu Congress, Hindu
Hindus don’t oppose anyone, don’t aspire to dominate: RSS chief

“The gathering here is telling you that Hindus won’t sit back until the temple is built, and our wishes are respected,” said Champat Rai, the leader of the Vishva Hindu Parishad (VHP) group that organized the protest.

Demonstrators chanting “Praise be to Ram” packed the Ramlila Maidan, a vast ground capable of holding more than 50,000 people, and filled the surrounding streets.

Some carried maces and tridents — weapons traditionally wielded by Hindu gods — and traveled great distances by train and bus to reach the rally.

“We have come here to protect our religion and Hindu pride. We want a temple for our Lord Ram,” Hitesh Bharadwaj, a teacher from Delhi’s satellite city Noida, told AFP.

The hardline VHP has applied pressure on Modi in recent weeks, staging a huge show of force in Ayodhya itself last month.

Hindu, Mosque
Photo credit: theguardian.com

A close ally of Modi’s Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP), the group is spearheading a push to raise the Ram temple, and is calling for more protests as the premier prepares to go to the polls by May.

The BJP was on the margins until the 1980s when its top leaders, including Modi, backed a growing movement for the construction of the Ram temple.

Its advocates want parliament to introduce a law bypassing legal hurdles blocking the temple before Modi’s term ends.

Also Read: Delhi’s Air Quality Leads To Ban On Trucks And Construction

The Supreme Court has delayed hearings into the disputed site but hardliners have vowed to lay a foundation stone next year regardless.

“We don’t care about the courts. A grand temple will be constructed in 2019,” Sushil Chawdhary, a VHP leader, told AFP. (VOA)