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

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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)

 

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Mosque Attacked in Egypt: 235 People Killed by Islamic Terrorists

Islamic militants fired on people both inside and outside the Rawda mosque in the volatile northern Sinai Peninsula of Egypt

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Egyptian security officials, quoted by state-run media, say 235 people have been killed by suspected militants in an attack on a packed mosque Friday in the volatile northern Sinai Peninsula.

Frightened residents fled the center of the town of Bir al Abed, after Islamic militants fired on people both inside and outside the Rawda mosque. Scores of bodies were strewn across the mosque’s carpeted floor.

A man claiming to have been inside the mosque during the attack told Arab media that militants in four-wheel drive vehicles opened fire inside the house of worship following an explosion.

Eyewitnesses also say the militants fired on ambulances as emergency personnel tried to evacuate the wounded to hospitals in nearby Arish. Egyptian media reported that several government targets also were attacked inside the town.

In Egypt, a Mosque attacked.
Egyptians gather outside the Rawda mosque, roughly 40 kilometers west of the North Sinai capital of El-Arish, following a gun and bombing attack, on Nov. 24, 2017. VOA

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Shia Waqf board in Favor of Building Mosque at some distance from Hindu temple at disputed Ayodhya site

Shia Waqf board is in favor of building the mosque at some distance from the Hindu temple at the disputed Ayodhya site

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Mosque to be shifted away from disputed Ayodhya site
Mosque to be shifted away from disputed Ayodhya site. Pixabay
  • Masjid and Mandir should be avoided in as much as both denominations using loudspeakers tend to disturb the religious performances of each other
  • Masjid can be located in a Muslim dominated area at a reasonable distance from the most revered place of birth of Maryada Purushottam Shri Ram
  • The Shia Waqf board in its affidavit said that out of court settlement should be considered in order to end the dispute

New Delhi, August 9, 2017:  Supreme Court will begin the hearing of a vital Ram Janmabhoomi- Babri Masjid dispute in a few days. The Uttar Pradesh Shia central waqf board (one of the parties in the litigation) is in favor of shifting the demolished mosque, away from Ayodhya site in order to put an end to the much controversial dispute.

The Shia board, trying to put to rest the 70-year legal battle, said that the mosque can be constructed away from the disputed Ayodhya site, a dramatic shift in stand by them. The Shia board also suggested something to amicably settle the dispute- A high-power judicial-political panel should be set up, headed by a retired Supreme Court judge. It also requested the court to appoint the committee having two retired Allahabad High Court judges, chief minister of Uttar Pradesh, a nominee of the Prime Minister besides representatives of litigating parties.

The board, as per the affidavit filed and submitted to the apex court – The mosque can be relocated from the most revered place of birth of Maryada Purushottam Shri Ram to a nearby area which is Muslim dominated and this move will conclude the dispute on the 2.77 acres of land which houses a makeshift temple of Ram Lalla.

ALSO READ: Akhilesh Yadav wants to maintain status quo in Ayodhya’s disputed site

The Shia stand can however likely cause a conflict with the Sunni Waqf Board. While Sunnis make a majority of Muslims in India, the decision of a section of the community represented by the Shia waqf board is important. This is the 1st time that religious board has favored for the shifting of the mosque.

Taking a dig at Sunni Waqf board, Shia Board said in its affidavit that the Sunni Central Waqf Board should not get involved in exploring peaceful settlement of the dispute as “it is under the dominant control of hardliners, fanatics, and non-believer in peaceful coexistence, who have absolutely no stakes in the case”.

According to TOI report, the Shia board said (in an affidavit filed by advocate MC Dhingra), “It is of the view that closeness of place of worships— Masjid and Mandir, of the two litigating denominations, should be avoided in as much as both denominations using loudspeakers tend to disturb the religious performances of each other, often leading to conflicts, bringing bitterness between the two factions. The answering respondent is of the view that to bring peace to the situation, Masjid can be located in a Muslim dominated area at a reasonable distance from the most revered place of birth of Maryada Purushottam Shri Ram.”

ALSO READ: Government seeks solution to Ramjanmbhoomi dispute through talks: Uttar Pradesh CM Yogi Adityanath in Ayodhya

Since 1945, Shia waqf board along with the Sunni waqf board have been fighting a legal battle claiming the ownership of Babri Masjid, the HC gave its verdict in favor of the Sunni Board when it divided the disputed plot three ways between the Board, Ram Lalla, Nirmohi Akhara.

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The Allahabad High Court order which came on September 30, 2010, but the verdict was immediately challenged by different parties before the apex court. Since then no progress has been made in the case and it’s pending from then. The apex court agreed to grant an early hearing and has posted the case to August 11, 2017.

The Shia Waqf board in its affidavit said that out of court settlement should be considered in order to end the dispute. It said, “Considering the Muslim tenets of living in peace and harmony and respecting the religious sentiments of other communities following different religions, in this case, Hindu Community, it is ready and willing to conclude the peaceful settlement of the dispute, which it fondly hopes will be acceptable to all the stake holders.”

– prepared by Kritika Dua of NewsGram. Twitter @DKritika08


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Pakistani Militant Group Tehreek-i-Taliban (TTP) Now Targeting Women as New Jihad Recruits through their Magazine

Pakistan's first women's magazine, urging potential female jihadists to join the ranks of the Pakistani militant group and to devote themselves to the cause of jihad

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Pakistani Militants
Pakistani women offer prayers at a shrine in Islamabad. VOA
  • TTP magazine published its first ever edition for women, urging them to join as Pakistani militants and fight for Jihad
  • Pakistan’s counter-terrorism unit thinks of this development as a dangerous move
  • Its extensive reach on social media is powerful and deemed dangerous for the youth

Pakistan, August 06, 2017: Pakistan’s Tehreek-i-Taliban (TTP) has recently published its first women’s magazine, urging potential female jihadists to join the ranks of the Pakistani militant group and to devote themselves to the cause of jihad.

The magazine, Sunnat-e-Khaula (The Way of Khaula), is named after a young female fighter during the time of the Prophet Muhammad, according to local media accounts in Pakistan. The magazine is another effort on part of the country’s Taliban to renew their efforts to reach out to millions of Pakistani women and recruit them to their militant cause.

In an advice column for the magazine, the militant group urges women to “distribute literature reflecting on the obligation of jihad, arrange physical training classes for sisters. Learn how to operate simple weapons. Learn the use of grenades.”

While the magazine is accessible to only a handful of people, the news of its launch has been widely circulated on social media platforms in Pakistan, amplifying its reach and making its core content available online to a vast number of Pakistani youth.

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Power of digital media

Some experts warn that, contrary to popular belief, middle-class students with access to digital media are more prone to radicalization than those of the madrasas.

The Pakistani Taliban, which is losing territory because of various Pakistani military operations, are increasingly resorting to using varied media platforms to promote and propagate their ideology.

“Social media is an effective tool in the hands of extremists. TTP launching of a magazine for women is important in many ways,” professor Khadim Hussain, an expert on militancy in the Afghanistan and Pakistan region, told VOA.

“They are using an effective model used by Islamist political party Jamate Islami and extremist outfit Hizbut Tehrir to reach out to the new generation,” said Hussain, author of The Militant Discourse: Religious Militancy in Pakistan.

Influence of women

Hussain said he thought TTP’s magazine wanted to capitalize on the influence that women have in their households, which he argued is something that is not easily visible.

“It provides an expanded reach without tracing the jihadi footprints easily,” he said.

Maria Sultan, a defense analyst in Pakistan, agreed with Hussain’s analysis, adding that the Taliban have a reason to target the country’s female population.

“Taliban believe by capturing women’s attention they can re-establish their network that has been destroyed by the Pakistan army through several military operations in the Northwest region in recent years,” Sultan said.

“Pakistan will have to implement [its] National Action Plan fully to stop Taliban’s’ reach to the masses,” she added.

Pakistan’s National Action Plan, a comprehensive 20-point strategy devised in 2015 to fight extremism, calls for “strict action to be taken against literature, newspapers, and magazines promoting hatred, extremism, sectarianism and intolerance” in the country.

ALSO READ: Pakistan’s Northwest Province Struggles To Fight Against Terror Financing

Dangerous to youth

Qibla Ayaz, the former dean of the faculty of Islamic and Oriental Studies at the University of Peshawar, called the TTP magazine launch a dangerous development for the youth of the region, “since the new generation is all there on the social media. [The Islamic State] militant outfit has adopted the same social media strategy for its recruitment, and it seems to be a problem here, too.”

He said he thought the problem was not limited to Pakistan and called for a counter-extremism narrative across the Muslim world to counter it.

“We have not developed a well-constructed counter-extremism narrative,” he said. “I think all the leading voices around the Muslim world need to come together and come up with a joint strategy against it [extremism].”

The magazine reportedly has articles about prominent Muslim women from the early era of the emergence of Islam, sharing their experiences and advising women of faith to fully implement the code of Islam in their lives.

The magazine interviewed a woman who said she was the wife of TPP leader Fazlullah Khorasani. She advocated for the benefits of early-age marriage and defended her own at age 14 to Khorasani.

Pakistani claims

Since 2014, Pakistan has conducted large-scale counterterrorism operations in its restive Northwest region in an attempt to eradicate Taliban influence and militancy. It claims its troops have successfully eliminated and dismantled terrorism and militant infrastructure in the region.

U.S. and Afghanistan officials, however, have long accused Pakistan of being selective in its crackdown on militants. They claim Islamabad targets only groups, including TTP, that pose a threat to Pakistan’s interests and overlook other militants who are using the country’s territory to plan attacks on Afghanistan and India. Pakistan has denied those allegations.

In the 2016 edition of its annual Country Reports on Terrorism, the U.S. State Department criticized Pakistan for failing to take action against the Haqqani network and the Afghan Taliban. (VOA)