MUSLIM MALABAR – HISTORY

Islam constitutes about a quarter of the population of the state of Kerala ,their population is unevenly distributed with the bulk of them concentrated in the districts of malappuram and kozhikode.Islam came to the malayali shores through trade like anywhere in the indian ocean region, a few of these arab traders took malayali wives(mappila = groom), settled here. for centuries they were the trading class that constituted the spice trade in malabar,being concentrated in the towns with no representation inland. like christians or jews who propagated their religion before them they also wanted to distinguish themselves from the rest of the populace , so they  developed vocabulary with introduced arabic words ( for eg:padachavan for god which was adopted from jewish malayalam) , had customs like tying the mundu to the left and eating food on the dorsum of the plantain leaf. for nearly a thousand years islam was a minority religion just a few thousands in their number grew slowly with converts . the difference between the muslims of kerala and the north was the lack of forceful conversions , they lived in harmony with the society but largely confining to themselves with little or no interaction culturally with others. the local rulers never considered them as the sons of the soil but just as some foreign implants like the romans and jews before them.but surely there were exceptions like the arakkal royalty which embraced islam.

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the community was forced out of  its cocoon of isolation by sword-  the invasions of hyder ali and tippu sultan.as they marched down from mysore through wayanad or through the coast down from mangalore blood flowed like rivers , neither tippu nor hyder were fanatics to the degree of  their north indian counter parts but the shear objection of slavery in malayali minds made them to revolt. there were reports of revolt in the malabar under tippu on a regular basis the only way to suppress it was brutality. then came the age old method of suppression killing of men, raping women and taking slaves. the nairs who spearheaded the revolt were declared as the lowest of the casts their tharavads looted men and women  given choices either to convert or die.thousands opted the first. so the muslim population in malabar multiplied a thousand fold. with the  defeat of Mysore in british hands many families who took refuge in travancore came back to take their possesions. many of the major aristocratic families who stayed back had taken islam . the british took over their properties  and distributed it  among the returnees. many wanted to return to hinduism but the returnees objected as they would have to give back the property they took from the neoconverts. this frustration and helplessness  made the converts to embrace their new religion with ferver.this resentment brew below the surface till the 1900s when it exploded as the mopila rebellion, the anger they felt for generations was let loose conversions ,killings and rape followed especially in valluvanad and eranad.this could be seen as the first sign of muslim upheavel or their first attempt to get back the dignity they lost with conversion.this time also saw the consolidation of muslims politically with setting up of many islamic fronts.

the malabari muslim identity hence forged was the unique combination of arab coastal communities and the nair and ezava heartland of eranad , valluvanad and kolathirinad. this is what the malayali muslim is – a unique blend of arab ethos with malayali values.

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MEDIA JUSTICE

the problem with the  indian english language media is that if it gets a news it feeds on it for weeks. this time the  media have re discovered its passion long forgotten since the jessica lal case – “fighting for justice for the north indian urban upper middle class”.

the ruchika murder/suicide and the following cover up was one of the shameful incidents done in the confines  of our system, which boasts of equal rights for all. its pity that the police officer who is said to have molested the girl got a minisculest verdict that he deserved . it’s the duty of the media to fight for justice and we must all fight against such inherent problems in our system and try to make it perfect.

my point here is that the so-called third eye of the society fights its battles only for a particular strata . the criterion are –

1.the victim be  from the punjabi north or  goa( tourist or catholic native). who can fluently speak english.

2. from upper middle class , that is who can tweet,use face book et al.

3.the perpetuator from a powerful background.if  politician the best. so that they can chant all the anti politician slogans.

4.the family/friends of the victim able to conduct rang de basanti type candle light vigils.

some of you who chance up on this article must  have gotten hyper by now so for them I like to give an example for the injustice of media justice.

in kerala there were two such cases involving rape(even serial rape) and murder . that too of girls of the same age as ruchika’s. one of them anakha- a brahmin girl from poor background was raped by people who were having connections with many prominent politicians in kerala. the girl and her family committed suicide that is how the whole story came out in open. the malayalam media was very active in finding the truth but their smaller reach meant smaller effect. the story slowly died down , no one except some scape goats were arrested.the other case is  of shari ,with some of the same people involved.

had anakha or shari be born to some rich punjabi family their justice would have been done by now. in anakha’s case the culprits killed a whole family,is anakha’s justice less important than ruchika’s , why isnt the english media taking up its arms for the victim? or asking the home minister of the country(that too for a state matter) the all important “questions”. the answer can be found in the above mentioned criteria.

there are many unheard anakhas or sharis in other parts of the country the culprits in their cases may not be big guns , they may be a zamindar or a petty police constable. so the media must widen its area of vision to incorporate all of india, not just focussing on one core group. the middle class anger against the system must be also be diverted to the fight for justice of these poor lads too .

the ctn I started must be taken up urgently or we as people will fail these hundreds of unknown ruchikas .