In Search of Identity through Pan-Islamism and the Subsequent Multiple Approaches among the Ulamas of Malabar, Kerala.

Hashim T  (Research Scholar, Pondicherry University)

Various factions within Islam in Kerala are involved in conflicts and consensus between each other. Even when using the term ‘Muslim community’, the study understands the prolific diversity in the approaches of these factions. These conflicts and consensus emerged as a result of Islamic reformism reflect certain universal orientations of Islamic concepts such as Pan-Islamism, Universal Islamism and Islamic brotherhood. These orientations are manifesting themselves in a highly localized manner to suit the specific socio-historic context of Kerala. This study, thus, begins with a presupposition, that the Muslim identity is not a given one, and it is not something fixed and given, but it changes in response to external and internal factors, since communities do not exist and operate outside a historical matrix.I intend to capture the diversity of/in Islam in its theological and organizational debates, where the very notion of “Islamic identity” is a matter of fierce interpretative debate among the Muslims.

The differences concerning the participation in the Freedom movement and the Khilafat movement became a point of debate among various sections of the Muslim community. The issue generated a debate on the question, whether the participation has been allowed and sanctioned by the Holy Quran/Sunnah (Prophets Example) or the religious authority? This was disputed as un-Islamic by the traditional Ulamas quoting the text, but the Wahhabi/ Jamaludheen Afghani inspired Ulamas, (present Mujahids in Kerala) while being a part of the movement, contested it as Islamic. An offshoot of this conflict led to a debate, whether the support and participation of the cause were Islamic or un-Islamic. This paper seeks to map the earlier debate among the Muslim community. First, the paper attempts to gather diverse viewpoints and following this, it attempts to argue that we need to move beyond an understanding, that portrays religious authority as singular, unitary and one dimensional. Finally, it explores the question what constitutes authorized practice and how does it define what may be considered ‘religious’.

It is academically very debatable and very challenging and politically very controversial to understand the articulation of Muslim identity in India as well as in Kerala. The context of ‘Muslim question and Muslim space’ is being discussed with very interest, for that Muslims of Kerala opens up fascinating areas of enquiry. To understand the Kerala Muslims well, we need to go further in to their historical, socio-political times. Also through the effort one can possibly sketch out the identity formulation of this religious community. The complex and diverse links between the universal characteristics of Islam and its local manifestations and lived representations is extremely crucial in such an attempt to sketch out the identity of Muslim community in Kerala.In the effort to locate the cultural character, social, personal, political distinctiveness of a community appeared and developed in particular area, it is very essential to identify the context of that society and those traits is influenced very much on that community and community behavior. So these characters are very significant for the study of Mappila[1] Muslim community.The ideal belief says that all Muslims are unified: the reality is that over many centuries Muslim faith and practice have come to be shaped and modified by dynamic regional cultures and the changing social and political context in which they have taken root.

The Muslims of India, especially the educated Muslims and Ulamas in the early 20th century had a strong feeling of Islamic identity for the foundation ofuniversal Islam. The idea of universal brotherhood madethem more united for the Khilafat issue and for the re-establishment of Caliph in Turkey. They had seen the decline in the political fortunes of Islam in several countries as the European powers conquered the Muslim lands one after the other. The impression among the orthodox Ulemas was that the colonialists, particularly the Europeans were waging a war against Islam around the world in order to deprive it of all its power and rich history. The Ottoman Empire was the only Muslim regime in the world and the Muslims of India wanted to save the Turkey Islamic empire from destruction. The Turkish Sultans had claimed to be the caliphs of the Muslim world. It is to be noted that, the Indian Muslims didn’t recognize the Mughals as Islamic empire even when they were ruling India. As long as the Mughal Empire had been in existence, the Muslims of India had not recognized their claim.The constant monitoring from the authority through the introduction of new secular laws regardless of their belief raised many questionswith regard to understanding their essential beliefs and it led to the discontent towards the British and this kind of oppression caused to think about the foundation of Darul Islam through abolishing the Darul Harb.The ‘unnecessary’ involvement of Britain through the colonial laws created in them a feeling for the establishment of Darul Islam in India. Gradually the re-establishment of the power of Caliph of Turkey was the main motto of the Ulamas rather than the nationalist cause of the country. Moulana Mohammad Ali and Shaukat Ali, two leading members of this anti-British movement who called the Khilafat movement, were entered in 1916 and was Abul Kalam Azad then a Pan Islamist gave a whole hearted supported to this brothers.

The roles played by the Muslims who were in the mainstream mainly attached their activism with Indian National Congress. The Historian W C Smith[2] stated that there were four types of Muslim leaders had been maintained their role in the congress. The first group was communally conscious Muslim nationalists. These religiously inspired Ulamas who supported the nationalist struggle were actively involved in thenorth western frontier regions for example Husain Ahamed Madani from the Darul Uloom Deoband. The second group were more liberal, secular and more adaptive like Hakim Ajmal Khan, Dr. Sayfudeen Kichulu, Dr. M A Ansari and Abdul Kalam Azad.Among this Azad has not surrendered his scholarship in his political career. Being Muslims these leaderships proved their nationalist sentiment in high profile.The third group was the men or women who may or may not be a practising Muslims. Themore professionals and elite land lords who have been with the Congress party from its inception onwards, leaders like Mr. Tayyibji, Yousuf Mihr Ali werethe prominent congress socialists in the party.The fourth group originated after the First World War and they criticized all kinds of Pan-Islamic trends among the Muslims. This group constantly warned the Congress party for its appeasement policy towards the Muslims. These leaders were attached to the communist ideology and worked with a nationalist perspective for a free and secular India. The people who were in the Congress started to alienate because their concern for Khilafat.  In the middle of 1920’s the role of Mohammed Ali and Shoukath Ali had been questioned because of the relationship between Islam and Indian Nationalism. Nationalist leaders like Tej Bahadhur Sapru, Madhan Mohan Malavya, LalaLajpath Roy and Bipin Chandhra Pal condemned that Muslims are always devoted to their Islamic faith and not to their country. Mohammed Ali wrote an article entitled “extra-territorial patriotism”, published in “Comrade”. The right wing Indian Nationalists criticized him on the grounds that his political ideal isnot with nation but Pan-Islamism as what they said“they are Mohammedans first and Indians second”. Their aim is going on extra territorial and the patriotism is not territorial otherwise we can called as pan-Islamism or universal brother hood. So the logic is this extra-territorial patriotism is distinctly anti-national. Mohammed Ali maintained and argued that there is no contradiction between the beliefs of a person and his submission to the nation[3]. He invited Indian Muslims to start the Khilafat for the Turkey Sultan. He invited the North Indian Ulemas to make Fatwas in favor for the movement. The Indian Muslims viewed this as an opportunity to unite for the political establishment.

The foremost Khilafat workers as well as Congressmen assembled at Amritsar and organized under the guidance of Gandhi. He Suggested the Muslims - “If the peaceful non-cooperation movement does not succeed in getting justice, then, they have the right to follow the path shown in the Holy Books of Islam and I whole-heartedly support this path.” Gandhi whole-heartedly reinforced the Khilafat activists in order to bring unity. The Muslims started from Darul Harb[4] to Darul Islam[5] for the peace and for the satisfaction but later they realized the problem of migration. So they invited the Amir of Afghanistan for fighting against the infidels and for to lead them and when the Indian Muslim leaders invited the Amir of Afghanistan to attack India and to convert this Darul Harb in to Darul Islam, Gandhi supported this move also. Even though the imposition upon Sultan of Turkey as a ‘Supreme Religious Authority’ of Muslim World had no practical implication outside Turkey and the illiterate Indian Muslims had never before known such status and homage. Gandhi calculated that it would be easy to march under religious banner rather than national, secular spaces but he had failed to realize that Pan-Islamic idea, which inspired the Khilafat movement, cut the very roots of Indian Nationality theory[6]. It is this failure that lead to the separation of India, Most of the Ulama participants in the movement too did not realize that the movement was going to be basis of Muslims as a separate nation.

Thus the Muslims of India launched the Tehrik-i-Khilafat. The objectives[7] they had been as follows:

a.       To maintain the Turkish Caliphate.

b.      To protect the holy places of the Muslims.

c.       To maintain the unity of the Ottoman Empire.

Khilafat activists were also propagated the ideology of non-cooperation because they said that Islam was in danger so there were only three ways to save the belief and religion:

a)         Non-Cooperation: it means you must keep a distance and never make a connection to the enemy of religion

b)         Hijrat: it means to leave the place from the enemies land

c)         Jihad: to fight with the enemies of religion for Allah and for the protection of belief[8].

The leaders of both Khilafat and non-cooperation constantly reminded the Muslims to fight against the colonialists. By the 1920’s the Khilafat and non-cooperation movement were converged. Religious leaders provided a good link to the rural Muslims.As part of this disloyalty among the saints and leaders of religion it spread it to the mass and the leaders of extremist sections asked to mullas to made fatwa against the colonialists. The colonialists surprised the intensity and mass growth of the movement and its widespread response from the popular mass. The responses for the non-cooperation and khilafat movement from the Muslims were different in diverse places. For example, the Muslims of Sind especially the cultivating class almost completely unaffected the movement and the Pir of Sind advised his followers to remain faithful to British. In Karachi, the Muslims did not accept the call for the non-cooperation but supported the Khilafat campaign. The Shia Muslims in Sindh opposed the non-cooperation movement and rejected their support for the Khilafat movement. According to Shia sect there are two conceivable expressions for them to their loyalty for the Britain and for against the movement. First the objection were based on theological, the Sunni Muslims are the followers of Khilafat but the Shia sects opposed and didn’t follow the Turkish Khalif as their Islamic ruler and the Shias opposed their legitimacy as the descendants of Prophet. Secondly in the 1918 constitutional reforms Britain confirmed Muslims as a separate electoral category and along with that Shias feared the loss of their recognition as a community among the Muslims and it would cause for the loss of their political aim. By late 1921 the coalition was raveled due to many reason and the both communities started to meet exclusively. Along with these three further events were crucial, first in later 1920’s Moulana Azad and Moulana Abdul Bari issued a fatwa and proclaimed to the followers to migrate from India to Afghanistan. The Fatwa was the Hijrat- means withdrawal of Muslims from darul-Harb means the land of unbelief to the Darul-Islam (the abode of Islam). As a response more than 60,000 rural people of Sind migrated in to Afghanistan, the people believed and followed the Hijrat could be an alternative to non-cooperation[9]. During the Hijrat many were attacked and killed by the tribes men and looted their money. So the Amir of Afghanistan opposed the Hijrat and ordered to stop the Hijrat and so several thousand poor people started to return migration and others dying on the return journey.

A heartbreaking sprout of the Khilafat Movement was the Hijrat proposed by Jamiyat-al-Ulema-i-Hind. Without thinking the consequences, a group of Ulemas promoted Hijrat. When a land is not safe for Islam, when a land become in the hand of oppressors or infidels, a Muslim has two options; Jihad or Hijrat. Jihad means standing for the victory for the making of Muslim land. The Ulemas decided the Hijrat, migrating from Darul harb to Darul Islam. Around 925 eminent Muslim scholars signed this fatwa. In the North West Frontier Province and Sindh, hundreds of families sold their land and property and departed in the way of the Khyber Pass, also so many people were died in the Hijrat, to migrate to Afghanistan. Afghanistan, a poor country, was unable to accommodate huge population and so they closed its borders and Amir of Afghanistan demanded to the return those who already migrated. This was one of the reasons for the withdrawal of non-cooperation movement. The Ulemas without much thinking made Fatwas for Hijrath but they never thought about the repercussions. Once it stopped then it was not possible for return. So lot of poor migrant died due to this Hijrath. Also the same demand later helped the land of Muslims in the name of Pakistan. Unfortunately the Hindu-Muslim unity vanished and it utilized the communal sections of each groups and nation witnessed lot of tensions.The movement, regardless of its acceptance crosswise the nation and it failed to achieve its professed objectives. The purposes were to preserve and promote the power and authority of the Ottoman Caliphate, and to take a decision about Jasiratul Harb and the holy places of Islam in conformity with the shariah[10]. Despite its failure, the Khilafat movement made a special political sense among the Muslims of India also the political sphere of Muslims were no more continued with the upper class Muslims. All sections of Muslims such as Ulemas, business man, academicians and other professionals made their way to the forefront of public life. The Khilafat movement from all its episodes, from its beginning to its decline of the Khilafa, particularly the hijrat to Afghanistan and the bad result of the Hijrath migration and the Non-cooperation movement and its political results to the Muslims, made a new history to the nation.

Khilafat movement in Kerala and the response of Mappila Muslims.

In the early 1920’s the Muslim leaders formed the Khilafat conferences and decided to observe the ‘Khilafat Day’ and also a joint conference (1919 November 23rd and 24th) of both Hindus and Muslims convened in Delhi, in which Gandhi also attended and he promoted the Khilafat and Non-cooperation movement together. Later this proposal was accepted by the All Parties Hindu-Muslim conference at Allahabad and the All India Congress party at Calcutta in September 1920. In Malabar, a large number of people voluntarily became the members of the movement. The volunteers[11] were made to take an oath in the name of Quran; they were unpaid soldiers, who were meant to fight when the occasion arises. By holding Quran in one side and the sword in another hand, Ali Musliyar administered the oath[12]. With Ali Musliyars enthusiastic leadership Tirurangadi became the center of Khilafat movement[13]. He said that the Amir of Afghanistan would conquer the land of Darul Harb (British India) and overthrow the British government. Gandhi and Ali brothers were determined to help them and we can believe them. So we must destroy the British rule and British court also must be boycotted[14]. The Mappila Muslims of Malabar with their strong anti-colonial feeling started their protest with the help of local religious leaders. Khilafat became a prime issue for the Mappilas than the nation’s interest and the Mappilas in Malabar did not remain exempt to this general wave of Muslim concern to Turkey[15]. As a national liberation movement Malabar became a center for the movement and hundreds of Khilafat committees were formed under the support of Congress party around the Malabar. The Manjery and Ottappalam conference was an eye opener for the British’s to watch the movement. The army instructed to the police to watch the activists and ordered to check their houses and premises. These new political uprising and the harmony among the Muslims and Hindus caused much alarm in the British quarters. The religious scholar Ali Musliyar[16] became the leader of the Khilafat movement in Malabar. The newspaper reports depicted the active involvement of Mappila Muslims over the Khilafat causes, the Cochin Argus reported that “aggressive sympathy shown by Mappilas in Malabar for the Ottoman Empire in its war with Italy.”[17]Another newspaper, The West Coast Reformer, English daily from Kozhikode reported that on the support given by Mappilas to the Red Crescent Society formed through the efforts of Muslim leaders like Maulana Abdul Kalam Azad and Ali brothers to provide the medical aid to Turkish troop[18]. The authority also showed keen interest to know the mind of Mappila Muslims. The Government of Madras wanted a report from the Malabar District Magistrate to know the Mappila feelings about the Balkan War. The Malabar District Magistrate reported that the educated Mappilas of Malappuram, Perinthalmanna, Mannarkkad and Mambad were discussing the war with keen interest[19]. And the letter mentioned about the continuous forty days of prayer in Perinthalmanna Mosque for the victory of Ottoman Empire. These activities showed us the intense involvement of Mappila Muslims in the Khilafat agitation. 

The Kerala Pradesh Congress Committee meeting was held at Ottappalam in 1921 in which Abdurahiman Sahib became the Secretary of the Malabar Khilafat Committee and it stimulated the Mappila Muslims of Malabar to active and dynamic politics. The majority of the office bearers and the responsible leaders of the congress local committee members became Muslims. Mohammed Abdurahiman Sahib and E Moithu Moulavi became the prominent leaders of the Mappila Muslims of Malabar and also they were associated with the Indian National Congress and the National Movement. Abdurahiman Sahib started a newspaper entitled “Al-Ameen” In 1923. The sole aim and reason for the newspaper was to remove the allegations that Mappilas as fanatics[20]. Al-Ameen was a leftist paper, by this time there was split in the Congress as left wing led by Abdurahiman and the right wing or Chalappuram Gang dominated by the Lawyers, doctors, professionals, teachers. Abdurahimans left wing supported by Moidhu Moulavi, George Joseph, E.M.S. Namboothripad and the right wing was led by K. Kelappan, Madhava Menon and Ramunni Menon.

With great confidence we can say that Mohammed Abdurahiman Sahib and Moithu Moulavi were in front of the Congress and the National Movement. But the allegation against the Congress party was it under the control of ‘Chalappuram Gang[21]’ and even a great devoted leader for the National Movement among the Muslims of Malabar, Mr. Abdurahiman Sahiband also his followers of the nationalist Muslims in the Congress were ignored. These issues caused for more suspicious propagation that Indian National Congress was against the Muslims. But the Congress activists never tried to remove this misunderstanding or never tried to bring the Muslims to their fold. The leaders of Congress feared that, if such initiatives might alienate the Hindu landlords from the Congress and there by lose support of the majority community. The All India Muslim League formed in 1906 and whiles their inception they had not made any influence and impact among the Muslims in Malabar until 1937. Consequently the Muslim masses flowed away from the National congress and from the National movement. The Muslim leaders of Congress party like Mohammed Abdurahiman Sahib, E Moidhu Moulavi were ignored by the Congress party. Later some of the Muslim leaders became inactive and also the leaders like K M Seethi Sahib and B Pokker Sahib left the Congress party, and then later formed a branch of Muslim League in Malabar.

The Muslims of Malabar lost their hope over the Congress leaders and so they had no reason to believe that the Congress would be helpful in promoting them. So the academic intelligentsia and the professionals convinced that they must have an association to satisfy their needs and to protect their socio-political and economic interests. But they were unable to organize in the 1920’s because the Muslims were looked down up on by the Government as criminals. There was a complete absence of political involvement among the Muslims in Malabar between the 1920 to the late decades of 1930. Constant lack of trust emerged between the Muslims of Malabar and the Hindu Congress leaders. After the Mappila revolt, the Mappila schools were started by the Government, used to begin classes after the Fathiha[22]. The District Board decided to abolish this preparation and consequently a mass protest began against the decision of ban[23]. The chairman of the District Board was the Congress leader, the late K Kelappan, and so normally Mappila Muslims started to protest against the Congress for their decision to ban reciting Fathiha from the schools[24]. And another thing is that after the Second World War the Congress ministry resigned in 1939 and the All India Muslim League called to observe a “Deliverance Day”, so it was celebrated by the Malabar Muslim league also against the Congress Party.According to Sharafudeen, “the Hindu leaders of Malabar Congress, who were in the Government and Malabar District Board completely neglected the demands of the Mappila Muslims for instance the establishment of the separate Mappila schools for the Mappila boys, who did not had the standard of the Hindu Boys (63:2003)”. The Hindu leadersof the Congress denied all this demand as communal and it accelerated the process of anti-congress feeling among the Muslims and in this situation Sharafudeen noticed that the “Muslim League in Malabar was cleverly used the minds of the Muslims” (63: 2003). Later a number of Muslim activists of congress left the party and joined the Muslim League including Abdurahiman Saheb who joined the Muslim league after a long service with the Congress and in the National Movement.

The diverse responses among the Ulemas over Khilafat movement in Kerala

The relation with Kaliphas[25] rule in turkey started in 1920s. Such sentiments were reported in 1864 in a letter written by F.C. Brown, who was a planter in Malabar District. The well-known social reformer of Malabar Makti Thangals (1847-1912) published an evening newspaper Turki Samacharam (Turkish News) in 1909. This newspaper makes awareness about the socio-political system of Turkey. The agitation acted to revive the doctrines which Sayyid Fazal[26] and his disciples has propounded in the nineteenth century and more generally to resuscitate the Mappilas long militant tradition. Thus, the man who was more responsible than anyone else for triggering the revolt was a member of the Mappila “Ulema” from Tirurangadi, a direct heir of Sayyid fazal’s teachings in a very real sense, then, the Mappila Rebellion was significant not only as the climax of more than four hundred years of Malayali history, but also as an event in the modern history of both Indian and West Asian Islam. The defeat of Tipu and the Britishers new land policies severely affected the position of Muslims in Malabar. In the 1920s Malabar awakened politically with theactivities of home rule league. According to the Madras Mail (News Paper), the Khilafat movement was 'wonderfully organized. Every village has its own Khilafat Association and there is a regular system of inter-communication.

In Malabar there was a debate which started due to the Khilafat, Nationalist movement. A section of Ulemas opposed the Khilafat movement and tried to degrade the movement calling it as it is against the Islamic belief. This Ulamaswho opposed the movement understood that Allah will punish us if we gave support to the Indian nationalist movement and the Khilafat movement. Islam is strictly opposing the fight against the nationand do not try to destabilize the nation because it is anti-Islamic. Khilafat movement started to attractthe masses and the division among the Ulemas was growing day by day. After the attack against the Turkey and especially against the Khalifa, the Ulemas got in to trouble. They considered the turkey kingdom (Ottoman or Othmaniya Khilafath) as the part of decedent of Khulafa-u-rashideen and the sultan of Turkey was considered as their Khalifa. In the 1st world war Turkey supported the Germany and Austria, so Britain became the rival of Turkey. The Ulemas became nervous due to this complexity, because it was sure that the Britain will attack Turkey and it was not possible or justifiable through text to support the Britishers against Turkey.The British diplomats found a new strategy that they publicly announced that we are not against any belief or against any religion and also we should protect religious monuments and as a secularist nation it’s our duty to protect all faiths. We are fighting only against the Turkey government not against the Khalifa so seek the cooperationfrom Indians on this particular issue. The diplomats repeated this throughout their struggle and the Muslims believed them till the defeat of Turkey sultan. K P Kesava Menon, the founder of Mathrubumi Daily in Kerala, in his magnum opus “Kazinjakalam[27]” mentions that “Mohammedians in India accepted and believed the Viceroy’s comment regarding the war and the protection of Khalifa, they believed that British government will support them”. Another notable comment was made by the K Madavan Nair in his book “Malabar kalapam”. He mentioned that the “Britishers wanted the full support of the Muslims because in some parts of India the military forces were very strong, in which the Muslim soldiers were numerically very strong. So they used them for the war, and tried to keep in touch with the Ulemas, and gave them wrong assurance that they are fighting against the Turkey government not to the Khalifa. The British government also requested the believers to support them as true Muslims. He mentioned that in 1918 the Governor General of India Lord George repeated their request and showed keen interest to get the support from the Ulemas[28]. Later Turkey signed a pact with Britain and decided to stop the war, but Britain attacked the Turkey and exiled the Khalifa. The Indian orthodox Ulemas understood that they have been subjected to exploitation.

The Jamiat-ul-Ulema-e-Hind played an important role in the formation of the Khilafat and non-cooperation movement. Its headquarters were in Thiruchirapally in Tamil Nadu. The first conference of the Ulema in Kerala was held at Ottappalam on 25 April in the same panthal of the Provincial Congress Conference. A Committee was formed under Sayyid Alavi Thangals as life-time president. Moidu Maulavi issued a pamphlet “dear brethren”, which was addressed to the Muslims of Kerala. He appealed the Muslims to help Turkish financially. Friday congregational prayers were utilized to spread the message of the Khilafat Non-cooperation programme. The Wahhabi based Ulemas of Malabar inspired and joined with the movement. They publicly criticized the attitude of British government and started fighting against the Britain. The educated Muslims and Wahabi (Mujahid) Ulemas proclaimed that it is the duty of a Muslim to fight against anti-Islamic country and made them remember the inequalities done by the Britain against Indian community. And also the Islamic countries all over the world are in crisis, so it is the duty of a Muslim to fight against the Britain. Soon after the attack over the Turkey by Britain, both Ulemas (Mujahid and orthodox) and the nationalist activists in Kerala especially in Malabar started to fight with the colonialists. But the aims of the both section of ulemas were different that the Wahhabi inspired Ulemas fought due to the colonialismof Britain over the nation. The traditionalist ulemas fought against the Britain was the actions of Britain against Turkey, and their motto was to give back the power to Turkey Sultan not the independence of India. So the ulemas with orthodox mind gave more priority to the Khilafat activities in Malabar.

The religious scholars of Malabar reached in a difference of opinion regarding the issue of Khilafat and the independent movement. The famous religious scholars like Moulana Shamsul Ulema Kuthubi, Kuttyamu Musliyar of Ponnani mosque, Makdhoom Kunjan Bava Musliyar, and Allama Karimpanakkal Poker Musliyar opposed the independent movement of the country and made Fatwa that the fight against the British government (independent movement) is un-Islamic. But most of the modern educated Ulemas especially Wahabi inspired scholars like Vakkom Abdul Khader Moulavi, E Moythu Moulavi, K M Moulavi, and Muhammed Abdurahiman Sahib were the leaders who supported the nationalist movement and the independent movement of Indian National Congress. The traditional scholar Shamsul Ulema Kuthubi made a fatwa against the participations of freedom struggle. He quoted from Quran and explained that “thou wilt find the most vehement of mankind in hostility to those who believe (to be) the Jews and the idolaters. And thou wilt find the nearest of them in affection to those who believe (to be) those who say: Lo! We are Christians. That is because there are among them priests and monks and because they are not proud”. He interpreted this Quranic verses and based on the interpretation he pointed out that a Muslim can never do war against the Britain because they are Christian believers and so we should not oppose them and as a Mu’min (believer) we can’t encourage the idolaters[29]. If the Britishers would fail due to this independent movement, after that the idolaters will come to power and that could not be flexible and comfortable for the Muslim Ummah, regarding this reasons we should not support them. Another notable Fatwa[30]issued by Mammadkutty Musliyar in which he says that, it is a sin and against Sharia to non-cooperate with the Government by falling in the trap of Gandhi through the misinformation that the Government is against the Khilafat and added, invite people to violence is just like killing them with poison and sorcery. In his Fatwa he made some regards of the British attitudes towards the Muslims for the past two centuries. According to him the attitude from the British authority towards the Muslims is very respectful[31]. But some leadersof Khilafat movement like Pareekutty Musliyar[32] of Tanur made Fatwaagainst the British regime and compelled the Mappila Muslims to fight against the Kaffirs (infidels). According to him when the infidels entered in to our land (Darul Islam), it is compulsory to wage war up on them[33].He stated that a Muslim shouldn’t obey the Christian kings who had been proved that infidels through Islamic tradition. The Fatwas of Pareekutty musliyar made the troubles over the authority. They banned his Fatwas[34], as per the order who keep his commands were to be prosecuted for five years of imprisonment without any explanation. Those ulemas, who were undersigned the Fatwa against the colonialists warned by the authority.

 Another account was regarding the issue between the Khilafat supporting Ulemas and the nationalist supporting Wahhabi Ulemas, constant struggles existed in their views and opinions in different matters. The Mujahids called the traditional ulemas as Qadiyanis and Kafir because the Qadiyani’s were the supporters of British regime in India. A song became famous among the Muslims in Malabar about the traditionalist Ulemas.

The song was like this,


Lakadhbana fee Ponnani Qadiyani

Aamu va Kunjan Bava Kafirani

Vakadhaka Pokkar k k num Kuttyamu

Khad sharibul hamra kadhaka ammu


The meaning of the song is that now days so-called “Ponnani” became the center of Qadiyani’s and these Ulemas are Kafirs and no one want to follow them because they are drunkards.So here we can see that some of the traditional section of Ulemas opposed the independent movement[35] and they thought the British rule is better for the Muslims of India and moulana Shamsul Ulema Kuthubi went around Malabar and had spoken to the followers that we should not participate with the freedom struggle because it is a kind of Shirk to Allah[36].The Khilafat and Mappila revolt were interlinked in Malabar because the Khilafat was one of the prime cause for the emergence of Mappila rebellion. Such linkage of a local Mappila Muslims to the international issues of the Khilafat in Turkey created more antagonism to the Britain. They understood the religious element behind the cause and so they were aware of all the move of the Mappila Communities in Malabar. The genesis of all rebellious attempt was against the lord and the state so we can call it as a peasantry uprising[37].

The Non-Cooperation movement with the support of Indian National Congress started in Malabar. Among the Muslim leaders of the movement Mr. Pareekutty Musliyar[38] issued a fatwa, supporting the activities of the Congress and he urged the Muslims to join with Non-Muslims against the British regime[39]. As I told, Ulemas made different kind of Fatwas on the basis of theological understanding. So the response to the National movement was varied and diverse from region to region. His fatwa known as Tarjuma Muhimmath Al Muhmineen deals at the issue of darul Islam and darul arab[40]. In the light of prophetic tradition and Quran he invites the believers to fight against the Britain. He reminded the believers that who fight against the Kaffirs (infidels) are rewarded with paradise. Referring to the loyalist Muslims he says that, one shouldn’t support the oppressor whomsoever he may be and the abode of such people is hell[41]. This differentiation in opinion and the approaches later became more widened among the Muslims in Malabar especially among the Ulemas. In the light of the above information regarding the involvement of religious leadership whether favor or in favor to the nationalism, it can be concluded that the leadership of Malabar was not unanimous regarding the loyalty towards the British regime. Though the majority of educated Muslims and modern educated religious leaders mostly supportive for the nationalist cause and opposed the British regime and a minor section of Ulemas and Sayids declared their loyalty towards Britain without doubts. The response to the British regime was different from place to place. The local Ulamas, Thangals, Moulavis were the leaders of the movement and the responses were occurred according to their attitude towards the rebellion. The religious ideology played a major role but along with this these Ulamas made the Fatwas according to their theological understanding. Unlike in North India the Ulamas of Kerala not followed a single Fatwa system to fight against the Britain. The scattered Ulamas made their own interpretation towards the issues. Most of the North Malabar Muslims were supportive for the Britain and their rule, they belonged to the trading community and so they had to keep their business interests and also the rebels were the agriculturalists. Also there had been special prayers conducted by these loyalists Ulamas and thangals for the victory of Britain in the struggle. After the revolt these loyalist Ulamas were rejected by the rebels and so this became a reason for the origin of reformist trend among the Muslims of Malabar.

1.  Mappila is also spelled as Mappilla, Maplah, Moplah, and Moplamar. Etymologically it has been glossed as a contraction of Maha-pilla (big child, a title of honour conferred on immigrants). The term Mappila is used to refer to Christians in the southern part of Kerala.
2. Smith. W.C. 1979. Modern Islam in India: A Social Analysis. New Delhi: Usha Publications.pp. 251-253.
3. Tejani, Shabnum. 2007. Indian Secularism: A Social and Intellectual History 1890-1950. New Delhi: Permanent
Black.pp.173.
4.  Land of unbelief
5. The abode of Islam
6.  According to M.H. Panhwar the Khilafat movement was the major reason for the partition of the nation. If Gandhi didn’t give the support to the Khilafat movement, the Ulemas and the Pan-Islamic activists were remains nothing in the country. So he criticized Gandhi that he provided the space for the religionist in the nationalist movement and later this influence used them for the advocacy for the establishment of separate nation for Muslims. See Panhwar, M.H. Abdullah Haroon and His Times. Panhwar.pp.2.
7. Agha Zuhaib Khan, CSS, 2012.PP.2.
8. Tejani, Shabnum. 2007. Indian Secularism: A Social and Intellectual History 1890-1950. New Delhi: Permanent
Black.pp.154. 
9. Ansari, K. H. 1986. Pan-Islam and the Making of the Early Indian Muslim Socialists. Modern Asian Studies, pp. 522. 
10. Akhtar, Safir. 2002. Pan-Islam in British Indian Politics: A Study of the Khilafat Movement, 1918—1924. Islamabad. pp. 544.
11.  They had the uniform of Khaki trousers and coat, and the red turkey cap also with an emblem on it.
12.  Evans, F.B. The Out Break. 1992. In Kareem, C.K. in (Ed.) Malabar Lahala: 50th Anniversary special book. Kozhikkode, pp.118. 
13.  After the rebellion Ali Musliyar became the Raja of Khilafa in Southern Malabar, he himself proclaimed the Malabar as a separate Kingdom.
14.  Mohammed, K.A. 1992. Ali Musliyar .In Kareem, C.K. in (Ed.) Malabar Lahala: 50th Anniversary special book. Kozhikkode, pp.108. 
15. Gangadharan. M.2008. The Malabar Rebellion.  Kottayam: D. C. Books.pp.50. 
16.  He was a descendent of the Great Makdhooms of Ponnani, Makhdooms were the traditional Islamic scholar family who centered at Ponnani.
17. Cochin Argus, Cochin. November 25th, 1911.
18. West Coast Reformer. Kozhikkode. December 5th, 1912.
19.  C A Innes. Letter to the Under Secretary, Governemnt of Madras, 25th November.1912, in Madras Judicial Proceedings File No. 2040. Of 9th Dec.1912, pp.4-14., T.N.A., Madras.
20. Lakshmi, L.R.S.2012. The Malabar Muslims: A Different Perspective.pp.140.
21. Ibid, pp.140.
22. Quran chapter 1, usually the Muslims recites this in the programmes.
23.  K.M. Seethi Saheb. 1959. “keralathile Muslim Leaginte Purogathi”. Kerala State Muslim League Souvenier. 22-28.
24.  Sharafudeen, S. 2003. Muslims of Kerala: A modern approach. Pp.62.
25. The Caliph is the head of the state in a Caliphate, and the title for the ruler of the IslamicUmmah an Islamic community ruled by the Sharia. It is a transcribed version of the Arabic word which means "successor" or "representative" following Prophet Mohammed’s death in 632.
26.  He was a revolutionary par excellence, he wrote many works on Islamic theology in Arabic like Fussosathul Islam, Alaman Yuvaril Kaffarr, Asasul Islam etc. see. Kurupp, K.K.N., Ismail, E. 2008. Emergence of Islam in Kerala in 20th Century, New Delhi, pp.155. It contain the theological understanding of Islam and he preached the religious tolerance and love apart from the message of struggles against the British.  
27. Kazinjakalam. 1921. K P Kesava menon.Pp.89.
28. Ibid. Pp.51.
29. Chapter number 5, Surathul Ma’ida. Verse No. 82.
30.  His Fatwa called as Mahaqqal Kalafa ala Ismil Khilafa (Rebellious destruction in the name of khilafat)
31. According to him, for the last two centuries British’s made no any obstacle in any one of the issues related with the religion and they are providing complete freedom for preaching the message of Islam. besides fo constructing Mosques, they provided all assistance by clearing the legal obstacles from the part of the Jenmis by paying back the Jenmum price. Also for the last two centuries lot of , Sufi Saints lived here, they wrote and spend for Islam and these British’s given us all freedom to do the religious matters so they knew more things than Gandhians. Randathani, Hussain. 2007. Mappila Muslims: A Study on Society and Anti-Colonial Struggles. Kozhikkode, pp.153.
32.  He was born in 1876 at Tanur in Malappuram district and he completed his higher studies in Islamic theology from Ponnani Dars. Later he became one of the leaders of Khilafat Movement.
33.  Randathani, Hussain. 2007. Mappila Muslims: A Study on Society and Anti-Colonial Struggles. Kozhikkode, pp.151.
34.  British government decided to ban his Fatwas and ordered to Madras province to take actions against his commands and the order effect in the Madras Gazetteer of 1921 and later the copies of Fatwa were taken in tocustody. Cherussery Ahammed Kutty Musliyar and Pudiyappila Abdurahiman Musliyar were the two people who undersigned the Fatwa.
35. Thattangara Kuttyamu Musliyar, Pudhiyakath Kunjan Bava, Abdulla Kutty Musliyar, all belonging to traditional Ponnani Dars came against the Khilafat Movement. Randathani, Hussain. 2007. Mappila Muslims: A Study on Society and Anti-Colonial Struggles. Kozhikkode, pp.153.
36. For e.g. Mammadkutty Musliyar made a Fatwa called Mahaqqal Kalafa ala Ismil Khilafa (Rebellious destruction in the name of khilafat) in which he argued that the British India isDarul Islam and to resist British government is against the Islam.Randathani, Hussain. 2007. Mappila Muslims: A Study on Society and Anti-Colonial Struggles. Kozhikode, pp.153. 
37.  Kurupp, K.K.N., Ismail, E. 2008. Emergence of Islam in Kerala in 20th Century, New Delhi, pp.202. 
38.  He was the secretary of Khilafat committee at Tanur in the district of Malappuram.
39.  Randathani, Hussain. 2007. Mappila Muslims: A Study on Society and Anti-Colonial Struggles. Kozhikode, pp.151.
40.  A.M. Pareekutty Musliyar. Tarjuma Muhimmath Al Muhmineen , Tanur, 1921.pp.2.3.
41.  Randathani, Hussain. 2007. Mappila Muslims: A Study on Society and Anti-Colonial Struggles. Kozhikode, pp.151.

 


Reference

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Ansari, K. H. 1986. Pan-Islam and the Making of the Early Indian Muslim Socialists. Modern Asian Studies, Vol. 20 (3), pp. 509-537.
Bahauddin, K.M. 1992. Kerala Muslims: The Long Struggle.Trivandrum: Modern Book Centre
Evans, F.B. 1992. The Out Break. In Kareem, C.K. in (Ed.) Malabar Lahala: 50th Anniversary special book. Kozhikkode, pp.118.
Sharafudeen, S. 2003. Muslims of Kerala: A modern approach. Trivandrum: Kerala Historical Society
Lakshmi, L.R.S. 2012.The Malabar Muslims: A Different Perspective.New Delhi: Cambridge University Press India Ltd.
Menon, K. P.Kesava. 1983. Kazinja kalam. Kozhikkode: Mathrubumi Press.
Gangadharan. M. 2008. The Malabar Rebellion. Kottayam: D. C. Books.
Tejani, Shabnum. 2007. Indian Secularism: A Social and Intellectual History 1890-1950. New Delhi: Permanent Black.
Kurup, K. K. N. 1988. Peasantry and the Anti-Imperialist Struggles in Kerala, Social Scientist, Vol. 16 (9), pp. 35.45.
K.M. Seethi Saheb. 1959. keralathile Muslim Leaginte Purogathi. Kerala State Muslim League Souvenir. Kozhikkode.
Mohammed, K.A. 1992. Ali Musliyar .In Kareem, C.K. in (Ed.) Malabar Lahala: 50th Anniversary special book. Kozhikkode, pp.107-113.
Namboodiripad, E. M. S. 1984.The Struggle for Proletarian Hegemony: A Short Note on Freedom Struggle in Kerala. Social Scientist, Vol. 12(9) -Social Scientist.
Gangadharan, M. 1974. The Yakub Hasan Episode: Prelude to the Malabar Rebellion, 1921.(Ed.) Ravindan T.K. Journal of Kerala Studies. Trivandrum: Department of Histoy, University of Kerala. No.2 (1), pp.312.
Gangadharan, M. 2008. The Malabar Rebellion. Kottayam: DC Books.
Parappil, Koya Mammath.P.P. 1994.Kozhikkote Muslingalude Charithram. Focus Publications: Kozhokkode.pp.393.
Randathani, Hussain. 2007. Mappila Muslims: A Study on Society and Anti-Colonial Struggles. Kozhikkode: Other Books.
Smith. W.C. 1979. Modern Islam in India: A Social Analysis. New Delhi: Usha Publications
A.M. Pareekutty Musliyar. 1921.Tarjuma Muhimmath Al Muhmineen, Tanur.
News daily Khan, Agha Zuhaib. 2012.www.css2012.co.nr.
West Coast Reformer. Kozhikkode. December 5th, 1912.
Archives Cochin Argus, Cochin. November 25th, 1911.
C A Innes. Letter to the Under Secretary, Governemnt of Madras, 25th November.1912, in Madras Judicial Proceedings File No. 2040. Of 9th Dec.1912, pp.4-14., T.N.A., Madras.
Chapter number 5, Surathul Ma’ida. Verse No. 82.
[1] Mappila is also spelled as Mappilla, Maplah, Moplah, and Moplamar. Etymologically it has been glossed as a contraction of Maha-pilla (big child, a title of honour conferred on immigrants). The term Mappila is used to refer to Christians in the southern part of Kerala.
[2]Smith. W.C. 1979. Modern Islam in India: A Social Analysis. New Delhi: Usha Publications.pp. 251-253.
[3]Tejani, Shabnum. 2007. Indian Secularism: A Social and Intellectual History 1890-1950. New Delhi: Permanent
Black.pp.173.
[4] Land of unbelief
[5]The abode of Islam
[6] According to M.H. Panhwar the Khilafat movement was the major reason for the partition of the nation. If Gandhi didn’t give the support to the Khilafat movement, the Ulemas and the Pan-Islamic activists were remains nothing in the country. So he criticized Gandhi that he provided the space for the religionist in the nationalist movement and later this influence used them for the advocacy for the establishment of separate nation for Muslims. See Panhwar, M.H. Abdullah Haroon and His Times. Panhwar.pp.2.
[7]Agha Zuhaib Khan, CSS, 2012.PP.2.
[8]Tejani, Shabnum. 2007. Indian Secularism: A Social and Intellectual History 1890-1950. New Delhi: Permanent
Black.pp.154.
[9]Ansari, K. H. 1986. Pan-Islam and the Making of the Early Indian Muslim Socialists. Modern Asian Studies, pp. 522.
[10]Akhtar, Safir. 2002. Pan-Islam in British Indian Politics: A Study of the Khilafat Movement, 1918—1924. Islamabad. pp. 544.
[11] They had the uniform of Khaki trousers and coat, and the red turkey cap also with an emblem on it.
[12] Evans, F.B. The Out Break. 1992. In Kareem, C.K. in (Ed.) Malabar Lahala: 50th Anniversary special book. Kozhikkode, pp.118.
[13] After the rebellion Ali Musliyar became the Raja of Khilafa in Southern Malabar, he himself proclaimed the Malabar as a separate Kingdom.
[14] Mohammed, K.A. 1992. Ali Musliyar .In Kareem, C.K. in (Ed.) Malabar Lahala: 50th Anniversary special book. Kozhikkode, pp.108.
[15]Gangadharan. M.2008. The Malabar Rebellion. Kottayam: D. C. Books.pp.50.
[16] He was a descendent of the Great Makdhooms of Ponnani, Makhdooms were the traditional Islamic scholar family who centered at Ponnani.
[17]Cochin Argus, Cochin. November 25th, 1911.
[18]West Coast Reformer. Kozhikkode. December 5th, 1912.
[19] C A Innes. Letter to the Under Secretary, Governemnt of Madras, 25th November.1912, in Madras Judicial Proceedings File No. 2040. Of 9th Dec.1912, pp.4-14., T.N.A., Madras.
[20]Lakshmi, L.R.S.2012. The Malabar Muslims: A Different Perspective.pp.140.
[21]Ibid, pp.140.
[22]Quran chapter 1, usually the Muslims recites this in the programmes.
[23] K.M. Seethi Saheb. 1959. “keralathile Muslim Leaginte Purogathi”. Kerala State Muslim League Souvenier. 22-28.
[24] Sharafudeen, S. 2003. Muslims of Kerala: A modern approach. Pp.62.
[25]The Caliph is the head of the state in a Caliphate, and the title for the ruler of the IslamicUmmah an Islamic community ruled by the Sharia. It is a transcribed version of the Arabic word which means "successor" or "representative" following Prophet Mohammed’s death in 632.
[26] He was a revolutionary par excellence, he wrote many works on Islamic theology in Arabic like Fussosathul Islam, Alaman Yuvaril Kaffarr, Asasul Islam etc. see. Kurupp, K.K.N., Ismail, E. 2008. Emergence of Islam in Kerala in 20th Century, New Delhi, pp.155. It contain the theological understanding of Islam and he preached the religious tolerance and love apart from the message of struggles against the British.
[27]Kazinjakalam. 1921. K P Kesava menon.Pp.89.
[28]Ibid. Pp.51.
[29]Chapter number 5, Surathul Ma’ida. Verse No. 82.
[30] His Fatwa called as Mahaqqal Kalafa ala Ismil Khilafa (Rebellious destruction in the name of khilafat)
[31]According to him, for the last two centuries British’s made no any obstacle in any one of the issues related with the religion and they are providing complete freedom for preaching the message of Islam. besides fo constructing Mosques, they provided all assistance by clearing the legal obstacles from the part of the Jenmis by paying back the Jenmum price. Also for the last two centuries lot of , Sufi Saints lived here, they wrote and spend for Islam and these British’s given us all freedom to do the religious matters so they knew more things than Gandhians. Randathani, Hussain. 2007. Mappila Muslims: A Study on Society and Anti-Colonial Struggles. Kozhikkode, pp.153.
[32] He was born in 1876 at Tanur in Malappuram district and he completed his higher studies in Islamic theology from Ponnani Dars. Later he became one of the leaders of Khilafat Movement.
[33] Randathani, Hussain. 2007. Mappila Muslims: A Study on Society and Anti-Colonial Struggles. Kozhikkode, pp.151.
[34] British government decided to ban his Fatwas and ordered to Madras province to take actions against his commands and the order effect in the Madras Gazetteer of 1921 and later the copies of Fatwa were taken in tocustody. Cherussery Ahammed Kutty Musliyar and Pudiyappila Abdurahiman Musliyar were the two people who undersigned the Fatwa.
[35]Thattangara Kuttyamu Musliyar, Pudhiyakath Kunjan Bava, Abdulla Kutty Musliyar, all belonging to traditional Ponnani Dars came against the Khilafat Movement. Randathani, Hussain. 2007. Mappila Muslims: A Study on Society and Anti-Colonial Struggles. Kozhikkode, pp.153.
[36]For e.g. Mammadkutty Musliyar made a Fatwa called Mahaqqal Kalafa ala Ismil Khilafa (Rebellious destruction in the name of khilafat) in which he argued that the British India isDarul Islam and to resist British government is against the Islam.Randathani, Hussain. 2007. Mappila Muslims: A Study on Society and Anti-Colonial Struggles. Kozhikode, pp.153.
[37] Kurupp, K.K.N., Ismail, E. 2008. Emergence of Islam in Kerala in 20th Century, New Delhi, pp.202.
[38] He was the secretary of Khilafat committee at Tanur in the district of Malappuram.
[39] Randathani, Hussain. 2007. Mappila Muslims: A Study on Society and Anti-Colonial Struggles. Kozhikode, pp.151.
[40] A.M. Pareekutty Musliyar. Tarjuma Muhimmath Al Muhmineen , Tanur, 1921.pp.2.3.
[41] Randathani, Hussain. 2007. Mappila Muslims: A Study on Society and Anti-Colonial Struggles. Kozhikode, pp.151.

AUTHOR: Hashim T
  (Research Scholar, Pondicherry University)