The Malabar Muslims played an important role in the freedom struggle against foreign oppression. History is littered with the names of martyrs and folk heroes struggeling for the betterment of rthe community and country. These heroes are also praised in country ballads and religious ‘maala’ sang and passed down from generationto generation. Here are but to name a few.
The 100 year war against the Portuguese
Kunjalimarakkar was the muslim family who build naval defense to Malabar. It was during the time of Samuthiris (Zamorins), that the title of ‘Marakkar’ was created. During the reign of the four marakkars played significant role in trade. The Muslims succeeded in totally controlling the trade in the Arabian Sea while the Zamorin whose main source of income was the custom duties were able to monopolize the trade outlets. In addition to that the zamorins did not oppose to conversion to Islam and occasionally supported it. The Zamorin desire to build up his Navy, one that would have a good working relation with the Arabs encouraged this conversion especially of the fisherman who lived along the Cochin coast.
During the time the second Marakkar Muslims spread from port areas to hillsides of Valapattanam, Theekkodi, Pandalayani, Kakkadu, Kozhikodu & Ponnani. From there many migrated to Palakkadu. Muslim influence reached its peak at the time of Kunjali Marakkar (4th). After Kunjali Marakkar and Samuthiri parted company Muslim influence declined. Kunjali Marakkar would be the first well known personality in Malabar who became martyr by fighting against colonialism.
The Marakkars were the sea admirals at the height of the reign of Samuthiris and had full control of the Malabar seas and trade at Kodungaloor Port- the largest port in Malabar form 11th to 16th Century. The coming of Portuguese to control the spice trade with the vengeance to destroy the Muslims (Moors) led to a 100 year war between the people of Malabar led by the Marakkar family with support of the Kings of Gujerat, Egypt
Zainuddin Makhdum came form a great lineage of scholars and is himself a great religious scholar whose ‘Fiqh’ Kitab – Fathul Mu’een- still being used as a reference. He played his part through his writings to spawn awareness of this struggle His book Tuhfat-ul Mujahideen is considered an authentic history of this period and has been translated to various languages
Struggle against the Tippu Sultan Invasion
There is evidence however that not all the Muslims were in favour of the Mysoreans. Records show that there was opposition and rebellions from certain Muslim leaders to prevent advances of the Mysorean forces. The war against the troops of Hydross Kutty Moopan of Manatthala and Kurikkal of Manjeri between 1786 and 1788 are the examples of this change.
Hydross Kutty Moopan born in Chavakkad in the mid 18th century to Ambalatthuveetil Hussan Kutty Moopan . They were rulers of a region extending from Chetuva upto Pookaitha Kadavu under the Zamorin king. They were also the governors of the southern region of the Zamorin’s kingdom. Hydross Kutty Moopan was killed in a battle against Tippu Sultan’s army at Chavakkad on the 28th of January 1788. He was buried at the cemetery of Manatthala Jumaa Masjid. His descendants were the long line of Ayurvedic physicians known as Pandaratthil Vaithianmar at Manatthala and the surrounding areas until recently.
Independence from British
The Mapilla Rebellion
Khilafat Movement was launched in 1921 by the Indian Muslims with the blessing of the Indian leaders as a protest to the ending of the Caliphate rule in Turkey. It however ultimately took the form of a violent rebellion against the then existing systems of landlords.
Unfortunately, this gave the British a capital opportunity to paint the peasant struggle as a communal riot against the Hindu landlords. The British called it the ‘Mappila Rebelion’. The British suppressed these agitation with their military might and thousands of Malabar Muslims perished in this organised massacre. The distorted version of this struggle has now been rewritten by eminent Indian historians.
Heroes of this struggle such as Ali Musliar is still remembered until today