e-Malabari Network

How a Muslim became Arakkal Raja

Muslims of Kerala have always believed that their origins in Kerala go back to 7th century AD when the religion originated in Arabia. The numbers increased in the 9th century. In the 8th century there were many centers for religious conversion in the state. Cheraman Perumal's pilgrimage to Mecca was a major influence in this regard. The history of Muslims in Kerala is closely intertwined with the history of Muslims in nearby Laccadives islands.

Kerala's only Muslim kingdom was Kannanore's Arakkal family. Historians disagree as to the time period of Arakkal rulers. Some claim that ancient coins date the Arakkal rulers to the 8th century. Kerala historian Mr. A. Sridhara Menon seem to believe that the Arakkal kings came to power in 16th or 17th century and issued their coins at the earliest in the 18th century. One of the rulers that presided over the kingdom was Junumma Beevi who ruled for 49 years. By 1909 Arakkal rulers lost Cannanore and cantonment. By 1911 there was further decline with loss of "chenkol and udaval"?*. During those years they allied and clashed with the Portuguese, the Dutch, the French and the English. The British played the biggest part in removing all vestiges of titles and power from the Arakkal rulers. One of the last kings Arakkal Abdu Rahiman Ali Raja (1881 -1946) was active in helping his subjects. The last ruler was Ali Raja Mariumma Beevi Thangal. After her time the family broke up.

The Origin

Centuries back Kolathu Nadu (present Kannur district and near places) was ruled by Chirakkal Raja. While taking bath in a nearby pond, the daughter of the then ruler was drowned. Seeing this her friends cried and shouted. They were unable to rescue her. By the same time a Muslim boy walking nearby heard the shouting and went to see what was happening. He saw a girl was drowning in the pond. He knew it was the princess but at first he hesitated to save her because in that time there was untouchability practiced in Kerala. That means if a lower cast person touch a higher cast person it was considered as a sin and some times he may even lose his life.

The boy anyway jumped in to the pond and saved her. But she was not having her dress and she was naked. Seeing this the boy gave his "mundu" a long cloth used to cover the lower part of the body.

When this news reached the ruler, he called both her daughter and the Muslim boy to him. The boy was so afraid that he taught he will lose his life. As per the custom in that days, if a man gives a "pudava" (a long cloth used for covering body) to a unmarried woman, it is considered as if he and she got married.

The elders and religious people advised the ruler that, two thing happened here, one is the kings daughter was touched by a Muslim the second thing was a boy gave "pudava" to his daughter (by giving boys "mundu" to the girl), meaning that the daughter cannot enter the palace anymore and also she got married by the Muslim boy.

As per the custom the ruler had no other choice but give her daughter to the Muslim boy. The Raja was unhappy to give his daughter to a poor family, so he gave the boy some part of his country, and made him the ruler of that part.

The area which was given to the boy was then onwards known as arakkal and his family, Arakkal family. The rulers daughter was known as Arakkal beebi.


Adapted from http://www.arakkaladiraja.com/