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titleThe foreign influence and downfall

The Portuguese

The Kappad Beach, where the Portuguese first landed in India, and met the king, Samuthiri

The Portuguese came to the East with the intention of  capturing the spice trade from the Arabs  as well  as spreading their Catholic Religion combined with the deep animus against the Muslims as a result of years of clashes with them in the Iberian peninsular

Vasco da Gamma with 3 ships and 160 men landed in Kappad 6 miles north of Calicut in 1498 and tried to capture the spice trade in the port of Calicut.  Their attempt was blocked by the Muslim traders supported by Zamorin.  Pedro Cabral and later Vasco da Gama returned to Calicut in 1502, bombarding the city, destroying the Muslim and the Zamorin naval ships with their superior fire-power, marked by acts of extreme and inhumane cruelty.

The Malabar Muslims were the people who fought to route the Portuguese from Malabar. The name of Marakkars, particularly that of Kunhali Marakkar, will remain in golden letters in the history of Kerala as the foremost figures in the fight against the Portuguese.

In the final result,  the Zamorins had to bow to the needs to the Portuguese , allowing  them to take control of the spice trade and build forts while the Malabar Muslim spice trade was virtually wiped out. They were forced to move inlands in search of new life, where the lands were already owned by the Hindu landlords and   they finally  ended up  as farmers,  as small time traders and  fishermen.


The Portuguese rule eroded as the Dutch came in 1673. Initially  they had gained the support of the Malabar Muslims in overcoming the Portuguese. The new Europeans were more interested in gaining control of trade and less of territory. They aligned with the Cochin Rajas   and had a good working relation with the Arakkal Muslim Dinasty of Kannoor and later with Tippu Sultan and Hyder Ali. They had to share power with the fading   Portuguese and the British as well as the French  and found it to be non viable. They retreated  from Kanoor in 1790 and Cochin in 1795.The Muslims in general during  this period were not very much better off compared with the Portuguese era.

Hyder Ali and Tippu Sultan

Hyder Ali and later his son Tippu Sultan were the most powerful individual figures in the history of South India in mid 18th century. They attacked Malabar not only due to its proximity to Mysore  but also due to the area's political weakness, the abundance of wealth  in Malabar and  its port facilities as compared to the land locked Mysore.

In 1765 Hyder Ali invaded Malabar answering a plea of help from  Arakkal Ali Raja of Kanooor after being attacked by Nayars. Malabar Muslims were happy to receive him  and join  forces. Battles raged back and forth in Malabar involving the Malabar Muslims, Nayars, British and French  until Hyder Ali died in 1782. A British treaty with his son Tippu Sultan gave temporary power to Tippu over Malabar. The British who later felt that Tippu was a threat to their advances in South India, attacked and captured Malabar from Tippu in 1792.


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