Malabar and First Muslims in India

I visited Malabar coast in August 2015 after completing my master degree (I received degree certificate on 21 August) and chairmanship at Indonesian Student Association in India (I delivered my tenure report on 22 August). I departed on 26 August from Secunderabad Station (Hyderabad) to Ernakulam Junction (Kochin). During the journey, I spent more than 24 hours on India’s sleeper class train.

It was my first journey to Kerala state, the southern state of India. It was part of my two-week adventure visiting Kochin, Kottayam, Thiruvananthapuram, Idukki, Chennai, Mysore, and Hampi. As the complement of saga I earlier visited eastern, western, central and northern parts of territory, it was my last episode of exploring India.

As I told that I did not visit south India before, I reveal that south India is fascinating. In fact, many similarities I had found here with my homeland. Particularly, if the region compared to other parts of India I visited before.

After I arrived in Kochin, I was picked up by my friend there (he did not studied in Kochin, but Thiruvanantapuram; to be frank, he visited Kochin due to his hospitality and kindness as I contacted him before and telling him I planned to visit Kerala). It is invaluable kindness that I should thank to him. His name is Belly Rahmon, studied M.A. International Relations at the University of Kerala, Thiruvanantapuram.

Back to the story. Then, I was directed to Mrs. Lisa’s House. Not a house actually, but an apartment. She served me well, since she prepared for a number Indonesian food and of course I miss much such indigenous food.

In the afternoon, I visited Malabar coast. To reach the coast, I should go there by boat, but I must be in line to get the ticket. It was about an hour for getting the ticket. The boat needs about 15 minutes to reach Malabar coast. Before I reached the coast, the shore shows many planes around which asserts rigorous trade activities there.

In this picture, I stand in Mallabar coastline after waited for a sunset. As Information I collected, Malabar is claimed as a silent witness which linked rigorous trading activities between Arabian and Southeast Asian traders before colonialism reached the land and other Southeast Asia regions.

According to history, Kerala is the first Indian state where Islam came and the Mapillas are regarded as the descendants of communities of Arab traders in Kerala. To reach the trading destinations, Arab traders used to visit the Malabar region, through Malabar Coast, which was the main port to Southeast Asia (the modern Indonesia and Malaysia), to trade even before Islam had been established in Arabia. These Arab traders were primarily from the Hadhramaut valley of Yemen.

The last, as all my entire journeys within Kerala, what makes different between Muslims in Kerala and in other states (as long as I concerned) is that Muslims here use Shafi’i school rather than that of Hanafi which is commonly practised in all other states of the country, such as Gujarat, Telangana, Delhi, Maharashtra, and so forth. It asserts that Muslims in Kerala are distinct from what in other regions in terms of school of Islamic jurisprudence. In contrast, they have similarities with Muslims in Indonesia and Malaysia in term of school who also practise that of Shafii.

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