Cheraman Juma Masjid
Cheraman Juma Masjid is a mosque in Methala, Kodungallur Taluk in the Indian state of Kerala. The Cheraman Masjid is said to be the very first mosque in India, built in 629 AD by Malik lbn Dinar. It is believed that this mosque was first renovated and reconstructed in the 11th century AD. Many non-Muslims conduct initiation ceremonies to the world of letters of their children here.
Kerala Vyasan Kunhikuttan Thampuran is of the opinion that an old Buddha temple was gifted to the Muslims to establish a mosque.Since ancient times, trade relations between Arabia and the Indian subcontinent were active. Even before Islam had been established in Arabia, Arab traders visited the Malabar region, which was a major link between the ports of South and Southeast Asia. With the advent of Islam, the Arab merchants became carriers of the new religion and they propagated it wherever they went. Numerous Indians living in the coastal areas of Kerala accepted the principles of the new religion and converted to Islam. The Brahmin King Cheraman Perumal was the first Indian that convert to Islam based on a popular historical event.
The event was that a group of The Islamic prophet Muhammad’s Sahaba ( companions ) visited Kodungallur. The Chera ruler witnessed a miraculous happening — the sudden splitting of the moon, the celebrated miracle of Muhammad — and learned on inquiry that this was a symbol of the coming of a Messenger of God from Arabia. Soon after, Perumal traveled to Makkah, where he embraced Islam and accepted the name Thajudeen. On his way back to India he died at Salalah in the Sultanate of Oman. On his deathbed he is said to have authorised some of his Arab companions to go back to his kingdom to spread Islam. Accordingly, a group of Arabs led by Malik Bin Deenar and Malik bin Habib arrived in north Kerala and constructed a Masjid at Kodungalloor. As the construction of masjid was sponsored by the King Cheraman, it was named the Cheraman Juma Masjid.
The mosque has an ancient oil lamp which always burns and which is believed to be more than a thousand years old. People of all religions bring oil for the lamp as offering. This is one of the few mosques in Kerala which allows entry for people of other religions.
The mosque is built in the traditional Hindu architectural style using brass oil lamps. The rosewood pulpit, from where the imam recites the Friday Jumu’ah, is covered with carvings. A block of white marble in the mosque is believed to have been brought from Makkah.
A model of the older building exist in the museum.
Just left of this main prayer hall are the grave of Malik Bin Dinar’s son and wife. Malik Bin Dinar himself is buried in Kasargod, about 350 kms from here. The right side of the masjid is a big graveyard; since many graves have been reused, it is difficult to tell how old the oldest grave is. Behind the mosque is an artificial pond that was used for making ablution.
The Masjid is run by a committee and they are doing their utmost to preserve the history and traditions of this important landmark of Islam in India. One of the living history is the Muezzin of the mosque. He upholds his family tradition of several generations by being the current Muezzin. The Imam and Muezzin live in quarters that are located behind the masjid.
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