The Mappilas of Malabar: Their Contribution to the
Composite Culture of India
Dr. O.P. Salahudheen
Faculty of Law
AMU Centre Malappuram, Kerala
‘The Mappilas of Malabar’[i] is a distinct ethnic name familiar in historians’ world, who are living on the narrow coastal strip of land that attracted the attention of travellers, geographers, traders, scholars and many others. Greek writers were familiar with the land and the people. Arab geographers were full of praise for Malabar and its rulers and people. As a source of spices, especially pepper, Malabar attracted the Europeans. It was the position of Malabar as an entrepot of the East-West trading activities in the Indian Ocean littoral that gave her a prominent place in the medieval world. The frequent references in ancient sources on trade with Malabar are impressive. It was on the basis of their participation in the extensive trade in the Indian Ocean that Mappila identity was formed in medieval times. The Arabian Sea has been one permanent and determining factor in the history of Malabar and its people.
The present paper is an attempt to explore the role of Mappilas in shaping the composite culture of India. Furthermore it specially offer a micro sketch on the legacy of this ethnic group in safeguarding the interest of motherland through a century long saga of anti-European struggle, and thus offering to the exuberant composite culture of India.
It is significant to note the importance of the Arabs, the progenitors of Mappilas prior to the influx of Portuguese in to the placid waters of Indian Ocean. The centuries old trade and commercial relationship between India and Egypt and the West Asian countries is a historical fact.[ii] The earliest evidence for the presence of Muslims in Kerala is evident in the copper plates of...