Cheraman Juma Masjid
NH 66, Padakulam, Padakulam, Kodungallur, Kerala 680664, India
The very first mosque in India constructed in the time of Prophet Muhammad.
Location of Cheraman Juma Masjid
More about Cheraman Juma Masjid
Cheraman Juma Mosque is a mosque in located in Kodungallur Town of Thrissur district in Kerala State of Southern India. Built in AD 629 by Malik Deenar, an Arab propagator of Islam, this is the first mosque in India and the second in the world where Juma prayers (congregational prayer on Fridays) were started.
History of the Mosque and the first presence of Islam in India
Even before Islam started to spread in Arabia, trade relations between Arabia and India were active. Traders visited the Malabar Region in present day Kerala State which was then a major link between the ports of India and Southeast Asia. With the founding of Islam, the Arab merchants became the carriers of the new religion and they propagated it wherever they went including Malabar.
The story of Cheraman Perumal, the Hindu ruler who accepted Islam
One of the myths surrounding the mosque is that of Cheraman Perumal, the Chera King who went to Arabia and converted to Islam changing his name to Tajuddin. Perumal was the first significant figure in the history of Islam’s growth in the region.
The reason behind his visit and conversion to Islam
Cheraman Perumal once experienced an unusual dream of the new moon being split into two halves at the horizon. The astrologers in his court were not able to give him a satisfactory explanation of the dream. Later when a group of Arab traders on their way to Ceylon (present day Sri Lanka) met Perumal and he mentioned the dream to them. The traders explained that the dream could be the miracle Prophet Mohammed performed in Arabia.
This explanation convinced Perumal to visit Mecca and after reaching Mecca he met the prophet and embraced Islam. He spent some years in Mecca and while returning home fell ill and died at Dhufar in Oman and was buried in Salalah in Oman. Before his death he wrote letters to the local rulers of Malabar and handed them to his companions. The letters were passed on to the rulers by Malik Deenar and his companions when they reached Kodungallur and they were allowed to construct mosques at different places. The first mosque in India was thus constructed at Kodungallur and Malik Deenar himself was the first Ghazi of this newly constructed Cherman Mosque.
Later, Malik Deenar appointed his relative Habib Malik as the Ghazi of the mosque and traveled across the length and breadth of Kerala spreading Islam. He established many different mosques in Kerala and it is believed that he died at Kasaragod and his relics were buried at the Malik Deenar Juma Mosque in Thalangara, Kasaragod. The old tombs at the Cheraman Mosque believed to belong to Habib Bin Malik and his wife Khumarriah.
Exploring the mosque
The mosque in its current form looks a lot different from the original one constructed 1,500 years ago. The original mosque resembled a Hindu Temple in appearance. Since then, renovations were carried out multiple times due to the ever increasing numbers of believers of Islam. The inner ancient part of the mosque is left untouched and still preserved well. The first renovation happened in the 11th century and later again in 18th century. The renovations in 1974 resulted in the construction of an extension by demolishing the front portion of the mosque. Another extension was made in 2001 as the number of people attending the services increased.
The religious harmony in the area
Substantial numbers of visitors to the mosque are from non-Muslim communities owing to the significance of it in the countries history. The muslim communities of the area encourages the visit helping the mosque to preserve its secular credentials. Offering of Iftar during the months of Ramadan are being made by the non-Muslims of the area. Many of the non-Muslim devotees of the mosque conduct ‘Vidhyarambham’ of their children at the mosque. Vidyarmambham is a Hindu tradition observed on Vijayadashami day mainly in Tamil Nadu, Kerala, and Karnataka, during which children are formally introduced to learning of music, dance, languages and other folk arts.
The ancient oil lamp
The mosque has an ancient brass oil lamp that is believed to be a thousand years old which is traditionally associated with Hindu religion. People of all religions bring oil for the lamp as offerings. The minbar has some intricate carvings and lacquer work that resembles carvings commonly seen on the temples of Kerala.
The small museum and the replica of the old mosque
The mosque also houses a small museum which has a miniature replica of the mosque as it stood 350 years ago. There are some other artefacts from older times such as the red stones that were used as building materials, and an ancient sewage canal. There is a grave yard within the mosque compound. The marking stones are places on both the head and feet sides of the tombs here.
Getting to Cheraman Juma Masjid
The mosque is roughly 2 km away from Kodungallur Town. Kodungallur is located 40 km from the nearest major cities Thrissur and Ernakulam and can be easily accessed as there are plenty of buses to the town from these two cities. You can get down at railway stations either in Ernakulam or Thrissur to reach the Kodungallur.