Printer Friendly

Ship Symbolism in the 'Arabic Cosmopolis': Reading Kunjayin Musliyar's "Kappapattu" in 18th century Malabar.


Manga (mango), thenga (coconut) and numerous other crops, fruits and objects were the central themes of many songs in the Arabi Malayalam literary language. (1) In this paper, I focus on "Kappapattu" ("Ship Song") written in the 18th century Malabar. Reading it within the Malabar context, scholars saw the "Ship Song" as an original approach of a Sufi poet in towards formulating an allegorical relationship between the lives of humans and technology within ships. While a few analyses in Malayalam have demonstrated the importance of the ship in Quran and Islamic literature, no attempts have yet been made to understand the "Kappapattu" of Malabar in the larger Indian Ocean context. (2) This particular poem, written by Kunjayin Musliyar, an 18th century Sufi scholar, is exceptional for its mystical depth and an excessive presence of Tamil words in the Arabi-Malayalam song. (3) This paper also explores questions such as how the tradition has linked technology within Sufi knowledge; how religious life and port life shared a deep knowledge of seasons, ship movement, sea movement etc.; and how this enabled Musliyar in easily connecting and conversing with the larger Muslim population. The paper looks at how Musliyar invokes a glorious Muslim maritime past and asks why, after the Portuguese havoc, (4) Sufi literature invokes such narratives of the past. It also enquires whether the invasion of Mysore allied with the Arakkal dynasty, a major maritime power in the region, and Tipu Sultan's interventions in Malabar contributed to the formation of a new concept of the maritime towards the close of the 18th century.

One of the first references to the 18th century Arabi-Malayalam poem I am dealing with "Kappapattu" in a secondary Malayalam source is in the Mahathaya Mappila Sahithya Paramparyam (The Great Mappila Literary Tradition, 1978), co-authored by KK Muhammad Abdul Karim and CN Ahamad Moulavi. (5) KK Muhammad Abdul Karim also wrote "Rasikashiromani Kunjayin and "Kappapattu:' Oru Padan am " (The Comedy King Kunjayin and The Ship Song: A Study) in 1982. Prior to Abdul Karim's work, Kunjayin Muslaiyar (d. circa 1785) was very popular among Malabar Muslims for his humor and wit. (6) Precisely because of that reason Kunjayin Musliyar is not in need of an introduction to the Mappila population. Yet these stories of humor overshadow Musliyar's remarkable contribution to Sufi knowledge and Arabi-Malayalam poetry, which are relatively unexplored. An attempt by Dr. Zakeer Hussain in Kunjayin Musliyar and "Kappapattu": Oru Darshanika Padanam, is the latest attempt explore the Sufi writings of Kunjayin Musliyar. One could see from Kunjayin's title itself that he was a Musliyar, which denotes Ulama in Malabar. Very few attempts have been made to understand the role of Ulama in Malabar context. (7) One could say Kunjayin was a religious scholar of humble origins, (8) a Sufi poet (9) as well as a very popular story figure centuries after his death. Musliyar was born in Thalassery (Tellicherry in English East India Company documents) (10) in North Malabar, but went on to procure a religious degree from Ponnani in South Malabar. (11) Of the popular stories attributed to him, some are worth mentioning here in order to understand Kunjayin Musliyar's role in the 18th-century Malabar society.

Kunjayin Musliyar in the oral tradition

Stories attributed to him include his humor, from his childhood days in the madrasa to his rise as a prominent member of Zamorin's court. In one of the stories, Musliyar had a Hindu neighbor--belonging to traditional land-owning caste--who was a miser and used to live on usury taken from people. (12) Musliyar decided to target the neighbor with his humor. Once, he asked to borrow a copper vessel from the neighbor who was reluctant to hand over his house utensils to outsiders. But knowing Musliyar's talents in mocking and critiquing people, the neighbor could not refuse. After a few days, Musliyar returned the utensil along with two small copper vessels. When asked by the astonished neighbor, he replied that the copper utensil had given birth to these two vessels. The neighbor was, of course, overjoyed and waited for Musliyar to borrow more objects. And Musliyar borrowed copper vessels from the neighbor twice or thrice and returned them with multiplied smaller vessels. Many days later, Musliyar asked the neighbor for his biggest copper vessel for preparing a communal feast in the madrasa. The neighbor, expecting a sizeable profit, happily gave Musliyar what he asked for. A few days later, Musliyar told the neighbor, much to the latter's dismay, that his biggest copper vessel had died during the delivery and was lost forever. (13)

In some of these stories Musliyar plays a messenger between Zamorin's court and the rival Kottayam kovilakam ("little kingdoms" or authorities of pre-colonial Malabar). (14) In the friendly skirmishes between these "little kingdoms," the stories are evidence of Musliyar's intelligence which soared above that of members of both the courts. To understand Musliyar's humor in a historical context here, I move to discussions on the historiography concerning Birbal, the most famous figure of humor and wit in Mughal courts.

C.M. Naim, in his analysis of Birbal jokes in Akbar's time, refutes the attributions of Birbal jokes as a result of the repressed/suppressed Hindu mind against the Muslim/Mughal Rule. According to him Aurangzeb, who was supposedly more disliked, would also have been the target of such jokes, but there are hardly any. To complicate the picture, Naim looks at Mulla Do Pyaza, another figure in Akbar's court who was also known for his humor but whose humor Naim categorizes as "an expression of suppressed aggression." Do Pyaza inhabited what Naim calls the religious orthodoxy in Akbar's court. By examining the evidence, Naim is doubtful about the historicity of Mulla Do Pyaza and finds him "fictional" unlike Birbal whose historicity is established through major sources. But this construction of Mulla Do Pyaza projected, in Naim's words, "a great deal of later communal polarization." (15) Similarly, it is possible that the tensions between Kunjayin Musliyar and Zamorin's minister Mangattachan may have evolved in the later communal polarizations of Malabar. For instance, in the agrarian outbreaks, although its attribution of communal factors by colonial historiography has been questioned, the tensions and subsequent polarization which followed cannot be denied entirely.

Kunjayin Musliyar died in the same year 1786 when Tipu Sultan's Malabar invasion took place. Early colonial historians and travelers saw this invasion as markedly different from that of Hyder, characterized as it was with Tipu's "barbarity and cruelty." (16) It is important to conduct an analysis of such colonial characterization of Tipu Sultan in the context of the transformations that were taking place in Malabar from early 17th century rather than accepting the alleged "barbarity and cruelty" at face value. In the second story, I have mentioned the property and disputes between Nair lenders who accept that usury was important. But there would be another dimension to this story, a major colonial source on Tipu Sultan's rule written by M.M.D.L.T and edited by Gholam Mohammad. (17) Tipu's son, who was a pensioner of the English in his later life, wrote in his biography of Hyder Ali and Tipu Sultan that the relations between Mappila Muslims and Nairs were undergoing a transformation. (18) Zamorin, to whose court Mangattachan belonged, had been, as I argued earlier, witness to a harmonious relationship between the two communities, based on humor. But towards North Malabar, tensions were increasing gradually and, as Ruchira Banerjee demonstrated, one could locate the growing importance of maritime life and its consequences on Mappila life. (19) A new aggressive maritime conduct seems to have occupied Ali Raja and his naval assertions during this time. (20) For example, Maistre de la Tour (M.M.D.L.T), writes that in his expedition to Maldives, Ali Raja conducted cruel excesses by plucking out the eyes of the Maldives king. Haider Ali, who is shown as a better and more powerful figure than Ali Raja in M.M.D.L.T.'s account, reprimands the latter for this behavior. The growing maritime power also had consequences in poetry and Sufi literature, as the "Kappapattu" reflects. I now attempt to enquire into how peaceful the maritime rise of Mappilas was, as represented in the "Kappapattu." Could one see the poem as a Sufi response to the aggressive rise of ship and army in the contemporary context, since it is written by Sufi scholar who was known for his harmonious humor which I would like to call Sufi humor? One may read the poem closely for this purpose.

Following the Beautiful Ship

Before embarking on the journey, the poet is giving certain instructions to the Human who is already allegorized as a ship. The initial lines are spiritual instructions which ask everyone (humanship, or the travelers in the ship) to eliminate ego and pride and to be more conscious in life. Subsequently, the poet begins describing the ship or how a ship is constructed, including the measures of wood used for making this ship. Here he is explicit in comparing the ship with the human body. Kunjayin Musliyar's knowledge of ship technology and human anatomy is brought together in these lines. Musliyar was a student of Maqdoom at Ponnani, and his knowledge of various aspects of life would not be surprising, considering that the syllabus of the Dars included these topics. After explaining the features of the wooden ship, Musliyar moves to the sky (heaven). Here, he uses words such as oruvathumonnu for ahadathile alif and it is not surprising that Nayan is used for Allah at the beginning of the poem. (21) One could argue in this context that so many Arabic words have been translated to Malayalam or Tamil throughout these texts. The captain of the ship, as Zakeer Hussain explains in the poem, is the Nakhuda who has dabiyass or foresight. Many other workers in the ship including Srank, Karani, Muallimi, etc. are mentioned. Hussain in his analysis compares this song with Malayalam contemporary Bhakthikavya (Hindu devotional poetry) tradition where in Njanappana (17th century) similar verses are attributed. But unlike Njanappana where the all-powerful God nullifies humans, here the story is also important with its strong roots in the Sufi tradition. Kunjayin Musliyar's poem is unlikely to have been influenced by the traditions of Bhakti Kavya although there are some broadly similar trends. Musliyar seem not to be borrowing anything from local other than the form of the ship, which appears more analogous to a dhow when one analyses the text.

To the captain of the ship, Musliyar asks how farsighted he is. The Persian word Nakhuda is used for the captain of the ship in the poem. Musliyar's priority to the five-time prayers is emphasized in the subsequent lines. In the next few lines, pirates are importantly compared with the enemies of this piety. Storm and pirates are the other forces of havoc in the Sufi path of religion. While in Portuguese discourse Mappilas were branded as pirates, here the Mappilaship-body metaphor is a warning against the pirates. The concept of piracy in Mappila literature is worth enquiring: "Kallanekathu (saved from the pirate-thief) kadalottam (sailed through the sea)" could be seen as references. Musliyar then moves into more Sufi thoughts where the soul is asked to get the pearl from the deep sea. This call has a precedent in Malabar itself where Zainuddin Maqdoom (d.1583) invokes the metaphor of sea as the tariqa (Sufi order) and the pearls inside as the haqiaqa (the ultimate destination in the Sufi path). Curiously, in Maqdoom, the ship is the Sharia (22) In the poem, if we consider the five-time prayer and zakat, hajj, etc. as within the realm of the sharia (which could be loosely translated as Islamic law but is a much larger concept) then, in this aspect, Musliyar follows a clear paradigm set by Maqdoom. The education and training Musliyar received in Ponnani were in a Shafi system of learning set by Maqdoom, but constantly interacted with North Malabar region where Musliyar and the second Maqdoom are said to have been buried.

In the poem, the journey is described as tough, and one has to encounter not only pirates but also storms and other calamities, where only piety can save one. After narrating the hardships, the poet shifts narration to the Judgment Day, which is the worst hardship before reaching the final destination. After the five-time prayers and the obligatory prayers that go along with it, the poet is also asked to give charity (zakat), perform fasting and hajj. While mentioning hajj, the poet does not forget to mention the tomb of Prophet Muhammad and is eloquent in this part. The poet's love for Prophet Muhammad is well known with his first veneration poem of Prophet Muhammad called "NulMadh" and "NulMala." Till now he was only narrating the human body generally as a ship, which had a precedent in the Malay tradition. (23) But at this point he also invokes Prophet Muhammad as a beautiful ship. Annemarie Schimmel in her work And Muhammad is the messenger explains Prophet Muhammad "as a beautiful example." (24) In this poem, it is not only the best ship but also the beautiful ship. In short, in the concluding part of "Kappapattu" one is following the beautiful ship that is called Prophet Muhammad.

Apart from Kunjayin Musliyar's own background in writing Mawlidi (25) poems, this Mawlidi aspect (26) generally places the poem as not only within the Mawlid tradition but also reveals influences of the long Islamic poetic tradition. The sojourner is advised to have self-discipline and avoid the madness of the journey which could be disastrous. The punishments and terrors of being buried in the qabar (grave) come at this part of the poem. In these parts of the poem, one could see how intelligent Musliyar's choice of ship was as a metaphor for human. The point that the ship would be damaged and will become unusable is underlined, and here the comparison is obviously with human death. In the end, the human ship reaches the destination in peace, and it ends with a poem where the poet seeks and prays to Allah (Nayan is no longer used) to help him meet Prophet Muhammad on the final day.

Towards a new maritime and "dhow cultures"

In 1710 a Masjid was established in the hilly region of Wayanad in Malabar by Shafi Muslims (27) of Nadapuram, (28) signifying a shift in the rural geography of Malabar with the Shafi hinterland migrations. (29) I will try to now situate the transformations that were already taking place in the religious life of Muslims prior to the Mysore invasion of Malabar. The expansion of the Ponnani and North Malabar-centered Hadhrami (30)/Shafi Islam was taking place in the regions of Malabar bordering the Carnatic region during this period. The Rawuthars (Hanafi Muslims) whom Susan Bayly identifies as mounted warriors were gradually migrating during the period of Mysore rule in Malabar. (31) Here, one would witness what can be seen as a concentrated Hanafi migration into the Shafi Malayalam region by late 18th century. But the first half of the 18th century was witnessing the gradual migration of Shafi Muslims into the hinterland. While the hinterland was going through these important transformations, one needs to locate Kunjayin Musliyar and his "Kappapattu" in the context of the Mysore invasion. Musliyar's early work "Nul Madh" and "Nul Mala" could be seen as referencing the Shafi hinterland migrations in the first half of 18th century. In the second half, with the maritime region and coastal Malabar becoming an important part of Mappila socio-economic life, one could identify its influences in the "Kappapattu." How does one explain the shift in focus from the "NulMadh" to the "Kappapattu?" (32) Here I follow a pioneering study of Yasser Arafath on the "Muhiyuddin Mala" of the 17th century. (33) "Muhiyuddin Mala" is the first Arabi-Malayalam text that is available to scholars.

Written in 1607, this sacred biographical poem of Sheikh Abdul Qadir Jeelani set a paradigm for the subsequent Mappila mala literature in ArabiMalayalam. (34) Yasser Arafath has contextualized "Muhiyuddin Mala" in the specific context of Portuguese havoc on the Mappila Muslim population. The mala in Arafat's view also becomes a symbol of resistance and community formation of Mappilas in the 17th century context. One could see a continuity from the "Muhiyuddin Mala" to "Kappapattu" in inspiring religious education in the society. My argument is, however, that a significant rupture occurs from mala to "Kappapattu" when Musliyar focuses on human body which is allegorized with a ship as an individual. In talking about the features of "early modern in South Asia," Partha Chatterjee has importantly pointed out "a new sense of individual" and a "new skepticism towards the old as constituting the period of early modern." He analyses the text Sair al-muta'akkhirin which sees the Mysore rulers as a sign of hope because of their decisive ability to break from the past. (35) One could use these attributes of hope and a critique of the past in the Mysore rulers as features of early modernity. I consider that although all these factors are not simultaneously present in the "Kappapattu" text, the break occurs where he precisely brings the ship and talks about the new ship as an individual. This could be a coincidence when Tipu Sultan, the early modern absolutist ruler, was invading and ruling Malabar in the latter half of the 18th century.

Dilip Menon has argued that Malabar as a region whose "history devolved out of the ocean." (36) The presence of the sea in the land was important in the coinage of local royal titles as Zamorin (the king of the sea) and Ali Raja (Azhi Raja or maritime chief). In this sense the ocean becomes doubly important for the Sufi poetry of Malabar both for its geographical and cultural locations, one could argue. In the poem, we already saw the presence of the word such as Nakhuda. One could see from the 18th century inscriptions how the Nakhudas (captains of the ship) rose in importance in the 18th century Malabar. One vital move of Tipu Sultan in Malabar was to shift the capital from Zamorin's old seaside city of Calicut to a more hinterland location near another port town of Beypore. (37) It is worth mentioning here that an inscription found at Beypore in the late 18th century demonstrates the rise of this city and a new importance it acquired in the maritime economy. If one looks at certain inscriptions of Calicut city from the late 17th century one could see some mosques as constructed or reconstructed with the help of Nakhudas or sailors. (38) But the mosques of Calicut are amongst the oldest in South Asia, and one could see mosques from the 11th century onwards. On the contrary, the oldest inscription found in Beypore dates back only to 1790, a year when Tipu Sultan was probably around.

Yet the inscription is silent about Tipu Sultan who also was not a mosque builder in Malabar unlike all Musalman rulers of India with whom, according to Buchanan, Tipu Sultan shared many features. On the other hand, the inscription mentions that the mosque was constructed by "Nakhuda and Merchant Faqir son Abdu Rahiman." The investment of the sailors in the construction of cities such as Beypore, which was not earlier a part of the maritime economy, marks a shift in economic practices. This new role acquired by sailors away from the medieval ports into new riverside hinterland land cities of the 18th century marks the changing relations of economic and social life in the 19th century which gives an ample background for Kunjayin Musliyar to evoke the ship and talk about Nakhuda to different ranks of ship-related workers and co-opt them into the new religious life of 18th century Malabar. Musliyar's knowledge of Sufi Islam, religion, etc. makes his role more as a narrator of the 18th-century transformations, including the changing Mappila-Nair relations, the decline of coasts and shift in economies and hinterland turns, (39) etc. than simply as a poet or a figure of wit as popularly assumed in literature.

In 18th century Malabar, the "free maritime" era (40) was long since past, and Musliyar wrote his poem probably as a tribute to such a past. But the maritime culture of Mappila Muslims whose religion, (41) region, (42) and lifestyle "devolved on the ocean" refused to accept decline, and got a new life with the Mysore invasion. In other words, the poem marks disruptions in the free sea and a resurgence which were all present in the 18th century southwest coast at the same time.

Shaheen Kelachan Thodika, Jawaharlal Nehru University


(1.) Arabi-Malayalam is the practice of writing Malayalam in a modified Arabic. This literary language always presented a wonder to the colonial historians. For instance, Francis Buchanan notes "They (Mappila Muslims) use a written character peculiar to themselves, and totally different from the present Arabic." Francis Buchanan, A Journey from Madras through the Countries of Mysore, Canara, and Malabar, Vol.II (New Delhi: Asian Education Services, 1807, reprint 1988), 422.

(2.) Ronit Ricci's pioneering concept of the "Arabic Cosmopolis" is important to situate the poem and explain the Indian Ocean Islam, translations and conversions. The relation between literature and society has been analyzed by Ricci using the concept of "literary network," which is comprised "of shared texts, including stories, poems, genealogies, histories, and treatises on a broad range of topics, as well as the readers, listeners, authors, patrons, translators, and scribes who created, translated, supported, and transmitted them." But considering this Ricci crucially misses the Arabi-Malayalam region, which presents a richer evidence of translation and texts and conversion. I have elsewhere argued that we consider extending the "Arabic Cosmopolis" to include the Arabi-Malayalam region, which broke away from Tamil tradition at a crucial juncture and developed its own tradition of Mala poems, Mawlid songs, Fatwas, Masa'las etc. and which was enriched in the late 19th century with the translation of the Quran. I would like to argue that the case of "Kappapattu" reaffirms a strong imperative to look at Arabi-Malayalam texts in an "Arabic Cosmopolis" framework but without losing this region's specificities. Ronit Ricci, Islam Translated: Literature, Conversion, and the Arabic Cosmopolis of South and Southeast Asia (Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 2011), 2. K. Shaheen, "The Domain of Orthodoxy: Sufi and Shari Traditions in Colonial Malabar," unpublished M.Phil dissertation (Kolkata: Center for Studies in Social Sciences Calcutta, 2014), 8-14.

(3.) In his introduction to a recent study on "Kappapattu" in Malayalam, K. Aboobakkar argues that a "Tamilization" of the poetic language is one of the most outstanding features of the "Kappapattu." Zakeer Hussain, Kunjayin Musliyarude Kappapattu: Oru Darshanika Pandanam (Kodotty: Mahakavi Moyinkutty Vaidyar Mappila Kala Academy, 2014), 22.

(4.) The Portuguese assault had a huge impact in the sea trade with Arabs and Mappila economy facing decline from the 17th century. Stephen Dale, Islamic Society in the South Asian Frontier: The Mappilas of Malabar 1498-1922 (Oxford: Clarendon Press, 1908).

(5.) This work provides an encyclopedic description of most works that have been produced by Mappila Muslims from the 16th to the 20th century and has been a major source for historians of this area.

(6.) This is the Mappila Pattu scholar K. Abubakkar's estimation. In his opinion, Kunjayin Musliyar had lived between 1738 and 1786 CE. Hussain, 18.

(7.) Unlike in the north Indian case, where works such as Muhammad Qasim Zaman's The Ulama in contemporary Islam: Custodians of Change have enhanced our understanding of the category substantially. KN Panikkar, writing in the context of Mappila outbreaks in the 19th century, understands the Ulama who interpreted and mediated religious texts for the masses as the "traditional intellectual." K.N. Panikkar, Against Lord and State: Religion and Peasant Uprisings in Malabar, 1836-1921 (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1989), 65. I am not trying to evoke such a category to understand Kunjayin Musliyar's role in the precolonial world, which is radically different from Panikkar's focus.

(8.) Born to a Palli Mukri or muezzin (who takes care of functions in Masjid including calling azan, cleaning Masjid etc.).

(9.) Evident from texts including "NulMadh" (a poem in praise of Prophet Muhammad) and "Nul Mala" (a song in praise in of Abdul Qadir Jeelani, eponymous founder of Qadiri Sufi order).

(10.) J. Rejikumar, ed., "The Joint Commissioners' Report on Malabar, 1792-1793," 227.

(11.) Ponnani was also knows as "Little Mecca" in Malabar. Hussain Randthaani, "Maqdoomum Ponnaniyum," (Mal, Magdoom and Ponnani) (Ponnani: Jumath Palli Committee, 2010).

(12.) The stereotype of misery could not be fixated to any castes in the popular stories of here, but in the story I consulted the caste identity of the Hindu neighbor is a Nair--who were the dominant Shudra caste of Malabar region--and which would be important to the changing Nair Muslim relation in the region as I demonstrate further in this essay.

(13.) I quote some more stories from the oral tradition here for a better understanding. In one story Musliyar was said to have had amicable relations with his wife. But when she became pregnant, Musliyar was willing to provide for only half the cost. According to him this was a shared business and he and his wife were equal partners. Musliyar's act was against the prevalent custom where women used to receive the entire expenditure incurred during their pregnancy from the husband. For three months after she had given birth, Musliyar did not visit the child and mother. When he finally turned up, his wife handed the child over to him and disappeared into the house. Soon the child urinated on Musliyar's clothes and he called his wife to help him. Much to his surprise, his wife replied that since they were equal partners in this business, she expected him to take care of the child by himself for the coming three months. This is shown as the only instance where Musliyar's humor failed and he was forced to repay the costs incurred to his wife and the child.

(14.) On a detailed discussion of "little Kingdoms" in Malabar conquest see Margaret Frenz, From Contact to Conquest: Transition to British Rule in Malabar, 1790-1805 (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2003).

(15.) C.M. Naim, "Popular Jokes and Political History: The Case of Akbar, Birbal and Mulla Do Ryaza," Economic and Political Weekly 30, No. 24 (June 17, 1995), 1456-1464.

(16.) Buchanan, 350.

(17.) M.M.D.L.T. whose account is important for later historians like William Logan is considered to be a European officer in Mughal army. However, C.K Kareem has expressed doubts on his historical identity and see the work as probably fabricated. C.K. Kareem, "Kerala under Haidar Ali and Tipu Sultan," Kerala History Association: Paico Publication House, 1973, xii.

(18.) In his account, Mappilas were growing economically, particularly in maritime trade and naval strength. This in turn created jealousy and competition with the Nairs, who earlier possessed land and dominated the economy. The author sees Mappilas as also practicing usury. M.M.D.L.T., The History of Hyder Sha Alias Hyder Ali Khan Bahadur and of his son Tippoo Sultan (W. Thacker and Co., 1855), 61-63.

(19.) Ruchira Banerjee, "A Wedding Feast or Political Arena?: Commercial Rivalry between the Ali Rajas and the English Factory in Northern Malabar in the 18th Century" in Rudrangshu Mukherjee & Lakhshmi Subramanian, ed., Politics and Trade in the Indian Ocean World: Essays in Honor of Ashin Das Gupta (Delhi, 2000), 83-112.

(20.) Ali Raja was the lone Muslim/Mappila chiefs in pre-colonial north Malabar. Ibid..

(21.) This is a Sufi usage. For poems which gives importance to alif (first letter in Arabic language but used as metaphor for the praise of Islamic monotheism in these poems) in Sufi literature Allafal Alif written by Tamil Arabic poet Umar Valiyullah (Born 1740) could be the best example. C. Hamza, Allafal Alif Vikvarthanavum Vyakhyanavum (Kozhikode: Book Trust of India, 2007).

(22.) Zainuddin Maqdoom's Hidayath-Al-Adkiya, a Medieval Sufi Manual explains this concept. For further reference see V. Kunhali, Sufism in Kerala (University of Calicut, 2004).

(23.) I. Vladimer Braginsky, "Sufi Boat Symbolism: Problems of Origin and Evolution," Indonesia and the Malay World 26, no. 74 (1998), 50-64.

(24.) Annemarie Schimmel, And Muhammad is his Messenger: the Veneration of the Prophet in Islamic Piety (Chapel Hill: University of North Carolina Press, 1985).

(25.) Originally poems celebrating the birth of the Prophet, they later also included the hagiographical poetry of Sufi saints. Marion Holmes Katz, The Birth of the Prophet Muhammad: Devotional Piety in Sunni Islam (London: Routledge, 2007).

(26.) Of following "Prophet as a beautiful example."

(27.) While most of South Asia follow Hanafi jurisprudence, Malabar is largely Shafi and an exception to the general South Asian case.

(28.) An inland medieval town of North Malabar.

(29.) The history of this Masjid in Korom of present day Wayanad was came to my notice during my research work in December 2014. The Masjid of Korom is one of the oldest mosques in this are as I understood from a series of interviews.

(30.) For Hadhrami roots of Malabar Muslims, see LRS Lakshmi. L.R.S. Lakshmi, The Malabar Muslims: A Different Perspective (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2012), 1-32.

(31.) Susan Bayly, Saints, Goddesses and Kings: Muslims and Christians in South Indian Society, 1700-1900 (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1989), 98.

(32.) The Arakkal dynasty which owned twenty-two ships during this time was emerging as a major naval power in the 18th century. Philip MacDougall has located an emerging naval resistance to the English East India company in the 18th-century Malabar coast. The book titled Naval Resistance to Britain's Growing Power in India deals with the Mysore resistance to the company in the Malabar coast in chapter 6. Cited from a description of the book in, uploaded by Philip MacDougall. The unprecedented approach of Kunjayin Musliyar in taking an already existing tradition of ship symbolism into his writings in as late as the 18th century explains the new challenges Mappilas were facing, I argue. Philip MacDougall, "Naval Resistance to Britain's Growing Power in India, 1660-1800," (2016), https:// Resistance to Britains Growing Power in India.

(33.) P.K. Yasser Arafath, "Malapattukal, Charithram, Rashtreeyam, Prathirodham," (Mala Songs, history, politics, and resistance), in Jameel Ahmad, ed., Kerala Muslim History Conference--Proceedings (Kerala Muslim Heritage Foundation, 2015), 436.

(34.) Shaheen, 46-58.

(35.) Partha Chatterjee, The Black Hole of Empire: History of a Global Practice of Power (Princeton: Princeton University Press, 2012), 73-94.

(36.) Dilip M. Menon, "Houses by the Sea: State-Formation Experiments in Malibar, 1760-1800," Economic and Political Weekly (1999), 1995.

(37.) Buchanan in his highly biased narrative calls Tipu the destroyer of Calicut. Buchanan adds that Tipu deported the inhabitants of Calicut to the new capital. In Buchanan's account the new capital is called Nellore which Tipu later changed to Farukhabad and interestingly adds here Buchanan said, "Like all the Musalman rulers of India, he was a mighty changer of old Persian names." I shall try to explain this shift differently from Buchanan. Buchanan, 420.

(38.) Z.A. Desai, "A Topographical List of Arabic and Persian Inscriptions of South India," Indian Council of Historical Research (ICHR) (Delhi, 1989).

(39.) See Arafat (2013) for the hinterland turn of the Mappilas after the Portuguese assault. P.K. Yasser Arafath, "Malabar Muslims: History, Hangover, and Silences," Social Scientist 41, no. 3-4 (March-April 2013), 85-93.

(40.) To explain further, Ahmad Sherrif has contributed to our understanding of western Indian maritime economy after the Portuguese in his Dhow Cultures of the Indian Ocean: Cosmopolitanism, Commerce and Islam. One could argue that smaller ships such as dhows were a regular sight in Malabar coasts during this period. For example, Buchanan notes that vessels such as pathermaris or smaller vessels frequented between Talachery and Calicut coasts in the late 18th century. Ethan R. Sanders says that in Abdul Sherrif's analysis, the latter follows Michael Pearson's argument that after 1500 CE there was a time when the western Indian Ocean was a "free sea" where there was no state to regulate. Ahmad Sheriff crucially notes the strong relations that existed between the maritime coast and the mainland, which one could see with growing evidence in 18th-century Malabar, as I attempted to point earlier. See Ethan R. Sanders's review of Dhow Cultures of the Indian Ocean: Cosmopolitanism, Commerce, and Islam in Africa Today 57, no. 4 (Summer 2011), 133-135.

(41.) Yumna Fatima, "For Ayesha Jalal, Islam is an Ocean," The Express Tribune Report (March 27, 2015),

(42.) Menon, 1999.
COPYRIGHT 2016 The World History Association
No portion of this article can be reproduced without the express written permission from the copyright holder.
Copyright 2016 Gale, Cengage Learning. All rights reserved.

Article Details
Printer friendly Cite/link Email Feedback
Title Annotation:Special Section: The World And The Sea
Author:Thodika, Shaheen Kelachan
Publication:World History Bulletin
Article Type:Critical essay
Geographic Code:9INDI
Date:Sep 22, 2016
Previous Article:Restoring Seas.
Next Article:The Panopticon Comes Full Circle?

Terms of use | Privacy policy | Copyright © 2021 Farlex, Inc. | Feedback | For webmasters |