Anti-colonial scriptures: literary contribution of Ulama of kerala

By Shammas Aboobacker,
Ulamas of Kerala in the past were not confined to masjids or Madras
as [place where Islamic jurisprudence is taught in Kerala]. Instead
they lead the community living around them recieving much hold and
influence amidst the public. Understanding the basic amenities and
needs of the mass, they used to interfere in the socio-political, and
even the personal issues that haunted the individal giving them ample
solutions for the difficulties. Muchmore, advocates of political and
social orders and rulers reached before them seeking aid for their
problems. Historical references portray, during the reign of king
Zamorin, the people lived then recieved a considerable support and
attentiveness from the Ulamas which generated to the progress and
upliftment of the society. The landmark in the history of Kerala, the
freedom struggles and campaigns that set out under the Ulama against
the imperialist aggressions that polluted the social sphere in Malabar
and nearby areas shows the engagement of Ulamas in the incidents.
European colonization started to hunt India with the arrival of
Vaskodagama in Calicut[Kappad] in 1498. And so liberation movements
and freedom struggles in India has its root and origin in malabar
where Muslim leaders and scholars performed in a broad way. It is also
quite noteworthy to mention here that similar muslim participation and
leaderships for an innumerable amount of movements can be observef in
many other parts of world like Africa and Asia.
The mostly influenced thing in the mind of people in malabar to fight
against the colonial movements were the Fatwas, poems and a couple of
scriptures. The literary works of scholars callled them to unify
against the imperialist domination. Recieving a good momentum among
the public, these works of Ulamas stood as vibrant and stringent tool
to produce an impulse of struggle in the mind of people. Some of works
in this regard can be read as follows :
The first anti-colonial movement in the world is regarded as the
agitation led by the great scholar sheikh Zainudheen maqhdoom 1st who
arrived kerala from Yemen. He was a disciple of khathimul Muhaqiq
sheikh Ibn hajr al hythami al makki , the renowned scholar in the
shafi school of jurisprudence. As Maqdhoom asked sheikh Kunjali
Marakkar who was the most accepted scholar in Kerala then and the
disciple of sheikh Zainudheen Maqdhoom 1st, Sheikh proposed to arrange
a Muslim navy force against the Portuguese troops in order to assist
Zamorin who was ruler of Malabar during the time.
To organize Muslims and non Muslims against Portuguese force,
sheikh Zainudheen Maqhdoom scriptured this poem- Thahreedh . The
lines of Thahreedh are much inspiring and motive to people and it
granted them courage and confidence to take part in the involvements.
However Zainudheen Maqdhoom was the leader who led first movement
against imperialism and also his work was the first anti colonial
literature. The work comprised of one hundred and seventy seven lines
demonstrating the violent and worse problematic situations created by
the imperialist fanatics in Kerala. The precise record or evidence for
the period and time the poem was written is still not avail today.
Most probably it comes in 15th century at a time when Vaskode Gama
reached the second time in Kerala and begun strengthening their
struggles .
2.Thuhfathul mujahideen;
The first historical scripture published in Kerala was Thuhfathul
Mujahedeen. This poetic work, was written by the well known scholar
sheikh Zainudheen Maqdoom 2nd, son of sheikh Muhammed who was one
among the famed Islamic scholars of the period as well as the brother
of sheikh Zainudheen Maqdhoom 1st. It took approximately a span
of 70 years between the writing of these two books. Both poems hold
the summary, to struggle against the imperialist interventions.
In the begginning of this historical work, Maqdhoom 2nd displayed the
rlevance of jihad in Islam and the reward the jihadist recieve in the
life here after. The distinguishing feacture of this book which render
it more colorful is it has translated to numerous other vernacular
versions viz Persian , Urdu , English , Malayalam, Portuguese, Check,
Latin, French, Spanish, and so on. The introductory part of this book
is translated into Persian and English versions by Muhammed Farishtha
and Andersonrespectively. Similarly the fourth part is translated to
Portuguese texts by moree than one Portuguese historians. Also the
entire part is translated into English by M.J Raiderson. Translations
to varied european languages has also done by Amarson and Rocks. In
India Husain Nainar and Saminillah Qadiri translated the book
into Urdu and English respectively. Moreover, around three translation
are there in Malayalam for Thuhfathul Mujahedeen . These
translations are indications for the huge ground and momentum it
He shows in it Portuguese attacks,plundering,robbery of resources
from india.He dedicates The poem which Sheikh composed and showcased
to sultan Ali Adel shah, the ruler of Deccan then, the vicious
portuguese attacks, their acts of plundering, robbering native
resources are vividely described.
3.Fath’hul Mubeen;
Fath’hul Mubeen is also a poetic contribution. It consists of around
537 lines. The author of this poem was sheikh Qadhi Muhammed who was
judge of Calicut city for Muslims. He was well known for his notable
Arab-Malayalam malas (a special style of language existed in kerala
which is a blend of dual arabic and malayalam languages) and Arab
Malayalam works. One of the prominent among them is Muhiyadheen mala
which is scripted praising sheikh Abdul Qadir al Jeelani, the eminent
sufi saint in the muslim world.
Sheikh displayed this poem to Zamorin, the ruler of Malabar then who
provided good support and assistance to the Muslims to fight against
British imperialism giving his wealth and power.
The word Fathhul Mubeen means The clear conquest. It was when the
Mappilas [Muslims of Kerala] and Nayans [a upper caste sectionof
Hindu community] together surrounded the Chaliyam fort which was
fortified by the Portuguese army sheikh ventured to do this legend
work. It was further translated to English and the translator
Dr.Mueenudheen says, the poem is most probably written in between
1578-1579″. And today the same poem is added as a part of another
noted book called Javahirul Ashar written by sheikh Adul Qadir
Flafari in 1594. And it is also translated into Malayalam by two major
personalities, K.K Abdul Kareem and Abdul Aziz Mankada.
Qadhi Muhammed requests the readers and people to pray for the ruler.
The historical event of Chaliyam struggle is clearly picturised in
this poem which was held in 1571.
4 Saiful Bathar ;
It was written by Sheikh Abdul Rahman Abdul Bari Al Ahdel, the
grandson of sayyid alavi al mamburam who was called as mamburam
thangal. sayyid alavi led many anti- colonial agitations against
Portuguese and British aggressions.
The book consist of fatwas sheikh Abdurahman instructed which
critically analyse colonialism .This book is added as a chapter of
another famous work called Ahdathul Umera Val Hukkam Li ihanathi
kafarathi Val ahdathil asnam,a great contribution in Arabic language
which is codified many poems and works of sayyid fasal al mamburam .

Thus, the anti-colonial movements, especially literary resistances
led by Ulamas, which injected overwhelming confidence and
brainstorming and brave mindset in the community lived then extends
long in number. Still it is quite plightful and sadful to note that
muslim mentioning in the historical books that concern freedom
struggles and revolts are numerically less with some little
exceptions, and that refer to some religious bias. Hence it is highly
important to draw the attention of the public towards such narrations.

Shammas Aboobacker is an independent research fellow in
Madeenathunnoor College of Islamic Science. He is deeply interested in
classical Islamic studies, Sufism, theology, philology and culture.
Presently he is engaged with Sufi studies with special reference to
contemporary Sufi readings.

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