How Joyfully Muslims of Kerala Celebrate Ramadan!

By Muhammed Abdul Bari, Word For Peace

Kerala, a wonderful state in South India, covered by lush greenery, has a long tradition of Islamic culture and relations with Arabia, which is regarded the birthplace of Islam owing to the social and human activities led by Prophet Muhammed PBUH and his beloved companions. The companions of Prophet travelled to different parts of the world carrying the peaceful ideas of Islam. Though there are contradictions prevailing about the way how Islam spread in this small state, the historians have a unique opinion regarding the time. They say that Islam spread in this state right at the prophetic period.


It is mostly accepted that the Malik Bin Deenar and his companions are those who took Islam to this land of Kerala. It is also said that this was after the journey of Cheraman Perumal, a native king to Arabia to embrace Islam after witnessing the fragmentation of moon, which was a miracle (mujizah) of prophet Muhammed. Historians said thatfragmentation of moon was witnessed in different regions of Kerala. Some of the travelers who visited Kerala afterwards said that they also saw a building with the following words written on it: the work of this building was complete on the day when moon fragmented into two.


As Kerala has a long Islamic tradition, Ramzan also has a special attachment with this state. Ramzan, the month of fasting is a period of joy and pleasure among the Keralite Muslims. From very beginning, they prepare to welcome this holy month. The shabdatharavali is regarded as most authentic dictionary of Malayalam in Kerala, which is authored by Sreekanteshwaram Padmanabha Pillai and was published in 1918. It includes the Malayalam word nanachukuli which means an action prevailing among Muslims of Kerala, by cleaning and preparing for month of Ramzan. So it is clear that this action is also an olden tradition, not something created by modern Muslims of Kerala.


When the Ramzan moon (hilal) appears, the Muslims gather in mosques to perform Tharaweeh prayers which are to be performed specially in the month of Ramzan. Quranic recitations and supplications also get conducted during the special days and nights of Ramzan. The style and ways of conducting vary according to geographical differences. From the dawn till the dusk people get engaged in different kinds of Islamic worships in the mosques or outside it, either by prayers or extending helping hands to others.


Mass iftar gatherings are widely seen among Muslims of Kerala. In houses, these gatherings are conducted by adjoining the neighbours and relatives. But in mosques the mass gatherings are saturated by different passengers, nomads, pilgrims and shopkeepers if they are in towns. There is a masjid named Markaz Masjid in Calicut, one of the developed cities in Kerala, which holds more than 2000 persons every day for Iftar. Keralite Muslims donate well to those initiatives, taking part in the celebration of this holy month by giving charity.


Other important traditional practices are sermons and Islamic gatherings conducted indoor and outdoor. Mostly, they are inside masjids for males and for ladies there some places outside mosques. These gatherings are also known as urdi. People actively participate and listen to sermons by venerable scholars and daawah activists. Islamic belief, theology, jurisprudence and incidents of Sufi saints and pious personalities of Islamic history are among the most discussed topics in such sermons and gatherings. Mostly they are carried during the day time, but in coastal areas of Calicut and neighboringplaces, they are seen during night hours, after special prayers in mosques.


When half of Ramzan will be finished, people will be interested in pilgrimage to different parts of the state, to visit the shrines and tombs of Sufi saints and saadat (prophetic progenies) who came from different parts for the propagation of Islam. Besides, people visit the Muslim graveyards offering special prayers and hymns to those who deceased from their family and settlement. These prayers in shrines and tombs mostly happen during night hours, which will present them an evangelical feeling and piety. There are people among high class Muslims, who leave for Mecca to perform Umra pilgrimage. There are places in the state were mass prayer congregations are conducted during the nights of Ramzan, which the Lailathul Qadr( Shabbe Qadr) is expected to happen.


When Ramzan drives to end, Muslims actively participate to make their Eid celebrations joyful and exciting. They go to markets and streets to buy garments and ornaments for the celebration of Eid. During the final Friday prayer in Ramzan, the mosques get overwhelmed by devotees. They go early to mosques tofind their place and perform different prayers. The Ramzan ends among Keralites, by leaving a spiritual happiness and joy in the hearts of believers.


Muhammed Abdul Bari Is Based In Kerala. He Is Doing An Intensive Programme In Islamic Science And Economics.

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