The Myth of Cheraman Perumal Conversion to Islam

There are many writings that that list out the fraud perpetrated by Islamic scholars and historians to bring credence to the imaginary tale associated with the so called “oldest mosque in India” in Kodungallur.

Some of these are compiled here:

Website:

  1. Rakesh Krishnan Simha – Real Truth on India’s Gift to Saudi King on the Legend of Cheraman (Swarajya)
  2. Examining the Historicity of Cheraman Legend (True Indology)
  3. Maddy – Perumal and the Pickle (Historic Alleys)
  4. Jayakrishnan Nair – The Myth of Cheraman Perumal’s Conversion (Varnam)
  5. The Perumal Legend (Readings in Mappila History)

Summary (from True Indology Article):

A ruler-saint known as Cheraman Perumal was, from the beginning of shaivite bhakti movement(c.700), highly regarded in the south and many legends arose around him. He became almost a southern counterpart of the great king Bhoja. He was famed throughout kerala and Tamilnadu. The later generations also held him in high regard

Arab Muslim immigrants first entered kerala in 875 AD. However, these were simply a few temporary merchants who  did not have much impact on the society or demographics . However, some of the Arab immigrants contracted  temporary marriages with the locals and the slow ethnic impact led to the ethnogenesis of a group called Mapillas by 14th century40.. The Mapillas could colonise the trade and become wealthy because the Hindus were forbidden to travels across the oceans according to Dharma shastras41. . They were also excellent fighters. For these reasons, they were highly patronised by the zamorins of calicut. By 15th century, they constructed mosques in the important cities of kerala

Although the Mapilla  equalled  the foreign Muslims in political and economic power, They were still looked down upon  because of their Indian origins. It is for these reasons that Malayali speaking Mapillas wanted to prove their antiquity of Islam. What better way to do this than claim than their great Malayali king Cheraman was himself converted to Islam by the prophet ? Soon, a place in Cheraman’s famed hometown of Kodungallur was identified as the site  where a mosque had been  built by his followers. The story of Cherman Perumal could be turned upside down by substituting his visit to Chidambaram with a visit to Mecca. The foreign Muslims contested the Malayali Mappilla claims that their king met the prophet. The Portuguese, who were initially content with  documenting the legend  in their memoirs, claimed that Cherman was converted by Jesus Christ himself to establish the antiquity of their own religion in Kerala. In the later centuries, the legend became firmly established and was incorporated into keralolpathi, a collection of legends

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