THE LEGEND OF CHERAMAN PERUMAL AND CHERAMAN MASJID
I have written some time ago that the ugly additions of Cheraman Masjid, the oldest mosque in India are being removed and we are doing the restoration of the same. Although we started working on the project since 2012, now only the conservations works have started. We hope to see the mosque retain its full glory in the very near future.
There are numerous regional and tribal variations of the story of the last Chera king who abdicated his throne, converted to Islam and his subsequent pilgrimage to Mecca. The gist of this legend known to almost all in the region of Kodungallur is as follows.
Cheraman Perumal, the reigning King of the Chera Empire, with Kodungallur as its capital, had experienced an unusual dream in his sleep. He dreamt of the moon being split into two halves. He consulted astrologers far and wide and none could give him a satisfactory explanation until a group of Arab traders passed by. They explained that the dream was the celebrated miracle of Prophet Mohammed. Because of this explanation, Cheraman Perumal decided to visit Mecca. He divided his Kingdom and handed over the different territories to local chieftains. He then left for Mecca. After meeting the prophet, he embraced Islam. While returning home, after spending a few years there, he fell ill and died in Oman.
Before his death, he wrote letters to the local chieftains. When Malik Bin Dinar and his followers reached Kodungallur, the letters were handed over to the local chieftains. They got permission to construct a mosque in Kodungallur and the first mosque in India built here. Malik Bin Dinar was the first Ghazi of Cheraman Masjid. After a while, his relative Habib Bin Malik became the Ghazi at Cheraman Masjid. He established mosques in different parts of Kerala. The old tombs at Cheraman Masjid are believed to be that of Habib Bin Malik and his wife Khumarriah.
A substantial number of devotees and pilgrims are from non-Muslim communities. The Masjid authorities have encouraged this and the secular credentials of the mosque are dearly preserved. During the month of Ramzan, Iftar offerings are being made by the non-Muslim communities. Many people from other religions are conducting "Vidhyarambham” of their children at the mosque.
The proposal is to restore the mosque to its original state by removing the unsympathetic additions that have been added over the years and restoring the mosque to its original state.
The demolition of the recent additions to the mosque have been started and is in good progress. Please see the images of the demolitions in progress of the concrete additions.