The Mappilas (historically called Moplahs in Malayalam :മാപ്പിള) refer to the Muslim community in Kerala and neighbouring states and territories of India. The term mappila in southern Kerala also refers to the Syrian Malabar Nasrani. The Mappila Muslims are the second largest community in Kerala, making up 24.70% of the population.
The Arab, Greek and Jew contact with Malabar existed long before and became predominant in the post Roman period. Therefore the history of the Mappilas goes back to the Pre-Islamic period. In the Gazetteer of Bombay Presidency, Khan Bahadur Fazlullah Faridi, mentions the settlement of pre-Islamic Arabs in Chaul, Kalyan Supara and Malabar Coast and Arab merchants passing along the Coromandel Coast on their way to China.
One Uppukutan Mappila appears in the legend of Parayi Petta Pandiru Kulam, (The Twelve Tribes Born to a Paryai) and he is said to have lived in 378 BC3. Ouwayi, who through extreme devotion made the goddess of Kozhikode appear before him, was a Jonaka Mappila.
It was with the advent of Islam that the Arabs became a prominent cultural race in the world. The Arab merchants and traders now became the carriers of the new religion and they propagated it wherever they went. When Islam spread among the Arabs, the Arab traders brought it to Malabar during the time of Prophet Muhammad itself. Francis Day’s assumption that the first settlement of the Muslims on the western coast took place sometime in the seventh century strengthens this view. George Sarton says in his Introduction to the History of Science that the most outstanding event of the seventh century was, of course, the explosive development of Islam throughout Arabia and parts of Africa and might have reached Malabar coast during those early days. In Malabar, the Mappilas may be the first community to come to the fold of Islam because they were more closely connected with the Arabs than others. Intensive missionary activities took place on the coast and a number of natives embraced Islam, joining the Mappila community. Thus among the Mappilas, we find descendants of the Pure Arabs, the descendants of Arabs through local women (the vast majority) and the converts from among non-Arabic locals (mostly from the lower caste Hindus with some exceptions).
In recent years, many Kerala Muslims, along with other Malayali communities have found work in the Middle East (especially in Saudi Arabia and United Arab Emirates ), sending remittances home to support their families in Kerala. This makes Kerala one of the main contributors of foreign exchange to Indian economy.
Like the Bearys of Tulunadu, most Mappila Muslims follow the Shafi'i school of Muslim Jurisprudence (in contrast to the Hanafi school followed by most South Asian Muslims). The Pakistan Movement (which drew its strongest support from Muslims in northern India) received a lukewarm reception amongst Muslims in Kerala though relatively few Mappilas migrated to Pakistan following partition.
According to the 2001 census, about one-quarter of Kerala's population (or 7,863,842 people) were Muslims. Furthermore, a substantial proportion of Mappilas have left Kerala to seek employment in the Middle East, and some have settled in other states within India. There are substantial numbers of Mappilas in nearby Kodagu (Coorg), Mangalore, Bangalore, Coimbatore) etc. Nowadays the Mappila diaspora is spread around the world from United States in the west to Australia in the east.
During the attack by Tippu the Kozhikode Zamuthiri (Zamorin), Manorama Thampuratti accompanied by many Syrian Christians came for shelter under Travancore State ruled by Karthika Thirunal. Such Christians were settled in places like Ennakadu, Cheppadu, Kannankode, Mavelikkara, etc. where there were already Christians. During the time of Ramayyan Dalawa a census of such Christians were taken. In order to identify them, their houses were named after the tree closest to their houses. Thus names like Plamood, Mammootil, Pulimootil, Alumootil etc were given which exist till today. The earlier Christians in those places had "Thalackal", "Oor", "kode","thil" etc added to their house name; examples are Poovathoor, Thalakode, Kizhakethalackal, Thundathil etc. They were Christians settled down there from St. Thomas' time. These Syrian Christians still use the Mappila in their name. The Mammen Mappila of Malayala Manorama is from one of those families.
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