The Moplah Rebellion 1921 – A British Soldier's viewpoint

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Donald Sinderby in Malabar

There are so many books with deal with the revolt in Malabar, or what the British Raj termed a rebellion (i.e. waging war against the crown) with a purpose to clamp down the area under martial law.  Some of these were written by Malayali congressmen and survivors, some others by the British administrators who were in the thick of things. There are very few firsthand accounts from the British side perhaps because such reporting was not encouraged. There is one, a work of historical fiction which gained a certain amount of popularity but vanished from the shelves after a while. Having obtained a dog eared 1927 copy of that book, I decide to peruse it carefully without tearing those ancient pages, with an intention of finding out what a common soldier thought about the whole thing. What you will read on is not a review but a summary of Sinderby’s opinion of Malabar, the Nairs, the administrators and the revolting Moplah, not about the love story which he wrote. In a way this book is unique since it is one of its kind, though the contents are not summarily of great value.

The Fathul Mubiyn, Qadi Mohammad and the Zamorin

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A study of the Fathul Mubyin, a war poem – Calicut 1550-1590

In a clamor to analyze and study the Tuhfat Al Mujahideen by Sheikh Zainuddin, most historians forgot a very interesting companion text which was perhaps a contemporary to the Tuhfat or even a forerunner. It is an urjuza short titled Fatḥul-mubyin and scripted by a Qadi Muḥammad al-Kālikūtī. To get to the details, we have to go to the Malabar of the 16th century, a place where many communities resided and traded amicably, until the Portuguese sailed in and demanded a monopoly. The resulting resistance, intrigues, skirmishes, wars and confusion left the entire region in a state of turmoil, what with neighboring Cochin and Kolathunad working with or even siding with the Portuguese. The bordering principalities of Tanur and Vettom sat on the fringes swaying either way depending on the situation. Those mainly affected were the trading communities comprising the Pardesi Muslims and some local Moplahs. The Pardesi community was a complex mix of Yemenis, Hanafi Arabs, Egyptians, Turks and so on. The biggest were the Yemenis who centered on Ponnani & Mambram and some Yemenis and Hanafis who settled in Calicut. Their leaders generally led the Muslim populace.