Recently, Prime Minister Narendra Modi gifted a replica of the Cheraman Juma Masjid to the ruler of Saudi Arabia. The gesture has an enormous significance. And for that we have to travel back in time, way back to AD 629.
According to popular belief, the Cheraman Juma Masjid was established by Malik Ibn Dinar, who was trusted with spreading His words by the Prophet himself. And there is an interesting story of how Malik Ibn Dinar reached Kodungalloor which was a prosperous port town of those days.
Kodungalloor or Muziris as it was known then, was a major port town under the Chera rule. And one night the Chera King saw a dream, he saw the moon splitting in half. None of his court astrologers could interpret this strange dream. The king grew restless, and word somehow got around to the sailors in the port. The Arabs traders in the port came to hear about the strange dream. And they told the king that it was a message from the Prophet. The king, satisfied, decided to go meet the Prophet at Mecca. He converted to Islam after the meeting at Mecca, where he passed away before he could return. However, he had written letters introducing Malik Ibn Dinar who set sail for Kodungalloor.
The Malik became the first Ghazi and spread the message of Islam across the state. The ruler of Kodungalloor gave him land to set up a Masjid and that came to be known as the Cheraman Juma Masjid. The first mosque in India. The mosque was renovated in the 11th Century and since then there has been reference to this mosque in various texts of the times.
The significance of PM's gesture
When the Prime Minister gifted the replica of this mosque, it signified the importance of the trade relations the two nations shared from historical days. A way forward, based on eons of history.
What to see
The Masjid has been renovated a number of times, with extensions being built time and again. A part of Kerala Tourism department's heritage Muziris project, the Masjid will house a museum which will showcase the Islamic history of the land.
The lamp: One of the most priced possessions of the Masjid is a lamp, which is said to be more than 1000 years old. People across castes come to offer their prayers at the Masjid.
Vidyarambham: Thousands of children, across all religions are initiated into the world of letters at this Masjid.