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Home / Featured / Mappila Muslims: Padappattu –The Sidelined Element From The Historic Embellishments

Mappila Muslims: Padappattu –The Sidelined Element From The Historic Embellishments

By Muhammed Aslam PN

Studies pertaining to the cohesive force behind the rise of Mappila revolt rate superior prominence in the present-day dialogues. Particularly, the act of colonial presentation of these Mappila history giving the shade and characteristics of an emotional conduct, has paved the circumstances for an essential assessment and examination into the facts.

It was precisely, ulema (scholars) of the period, came forward, summoning the community to agitate against the Portuguese forces, who deployed the sway for the first time. The anti-colonial literatures and assertions (fatwas) verily succeeded in uniting them, adding fuel for their vigour and confident understanding about war. Poetries like Thahreedh, Fathhulmubeen and historical texts like thuhfathul mujahideen were among the prominent ones.

Anti-colonial struggles had begun in the country since the British registered their supremacy and dominance. Similar to the atmosphere prevailed during Portuguese era, ulamas and their fatwas were extant in the public sphere giving theoretical impetus for the people. Reflections of this can be traced back to the Mappila prose and elucidations of the time. The rhythmic and specially arranged poetic tones of padappattu, constituted a basic element in this regard, acting as a best impulse to set people against colonial authorities.

Padappattu literature as social drive

As British dominance strengthened more and found its ultimatum with the fall of Tipu, there witnessed the rise of an emerging power in India having no any counterparts enough to fight. Although, movements led by Unni Moosa Moopan, Chemban Pokar, Hassan Kurikkal in the end of the 18th century and in the beginning of the 19th century conveyed British an altered understanding. Even though no adequate and proper rule and leader like Tipu was not in the workforce, the proclamation that a stringent power is set to fight against colonial repressions stroked the British officials well. When the roots of British administration were deep ingrained in the soil of Malabar, ulemas reacted asserting varied forms of theories that acted as an antidote in the break of Mappila revolts. ‘padappattu’ found a vast influence in the dissemination of these impulse for agitation.

Several ‘padappattu’ were composed related to the historical experiences of successions and warfare in the Muslim era. Real and genuine awareness regarding history was transmitted to the mindset of mappilas through ‘malas’and ‘moulid’ which was later evolved as a major form of custom among Muslims. Henceforth, hypothetical elucidation of the past was the ultimate drive and upshot of these fictions.

Kerala-Maapilla Muslims1Padappattu, in the second half of the 17th century were rampantly a lyrical sphere. Although, the reach and penetration amidst mappilapattu, the then integral part of accredited culture of Mappila was seen only in the 19th century. The century marked various violent events of riots and revolts in the Malabar area. The prime attention of padappattu was, to prepare the lives of Malabar against the aggressive interventions of feudal and colonial allianceand the trailed rigid political experience of othering andside-lining.
Mappila revolts and padappattu composing Padappattu were illustrated in the regions of Eranad, Valluvanad and Kozhikode where mappila revolts performed well. Themes of these poetries ranged from, the heroic stories of predecessors battled against feudal dominance, to the armed struggles and similar other incidents occurred in the history of Islam. Accordingly, literary contributions promoting and developing sufficient social understanding about the privileged tradition constantly encouraged the Mappila for additional movements. Stories and tales demonstrating the anguishes and forbearance of martyrs were printed after every upheaval. Certain troops of singers among Mappila accentuated the dissemination of this, journeying through each hamlet. Finished this stretch, political awareness against the feudal, landlord and colonial oppression, and counter movements were generated amidst Mappila community. Subsequently these recitations supposed to espouse in the societal programmes and domestic sittings, as a conventional formula of custom. Uprisings and rebellions spread out through countless means. Anecdotes and communications deliberating padappattu were exchanged orally from the spaces where people met mutually, particularly in the weekend market programmes.

Numerous amount of historical accounts of ‘badrpada’,’uhdh pad’, ‘khaibarpada’, ‘husain’, ‘karbala’ received better reach through padappattu. At times these enclosed precise info and detailed examination of incidents, than the historical records of scrutinised research studies compiled afterwards. In order to augment the perception of regional struggles, anti-colonial scuffles and feudal movements occurred in the areas of Malappuram,Omanur, Cherur, Mannarkad and Manjeri were also aligned as subject matter of padappattu. In the course of the interval itself, several fantasy characters were also produced and padappattus with the colour of warfare were composed on another side. Imaginary tales like sakhoom padappattu, salaseel padappattu, Jin pada, Eli pada were thus transmuted as ‘padappattus’. The prime purpose behind all these was to accommodate the energy offolks for counter-colonial revolts.

Pioneering writings and proceeded headways

Padappattu performed the role similar to that of revolutionary literatures in Arabic language in the earlier times. Although, the act of composition of padappattu were in ‘arabi-malayalam’, a different dialectical versionunknown for a lion’s share of populace, rendered the art catch deep closeness much with the native culture receiving additional momentum and finding fertile soil, contrast to the literatures scripted in Arabic language. ‘Anwarul basar vaakhbarul badr’ of muhyidheen mevlevi lived in Kaipatta in 1832, is considered as the first one among the padappattu. ‘sakhoom padappattu composed following, in the arabi-malayalam, was later transformed as the driving force of methodology in padappattu. It was for this, the scripture later received the title, ‘thanda sakhoom’. Fath’hul khustha, mu’thath padappattu and thabook padappattu were the subsequent works.

Another prominent work in this regard was ‘cherur padappattu’ scripted in 1845, which irritated the imperialist discourses harshly. The lettering, finished by the natives of cherurviz Muhyudheen and Mammukutty, portrayed the brave story of mappila confrontation, happened in 1843 at the native place of cherur near Tirurangadi. The struggle in which seven heroes incorporated martyrdom after combatting sixty British military personnel, has provided enough fuel, for the enthusiasm of the people. Correspondingly, the distribution and penetration of this padappattu and the visit of tombs where these martyrs buried were forbidden by the British officials. It was also broadcasted that presses printing these pages were invaded by British and was seen confiscated. Mannarkad padappattu, which displayed the Mappila resistance of people of this region against English in 1891and Manjeri padappattu , that showcased the mappila resistance of 1896 arisen in Manjeri also belonged to the class of banned ones. ‘cherur chind’ that was composed later referring to the cherur incidence was also prevented by the colonial powers.

When the esteemed and renowned poets like Moinkutty vaidyar, who gave a valiant atmosphere for Mappila community through the imaginative tales confined in the mappilappattu began to work on padappattu, it hesitated British forces verily. The period when moinkutty vaidyar scripted malappuram padaappattu and badar padappattu, Mappila movements seemed to acquire sufficient strength. Understanding the circumstances, British intellects commissioned a sect of people to sketch and study about Vaidhyar and his poetic works. Likewise several studies of English man, F. Foset were published in Anti-quari referring to the poetry of Vaidhyar. In the prescribed publication itself, articles contrast to the studies on the English version of poetry ‘Badrulmuneer-Husnuljamal’ and researches on Badr, Uhdhpadappattu along with the translation of certain portions of Foset were appeared in the years 1899 and 1910 respectively. Definitely English men viewed padappattu with a dreadful line. The reality that it was not in a perspective of literary promotion, that analysis and assessments conducted on the literary contributions of Vaidhyar, instead exclusively fearing from the explosive impact the padappattu may produce in the social life of people lived then.

Societal echoes

The positive understanding and vision about martyrdom was the common impulse reflected through padappattus. ‘kilathimala’ among the padappattus penned by another poet also demonstrated the dignity of martyrdom. When few of the victims imprisoned during the revolt were interviewed, the pivotal standpoint of padappattu was the catching responses recorded as the answers. ‘Ambattuhaidros’, one of the Mappila fighters once asserted that “I had heard sonnets that described, “the fighter who supposedly die in the battlefield combating with his rival has heaven as in turnover”.

Mappilas of the period paid enough allegiance and reverence for the martyrs who revolted with the sole intention of the liberation of society. Consequently Padappatus has succeeded well in allotting social allegiance for revolutionaries. The managerial efficiency and standpoint of Ulema of the period also deserve adequate narration. Sermons they gave and fatwas they issued had deep stimuli in the shadowed Mappila discourses.

It is a fairly misfortune that several historical chronicles that depict the conduct of Mappilas involved in the imperialist resistances and the estimation of British officials supposed to die in these struggles, has misconstrued in a broad way. Even certain accounts are portrayed with the status of authenticity decorated by the western historians, where Mappilas are pictured as the advocates of barbarity and savagery and who always endorsed confrontation and violence. However a resourceful and factual analysis and outline of these stories, is necessary rather than preserving them merely in the recent schooling and in libraries as folktales.

[Muhammed Aslam PN is based in Kerala. He can be contacted at pnaslam111@gmail.com]

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