Kunhali Marakkar – a myth ?

For Malayalis Kunhali Marakkar was the brave commander of the Zamorin’s Navy, who fought against the Portuguese. The story is that the Muslim Marakkar dynasty fought against the Europeans for almost hundred years. But now there is new research suggesting that a) Marikkars were not of Arab descent, but instead were of Tamil origin b) he could be a myth

According to Dr. Ochanthuruth, “the traditional view of Kunhalis as patriots supporting feudal lords like the Zamorin needs to be corrected.
In the light of Kunhali Marikkar’s own actions and Shayk Zaynuddin’s statements, it is clear that they wanted an Islamic Principality in their own Malabar. (Shayk Zaynuddin was an Arab scholar who lived in Ponnani).
“After 1600 when the Kunhalis were almost silenced by the Zamorin through a political operation with the help of the Portuguese, the Muslim religious leaders in Malabar elevated Kunhali Marikkar as a cult figure for having attempted to unite the Muslims belonging to different ethnic groups and established their identity on the basis of an Islamic dream as visualised by Shayk Zaynuddin.
“This is the starting point of Muslim fundamentalism and communalism in South Malabar, later described by Ines and Evans as “fanatic zone,” he says in his paper presented at an international seminar on `The Portuguese and Kunhali Marikkars – myth and reality’.
“My attempt in this paper is to trace the truth about the origins, growth and struggles of the Marikkar family. Most of the Portuguese sources treat the Marikkar as enemies. Shayk Zaynuddin, an Arab scholar of Ponnani, in his Tuhfat-ul Mujahidin, states that the Marikkars had turned against the Portuguese only by 1524.
According to Dr. Ochanthuruth there is a big gap in historiographical literature about Kunhali Marikkar from 16th to the present century. Till the publication of Malabar and the Portuguese in 1929 by Sardar K.M. Panikkar, there was no serious writing on the Kunhali Marikkars except a few ballads.
Dr. Ochanthuruth’s views contradict the opinions of well-known and highly rated historians Sardar K.M. Panikkar, A.V. Krishna Ayyar and O.K. Nambiar.
He also questions claims that Marikkars were Mappila Muslims (Mappilas are children of Arabs married to Malabar women), and contends there is no evidence to support the belief that Marikkars lived in Pantalayani – Kollam, then in Tikkodi and then in Kottakkal, which was their last headquarters.
“Available evidence suggests Marikkars were of Tamil origin and many of them were Parathava converts from Coramandel,” Dr. Ochanthuruth claimed. [Kunhali Marikkars: myth and reality]

2 thoughts on “Kunhali Marakkar – a myth ?

  1. The term Mappilas of Kerala not only include the children of Arabs married to Malabar women, but also describe whole range of Muslims who were converts from various Hindu casts as well. The Arab progenies comprise only a very small minority in this group. Almost all of the Mappilas are as indigenous as the Hindus of Kerala.

  2. a problem that is generally found with south Asians is generalising thing. before putting any statement and passing it off as an authentic one do some search at least, not if research.Mappilas are the native Muslims of Kerala whose existence can be traced back to 7th century, when Malik-Dinar a direct diciple of Prophet Muhammad came to kerala for preaching the new religion, and the lower caste Hindus(comprising of Dhalits and Ezhavas, those where considered as OUTCASTS) converted to Islam to save their selves from the repression of Brahmin caste system.
    In South and Central Kerala Christian are called as Mappilas.
    who is this Ochanthuruth anyway
    search is pointing only to this page!!!!!
    And in the same Article where the Author of this post quoted from, it says
    Dr. Ochanthuruth’s views contradict the opinions of well-known and highly rated historians Sardar K.M. Panikkar, A.V. Krishna Ayyar and O.K. Nambiar. ”
    According to research by Wing Suen, biased views are likely to be self perpetuating if information is costly (which it nearly always is). When information is costly, individuals with biased views will give less weight to information coming from people they know to frequently disagree with themselves and more weight to people they know to frequently agree with themselves. The more biased an individual’s view is, the stronger will be the contrary evidence necessary to change the view. Only when a biased person receives contrary opinions from people who are thought to be sufficiently like-minded will contrary opinions be given much weight. Not surprisingly, biased views can lead to increased polarization between different groups of people

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