India’s oldest mosque is all set to reopen in all its antiquity and grandeur for the devotees and congregations after a year-and-a-half of closure for renovation.
Cheraman Juma Masjid, built in 629 AD, has been restored as a heritage project under the Kerala government-run Muziris Heritage Project (MHP). The mosque has gone through restoration and conservation to regain its glory and strength.
The mosque is located at Kodungallur taluk of Kannur district in central Kerala. The renovation was done while maintaining its original character and aesthetics based on local architectural style. The project cost Rs 1.14 crore.
Cheraman Juma Masjid is linked to the tale of a mythical Hindu ruler Cheraman Perumal (Chera dynasty), who left everything to sail to meet the Prophet in Arabia. Oral tradition has it that Cheraman Perumal went to Arabia where he met the Prophet and embraced Islam in the early 7th century.
The two-story mosque was closed in May 2019, The officials of the Muzaris Heritage Project (MHP) claim to have handed over the completion letter to the government while its internal refurbishing is going on at present.
It also will have a two-story Islamic Heritage Museum in the complex. Kerala Chief Minister Pennirayi Vijayan is expected to inaugurate the renovated mosque.
“It is expected to happen any day. We are waiting for a convenient day of the Chief Minister for the inaugural function. If the COVID-19 situation is completely under control, it may happen within the next two weeks,” officials of the MHP said.
The Cheraman Juma Masjid gives a great message of communal harmony and our rich cultural heritage to the world, Governor Arif Mohammed Khan had said while inaugurating the restoration project.
The project, an initiative of the Department of Tourism as part of its heritage conservation efforts, aims at rebuilding the oldest masjid in the subcontinent in tune with its original character and aesthetics.
“Kerala had always welcomed various cultures and representatives of countries wholeheartedly. We absorbed their good values and lifestyles. Our cultural structures, language, and rituals are monuments of this harmony,” the Governor said.
The renovation of the Cheraman Masjid that occupies a pivotal place in the Muziris civilization, is an important project of the Department of Tourism under the Muziris Heritage Project (MHP).
According to some legends,Cheraman Perumal saw the splitting of the moon, a supernatural event mentioned in the Quran as a miracle performed by Muhammad when asked for one by Meccan unbelievers. The bewildered King confirmed with his astrologers that the incident had taken place, but didn’t know what to make of it. Arab merchants who had arrived at a Malabar port, a bustling global marketplace, sought audience with the King to have his permission to visit Ceylon. In conversation with them, the King learned about Muhammad, made his son the regent of his kingdom, and traveled back with the Arab merchants to meet the man himself.
The story goes that Cheraman Perumal arrived in Arabia with a gift of ginger pickles for Mumahhad and his companions and converted to Islam.
The mosque was destroyed by the Portuguese in 1504 when Lopo Lopo Soares de Albergaria attacked the port of Kodungallur. The old building was built sometime after the 1504 de Algabaria attack (i.e., from mid-16th to the early 17th century). Modern corridors and halls were built in 1984. The 1984 extensions, which surround the old building, conceal almost all of the exterior features of the old building. It was rebuilt after a few years. Modern corridors and halls were built in 1984.