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We create the history of things we don’t know based on things we know.

That is very normal”
said Prof. P.J.Cherian, in connection with a recent documentary ‘Yaadum’ by Kombai S Anwar.
As we know, Indian history is a hostage of ideological chauvinists who use the art of history
writing as a tool to fulfill their agenda. The leftist school has an extra dimension as it aims to
continue the ‘invader’s’ perspective of India by naming it as unbiased, scientific and secular
history. Although ‘secularisation’ of history writing by leftist scholars decline the influence of
Hinduism (dharmic values) within the Indian society, they actively encourage projecting
Christian and Islamic imageries as a compelling force on the actions, behavior, and opinions of
the society. In this context, it is important to analyse Kombai S. Anwar’s documentary,
‘Yaadhum’, which traces the roots of Tamil Muslims. According to The Hindu “It opens the
window to the world where people of different communities co-existed, enriched each other’s
lives and did not even think about it.” The documentary helps the producer to ascertain his
identity as a ‘Tamil Muslim’, however it belittles the inherent plurality and tolerance of Hindu
society and claims unique antiquity to the Muslim population in Tamilnadu by distortion of facts.

“Muslim” is an Arabic word meaning “one who submits to God (Allah)”. Muslims believe that
Islam has been present since the time of the prophet Adam and prophets Noah, Abraham, Moses,
Jesus, among others, were all Islamic prophets, and they have equal veneration in the Qur’an.
The Islamic world expanded to include people of the Islamic civilization, inclusive of non-
Muslims living in that civilization. Anwar tries to put up an Islamo — centric interpretation of
the history of south India through the Yaadhum documentary assuming anything occurred in or
related to the geographical entity of present day ‘Islamic world’ can be identified as Islamic by
using carefully knit loose correlations and deductions.

Throughout history, merchants from other world came to India in search of its exotic goods.
‘Yavana’ was the term used in Sanskrit to mention the people from Ionia (Greeks) later it became
the general terminology for Greek or Roman or people of Mediterranean origin. Yavanas visited
India including Tamilnadu and is referred in Sangam literature and later literary works. However,
the Yavana presence in Tamilnadu was very less and they came only as traders or as security
guards to guard the king’s Fort. This scenario was not reported after the 2nd century AD. They
were illustrated as fierce and people kept away from them. Sasanian Empire was Iranian
(Persian) empire before the rise of Islam, ruled by the Sasanian dynasty from 224 AD to 651 AD.
They maintained good trade relations with various kingdoms in India. Trade guilds and merchant
communities were very active along the ports of ancient and medieval India.
‘TissaiairattuAinnuruvar’ or Five Hundred Lords of Ayyavolu were a group of 500 Swamis who
constituted a board of merchants in Aihole having business in all directions. They moved into
wherever Cholas had their presence. An inscription found near Vishakapattinam mentions a
donation to Ainnuruvar Perumpalli in 1090 AD. Since the name of a person in the inscription is
Arabic, Yaadhum cunningly read ‘Palli’ as a mosque. Manigramam guild flourished in
Tamilnadu in the Pallava and Chola periods and was active in South-east Asia. The Anjuvannam
guild refers to the community of Jews of Kerala. Joseph Rabban was a Jewish merchant, possibly
from Yemen, who came to the Malabar Coast in the mid-8th century. According to the traditions
of the Cochin Jews, Joseph was granted the rulership of an area called Anjuvannam (Fifth

and Muslim traders and operating in the ports of Malabar and Coromandel coasts and Java. Only the Hindus gave refuge to the Parsis and even allowed greater freedom to follow their customs and keep their faith. it took only a century for Islam to broaden its political frontiers through unprecedented amount of bloodshed and conquests. Given that the entire fold of Turks got Islamized only by late12th- century one cannot conclude that the mere presence of a name can prove the role of Islam in an event happened in the early 11th century. Hamyamana. Which. Yaadhum attributes Islamic connection to the Parsi settlements in western India for the Islamic sounding names in copper plates found north of Mumbai. of course. the indigenous fire worshiping community of Zoroastrians fled Iran (Persia) in terror. this was the time of crusades and constant intermingling and battles in the areas comprising present day ‘Islamic world’. Arab merchants married local women at Indian ports. A deliberate and loose correlation of different events like A Syrian Christian grant which bears signatures in Hebrew. Hence. This buddha vihar was also called as ‘Sudamani vihar’. Yaadhum refers to Muslim trading communities in the Rashtrakuta empire and Malabar in the west coast of India with trying to confuse the viewer to think it as Muslim settlements in Tamilnadu. and Pahlavi scripts and refers a Tamil text for Muslim Anjuvannam traders in Nagapattinam to include Muslims to the definition. In spite of the fact that from Mecca to Spain and to the frontiers of India. Islamic scholars prefer a ‘hand of God’ to explain this conquest of the world by a group of people. But history clearly shows repeated invasions in Tamilnadu over the fourteenth century by the Delhi sultanate . The population of Indian subcontinent reduced by almost 80 million between 1000 and 1525. Christian. the Arabs. giving rise to small Muslim communities who mainly indulged in horse trading and manning shipping fleets. “Animangalam Copperplate” of Kulothungachola refers sriVijayathunga Varman of Sri Vijaya kingdom of Java built Raja Raja Perumpalli with the patronage of Raja Raja Chola in 1006 CE. Historian Will Durant consider that the Islamic conquest of India is probably the bloodiest story in history. one need no much smartness to understand how tolerant and open- hearted Hindu society was to other faith and culture. The inscription describes the gift of land to the Teresa Church near Kollam to the Christians. and Anjuman.Tharisappalli Copper Plate (849 AD) issued by the King of Ayyan Atikal Tiruvatikal to the Nestorian Assyrian Christians in Malabar. The signatories signed the document in Hebrew. who were earlier abhorred as the epitome of savagery and tardiness. After the fall of Sassanid empire. Anwar mentions a Turk named Ahmed as a Signatory in this deed. Although present world consider most of the Persian names as Islamic in. the makers try to build up etymological interpretations of the term ‘Anjuvannam’ by relating it to Hajamana. and Kufic languages. near Kodungallur. and rights to seventy-two “free houses” by the Chera ruler Bhaskara Ravivarman II. Native faiths and cultures were ravaged. Pahlavi. This documentary suggests also.Varna). Also. were the languages originated in west Asia. But Anwar speaks about how Islam came toTamilnadu by peaceful means through trade implying violent conquests as distortions in the history written by the British. but were not exclusively Islamic? Y Subbarayulu in his paper defines Anjuvannam as a “body of west Asian traders” consisting of Jewish. Same is the story of Jews. Kufi.

I saw their heads lying on the ground. In the same manner did they treat their later Hindu prisoners.after the arrival of Islamic invaders in India around 10th and 11th century. and they started cutting down the trees of another forest. This is shameful conduct such as I have not known any other sovereign guilty of. the Kazi to his right and I to his left. ‘ He understood my reason. the prisoners were impaled. Then. Later in 1335. One day whilst the Kadhi (Kazi) and I were having our food with (Ghiyazu-d-din). I rose hurriedly. ‘ Where are you going ‘ ? I replied : ‘ I am going to say my afternoon (4 o’clock) prayers. on the stakes they had carried. Both Ibn Batutta and Gangadevi depict atrocities committed by the Muslim Sultans on the Hindu population. the rulers of Madurai Sultanate come across as tyrants and persecutors of Hindus. I found the unfortunate swimming in his blood. their wives were killed and tied by their hair to these pales. On the condition of Madurai under the Muslim rule. The Sultan made a sign with his hand to the executioners to cut off the head of this man . On my return. and immediately several of his followers drew their daggers. In1314 CE an army of marauders led by Khusrav Khan and in 1323 CE by Ulugh Khan pillaged every corner of the Pandyan land. then he said to them in Arabic : ‘ and the son and the wife. It is for this that God hastened the death of Ghiyath-wedding. bound in iron fetters. and he said to me . an infidel was brought before him accompanied by his wife and son aged seven years. are now heard ear-piercing noises of Brahmins being dragged. There. Gangadevi writes: “I very much lament for what has happened to the groves in Madhura. ‘ They cut off their heads and I turned my eyes away. Invasion of Malik Kafur in 1311 CE ransacked Madurai. When I looked again. The coconut trees have all been cut and in their place are to be seen rows of iron spikes with human skulls dangling at the points. I was another time with the Sultan Ghiyath-wedding when a Hindu was brought into his presence. smiled. the camp was raised. Little children were massacred on the bosoms of their mothers and their corpses left there. He uttered words I did not understand. … The waters of Tambraparni which were once white with sandal paste rubbed away from the breasts of charming girls are now flowing red with the blood of cows slaughtered by the miscreants ” Ibn Batuta describes Ghiyasuddin Dhamgani’s actions as: “The Hindu prisoners were divided into four sections and taken to each of the four gates of the great catcher. Afterwards. Jalaluddin Ahsan Khan set up the Madurai Sultanate. In the highways which were once charming with the sounds of anklets of beautiful women.” . and ordered the hands and feet of the idolater to be cut off. From contemporary historical accounts.

Besides. Saying that the Tamil Muslim Mosques also followed the same Dravidian style with Islamic sensibilities of avoiding the human figure. At this point. to 1565 A. plundered and destroyed the city. the ranks softened the Hindu infantry under Venkatadri ploughed through the divisions of Barid Shah annihilating them. pillaged. 100 years after the prophet’s death minarets appear in the mosque architecture and has ever since been a part of it. He also says that all the mosques don’t need to have minarets. After three days. The assault was so vigorous that it looked like a Hindu victory was imminent. A brief account of Muslim savagery and Hindu resilience from the battle of talikota is as follows: On 23 Jan 1565. “NARAYANA KRISHNA BHAGAVANTHA” after which he was beheaded. they carried on a day after day their work of destruction.000 Moslem troops had opened a vigorous rear attack on the Hindus and captured several artillery positions. Qutb Shah was also in retreat when Nizam Shah sent his forces to shore up the ranks of the Sultans. with crowbars and axes. Shops. Several reports claim the involvement of over a million men. About 140. concludes thus — “With fire and sword. Men. They looted.The native Hindus could regain their political dominance and liberal cultural religious policy by putting off the tide of Muslim invasion and protect the Hindu Dharma in the peninsula during 1336 A. the Sultans signaled to the Moslem officers in the Vijayanagara army to launch a subversive attack. on so splendid a city. There was no one to stop them. Robert Sewell. women and children killed. the armies clashed on the plains near the villages of Rakshasi and Tangdi. temples and houses burnt and the Hindu deities destroyed. Never perhaps in the history of the world has such havoc been wrought. When he was asked to get converted to Islam to be left alive. but Nizam Shah made a dash to seize him. Also. in his book The Forgotten Empire. amid scenes of savage massacre and horrors beyond description”. Anwar’s documentary then brings in Dravidian Islam architecture quoting the mosque in Kilakarai. Venkatadri struck early and within the first two hours the Hindu army’s heavy guns fired constantly on the ranks of Barid Shah. Muslim troops entered the city. As. and wrought so suddenly. Robert Sewell (1845–1925) worked in the civil service of the Madras Presidency during the colonial rule in India. Several cannon shells landed near Rama Raya’s elephant and he fell from it as his mount was struck by a cannon shard. teeming with a wealthy and industrious population in the full plenitude of prosperity one day. Nizam Shah himself was then pressed hard by the heavy cannonade from Rama Raya‘s division and was facing a Hindu infantry thrust with Rama Raya at the helm. but that was at the time of the prophet. Azhwaarthirunagaridistrict in Tamilnadu and claims it as the oldest mosque built in 628 AD. The empire was in constant tussle with the adjacent Islamic kingdoms and finally fell into the hands of marauders.D. It is true that many ancient mosques in Arabia didn’t have minarets. Rama Raya tried to recover. he tries to distort the historical facts to sneak in Islam into the grand legacy of Dravidian architecture. the . Suddenly Rama Raya found his rear surprised by the two Moslem divisions in his ranks turning against him. and reduced to ruins. and on the next seized.D. his reply was. This destructive episode continued for six months. the mosque lacks minaret and is made of mountain rocks like ancient Tamil temples which give it a temple appearance.

one cannot see in his words. who were Ramayana experts. Instead. the Dravidian sensibilities on the pillars of the mosque as ruins of a Jaina or Hindu temple reused by the Islamic invaders. In fact.” claims Anwar. the film hints to the contribution of Muslims to Tamil literature. the stories told about the Vaishnava saint’s receptivity to an alien faith attributes to the inherent transcendentalism and mysticism in Hindu religion. Further. Every Muslim learn to read and write in Arabic to practice their religion. most scholars believe that if it’s not in Arabic it’s not the Quran. However. It accuses that Sufism dilutes Sacred Islam by accommodating pantheistic ideas and symbolism and compromises with kafirs. whom he visualised as a woman. since Muslims believe it as the direct word of God in Arabic. which is why 17th century also saw the first time literary works by Muslim and Christian authors. In that case. including M. As a matter of fact. but I also carry several other identities. a translation inserts a human (and therefore imperfect) element.” Quran is written in Arabic. “Onre Kulam. we can also assume. Scholars such as Eaton capably points at the political processes at work when Muslim armies dismantled Hindu temples and reused parts of them in later constructions. and Sharia has forbidden errors in reading it because that would change the meaning. Yakoba was a Vaishnavite. “ And there are some scholars. In a spree to brag about . I am also a Tamilian. Oruvane Devan” comes from Tirumandiram. Ismail.’ Saheb concludes on this poignant note: “You may have many suitors. Gunangudi Mastan Saheb can be compared to the Azhwars in his devotion to Allah. By the same token. Even the example in the film shows that. an environmentalist and a ‘Maduraikaaran’. In fact. one must note that Muslims never wrote poems or other stuff about anything except Allah. Muslims and Christians were growing in Tamilnadu with the influences of the Delhi Sultanate and the growing European missionaries. this universal credence on a single language is one of the binding force for Muslim brotherhood worldwide. In this context. Most of the religious teachers thinks that “the Quran is only read in Arabic. “When there are so many layers to one’s identity. which talks about Prophet Mohammed’s journey to Mehraj. but you are my only Light of Life. I may be a Muslim by birth. religion alone cannot be a determining factor. Bhogar too had a similar experience. such as the Mehraj Malai. the decline of Vijayanagara empire and the constant plight of Hindus due to the savage wars gave no peace of mind for Hindus to engage in literary activities for about two centuries. Yaadhum says it is not mandatory for an Indian Muslim to speak Urdu and Muslims in Tamilnadu consider the Tamil language as his mother tongue which is why he deserves reverence for his tolerance and plurality. Interestingly.M. Expressing his love for ‘Her.” he says. the consciousness of an identity as an Indian. who after meditation found himself transported to Mecca.inscriptions speak only about its presence in the 11th century which the Muslims call as renovation. Islamic scholars remain divided in this regard. Moreover. Anwar set out to explore and trace his roots as an answer to the identity crisis he suffered as a Muslim in a secular society. But it is a well-known fact that the orthodox Islam opposes Sufism. the film and the interviews of the film-maker fuels Tamil chauvinism.” It goes ahead by nodding Islam as the saviour of Tamil literature in it’s ‘Dark age’.

leading to riots. On the other hand. the secular liberal Muslim turns out to bean emotional closet Islamist. Islam finds itself in a crisis. In its 1. He neglects the religious identity of pre-Islamic traders from west Asia and hints them as Muslims to prove an active presence of Muslim traders in Tamilnadu and attribute a role for Islam in the Chola hay days in south-East Asia. he undermines the threat of present day global Islamist terror. I belong to this place. nevertheless elucidated Dravidian Islamic architecture. He said Architecture has no religion.” he confesses to the Hindu. . Hence. where people from various social and religious backgrounds coexisted he depicts the harmonious relationship between the Hindu and Muslim communities in Tamilnadu. he blames Crusaders and Britishers for the image of Islam as a murderous violent cult. asks not to cite religion to describe crusades and conquests of heathens by Islamic rulers by pointing out that non-Muslims existed in those regions. They were simply loaded against the community. Like every Sharia Bolshevik of the time. “So right- wing groups continue to harbour imaginary wounds from the past. the film fails to read the land grants and donations by Hindu kings to other religious shrines and the peaceful coexistence of traders from various religion and nationalities over thousands of years as the concern for universal kinship and respect for differences in belief and religion.400-year-long history. he undermines the violence committed by Islam while spreading its wings over the land. In addition to that brings up a tale of Cholas attacking Buddhist country and Christian persecution of Jews. he too imagines victim-hood for his community and try to narrate the story of a culturally rich and diverse land exclusively through on behalf of his religion.Islam’s role in nurturing a pluralistic society.” proclaims Anwar after making a movie with distorted facts to confirm if he belongs to Tamilnadu or not. which in turn create a sense of fear and alienation among Muslims. With a narrow linear perspective of Hinduism Anwar tries to append the Tamil society and history in an Islamic garb. Added to this is the current international scenario. Therefore. I am sure of my roots. Only a leftist can bring such oxymoron explicitly as intelligent research work. “ Now. Talks about secularism and pluralism but fails to keep his religion aside while narrating the story of his place. In addition to that like any apologist moderate Muslim. By conveniently covering up the brutal conquests and wars. Yaadhum ignores that the concepts of tolerance and pluralism are the very essence of Hinduism and its manifestation through diverse Hindu practices and its centuries of peaceful coexistence of various faiths to paint Islam as a religion which acknowledges diversity.” Anwar not only decidedly deny the Brutal wars and plunder done by the Islamic invaders in India but also insinuate communal hatred towards the other communities. “Documenting the history of Muslims opened my eyes to the misrepresentations that filled the so-called history books. I decided to focus on the subject and throw light on the misunderstandings. which they use to radicalise their followers.