The Mosque in a Land of Temples: Reading Malabar’s Muslim Monuments

TitleThe Mosque in a Land of Temples: Reading Malabar’s Muslim Monuments
Publication TypeBook Chapter
Year of Publication2018
AuthorsPrange, S
Book TitleMalabar in the Indian Ocean: Cosmopolitanism in a Maritime Historical Region
PublisherOxford University Press

This chapter offers a reading of historic mosques on the Malabar Coast as primary sources for the maritime history of the region. It considers the mosque as an actual place as well as a symbolic representation of the place of Islam on the Malabar Coast. It is asked what these monuments can reveal about the development of Muslim communities in Malabar, their links to wider Islamic commercial and religious networks, and their relationship vis-à-vis the region’s predominant Hindu society and traditions. Because mosques so clearly manifest the Muslim community and its aspirations, they became a major target of Portuguese aggression in the sixteenth century, again serving as a focal point in a new phase of the social, economic, and political trajectories of Muslim communities in this part of southern India. The chapter progresses along the different layers of evidence that are yielded by these mosques—stylistic features, architectural changes, epigraphs, literary references, historical context—to show that their historical significance extends far beyond their immediate purpose as places of worship.

Refereed DesignationRefereed