Remembering Mamburam Sayyid Alavi Thangal
At a time when inter-religious conflicts are rearing their ugly heads across the country, Mamburam Makham in Malappuram district of Kerala has emerged as a symbol of communal harmony, by carrying forward the legacy of the Sufi Mamburam Sayyid Alavi Thangal.
By Shafeeq Hudawi
Malappuram: A week long spiritual interaction and food distribution marked the 178th death anniversary of Thangal, in Malappuram (Kerala) recently.
Born in Yemen in 1752, Thangal, a Sufi leader, came to Kerala as part of a missionary group at the age of 17 and settled at Mamburam. He was called Qutub Zaman, which denotes the spiritual distinction, by the Sunni Muslims in Kerala. He helped the Muslim community grow by drawing them towards education.
Ulema and devotees attending a spiritual session, held as part of 178th death anniversary of Mamburam Thangal
Quoting the Malabar Manual, written by British officer William Logan, historian Dr. K K Muhammed Abdul Sathar says that he “was influential not only among the Muslims, but all people in the region, especially among Dalits.” “Dalits were always drawn towards Thangal. Unlike the Hindu landlords here, he was open to all and the Dalit community, which was denied access to the landlords and upper class leaders, used to approach the Sufi leader to express their grievances and seek solutions,” Abdul Sathar says.
Thangal extended stiff resistance against the caste system. “Even after their conversion, Dalits here were following the worst customs of casteism. They […] refused to walk and sit with the landlords. Even conversion didn’t help them to get rid of the compulsion of caste system,” Sathar adds.
Many uprisings carried against the landlords who were backed by the British, were motivated by Thangal. In the middle of the 19th century, Malabar witnessed various rebellions by Mappila peasants at Muttichira, Cheroor and Manjeri.
Interestingly, this year’s death anniversary observance of Thangal was adorned with a special academic fete by Sunni Students Federation (SSF). The SSF organize a ‘Manava Sangamam’ (union of human beings) in an attempt to uphold and spread the secular values of the nation at Thalappara in Malappuram. The congregation named “Mamburam Thangal and Konthu Nair’ was aimed at bringing a sense of religious and social harmony through its various seminars and programmes and was inaugurated by All India Sunni Jamiyyatul Ulema general secretary, Kanthapuram A P Aboobacker Musliyar. Kerala Legislative Assembly speaker, P Sreeramakrishnan, Minister for Local Administration and Minority Welfare, Dr. K T Jaleel, Minister for Ports Kadannappally Ramachandran, Samastha Kerala Jamiyyatul Ulema general secretary Ponmala Abdul Qadir Musliyar, V T Balram MLA, historian K K N Kurup, Syed Ibrahim Khaleelul Bukhari and author K P Ramanunny attended various sessions.
(Extracted from twocircles.net and with some modifications)