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Efforts to Preserve ‘Arabi Malayalam’ Heritage

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In an article published in the web-magazine twocircles.net, Shafeeq Hudawi reports about efforts to preserve the literary heritage of ‘Arabi Malayalam’ of the Mappilas or Moplahs, as the Muslims of this region are called. Over several centuries, the Mapillas of Kerala produced their distinct cultural traditions, including food, literature, songs and music. One of the most important traditions to emerge out of the cultural amalgamation was the Arabi Malayalam language. It was the main language used by the Muslims in Kerala for writing. In Arabi Malayalam, the grammar, syntax and vocabulary are in Malayalam while the script is Arabic. Unfortunately, the language is now on the brink of extinction as most of the books, written in Arabi Malayalam have either been lost or rewritten to Malayalam. Hudawi writes that the C.H. Mohammed Koya Chair of Calicut University has started a mission to revive the language as well as the books of classic Arabi Malayalam. If things work out as planned, the centre will soon have a fully digitised Mappila Heritage Library with all available books in PDF format. The Grace Educational Association, which promotes the chair, has concluded the research necessary for the project being developed for Arabi Malayalam learners and researchers. “Already, 7,000 pages from various texts and books of Arabi Malayalam language have been scanned and kept ready to be uploaded,” said association general secretary Syed Abdul Asraf.

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