The hard working Marakayar Muslim community, Tamil Nadu and Kerala, India - a brief note

Farook Marakayar. ex CM of Ponicherry and former Gov. of Kerala.

Mr. Farook, who hailed from Karaikal, held several important posts in his long career.  He was thrice Chief Minister of Puducherry, S.India (1967-68, 1969-74 and 1985-90). He headed the governments of both the Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam and the Congress.  Elected to the Lok Sabha in 1991, 1996 and 1999, he served as Union Minister of State for Civil Aviation and Tourism in 1991-92 in the P.V. Narasimha Rao government.  In September 2004, he was appointed Ambassador to Saudi Arabia, and in 2010 Jharkhand Governor. He was appointed Kerala Governor and assumed office on September 8, 2011.  He died in January, 2012.....(

The name  Maraicar  / Marakayar is derived from  Tamil word "maraikkalayar" meaning people engaged in shipping trade synonymous with the  Tamil word "maraikkalayar" meaning people engaged in shipping trade. They hail from Kayalpatnam, a seashore town on the east coast  in Southern Tamil Nadu, India. It refers to a  distinctive Tamil and Malayalam-speaking Muslim people of the states of Tamil Nadu and Kerala in India and Sri Lanka. 

The Kayalpatnam and the surrounding areas are steeped in history, having years of mercantile trade links with the Arabs. Arabs, centuries ago, had a flourishing business  with the Pandian Kingdom (capital at Madurai), the rulers of Malabar (Kerala) and Ceylon (Sri Lanka).  Kulasekharapatnam was  a major international port with trade relations with the Arabs, Europeans & Chinese. Marco Polo, the great international traveler, never failed to give an account of the thriving international business going on in Kayalpatnam.

The Arabs were mainly interested in natural pearls harvested from plenty of  oysters  available in the  shallow shelf  of Gulf of Mannar, Palk Strait separating Ceylon (Sri Lanka) from South India. These high quality pearls were exchanged with horses brought from Arabia. The Kunhali Marakkars and others of Kerala are descendants of  one of the missionaries in the team of twelve sent to Kerala during the time of Prophet Muhammed (sal). It is believed,  the Hindu Maharajah of the then Kerala, Cheraman Perumal went to Arabia and accepted Islam in Mecca. He died there in Mecca and was buried there. He sent a team of 12 messengers back to Kerala  
to preach Islam. The missionaries married the local women and their descendants settled in many parts of Kerala. The Marakkars were the leading business group of the region when the Portuguese arrived in Kerala. In 1500s  they supplied the Portuguese with spices from Malaysia (Malacca) before the Portuguese themselves established  in Malacca.There was a close  interaction among the Ceylon, Ramanad and Kayalpatanam Marakkars. The Marakkars had very close relationship with Zamorian rulers of Kerala in 1500s.

Islam was introduced in Kayalpatnam and adjacent areas by the Arab traders who used to throng this place on business. As they had to stay there for a long period of time, they married the local women now their descendants live in such places as Kulasekarapatnam, Kayalpatnam, Kilakarai, Maricarpatnam, Adirampatnam, Tondi, Karaikal etc., along the Tamil Nadu coast; many settlements on the Malabar / Kerala coast and the southern sea coast of Ceylon like Galle and Batticola.  Jainism and Buddhism were under stress by resurgent Hinduism when Islam was introduced to Tamil Nadu and Kerala regions of southern India (650–750 AD). The majority of Jains embraced Islam and they still retain some Jain habits. Even to day, a majority of
Marakkars are engaged in commerce.  The Marakkars were an endogamous community, and followed the system of inheritance known as marumakkathayam.

Former President of India Abdul Kalam, well-known space scientist with his

 Dr. Abdul Kalam 15 October 1931 – 27 July 2015) was an aerospace scientist  of great repute. He served as the 11th President of India from 2002 to 2007. Born and raised in Rameswaram, Tamil Nadu, he  studied physics and aerospace engineering. He spent about 40 years with  the Defence Research and Development Organisation (DRDO) and Indian Space Research Organisation (ISRO) both as a scientist and administrator. He played a vital role in  India's civilian space programs  and military missile developments effortsDubbed as the Missile Man of India hr paid more attention  on the development of ballistic missile and launch vehicle technology. In 1998 he played a major role in Pokran II nuclear test...

Legend has it that in 875 AD about 224 men, women and children, all descendants of the first Caliph of Islam, Abubacker Siddique (sal), belonging to the Bakhri tribe, left Qirafathul Kubra, near Cairo for good under the leadership of Mohamed Kalji. They set sail  towards east in a ship made of wood - hence the name Marakkars and, at last, landed on the shores of Kayalpatnam. The second wave of people arrived from Egypt, escaping repression and natural disaster in about 1284 AD. They were led by Syed Jamaludeen, believed to be the 21st descendant of Prophet Muhammed (Sal). When they reached Kayalpatnam, the local Hindu King Sundarapandya Thevar (Pandya ruler) accommodated them well.  It is believed, Syed Jamaludeen developed a close rapport with the local ruler and became an emissary to the court of Kublai Khan. Ultimately Syed Jamaludeen became an army commander of the local ruler.

They  have a distinct Arab -Tamil composite culture and are traditionally very conservative. There was a time when the language had a strong Arabic flavor as most of their vocabulary was derived from pure Arab and classical Tamil. One of the well-known
Marakkar is Dr. Abdul Kalam Maraikkayar, the 11th president of India and a noted Aero-space engineer an  a great human being who transcended religion, creed and nationality.