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Moplah Revolts

Kunal Chattopadhyay

Subject Imperial, Colonial, and Postcolonial History » Colonial History

Place Southern Asia » India

Period 1000 - 1999 » 1800-1899, 1900-1999

Key-Topics police, property rights, revolution, rural

DOI: 10.1111/b.9781405184649.2009.01031.x


The Moplahs or Mappilas are located in Malabar, the northern part of present-day Kerala. Their ancestry is often traced to Arabs and converts to Islam among natives of Malabar. Islam came to this region through trade and pilgrimage, and was well established by the ninth century. Nineteenth-century British colonial rule identified them as “fanatics.” Moplahs formed a major portion of the Kudiyan (landless farmer) population in Ernaad and Walluvanad taluks (an administrative unit beneath a district) where the landlords were mainly upper-caste Hindus. The British conquest of Malabar in 1792 was followed by a land settlement whereby one category of superior right holders, the jenmis , were recognized as absolute proprietors in land. This worked to the advantage of Brahmanas and Nayars, and against the interests of the Moplahs. As soon as the jenmis , backed by the police, the law courts, and revenue officials, tightened their grip on the subordinate classes, the Moplah peasantry in turn started rebelling (from 1836), with a religious dimension. Sometimes attacks on the jenmi or his officials would be accompanied by the burning or defilement of temples: 22 similar risings continued until 1854. The revolt of 1849 included grievances about how the government had encroached on waqf (Islamic tax-free) land as well. The Thangals (Moplah priests), invested with powers to protect ... log in or subscribe to read full text

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