Muslims form some 15% of the total population of Kerala which is more than 20 million. In the 3 districts of Kannur, Kozhikode and Palakkad, the Moplah population numbers about 2 million. They are not a separate ethnic or linguistic entity but have a certain group individuality of their own. This individuality has been rendered to them by their tradition and religion.
Etymology of Moplah Community
The word, 'Moplah' comes from Mapillai, supposed to be derived from 'Mam Piltai' the great or respected person, indicating the honoured status in society of the early Muslim settlers. Mapilla also means son-in-law in Tamil and husband in colloquial Malayalam. The early Muslim immigrants who married into the local families and settled down in the region would have been addressed as 'Mam Piltai ' by the local inhabitants. Even today the word ‘Mapilla’ is used for Christians (Nazarene Mapilla) and ‘Jonaka Mapilla’ for Muslims.
History of Moplah Community
Christianity set its feet in India through Kerala. The history of the Moplah Community witnessed the power struggle with the Arabs. They had also taken part in the movements for Indian independence as well.
The Moplah Rebellion or the Malabar Rebellion was an extended version of the Khilafat Movement in Kerala in 1921. There was the demand of the Moplah community of Kerala in 1947 for the foundation of a Moplastan within the Indian Union.
Religion of Moplah Community
The Moplahs are strict in adherence to their faith but follow the customs and manners of the local people of whom they are a part. A number of Moplah families, especially in north Malabar, conform to the Hindu marumakkathayam (matrilineal) system.
Society of Moplah Community
As individuals the people from this community are self reliant and industrious. As a social unit it had not been a cakewalk for them to adapt with the changing times. Till date the Moplah Islamic Community is largely concentrated in Kerala.