Saturday, March 13, 2010

Madras Day celebrations -"Chennai Heritage Talk'

Online edition of India's National NewspaperThursday, Aug 20, 2009

Muslims’ contribution is part of Madras history”
Staff Reporter
Researcher highlights peaceful coexistence of Hindus and Muslims
— Photo: R.Ragu LAUDING SCHOLAR: Prince of Arcot Nawab Mohammed Abdul Ali (left), presents a memento to S.Anvar, researcher and historian, at a presentation on ‘Mosques and Muslims of Madras’ in Chennai on Wednesday.

CHENNAI: While talking about the history of Madras, the history of Muslims and the contribution that they have made to the city is never spoken about, said S. Anvar, researcher and historian. The fact that the city has contributed a lot to Urdu literature has been completely forgotten. The city’s great tradition of Hindustani music also goes unsung, he added. He was speaking at a presentation on ‘Mosques and Muslims of Madras’ which was held at the Amir Mahal here as part of the ‘Madras Week’ celebrations on Wednesday.

To give some background to the Muslim presence in the city, he traced the route taken by early Arab traders who came to south India along the spice route and presented evidence to show that there was a sizeable Muslim population in the South as far back as the 7th century.

He said that there was a long history of peaceful co-existence between the Hindus and the Muslims which has been completely forgotten, and cited many examples of Muslim kings granting lands to temples and Hindu kings providing patronage for the construction of mosques.
“The first mosque to come up in Madras was built by a Hindu, Kasi Veeranna, also known as Cassa Verona. East India Company records show that he also had the alias Hasan Khan. That is our real past and tradition,” Mr.Anvar said.

The temple tank of the Kapaleeswarar temple was gifted by one of the Nawabs of Arcot and his only request from the temple authorities was to let Muslims use it one day every year during Ramzan. “This continues even today, two centuries after the temple was built,” he said.

According to him, much of the divides we face in our society today stems from the misunderstanding the Europeans brought with them. “Their monolithic culture and religion could never comprehend the diversity of India and we are paying the price for it,” he said.
He also gave a brief summary about some of the significant architectural contributions made by Muslims in the city such as the Saidapet mosque, the Wallajah mosque, the Masjid-o-Anwari and the Chepauk palace. Prince of Arcot Nawab Mohammed Abdul Ali introduced the speaker.

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