The Early Indian Islamic Missionaries And What You Should Know About Them
India is the second-most populous nation in the world and this amazing Asian nation, Islam is the second biggest religion. Since Hinduism is the predominant religion in India, it is interesting to know how Islam reached the Indian subcontinent in the first place. Without the efforts of the early Indian Islamic missionaries, the story of Islam in this massive nation would have been different today.
Due to its proximity to Arabia and several other factors, India was one of the first countries to receive Islam. The faith had always existed in the coastal trade lanes used by Arab Muslim traders especially in Indian communities in places like Kerala, Gujarat, and Bengal. Later on, the Muslims would become so influential to the point that they ruled India with the Mughal Empire and Delhi Sultanate as the most prominent examples. However, the spread of Islam in India would not have been possible without the efforts of early Indian Muslim missionaries.
In Islam, missionary activities are referred to as dawah and it is incumbent upon every Muslim to do as much dawah as possible. Dawah is the spread of Islam via various human-oriented activities laced with compassion, mercy, and understanding. Malik Deenar is one of the early Muslim missionaries who brought Islam to the Indian subcontinent. It was his efforts that led to the construction of the first mosque in India, the Cheraman Juma Mosque in Methala, Kodungallur Taluk in Kerala. It is believed to have been built in 629 AD and it remains the oldest mosque in all of the Indian subcontinent.
However, Deenar was not the only early Indian Islamic missionary. There were also others like Maulai Nuruddin (also called Rupnath) and Moulai Abdullah (also referred to as Baalam Nath). They were initially travellers who paid a visit to the Muslim Caliph Abu Tamim Ma’ad Al-Mustansir Bi-llah and were so impressed that they became Muslims. They did not just stop at becoming Muslims but also dedicated themselves to the proliferation of the faith.
Being a missionary in any religion is not an easy task. Hence, it was equally a voyage full of challenges for the early Indian Islamic missionaries but they never gave up. They remain focused and Allah (SWT) gave them a string of victories in their efforts. For example, by the beginning of the 9th century, these Muslim missionaries were able to convert no one less than the King of Malabar. It was such a momentous time of joy for these missionaries.
Over time, Muslims in India have risen to the highest levels of responsibilities in different sectors of society. The success of the modern-day Muslims of India cannot be separated from the efforts and works of the early Indian Islamic missionaries.
Today, there are a lot more Muslim missionaries and they have built upon the works of the first-generation Indian Islamic missionaries who gave their all for the faith. Dawah is not an easy task but our prayer is that may Allah (SWT) ease the affairs of all Muslim missionaries in various parts of the globe, aameen.