In Indian and especially Tamil literature, many scholars have wrongly attributed Yavana’s as meaning Greeks and Romans only. In reality any outsider in the olden times, (almost ten centuries before), was known as ‘Yavana’, the Greeks and Romans were only a small proportion as compared to the large Western Asian traders who frequented southern India for more than 2 millennia. The Pattanam excavations, near Kochi shown in the film is of significance as Mesopotamian and Sassanid artifacts found at the site, reinstate the fact that much before the Romans and Greeks, the trade contacts existed between West Asia and South India. The Romans and Greeks merely followed the existing trade route, till their empire remained powerful.
While the possibility of Roman embassies reaching the South Indian kingdoms is not ruled out, it has to be also understood that, in the height of the Roman empire, parts of West Asia and North Africa were under the control influence of the Romans. As the society was moving from the barter system of trade to the coinage system, the Roman coin standard was probably acceptable to the traders of those parts. In today’s context as the all powerful American dollar is used as a currency for exchange, it doesn’t mean that every transaction done with the dollar meant the physical presence of an American.
Muslims form a diverse community speaking various tongues. Their holy book ‘The Koran’ was revealed in Arabic, yet Arabic is not considered as a Devabhasha. So Koran has been translated into various languages. The Muslim population that came into being as a result of the formation of the Delhi sultanate, Bahmani, Deccani and Mughal empire over a period of time came to speak Urdu. The native Muslims of Tamil Nadu, Kerala, Konkan, Gujarat, Punjab, Assam, Manipur, etc. speak Tamil, Malayalam, Konakani, Punjabi, Gujarati, Assamese, Manipuri and so on respectively.
In the holiest of holy sites for the Muslims, the Kaaba, there is no discrimination based on gender. Islam doesn’t bar women from entering mosques. The five time mandatory Islamic prayer in the mosque has to do with congregation standing shoulder to shoulder. So women stand in a separate line in some of the mosques are having a separate wing. In Chennai the Shia Mosque in Thousand Lights, the Bohra mosques and some Sunni mosques do have provided space for women to pray inside the mosques. It is left for the congregations to decide.
While the Koran does say that, in the next line of the same verse, it also talks about forgiveness. It would be advisable to read the very next line of the same verse.
“We ordained therein for them: “Life for life, eye for eye, nose or nose, ear for ear, tooth for tooth, and wounds equal for equal.” But if any one remits the retaliation by way of charity, it is an act of atonement for himself. And if any fail to judge by (the light of) what Allah hath revealed, they are (No better than) wrongdoers”.
– Al Koran, Surat Al-Mā’idah (5:45)
While the rulers might have been Hindu or Muslim, their administrative and military had men of both communities.
Muslim rulers made endowments to Hindu temples and Hindu rulers made endowments to Mosques. The film talks about the endowment or grant of lands and concessions by the Pandyas, the Samuthris and the Venad King Udayamarthanda Varma. The film also talks about the decree of the Calicut Samuthri, who when confronted by the Portuguese naval power, wanted one member from the fisherman’s family to embrace Islam, so that his navy which was predominantly Muslim will have adequate men. In Tamil Nadu, the Nawabs of Arcot, who made considerable donations to temples, Churches and Mosques continued the tradition of having Hindu deities in their coinage, with the Nawabs name written in Tamil.
And when Gingee was captured by the Mughal forces, the Muslim commander was recalled by Emperor Aurangazeb and the fort was handed over to a Rajput Hindu. Where is religion in this.
The Arabs, The Persian, the Turks and the Central Asian Kingdoms had a considerable non-Muslim population. There were Jews and Christians in their administration. The 12th Century Warrior Saladin, who ruled Syria and Egypt had a Jewish biographer.
When Muslims ruled Spain, there was a place for the Jews and Christians. The fall of Muslim Spain led to the expulsion of Jews first and subsequently Muslims too.
Till mid 20th century, the Jews lived undisturbed in Muslim dominated regions such as Iran and Iraq. Even today there are Christian communities in these countries. None of these communities were ever expelled unlike in the Medieval West, which expelled Jews and in the case of England even the Catholics. So when the colonial powers took to the seas, they were predominantly of one faith, and the Portuguese and Spaniards proclaimed their objective as to convert the conquered from being uncivilized to the Christian faith. However we never use their faith as a prefix before their invasion.
Similarly when the Cholas ransacked the Buddha viharas in Lanka in the 10th and eleventh centuries, it was never refereed as the Hindu invasion. Perhaps rightly so as these invasions were never about religious differences, So why the double standards to the invasion by the Turks and the Central Asian armies?
It is nothing but a gross distortion of history and planting poisonous seeds in gullible minds, so that hatred will flower.
The earliest mosque such as the Prophet’s mosque in Medina or those in Kufa and Basra were primitive structures erected of perishable materials. The Prophet it seems to have no intention of erecting separate complex for daily prayer. Yet his house in Medina soon became a public building, a gathering place for Muslims and later a mosque. It was a punitive structure with a central court surrounded by brick walls. It had a roofed portico on the north side being supported by palm trunk. It became the pattern for early mosques.
However Unlike the south Indian temples as that has organic rules, no such thing exists for a mosque. The place has to be clean and neat, no idol worship and pray facing towards Mecca. So wherever Islam spread it adopted the local architectural style. China, where the Silk and the Spice route ended having some of the early mosques built in the Chinese architectural style. Same was the case with Mali.
In Tamil Nadu, the prevalent architectural style was the Dravidian architectural style in which the Tamil Jaina pallis, the Saiva, Vaishnavite temples and the road side choultries were constructed well into the 20th Century. The Tamil Muslim Mosques also followed the same Dravidian style with Islamic sensibilities of avoiding the human figure. Hence we can say that the mosques built for close to 1000 years follow the Dravidian Islamic Architectural style and it would be wrong to say it as following the Hindu temple architecture.