Introducing Three Seminal Books In Mappila History
05 August, 2015
We are introducing three seminal titles in Mappila history that Other Books, Calicut published at two different points of time.
Tuhfat al Mujahiiddin written by Sheikh Zainuddin II was brought out in the year 2007. Noted by several scholars as, arguably, the first written historical account on and in Kerala, Tuhfat has had many translations into the English language, especially that of Rowlandson. Linguistic inaccuracy as well as cultural aloofness has been pointed out by scholars as being the major defects of most translations attempted by foreign scholars. The pressing need for the translation by a native scholar motivated the publishers to locate the manuscript of Syed Muhammad Husayn Nainar, a reputed Arabic scholar well-versed in Mappila history whose deep scholarship in both disciplines has influenced many scholars, especially Amitav Ghosh while writing his novel 'in an Antique Land.' Other Books footnoted the translation using C Hamsa's notes in his Malayalam translation of the book.
In 2014, translation of Sheikh Zainuddin I’s Tahrid ahl Al Iman li Jihad ala abdat al Sulban was published, followed in the next year by Qadi Muhammad’s Fatah al Mubin. The hiatus of seven years between the publication of Tuhfa and the two titles was owing to the amount of time spent on translation, editing and footnoting of the two later works. Sheikh Zainuddin I was the grandfather of the author of Tuhfa and to his credit there are a number of works on jurisprudence, tasawwuf etc. Qadi Muhammad is the author of popular Muhyuddin Mala, an honorific written in praise of Sheikh Muhyuddin Abdul Qadir Jilani, sufi teacher revered among the traditional Sunni laity in the state. Qadi Muhammad was a Qadi or judge in Calicut and was an author of a number of books in several disciplines.
Tahrid was translated by Professor KM Muhammad, former professor in Arabic associated with Farook College. Mahmoud Kooria, research scholar in the University of Leiden wrote an introduction to the book positioning it among the compendia which narrates, against the grain, the history, politics and life of Malabar at a point of time when the land was under the siege of the Portuguese invaders. Dr Michael N Pearson, Professor Emeritus at the University of New South Wales, an expert on Indian Ocean and history, wrote a foreword to the book. Fatah al Mubin’s translator is anonymous and is believed to have been one of the official translators appointed by the Great Briton during the colonial era. The translation was defective in several areas as it fails to match with the Arabic original in many areas. Other Books retained the defective translation owing to its historical value with footnotes explaining passages.
Other Books took up the task of getting these works translated with the aim of and as part of bringing to English readers historically pertinent local narratives. Though the project which Other Books formulated in the year of its very inception in 2003 covers a diverse area, cutting across genres and disciplines like Sufism, romance, ethics etc., it started with those titles that became academically relevant owing to the light they shed on Portuguese colonial history, maritime trade, oceanography, Islam in South Asia etc. The need for opening now-obliterated local narratives and histories to people has been compounded by the present scenario in linguistics and associated academic disciplines in India of foregrounding languages like Sanskrit and Hindi at the cost of many local languages that are, according to Sheldon Pollock, subsumed under the superimposed divine language and denied authenticity during the process of vernacularization. To politically resist this on-going process of linguistic and cultural homogenization, works in local and vernacular languages as well as in languages deemed alien should be brought to fore.
Though one of these works had already been translated into English, Other Books wanted to give them a perspective similarity of the locale by associating local scholars who have deeply studied these books with various pre-production tasks. Moreover, when a work like Tuhfa and an author like Sheikh Zainuddin are reviewed by a reputed journalist like, say, Praveen Swami, he seems to anachronistically link the works with, say, wahhabism and jihadism and other post-colonial anti-state movements.
Sheikh Zainuddin’s oeuvre contains many notable features like Sufism which later Wahhabi movements might probably find jarring. It is quite interesting to note that rather than making a call for jihad under a titular Muslim sovereign, these authors are unanimous in inciting people with their call for jihad to get united under the leadership of Zamorin, a Hindu king, against Portugal which was then assisted by several Muslim leaders, which means the word jihad can’t be interpreted away without respecting milieu and time.
These books can be ordered from Amazon.in by clicking on the images or at http://www.otherbooksonline.com
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