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Kalam to visit oldest mosque in sub-continent

Staff Reporter



AWAITING VVIP VISIT: The Cheraman Juma Masjid at Kodungallur near Thrissur.

THRISSUR: President A. P. J. Abdul Kalam will visit the Cheraman Juma Masjid at Kodungallur, near here, considered to be the first mosque in the subcontinent, on July 29.

According to the president of the Mosque Committee V. A. Ibrahim, the President has responded to an invitation sent by the committee two months ago.

``This is the first time that an Indian President is visiting the mosque. It is a historic occasion,'' Mr. Ibrahim says.

The President is expected to arrive at the mosque at 5.45 p.m. and spend 25 minutes there.

He will meet mosque committee officials, address the gathering and leave at 6.10 p.m.

The mosque is believed to have been established in 629 AD by Malik Bin Dinar, a contemporary of Cheraman Perumal.

Belief goes that Perumal had gone to Mecca, met Prophet Mohammed and embraced Islam. Perumal fell ill as he returned from Mecca.

Malik Bin Dinar and a few others reached Kodungallur and showed the rulers letters written by Perumal about his new religious experiences. Dinar and his associates were allowed to construct a mosque.

When Dinar, who was the chief priest (Ghazi) of the mosque, left for Arabia, his nephew Habib Bin Malik took over.

The mosque is believed to have been renovated in the 11th and 18th centuries AD. In 1974, an extension was built.

``The mosque has been visited by a galaxy of celebrities, including theologians from different parts of the world,'' says Mr. Ibrahim.

`Vidyarambham' (initiation into world of letters) ceremonies have been held in the mosque, Hindu style, in the past four years.

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