Moplah Rebellion – Leaders of Malabar Revolt, Impact, History

By BYJU'S Exam Prep

Updated on: November 14th, 2023

Moplah Rebellion was led by the Mappila Muslims that targeted British Officers and Hindu landowners. The succession of the riots was headed by Variyamkunnath Kunjahammed Haji. The Moplah rebellion is also called the Malabar Rebellion or Mappila Rebellion. The Khilafat movement in Malabar stirred up the communal sentiments of the Mappila Muslims and led to the armed revolt in Malabar. The riots led to the damage of the temples, homes, and the oppression of the Hindus and official authorities of the British.

The Moplah rebellion was started in the Southern segment of Kerala, Tirurangadi. The special brigade later compressed the rebellion and those who took part in the violence were imprisoned. The Moplah rebellion is an essential topic for the UPSC exam. The candidates must be possessing a well-versed knowledge of all the topics that will enable them to analyze the core concept and key fundamentals of the topic. This will also assist the candidates in linking the segments of the history and getting a comprehensive preparation for the exam. The article discusses the detailed knowledge of the Moplah Rebellion, its causes, impacts, and consequences.

What was Moplah Rebellion?

The Moplah rebellion is an essential part of the history syllabus. The invasion of the Muslims from the West in the 7th century traces back to the Indian history of the Moplah rebellion. The Muslims received permission to trade and settle over there. They married the daughters of the local citizens. Hence, they were called Moplahs, the literary meaning of which is son-in-law in Malayalam. The Moplah rebellion in 1921 was an offshoot of the Khilafat movement.

The Britishers led a special battalion to stop the Malabar rebellions of the Moplah Muslims, and later they were held and prisoned. The Moplah revolt leaders and the others involved were killed during their transportation from Tirur to the Central Prison. This came to be known as the Wagon tragedy. They took advantage of the Khilafat Movement to inflict communal distances and mark the oppression of the administration.

Moplah Revolt History

The Muslims from the West entered Kerala during the time period of the 7th AD. They had arrived through the routes of the Arabian Sea. The local rulers of that time period facilitated them with the permission of leading the trades and settling there. They married the daughters of the local civilians and were known as “Moplah” the literary meaning of the word determines to be the son-in-law.

  • They used to cultivate the lands in Kerala. Earlier the land was possessed by the Jenmis, who issued the lands to other individuals for purposes pertaining to farming.
  • The Jenmis referred to the upper-class Hindus. There were majorly three segmentations of the lands that were in accordance with the cultivator. The classification of the land also included the cultivator. The Moplahs also worked in these lands under Jenmis as cultivators.
  • Hyder Ali invaded the land, which led to the fleeing of numerous Hindus to escape the oppression and conversions occurring forcefully. The Moplah Muslims were granted the right to own the land segments.
  • Succeeding the demise of the Tipu Sultan, Britishers gained control of the land. The Britishers re-issued the rights of ownership to the Jenmis. They attained complete authority and control over the lands, unlike the previous scenario.
  • The rents surged and Moplah Muslim tenants were facing ordeals. The successive riots took place after this period which led to the killings of official authorities of Britishers and the landowners.
  • The Khilafat Non-Cooperation Movement was taken as an opportunity by the Moplah Muslims to exhibit the ordeals of their oppression.

Causes of the Malabar Rebellion

The Moplah revolt led to damage to the temples and other places and the killings of many officials as well as Hindu leaders. The pertinent causes of the revolt have been mentioned here.

The Khilafat Movement in 1919 was initiated to reinstate the position of the caliphate located in Turkey. This presented to be a cause of the Malabar rebellion. The INC [ Indian National Congress was inclined with the movement]. The meetings discussing the Khilafat movement that was held in Malabar led to the stirring up of communal sentiments.

  • This led to the rise of the Moplah rebellion which was targeted against British officials and Hindu landowners. The sequence of the armed revolt led to the killings of many British officials and landowners.
  • The Mappila revolt was initiated in the Southern part of Kerala, in Tirurangadi. The prominent protagonists of the revolt were Variyankunnath Kunjahammed Haji and Ali Musaliyar. The revolt was finally compressed by the Special Force of Malabar, the special brigade raised by British officials.
  • They were imprisoned and later killed. They were relocated and moved to the Prison from Tirur in a wagon. They died on the way due to suffocation. It is known to be the Wagon tragedy.

Mappila Revolt Leaders

Variyamkunnath Kunjahammed Haji was one of the main leaders who initiated the Moplah rebellions. The Moplah revolt leaders could associate the injustices with pan-Islamic feelings. Haji belonged to a family opposing the accepted norms.

The falling down of the Ottoman Empire also led to the establishment of insecurities and impelled Malabar rebellions. He led attacks on the Hindu landowners, British officials, and the Muslims who were in their support. The book penned by the renowned author C.Gopalan Nair mentioned that Haji played the main role in the Mappila revolts.

Impact of the Moplah Rebellion

The impact of the Moplah rebellion was disastrous, it lead to serious violence in Malabar. It propelled the Muslim reform movement that was initiated after the rebellions in Malabar.

  • The Moplah revolt compelled the educated segment of the Muslim community to get engaged and associated with the revolt and violence in order to save their community.
  • The Moplah rebellion is considered to be the foremost rebellion against the Britishers. They put forth the demands of establishing a Khilafat government that will be against the Nationalist movement.
  • This led to a battle against the extremism exhibited by Muslims in other segments of India. It led to a surge in antagonism for the Indian National Congress.

Analysis of the Moplah Uprising

The Moplah rebellion was vehemently criticized by some for the violence and bloodshed engaged in it. However, some people consider it to be a nationalist movement. This is an arguable topic. The Malabar rebellion had engaged the communal sentiments, which is condemned.

  • According to the views presented by Vinayak Damodar Savarkar, he highly condemned the act and called it the ‘ Anti-Hindu’ genocide. Dr. B.R Ambedkar mentioned that the agitations were advanced further by the two major organizations such as the Central Khilafat Committee and Khuddam-i-Kaba.
  • The renowned theosophist Annie Besant elaborated on the events of the Moplah rebellion in the book “ The Future of Indian Politics”.

Moplah Rebellion UPSC

The candidates must be in possession of a detailed and comprehensive knowledge of the Moplah rebellion effects. The questions from this segment are expected to be asked in the exam. The proper analysis of the questions asked in previous years will help candidates curate a methodical strategy and strengthen the foundations. The comprehensive PDF will also assist the candidates in developing their knack and being able to solve the questions in the stipulated time frame.

Sample Question: Where did the Moplah rebellion break out? [A] Kerala [B] Punjab [C] Bengal [D] Assam

Answer: Option [A] Kerala

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