Cheraman Juma Masjid in Kodungallur was reconstructed many times to accommodate rising number of believers

The Cheraman Juma Masjid in Kodungallur, believed to be the country's first and oldest mosque, will soon be restored to its original form. Its management committee was giving final touches to a renovation project that would start in September, according to masjid president P.A. Mohammed Sayed.

The 1400-year-old mosque was reconstructed many times to accommodate the increasing number of believers. “The Cheraman Juma Masjid is a cultural monument and it should be preserved it in its original form,” said Mr. Sayed.

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

Legend has it that Cheraman Perumal had gone to Mecca, met Prophet Mohammed, and embraced Islam. Perumal fell ill on the way back from Mecca. Malik Bin Dinar and a few others reached Kodungallur and showed the rulers, the letters written by Perumal about his new religious experience. 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 was first renovated in the 11th Century AD, and later in 1974, Mr. Sayed said. “An extension was added after demolishing the front portion of the old mosque during renovation. The ancient part of the mosque, including the sanctum sanctorum, was left untouched.” It was renovated later in 1996, and in 2003, by adding extensions to accommodate more devotees, he said.

Soil examination

The soil examination for the renovation project was over and work would commence in September first week, according to sources in the masjid. The work was expected to be completed in three years.

The renovated mosque would have two underground prayer halls, with a capacity of 3,000 people. The mosque has been visited by a galaxy of celebrities, including theologians from different parts of the world. ‘Vidyarambham' (initiation into the world of letters) ceremonies have been held in the mosque in the Hindu style.