Thursday, 1 December 2011

Kamala Suraiya: A great life, A greater death

Kamala Suraiya lived a great life, and her death was greater still.
Thousands participated in the funeral of the great writer at the Palayam Juma Masjid, in Thiruvananthapuram on Tuesday, 2nd June. Imam Moulavi Jamaludheen Mankada led the prayer. Prominent leaders of all walks of life were present.
Her body was brought to Palayam in the early hours of the day. Her daughters-in-law Lakshmi and Devi too joined in everything along with the Muslim women. Her grieving daughters-in-law along with their children whole heartedly witnessed the namaz offered by women. The body was taken to the Masjid at 8.15 AM, amidst the heavy crowd that was pouring in. Kamala Suraiya’s sons M.D. Nalappattu, Chinnan Das and Jayasurya were present in the forefront, along with family-friend Murukan. As the Imam commenced the Janazah Prayer, they joined the thousands in the plea to the Almighty, for the salvation of the deceased.
Sons and in-laws received the body at the graveyard too. Kerala’s literary, cultural and political leaders were present along with several pominent religious leaders. After the body was placed in the grave, eldest son, Nalappatt threw a handful of sand over it, as the crowd followed suit.
People continued offering handfuls of sand as well as flowers as per they wished. And it went on for a very long time.
Nalappatt later welcomed the approach of the Muslim community. He said that they had thought that they would have to leave their mother to Muslims. But, all fears became baseless within five minutes of entering the Palayam Juma Masjid. They were the ones who did everything along with the Muslims. Even though taking part in all the funeral activities for the first time, Nalappatt says he never felt any strangeness. More than everything else, what happened in the Palayam Masjid on Tuesday did really open the eyes of many people. It has given a great message to Kerala, he added.
Kamala Surayya left this world on 31st May in Pune. Her body was then brought to Kerala. It was taken to Thrisur, Kochi, Alappuzha and Kollam before reaching Thiruvananthapuram. On Monday night, it was kept at the V.J.T. Hall in Thiruvananthapuram for the public to see. Friends and fans alike crowded to have a last glimpse of dear Aamy. Chief Minister V.S. Achuthanandan also came to pay his last respects to the great poetess.

Palayam Juma Masjid, Palayam, Thiruvananthapuram

The history of the Palayam Mosque at Trivandrum dates back to 1813 AD, when the British Indian Second Regiment was stationed here. It was then constructed as a small mosque (Pattalappalli), with an open place for 'ld' prayers. Later in 1824 A.D. when the sixth regiment was posted here its officers bought up the land appointed a Quazl and entrusted the Muazin the documents of the mosque. In 1848 AD, when the sixteenth regiment came here its Jamadaars and Havildars did considerable improvements to the mosque including the construction of a gate and arrangements for the maintenance and upkeep of the mosque building. When, subsequently other regiments were stationed here, its officers brought about further changes and improvements. Thus the mosque is nearly 200 years old. Later, in 1960's many philanthropic businessmen and government officials of Trivandrum took up renovation of the mosque and constructed the present day Palayam Juma Masjid under the leadership of the then Qazi and Imam Moulavi Sheikh Abul Hassan Ali Noori and the Juma Masjid was inaugurated by the then President of India Dr.Zakir Hussain in 1967. Sheikh Abul Hassan Ali Noori (1921-2011), a freedom fighter, multilingual scholar and the first Imam of Palayam Juma Masjid served here for close to two decades (1959-1979), helped elevate to its present-day status from a ‘pattalappalli’, during his tenure as Imam. Sheikh Abul Hassan Ali was born in 1921 in Thenkassi. He had his schooling in Rajapalayam, and did his graduation in Tanjavur. He left for Burma for his post graduation. After that, he became a teacher in Rangoon. He was proficient in nine languages including Arabic, Urdu, Persian, Malay and Burmese. In 1942, he became active in the Quit India Movement in Uttar Pradesh and Delhi. He became an Imam in Thenkasi in 1952. From 1959 onwards, close to two decades, he was the imam at the Palayam Juma Masjid. A noted orator, social reformer and teacher, he also entertained a progressive outlook, championing women’s education, criticising the dowry system and promoting interest free banking. Launched 'darul amanath'- an interest free micro finance system in 1970, under his guidance. The author of several books, he also has several cassettes on Quran recitals.