There are about 8 million Muslims in Kerala and the experts will tell you that it will be difficult to find anyone who is not already attached to a Muslim organization. Kerala is full of competing Muslim religious, social, and political organizations that are very active in the state.
Kerala has long history of Muslim organizations. Many organizations were formed during the turn of the last century when community leaders realized that the community was lagging behind in social and economic front.
Samastha office in Calicut
Some of the prominent Muslim organizations are:
Samastha Kerala Jam’eyyat ul-Ulama : Popularly known as Samastha is the largest Muslim organization of Kerala. It was established in 1924 by Kerala Muslim Aikya Sangham. This organizations represent the traditional ulema of Kerala who are fiercely opposed to the ‘Wahabi ideology.’ It runs an excellent system of Madrasa education throughout Kerala and a few outside the state as well.
Indian Union Muslim League: IUML also has its origin in Aikya Sangham. Sangham leader K.M. Seethi Sahib was the founder leader of Muslim League in Kerala. Seethi sahib was the leader of Congress but by 1934 he was in Muslim League camp. He brought with him many of his supporters to the ML. Since winning a seat in 1934, Muslim League has firmly established itself in Kerala politics.
IUML banner for the Lok Sabha 2009 election
Muslim League never indulged in communal politics in Kerala and even though it championed the cause of Muslims but always positioned itself as a secular party.
Jamaat-e-Islami Hind: JIH’s Kerala unit is the most active unit of the organization established in 1941 by Syed Abul Ala Maududi. JIH runs a number of organizations in the state- Students Islamic Organisation, Girls Islamic Organisation, Solidarity Youth Movement. Jamaat publishes Madhyamam, a prominent daily newspaper in Malayalam, Prabodhanam, a weekly magazine among others. Jamaat also has a very active women’s cell in the state.
Kerala Nadwathul Mujahideen: This organization also find its origin in Kerala Muslim Aikya Sangham. It was officially formed in 1950 and is affiliated to the All India Ahl-e-Hadith. Mujahid movement runs a number off madrasas and Arabic Colleges. Mujahid group was one of the first Muslim organization to encourage education of girls.
Popular Front’s ad in Malappuram
A number of new Muslim organizations have come up recently showing the restlessness among the Muslim youth. Political conservatism of Muslim League has led to the establishment of new groups e.g. Political Front of India, Abdul Nasser Madani’s Peoples Democratic Party(PDP).
Though these organizations are bitterly competitive but always come together for the benefit of the community on issues affecting the Muslims. A globalized Islamophobia is also affecting the thousand years old inter-community relations in Kerala and Muslims here are feeling the heat. Hindutva groups are very active here and making inroads in Kerala society.