Islam is believed to have come to the Western coast of India as early as the 7th century AD when Arab traders came to coastal Malabar and the Konkan-Gujarat coast. The historical Cheraman Juma masjid in Kerala is thought to be the very first mosque to be built in India in 629 AD and descendants of the earlier Arab Muslims are still believed to be living here.
The Kazimar Big Mosque also known as Kazimar Periya Pallivasal was the first mosque in Madurai, founded by Hazarat Kazi Syed Tajuddin, believed to be a direct descendent of prophet Mohamed. He had come from Oman during the 13th Century and received land from King Kulasekara Pandiyan to build this ancient mosque.
The mosque can accommodate around 2500 people; within its premises the mosque houses the Madurai Maqbara and the dargah (shrine built over the grave of a revered religious figure) of well-known Madurai Hazrats (Hazrat Meer Ahamad Ibrahim, Hazrat Meer Amjad Ibrahim, Hazrat Syed Abdus Salaam Ibrahim Rahmatullahi Alaihim, who are also direct descendants of the prophet Muhammad). It also has the Hazarat Kazi Syed Tajuddin Arabi Madrasasa (school) which teaches basic Arabic to around 120 students.
All Syeds follow the Sunni sect of the Moslim religion; all the descendants of Kazi Syed Tajuddin are known as the Huqdars (shareholders), with there being as many as 450 huqdars of this mosque! The managing body of the Kazimar mosque is chosen from among the huqdars. From the time of Hazrat Kazi Sayed Tajuddin (13th century), it’s the huqdars of the mosque who are being appointed as Kazis of Madurai for the government of Tamil Nadu. The present Government Kazi of Madurai, Moulana A. Syed Khaja Mueenuddeen, is also a huqdar of this mosque and a direct descendant of Kazi Syed Tajuddin. The service of presiding over the daily prayers and Friday sermons are also conducted by the descendants of the founder Hazrat Qazi Syed Tajuddin, right from his era till the present day! An awesome continuation of history...
It is also interesting that for more than 700 years, the descendants of Kazi Syed Tajuddin have been dwelling in the same Kazimar Street which is located close to the mosque. These descendants of Kazi Syed Tajuddin have been managing Kazimar Big Mosque from the day of its establishment. And it’s believed that presiding over the daily prayers and Friday sermons is a right of only the descendants of the founder of the mosque.
The Big Mosque apart from being a religious place is also an architectural marvel and is just 800 metres south-west of the famous Meenakshi Temple, 500 meters to the Central Bus stand and within a kilometre of Madurai Junction Railway station.