Riyadh: Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Sunday gifted Saudi King Salman bin Abdulaziz a gold-plated replica of Kerala’s Cheraman Juma Masjid, believed to be the first mosque built in India by Arab traders around 629 AD.
“PM @narendramodi gifted His Majesty King Salman bin Abdulaziz Al Saud a gold-plated replica of the Cheraman Juma Masjid in Kerala,” the prime minister’s office tweeted.
The mosque in Karala’s Thrissur district is believed to be the first mosque built in India by Arab traders around 629 AD.
“Cheraman Juma Masjid is symbolic of active trade relations between India and Saudi Arabia since ancient times,” it said.
According to oral tradition, Cheraman Perumal was the Chera King and a contemporary of the Holy Prophet who went to Arabia and embraced Islam after meeting the Holy Prophet at Mecca, the PMO said.
Before he died in Oman due to some illness on the way back to India, he wrote letters asking the local rulers, to whom he had handed over his empire, to extend all help they could to Arab merchants who were planning to visit India.
The mosque has an ancient oil lamp that is always kept burning and believed to be over a thousand years old. People from all religions bring oil for the lamp as an offering.
Many believe that the mosque is a testimony to Islam’s arrival to India long before the Mughals came in from the northwest.
Modi, who is on a two-day visit to Saudi Arabia, was today received at the Royal Court here by King Salman.
He is the fourth Indian Prime Minister to visit Saudi Arabia after Manmohan Singh in 2010, Indira Gandhi in 1982 and Jawaharlal Nehru in 1956.