While going through the tourist attractions of Madurai, the second largest city of Tamilnadu, India, you will find the “Kazimar Big Mosque” as one of them in the third place, next to Meenakshi Temple and Thirumalai Nayakar Mahal. You may wonder what a Mosque or Masjid, which is a place of worship, exclusively for the Muslim community, has to do with tourists. The answer is Kazimar Big Mosque (or Periya Pallivasal - popularly known as in Tamil) has something special and has attained monumental status in its existence for 750 years, as one of the landmarks of Madurai.
Pallivasal or a Masjid finds a place in almost every town, small or big, in Tamilnadu where the local Muslims assemble to conduct prayers everyday, at the scheduled times as per their religious order. (Muslims are following religious discipline rigorously wherever they are, without exception}. But this Periya Pallivasal in Madurai is serving as the chief place of worship, not only for local Muslims, but for the entire Tamilnadu State as well. The Imam or Moulvi (priest) of this Masjid, known as Kaziyar, is appointed as the Kazi (Religious Leader) of Government of Tamilnadu.
In all the matters concerning the Muslim community in the State, the Kazi has the final say. The Government is declaring Muslim Holidays only in consultation with the Kazi, as the Muslim Calendar is based on the movement of Planet Moon and differs from the general calendar.
Looking into the history of Kazimar Big Mosque of Madurai, it dates back to 13th century. Hazrat Kazi Syed Tajudin, who came from Oman in the South East Asian countries, received the land where the present Masjid is situated, as donation from the then Pandya King of Madurai – Koon Pandiyan. (This shows the communal harmony prevailing in those days between religions and the generosity of Pandya Kings, who were Hindus).
In the Muslim religious custom, Saints and noble men, who sacrifice their life for the service of the people, are considered as the Loved Ones of Allah. They are revered as Waliyullahs and the holy graves of these sacred human beings are known as Holy Dargah or Maqbara. This way the Madurai Maqbara or Dargah of three Sulfi (a Muslim sect) Saints – Sheikh Hazrat Mir Ahmed Ibrahim Rahmatullah (Periya Hazrat); Sheikh Hazrat Mir Amjad Ibrahim Rahmatullah (Chinna Hazrat and younger brother of Periya Hazrat); and Syed Abdus Salaam Ibrahim Rahmatullah (Saalim Hazrat – elder son of Chinna Hazrat) – are inside the Kazimar Big Mosque.
Because of this, Muslims consider praying in this Mosque will be special, as the above Saints have performed miracles during their time. You will see people from other religions also have faith in these Dargahs, to bring redressal to their grievances (Nagoor Dargah in Nagapattinam District, Tamilnadu, is another example).
Local people believe that Muslim elders coming out of the Mosque, after their evening prayers, are more effective in this healing-power and wait for them with their infants in hand, to have these elders blow breathing air on them. Faith moves mountains, is it not?
Location: Centre of Madurai City; walkable distance of 500 meters from Periyar Central Bus Stand; within 1 kilometer on the South East of Madurai Railway Junction (Auto:Rs.25)
Timings: Mosque is open for prayers by Muslims from 5.30 am to 9.30 pm.
Madurai is a prominent pilgrimage center, situated 498 Kms (308 miles) south-west of Chennai (formerly Madras), the capital of Tamilnadu State.