FROM MATRILINY TO PATRILINY: A STUDY OF THE DECLINE OF MARUMAKKATHAYAM AMONG MALABAR MUSLIMS By Dr. P.Musthafa Farook

Marumakkathayam is a peculiar social institution which was practiced in Kerala society during the medieval period. The social, economic and cultural aspects of the contemporary life of the period were influenced by this system. The emergence of feudalism, the predominance of Brahmins in the social hierarchy, absence of social mobility and political fragmentation were the developments that coincided with this system. The institution was the inheritance and succession through the sister’s children in the female line tracing descent from a common ancestress. A large group of people descended from a female living together in a tarawad or ancestral house is the basic unit of this system. The Nairr community who were the traditional warriors of the Kerala rulers practiced this system widely. From them many communities including Mappilas copied it down and reorganized life and system of inheritance according to it. However, the marumakkathayam began to disintegrate at the beginning of twentieth century. During this period, as free trade and cash crop economy developed, Mappilas began to acquire personal property by their individual efforts which they gave to their wives and children. The idea gained momentum among the Mappilas, as in the case of other communities, that such self-acquired property of a man should go to his wife and children, rather than to his matrilineal tharawad.

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