Did Periyar embrace Islam?

Published: 29th April 2013 08:07 AM  |   Last Updated: 29th April 2013 08:07 AM   |  A+A-


Islathai Periyar Etraara? Edhirthaara? is a film that aims to give a new perspective to the concept of Islam.

In the film, a preview of which was screened in the city recently, Abdullah Periyardhasan delivers details of his research about Periyar’s beliefs towards Islam. The film unfolds in a question and answer format. A set of individuals ask questions about Periyardhasan’s respect for Islam and he responds to those questions based on the information collected from the 20 volumes of ‘Periyar E Ve Ra Sindhanaigal’ which was brought out by Ve Aanaimuthu in 2009.

E V Ramasamy, who is fondly called as ‘Thanthai Periyar’, was a leader who fought for the upliftment of backward classes in Tamil Nadu. He, being an aethist, propagated principles of rationalism through his movement Dravidar Kazhagam.

Periyardhasan, whose real name is Seshachalam, was born in a Saivite family. He was inspired by Periyar’s rationalist thoughts and changed his name to Periyardhasan. A little later, he converted to Buddhism and a couple of years ago, he converted to Islam. Later, he joined the MDMK.

Periyar’s inclination towards Islam, starting from 1923 to 1973 and his efforts to eradicate social descrimination are brought out in the film. “Though Periyar has changed his stand in various issues at times, he has supported the principles of Islam”, says Periyardhasan.

“Periyar opposed only the gods created by man and not the god who created mankind. He supported Islam because it is a religion that believes god created the man,” he adds.

The film throws light on various issues such as the opinion of Periyar on wearing burkha, and how one’s caste discrimination will change if they convert from one religion to other. The film also focuses on  whether changing of religion affected the ‘Dravidian’ image and if Periyar accepted Mohammad as a final prophet and got converted to Islam.

“We welcome alternative thoughts or criticisms on this documentary,” he says. Speaking at the screening of the film, director Ameer said, “We need to take this film across the State even if there are any differences in opinion.”   According to the members of Islamic Dawah and Research Centre, the organisation behind the film, the documentary will be shown in all district headquarters will finally be released in Chennai. The 90-minute film is directed by Sibi Chander.

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