Before the message of Islam came to the people of south asia majority of them were either Buddhist or Hindus or some other vedic religion. Many of them would convert to Buddhism to escape the unjust caste system. Before Prophet Muhammad (ﷺ), the Arab and Desis (south asians) had good relationships and trade. Arab traders would visit the Malabar region and Gujarat coast. Arabs would often sail and trade goods such as spices, gold, and more.
Cheraman Perumal Bhaskara Ravi Varma was the king of Kerala at the time who saw a new moon splitting in half. The astrologers in his court could not provide an answer to the unusual event. When a group of Muslim Arabs were on there way to Ceylon they met Cheraman and he told them about the incident. They explained it was a miracle of the Prophet Muhammad. Just as the Quran mentions in Surah Al-Qamar Ayat 1-3:
"The Hour has come near, and the moon has split [in two]. And if they see a sign, they turn away, and say: "This is continuous magic."And they denied and followed their inclinations. But for every matter is a [time of] settlement."
When Cheraman heard these verses from the Quran, he was convinced that Islam was the truth. He wanted to embrace Islam so he traveled to Medina to meet the Prophet Muhammad(ﷺ). His journey was kept a secret and he divided his kingdom as territories to many chieftains to make sure that there wouldn't be any chaos while he was gone. When he arrived to Medina, he ended up meeting the Prophet and converted to Islam and even changed his name to Tajuddeen. He then sent letters to his chieftains to accept Islam and to learn about Islam from Malik ibn Dinar (رضي الله عنه).
While Tajuddeen was traveling back to India with Malik ibn Dinar (رضي الله عنه), he died on his way in Dhufar, Oman. As the rest of the group got there they were welcomed because the king of Musiris had received the letter. He then helped them to build the first Masjid (mosque) in south asia. Malik ibn Dinar (رضي الله عنه) and his crew resided in Kerala and even passed away there.
- Masud ul Hasan. History of Islam. Lahore: Ashfaq Mirza.
- Al-khateeb, Firas. "Lost Islamic HISTORY | Bringing BACK Islamic History." Web. 3 July 2015.