Tuhfat al-Mujahidin (“Tribute to the Strugglers”) is one of the earliest extant historical treatises about the southern Indian state of Kerala. Its author, the sixteenth-century Shaikh Zainuddin Makhdum, hailed from the renowned Makhdum family of the town of Ponnani in Malabar, northern Kerala. This family traced its descent to migrants from Yemen, who played a leading role in the spread of Islam in southern India. Following in the footsteps of many of his forefathers, Shaikh Zainuddin rose to become a leading Islamic scholar. He spent ten years studying in Makkah, where he also joined the Qadiriyya order. On his return to his native Malabar, he spent almost four decades teaching at the central mosque in Ponnani, then a major centre for Islamic studies in southern India. He also served as the envoy of the Zamorins, the Hindu rulers of Calicut, to Egypt and Turkey.