Maldives Minicoy Mahl Dhivehi
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There was a Maldives

Composed on 10 October 1986

There was a Maldives before the saint of Tabriz

Who in history was lavishly praised.

There was a Maldives before the time of any kateeb

Off the coast of Sarandeeb.

There was a Maldives with sea shells and ocean breeze

Before the creed of the Buddha was preached.

There was a Maldives that was known for the demons of old

In ancient South Indian folklore.

But there was one thing strange with those times

And thatís how they lived with no judges, jails or crimes!

Authorís Annotation:

The "Saint of Tabriz" was the person who converted the twelfth century Maldive King Siri Bavanaadheettha (also known as Dovemi Kalaminja or Dharumavantha Rasgefaanu) of the Lunar Dynasty from Buddhism to Islam. The Tarikh calls the "saint" Yoosuf Shamsuddine of Tabriz, a city in Iran. Ibn Battuta, a fourteenth century Moorish traveller of Berber descent called him Abul Barakat el-Berberi (the Berber), quoting an inscription in Maléís main mosque, which he had seen. He may have been keen to make the saint his fellow countryman. The inscription that Ibn Battuta saw had survived until the twentieth century in the same mosque. Mohamed Ibrahim Lutfi, a historian and Arabic scholar feels that the inscription reads Abul Rikab el-Tabrizi (of Tabriz). Lutfi feels that the usually meticulous Ibn Battuta may be excused for his apparent error, because misplaced diacritical marks in the Arabic-script might have resulted in Ibn Battutaís transcription. I am inclined to agree with Lutfi.

Kateeb in Arabic literally means "one who makes a speech". In the Maldives the chief administrative official of the State in outlying islands is called kateeb. There were kateebs in Malé too, but they were purely ecclesiastical functionaries who read sermons from the pulpit in mosques. Currently the latter are called imams.

Sarandeeb was what Mediaeval Arab traders called Sri Lanka.

Judges (fandiyaaru or gazi) in the Maldives, until the 1970ís, were resident only in Malé. The judicial officers in other islands were

                  
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