How King Dirty Hassan met his fate


28 January 2010

Mullah President Genaral Maumoon Gayoom
This is a historical photograph, first made public by this web site. This photo is in no way related to the article on this page
'..... the throne of the Maldives isn't something I should just give away and forget about, don't you think, Vizir?', asked ex-King Dirty Hassan. He then promised to take back the throne. The burning pain in his leg began once again. Although cooling medications were applied, there was no relief. He screamed continuously and couldn't sit or lie down.

Now listen!

"When King Mohamed the Learned died leaving a daughter, the chief mullah and judge usurped the throne. For reasons that will be recounted later, he was called King Dirty Hassan.

Dirty Hassan decided to go to Arabia to attend the Haj. He wanted to build a fighting ship so he organised the construction at the middle sand spit on the northern side of Malé. He brought carpenters from the north and laid a fifty foot keel. The vessel completed, the carpenters were sent back to their islands. Then the boat was launched and an awning erected over the deck.

The king informed the regiments of his intention to travel to Arabia. 'In whose care are you leaving the responsibilities of the monarchy?' they asked. 'In the care of my son,' pronounced king Dirty Hassan.

When the nobles and high officials had approved this, Hassan continued with preparations for the journey. During the next auspicious month, on an auspicious day, the warship was launched. Crewmen, boatswain and head crewman were assigned before loading food, water and other provisions. On an auspicious day, Hassan departed on his journey. After bidding him farewell, the crown prince returned to the palace with the two regiments.

When King Dirty Hassan arrived in Arabia, he found he had missed that year's Haj season. Even if I survived the journey back, I'd have to return for the next Haj season, he thought. So it would be better if I stayed here until then.

This is partly satire and is based on an old oral history of the Maldives as told by Buraara Koi and translated by Michael O'Shea and Fareesha Abdulla in consultation with the editor of this web site. It is satire because some people may be able to draw humorous parallels with current events in the Maldives. Any parallels with a person, persons or living relics are purely coincidental and unintended. The editor apologises profusely should there be any similarities.

While he was waiting for the next Haj, king Dirty Hassan decided to overthrow the Shareef of Mecca on behalf of his son in Malé. To accomplish the task, he began to hire strong men with the goods he had brought in his ship and told them they must be prepared to follow his orders when the time came. While organising this plot, Hassan became impressed with the Bedouin way of life and the great things they did - like attacking any wealthy people who crossed their path and seizing their goods before killing and eating them. Cannibalism seemed to be a very important part of the whole thing. The king was still with the Bedouin when the new Haj season arrived. He performed the Haj rituals and then paid for the blessings of further seventy Haj pilgrimages. With the money left over, he bought seventy slaves and returned with them to the Maldives.

King Dirty Hassan Haji arrived back in Malé and immediately dismissed seventy male servants from the palace, replacing them with his new slaves. He had to find a place for these new people to live, so he built a house for them on a large piece of land between Veyodhorhu Palace and the mosque to the west of the three mosques built by King Dharumavantha (this was roughly where the president’s office now stands). When the house was completed the slaves moved in.

With the approach of the fasting month, the king sent for the atoll chiefs and other wealthy people. They arrived and asked about the purpose of the meeting they'd been summoned to. 'I have called you here to find a way to feed the slaves each night during the fasting month’. 'How can we help with that?' they wanted to know. 'From the time of the sighting of the fasting month's new moon until the end of the month, I want you to cook a pot of twenty kilos of rice each day. Then bring the pot and seventy drinking coconuts here every night.' They all agreed and then made their way out of the palace. As they walked along, their discussions continued. They realised that if they went their own separate ways then nothing had really been organised, so they all stopped at the public square. There they assigned a day for each one of them to do the cooking. They wrote it all down on paper and took it home, repeating the procedure every evening at sunset during the fasting month.

There is an ancient tradition that when it is the monsoon, the trading vessels are launched and they sail to Bengal. Then they return and beach the vessels and keep them under shelter until the next sailing season. Whenever the new season approached, the captains of the odis and dhoanis would officially inform the king that the Bengal sailing season was arriving. Thus was King Dirty Hassan Haji informed of the new season and he said, 'start preparing the odis now, before the season begins.'

The captains organised the crewmen and on an auspicious day the preparations began. When everything was ready, they informed the king who then gave the order to ascertain an appropriate day for the launchings. The person responsible for this told the king he intended to launch his boat the very next day. The king gave his assent and the two regiments were told of the decision. The king also ordered his seventy slaves to help as well. 'Since you are now in Malé, you must help the people of this island. Tomorrow the odi bound for Bengal will be launched and you must all be there.'

Next day as the slaves walked to the odi launching area, the regiments were already waiting. Seeing the slaves approach, one of the soldiers remarked, 'Isn't it the case, gentlemen, that our ruler brought Negro slaves from Arabia who don't even have the strength of a piece of palm frond?' The slaves heard this and as they approached, they identified the man who had said it.

After the recitation of a prayer, the odi was heaved forward. As it moved, the slaves threw the man who had made the insulting remark against the ramp, crushing his body with the boat and mashing him into a tangle of bones, blood and skin.

Everyone, from toddlers up, talked about this event and eventually the chief judge heard the news. Then witnesses came forward and told him what happened. Seeraazee Fandiyaru Kaleygefan (chief judge and native of Shiraz in Persia) went to the palace to speak with the king. 'Your Majesty, after what those seventy slaves of yours have done today, they must be punished.' 'Why? What have they done?' asked the king. 'They threw a man against the ramp and crushed him to pieces with the odi they were launching,' replied the judge. 'Shouldn't they be punished for that?' 'That man simply met his ultimate fate,' said the king, adding that he approved of the customs of the Negroes bought from the Bedouin Arab tribesmen he had bought as slaves. 'If they aren't punished in some way, they won't respect the people of this island,' argued the judge. 'They will be able to intimidate everyone!' 'The man met his ordained fate,' repeated the king. 'There's nothing we can do about it.' 'A crime has been committed by men who you yourself have brought to this island,' retorted the judge. 'You are at least partly responsible for what has happened.'

The discussion became a heated argument. The king's anger grew and he summoned the slaves and ordered them to wrap the judge in cotton, soak him in oil and set him alight. The seventy slaves held the judge down and did as they were told. 'Now the judge will experience the pain and suffering he has been complaining about,' they said among themselves. The judge began to recite all the holy things he knew as he ran around in flames. In the end, the cotton and oil burnt away but his body was left untouched.

At that time in Malé there were seven holy men from where fakir’s came. They arrived at the palace to meet the king. Hearing what happened, they also began debating the matter with the king, the same as the judge had done. The king was still angry after his encounter with the judge so he was even more furious with the fakirs! He ordered the seventy slaves to kill them. His men began to chase the holy men who were running as fast as they could while reciting the Koran starting with the chapter Cow. They ran in every direction but the slaves eventually caught and killed them all.

When the more junior scholars heard about this, they decided the same thing would happen to them if they argued with the king, so they remained silent. However, once the king's anger subsided, they went to see him. 'Your Majesty, you must think about what you have done or you'll suffer for it!'

But the king sent for blacksmiths and ordered them to heat a heavy weight until it was red hot. When the metal began to sparkle, the king placed it on his own thighs and said that even if his suffering was as painful as this, he would still be able to bear it.

Dirty Hassan Haji felt the heat in his leg and then an intense burning pain in both legs so severe he couldn't sit or lie down. He kept tossing and turning and screaming. Nothing provided relief. The nobles and high officials ordered the two regiments to construct a pool in the palace grounds. Still in his bed, the king was placed in the pool but it seemed to bring no relief. After a while, the water in the pool even warmed up a little so the nobles and high officials ordered the two regiments to dig a well close to the pool. Several soldiers were ordered to pour cold water from this well into the pool containing the king. But even that brought no relief to his burning pain. The king made a vow to perform a good deed if his suffering was somehow eased. Only then did a remedy begin to work. Some medication was applied, the king began to feel better. The men who had poured the water from the well into the pool, were called arh thaarafai hifaneen or bearers of the eight pails of water and this was later abbreviated to atthaarafanin.

After recovering, the king abdicated and placed his son on the throne. The young man was given the title of King Veeru Umar and official notification went throughout the kingdom. This was the vow the old king had made.

It was a long time later, when King Veeru Umar was at Friday prayer, that his father Dirty Hassan Haji approached a viewing pavilion above the street, where the chief minister stood. He watched his son returning to the palace from prayer and commented to the minister, 'Even though he's my son, the throne of the Maldives isn't something I should just give away and forget about, don't you think?' He then promised to take back the throne from his son.

The burning pain in his leg began once again. Although cooling medications were applied, there was no relief. He wouldn't change his mind! He screamed continuously and couldn't sit or lie down. Finally, Dirty Hassan Haji died.

People hated the way he had ruled as king. They changed his name - shortening the vowel on the 'h', and replacing the 'j' with 'd', and calling him Hassan Hadi which means Hassan the Dirty.

When Dirty Hassan died, drums were beaten and the two regiments summoned. His body was washed, dressed in cotton and placed in a coffin. But the coffin began to fall apart and the learned men advised the king to construct a new coffin from stone. King Veeru Umar took this advice and ordered the construction of a stone casket which was finished that same day. When the body went into the new coffin and the poles and ropes were attached to carry it to the gravesite, the learned men advised the king to bury the body some distance away from graves of other deceased kings. Once again, the advice was followed. They took the dead king to be buried in the wild scrub woods on the Lonuziyaaraiykolhu end of Malé. Before they reached their intended burial site, the ropes hoisting the coffin burnt out and the casket fell to the ground. There it remained in the middle of what is now Sosun Magu well past the junction of Majeedi Magu until it was removed in the 1960s and cast into the Vadu channel.

Old Seerazee judge from Shiraz lived to a ripe old age, just like any good shiraz does. The street he lived on was named Seeraazi Goalhi (Shiraz Gully) and his house was named Seeraazeege. One may be excused for thinking if history is about to repeat in some way.

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