Foreground- right was the site
of the maulood pavilion in Malé now demolished
under pressure from fundamentalist mullahs. That was
where Andiri Andirin ("Goa Kalhu Faranji")
mother's chandelier and helped himself to a plate
of maulood rice.
The partially-finished minaret and the Hukuru Miskit
mosque remains. The old Hukuru Miskit was probably
built on the foundations of a pre-Islamic temple.
This is betrayed by the fact that the mosque is aligned
to the cardinal points of the compass rather than
the direction of Mecca
here for samples of maulood lyrics
including Baiy Fathun and Fathun mammaa,
mauloodh in the Maldives was sung mainly in Arabic, in praise of
the Prophet Mohamed. The ritual was probably influenced by Shiism
and Sufism. The Shia who practise Shiism are followers of Mohamed's
grandson Hussain ibn Ali. Maldivians, by and large, are now Sunnis
who are followers of those who assassinated Hussain ibn Ali. The
Maulood was never totally approved of by the official Sunni clergy
of the Maldives.
time of the monarchy, the kings, nobles and civil officers kept
the Islamic clergy in check. Without these traditional checks and
balances, the clergy and the more radical, foreign-inspired fundamentalist
missionaries are on the rampage, imposing their will on most walks
of life in the Maldives.
Permission given for the
"Hassan Fareed went missing during the month of Rabeeul
Aakhir 1363 H. [March/April 1944]. He had completely prohibited
mauloodh ceremonies from all the Maldive islands when he first
assumed power. For about eight years, the mauloodh was not
heard and then, when Hassan Fareed died, Ameen Didi permitted
the ceremonies again. Everyone was very happy to be holding
the mauloodh again."
Source: Manik, Abdul Hakeem
Hussein, Yesterday (Iyye), Maldives, Novelty Press
1997, p. 20. Translated by Fareesha Abdullah and Michael O'Shea,
From 1153 until 1557 the official
sect of the Maldive Sharia law was the Maliki school of Sunnism.
From 1573 the official sect practised by Maldive Sharia courts is
based on the Shafii school of Sunnism. There have always been an
undercurrent of Shiism in the form of folk rituals until finally
suppressed in the late 20th Century by the Sunni clergy.
the 1990s there were professional choirs of maulood singers who
performed the ritual in private homes for either food or money.
Island communities raised funds for an annual performance on a communal
basis. The government in Male celebrated certain occasions with
a maulood recital.
appears to be suppressed at the moment under the influence of Wahhabi
fundamentalism funded by various conservative Arab regimes and al-Qaeda
type missionary organisations.
foreign visitors to the Maldives had the following to say about
‘Mohamed died at noon
on the 12th day of Rabi-ulawwal on the 11th
year of the Hijra. The 1st, 4th, 8th,
and 12th of this month are observed as mauloodh
at the Maldives.’ -H. C. P. Bell.
Following the Thiladummathi
Rebellion of 1943, a Borah merchant in Male A.M. Tayyabally
wrote to the British government in Ceylon:
"Certain tribe known as Kurdukuri (Kulhudhuffurhi
- ed) united against government. Kaverkuris (Huvarafurhi
- ed) joined them.
"....began saying Maulood prayers
which are forbidden."
The British Government promptly banned
travel from its territories to the Maldives:
"Order that no person to travel to the Maldives Islands
from Ceylon without written permission from the Chief Secretary"
The British Government was being mindful
of its undertaking in the letter from its Governor in Ceylon
Sir Arthur Hamilton Gordon to His Highness the Sultan Mohamed
Mueenuddine II dated 23 December 1887:
“I engage in Her Majesty’s name to interfere in no manner
in the local affairs of the Maldive Islands, in either the
framing or the administration of the laws, or in any other
matter of purely internal concern nor will I allow anyone
under any authority so to meddle.”
from Public Records Office London, CO/54/981/3
François Pyrard, , (1570-1621), translated
by Albert Grey, assisted by H.C.P. Bell, The Voyage of François
Pyrard de Laval to the East Indies, the Maldives, the Moluccas,
and Brazil, New York, Burt Franklin 1888, 1937, pp. 146-150.
is yet another very solemn festival about the month of October,
which takes place at night, and is called mauloodh;
they say it is the night whereon their prophet Mohamed died.
This is the ceremony: they begin a
month before the festival, by meeting to elect officers to
make arrangements and to supervise; these number at least
fifty, all men of quality, and act as our festival organisers.
Their duty is to go from house to house collecting from every
man the sum at which he is rated, according to his means;
they go also to ask people to take part, and to arrange everything;
though, indeed, the people of the parish fail not all to assist
at this festival, which is diligently observed in all islands.
At Malè, I have seen it performed
at six places. The king bears the expense of one celebration,
which takes place at his palace. At the four corners of the
island it is celebrated by the people in their several parishes,
and one general celebration for all the people is held in
the middle of the island, in front of the principal temple.
At each of the six places is erected
for the occasion a wooden house, sixty feet long by forty
broad, or thereabouts; the roof is of coco-branches; the wood
of which it is constructed must not have been, nor may in
the future be, used for any other purpose, not even for the
festival the following year. The ground is covered with fine
white sand to the depth of half a foot. This house within
is hung with cotton or silk cloths of all colours, and of
the finest and richest description available. Above, to serve
for a ceiling, they stretch pieces of cotton cloth, very white
and very fine, and to support them they run cotton cords,
dyed black, from side to side at right angles and aslant,
so cleverly that the white above seems to be cut into squares
and lozenges of exactly the same size: it is very neat.
On the sand wherewith the ground is
covered they spread pretty new mats, on which each one sits,
and there are no other seats. On all sides are hung copper
lamps to the number of about thirty; each is large and has
two wicks, so that it is almost as bright as daylight. By
contrivances with air-holes, odorous perfumes are introduced
within, though burnt without, for the heat of the place of
itself is well-nigh insupportable: only the fumes and the
odour come within. There are other conduits, too, for they
often wash their mouths by way of refreshment after chewing
betel, which they do the whole night long.
In the middle of this hall there is
a table of the height of the knees, whereon are arranged little
wicker baskets, and polished lacquer vessels containing diverse
kinds of cakes made of rice flour with coco-sugar, like little
macaroons, of the thickness of the thumb: these are excellently
well served with all kinds of native fruits. The table is
covered with sweet-smelling flowers, while all around are
jars containing drinks of different mixtures, chiefly flavoured
with ambergris and musk. The whole is covered over with a
large cotton cloth worked with a coloured pattern.
The people rig themselves out in their
bravest style; but only the men and boys are present, and
no women. The men of quality of the parish do not go, for
it would be beneath their dignity; it is a feast of the common
folk. They assemble at eight o’clock in the evening, and sit
in places assigned to them, according to their rank, by the
stewards of the festival.
All night long the chief judge, island chiefs,
naibs, and mudhims, with all the rest of the clergy,
and other good singers, cease not to chant with all their might
in alternation like a choir; nor is their chanting without rule,
for some of them who know not how to sing have to take lessons from
a master: so the harmony is good, and the singing far from disagreeable.
They call this chanting zikuru, and say they are the Psalms
of David (Zaboor)
Psalms of David are well-known even among remote Moslem communities
(Mungo park, Travels, c. xi). Compare the quaint account
of Lancaster taking his leave of the Sultan of Acheh :– ‘And
when the general took his leave, the king said to him, "Have
you the Psalms of David extant among you?"
general answered, "Yes, and we sing them daily."
the king said, "I and the rest of these nobles about
me will sing a Psalm to God for your prosperity." And
so they did very solemnly.
it was ended the king said, "I would hear you sing another
Psalm, in your own language."
there being in the company some twelve of us, we sang another
Psalm, and after the Psalm was ended the general took his
leave of the king.’
Lancaster’s Voyages, Hakluyt Society)
On the stroke of midnight everybody with
one accord lies down at full length with his face to the ground,
and so remains for a space of time. Then of a sudden the chief judge
or the island chiefs stand up, and all the rest of them, and set
a-leaping upon each other as they were madmen or lunatics, crying
at the top of their voices, ‘Aly alas Mahomedin’,
again and again, this lasts for some time. I have inquired of them
why they do this, and they asking ‘What?’ and I replying, ‘These
mad leapings and dancing,’ they told me they knew nothing of having
danced or done any such thing, but only remembered that for a space
of time they had been rapt with ecstasy and had been partakers of
heaven and the joys of paradise. Sometimes the chief judge remains
for an hour or more like the dead; they say then he is transported
to heaven, and that it is a mark that he is a righteous man.
The king does not take part in this
festival the whole time; he comes to see what is going on
for an hour or two, and then returns. In this manner I have
many a time seen it in his company. Fifty persons are elected
to minister to the rest; this is a great honour, and there
is no one but is glad enough to accept the office, for none
but distinguished men and scions of good families get the
offer. These officers distribute during the night to all ranks
of people, seated in their proper order, a portion of betel
and areca, arranged and prepared in a different style from
their ordinary (I mean of the common folk, for the king and
the great lords always use it prepared in the same way). They
give as many as a dozen portions to each person, whoever he
may be; in like wise they present to all who have mind to
drink, beverages of the country brew, in large copper bowls,
exceedingly well fashioned and worked, and with a cover on
the top. Now and then are brought like bowls full of water,
with basins, for washing the mouth and hands; they would not
for the world let a drop of water or any refuse fall to the
ground. The people are arranged in lines, and at intervals
are vacant spaces for passing between them.
Towards the close of the night the chanting
ceases and the chief judge and island chiefs say prayers,
after which they proceed to the midst of the hall, where the aforesaid
table is spread; this they uncover, and all crowd around, and each
one receives a portion; this they take great care of, and carry
it home to show that they have been to the festival. At the same
time the officers, taking some aromatic waters in vases placed there,
sprinkle it upon the bodies of all present, touching them with their
hands; and this is received by them as a benediction of great efficacy.
This done, they must lay to the eating, for they have no celebration
of solemnities without that. So the officers bring basins of water
for washing their hands and mouths, they having done nothing but
chew betel all night long; then they make a circle of nine or ten
together, but always of the same class, and grouped according to
the prescribed order. Viands are brought upon large heavy dishes,
each of which contains other smaller ones, in which are diverse
meats, well served, and these are placed in the midst; it takes
three to carry them. And when they have done eating, they go home
of maulood songs
Marhaba ya noora
Marhaba ya marhaba
Marhaba jadd el-Hussaini
Marhaba ya marhaba
Welcome O light of my eyes
Welcome O welcome
Welcome forebear of our Hussain
Welcome O welcome
Ashraqa'l Badru 'alaina
Fakhtafat Minhu'l Budoor
Mithla Husnika Maa Ra'aina
Qattu Yaa Wajhas-Suroor
A full moon rises over us
The other moon disappears
We never saw the like of your beauty
O face of gladness
Anta Shamsun Anta Badrun
Anta Noorun Fawqa Noor
Anta Ikseerun wa Ghaali
You are the sun, you are the moon
You are light upon lights
You are gold and priceless
You are the beacon of hearts
Yaa Habibee Yaa Muhammad
Yaa 'Arusa'l Khaafiqayn
Yaa Muayyad Yaa Mumajjad
Yaa Imama'l Qiblatain
O my beloved, O Mohamed
O star of east and west
O supporter, O praised one
O leader of both Qiblas
Man-ra'aa Wajhaaka Yas'ad
Yaa Kareem al-Waalidain
Wirdunaa Yawm an Nushoor
Whoever sees your face, gets happiness
O the kind one to both parents
Your clear and cool fountain
Is our goal on the Day of Reckoning
Assalaatu wa's Salaamu 'alaika Yaa Rasul'Allah
Assalaatu wa's Salaamu 'alaika Yaa Nabiyy'Allah
Assalaatu wa's Salaamu 'alaika Yaa Habib'Allah
Assalaatu wa's Salaamu 'alaika Yaa Khaira Khalqi'llah
Assalaatu wa's Salaamu 'alaika Yaa Nura 'Arshi'llah
Blessings and salutations on you, O
messenger of Allah.
Blessings and salutations on you, O the prophet of Allah.
Blessings and salutations on you, O the beloved of Allah.
Blessings and salutations on you, O the best creation of Allah.
Blessings and salutations on you, O light of Allah's throne.
Despite nine centuries of an almost continuous
monopoly of Islam over Maldive spiritual life, Maldivians, with
the notable exception of the middle class, have often exhibited
a callous irreverence.
This attitude has resulted in words such as auguraanu (literally
new Koran) which means base vocabulary.
The maulood had not escaped the Maldive satirist. In the 19th
century it was common to sing satirical songs of the types known
as bereki and farihi to maulood melodies. These were
sung in the Divehi language. Bereki and farihi were
frowned upon by the mullahs but the King Kula Sudha Ira Siyaaka
Saasthura Audha Keerithi Katthiri Bovana (Mohamed Imaduddine IV,
reigned 1835-1882) enjoyed listening to these songs. His reign was
the longest on record in the Maldives. In his reign the mullahs
found themselves having to tolerate both the maulood and its satirical
versions. The following is an example of a 19th century
farihi sung to a maulood melody.
Sikka Hassan Didi and Aage Mohommaidi
With flowers cut from the garden
They stroll through alleyways
In search of Donkaleyfaanu Manike
They stroll through alleyways.
In the 1970s and the 80s senior school pupils and
others composed and sang their own satirical versions of maulood.
The following is the chorus of a song regularly sung at school socials
by the students of a higher secondary school in Malé called
the Science Education Centre in the mid-1980s.
Rice Fatima hauled up on the shoulders!
Nasihu's house lit up with hurricane lamps!
Since this article was first published, the author
has been contacted by more than one nostalgic maulood fan of their
school days. One correspondent had one or two things to add. Evidently,
the popular versions of irreverent maulood of the late 20th
century were coined by students of a boys' school known as Majeediya.
It was noted that many of the more successful Majeediya boys ended
up at the school called the Science Education Centre to continue
with their part-time careers as maulood writers. (Some of the leading
maulood composers and singers of their youth now occupy rather lofty
positions in the Maldive education system!)
The correspondent had the following maulood
buri to add.
Fatima's mother! Fatima's father!
Please give me Fatima!
Tea prepared in the wedding
Big round patties caramelised
The corresponded noted that
Fatima's name was often substituted with those of other lucky
young ladies. It is also interesting to note that this particular
maulood buri was sung to the same melody as the 19th
century one given above, which was sung to the melody of "Marhaba
ya noora aynee"
Aly alas Mahomedin
was probably how Pyrard heard a Shia incantation.