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The Maldive Islands, Dhibat-ul-Mahal part 4
Chapter 16 from the English translation by Dr. Mahdi Husain
The Rehla of Ibn Battuta - India, Maldive Islands and Ceylon - translation and commentary
Oriental Institute, Baroda, India 1976



Arrival of the vezir Abdullah son of Muhammad al-Hazrami whom Sultan Shihabuddin had banished to Suwaid and the story of what passed between him and myself
I had married his step-daughter - the daughter of his wife - and I loved her very much. When the grand vezir recalled him and restored him to the island of Mahal, I sent him presents and I met him and accompanied him to the palace. He greeted the grand vezir who accommodated him in a splendid house in which I used to visit him.

Once it happened that I was in holy seclusion in the month of Ramazan and was visited by all excepting him. When the grand vezir Jamaluddin visited me, with him came also Abdullah for form's sake.

Then estrangement sprang between us. When I came out of my seclusion, the sons of the grand vezir Jamaluddin as-Sanjari who were the maternal uncles of my wife, that is, the step-daughter of Abdullah - complained to me. Their father had nominated the vezir Abullah their trustee in his will and their property was still in his hands; although by law he was no longer their trustee. They demanded his presence in the court.

It was customary with me that whenever I sent for one of the party in a suit I sent him a blank or filled in notice. As soon as he saw this he had to hurry to the court of justice, otherwise, I would punish him. Accordingly, I sent Abdullah the customary summons. This offended him and he nursed a grudge against me, hiding his enmity; then he delegated someone to represent him at the court. But I came to know that he had made some very opprobrious remarks.

It was a custom with the people high as well as low to show the vezir Abdullah the same respect as was shown to the grand vezir Jamaluddin. And their salutation consists in pointing the forefinger to the earth, kissing it and putting it on the head. I gave an order to the public crier who proclaimed in the sultan's palace in the presence of all that whoever saluted the vezir Abdullah as the grand vezir would be severely punished. And I made him promise that he would no longer permit the people to do so. This augmented his enmity.

I again took a wife - the daughter of another vezir who stood in high regard with the people and whose grandfather, sultan Daud, was the grandson of sultan Sri Ahmad Shanuraza. I then married a woman who had been one of the wives of the deceased sultan Shihabuddin and built three houses in the garden which the grand vezir had granted me. And the fourth wife - the step-daughter of the vezir Abdullah - lived in her own house; she was to my mind, the dearest of all.

After I had become connected by marriage with the above-mentioned people, the vezir and the islanders feared me for they felt themselves to be weak. Slanderous and mischievous reports about me were sent around to the grand vezir mostly through the agency of the vezir Abdullah until a final estrangement broke out.

My separation from them and the reason for it
One day a woman complained to the grand vezir about her husband, one of the slaves of the late sultan Jalaluddin, and informed him that he used to consort with one of the sultan's concubines and had illicit intercourse with her. The grand vezir sent witnesses who entered the concubine's house, found the fellow sleeping with her on the same bed, and arrested them both. Next morning when I heard of this, I went to the council hall and took my usual seat without making any statement regarding her case. One of the courtiers came to me and said, 'The grand vezir should like to know if you have any business with him.'
'No,' I answered.

It was his intention that I should make a statement on the affair of the concubine and the slave; for, as a rule I would not let any case which had been presented go until it had been decreed by me. After estrangement and dislike had materialized, I omitted to do so and subsequently I returned to my house and took my seat whence I delivered my judgments. Soon after came one of the vezirs saying on behalf of the grand vezir, 'Last night such and such occurred in connection with the affair of the concubine and the slave. Deliver a judgment according to the law.'
'That is a case,' I replied, 'on which judgment cannot be pronounced except in the sultan's palace.'
I therefore went back there and the people assembled. I sent for the concubine and slave and ordered them to be chastised as punishment for their privacy. Afterwards, I let the woman free, while I jailed the slave and returned home. The grand vezir sent some dignitaries to me to secure release of the slave. I said to them, 'Do you intercede with me in favour of the negro slave who has violated his master's harem, while but yesterday you deposed and killed Sultan Shihabuddin for entering the house of one of his slaves. And I ordered forthwith; accordingly the slave was beaten with bamboo rods which are more painful than whips, and I had him paraded through the island with a rope round his neck.

The deputation then returned to the grand vezir and told him of this. He got up and sat down boiling with anger; then he assembled the vezirs and army leaders and sent for me. I went to him. Usually I showed him the respect due to a ruler, but this time I did not. I said simply, 'Salamun alaikum.' Then I said to the bystanders, 'You are my witnesses that I herewith renounce my post as qazi as I am not in a position to fulfil its duties.'
The grand vezir then said something addressing me and I rose up moving to a seat opposite him, and I retorted in sharp tones and the muezzin announced the time for the maghrib prayer. Thereupon the grand vezir entered his house saying, 'They say I am a ruler. But look! I summoned this man with a view to making him feel my wrath; far from this, he wreaks his own ire on me.'

It may be recalled that my influential position there was due to the sultan of India, as my position at the latter's court was well understood. The people feared him even though, they were distant from him. When the grand vezir had returned to his house, he sent the deposed qazi to me, who had a glib tongue. He said to me, 'Our master asks you why you insulted him publicly and you did not bow to him.'
I replied, 'I used to bow when I had an affectionate heart for him. When estrangement took place, I gave it up. Since the greeting of the moslems is salam, I greeted him thus.'

He sent the deposed qazi to me again saying, 'As your objective is but to leave us, you should pay your wives' dowries as well as your debts to the people; then you might go, if you want to.'
On hearing this I bowed, went to my house and paid all my debts.

During my stay here, the grand vezir had given me some carpets and household utensils such as copper vessels, etc. He used to give me whatever I asked of him and he had a liking for me and held me in esteem; but his attitude towards me changed, since people had inspired in him fears about me. When he heard that I had paid off my debts and had determined to leave, he regretted what he had said and delayed to grant me permission to depart. I swore with the most solemn oaths that I had to leave and sent my luggage to a mosque on the beach and I divorced one of my wives. For another who was pregnant, I fixed a term of nine months in the course of which I might return, failing which she could act as she thought fit.

I took with me the wife who had previously been the consort of sultan Shihabuddin in order to restore her to her father in the Fua Mulak island. I also took along with me the wife whom I had married first and whose daughter was the sultana's sister.

I made a compact with the vezir Umar, the army commander (dahard) and with the vezir Hasan, the admiral, that I should go to Ma'bar the king of which was the husband of my wife's sister and return thence with troops so as to bring back the Maldive islands under his sway and that I should then exercise the power in his name. Also I arranged that the hoisting of the white flags on the ships should be the signal and that as soon as they saw them they should revolt on the shore. Never had such an idea occurred to me until the said estrangement had broken out between the vezir and myself. The grand vezir was afraid of me and used to say, 'This man will certainly force his way to the vezirate whether it be during my lifetime or after my death.'
He often made enquiries about me and said, 'I have heard that the emperor of India has sent him money to foster a revolt against me.'
He feared my departure lest I should fetch troops from Ma'bar. He sent me a message to remain in the country until he had fitted me out a ship, but I refused.

The sultana's sister complained to her about the departure of her stepmother along with me. The sultana intended to prevent her but could not. When she saw her firmly resolved to depart, she said to her stepmother, 'All the ornaments you possess have been bought out of the state money. If you have witnesses to prove that Jalaluddin has presented you with all these, all right; if not give these back.'
The ornaments were worth much, nevertheless my wife gave them up to these people. Then the vezirs and the chiefs came to me in the mosque and urged me to return. 'If I had not sworn I should certainly return', said I.
They said, 'Go to one of the islands to fulfil your oath and then return.'
'Very well,' I replied in order to satisfy them.

When the night fixed for my departure came, I went to take leave of the grand vezir. He embraced me and wept so much that his tears dropped on my feet. That night he passed guarding the island in person lest my brothers-in-law and my comrades should revolt against him. At last I departed and came to the island of vezir Ali. There my wife was attacked by severe pains and she desired to return. So I divorced her and left her there, and I wrote about this to the vezir because she was the mother-in-law of his son. I divorced also the pregnant wife for whom I had set a term and sent for the slave girl I was fond of. We then travelled through the islands from one group to another.

Women with one breast only
In one of these islands I saw a woman who had only one breast. She had two daughters, one of whom likewise had only one breast while the other had two - one large and rich in milk, the other small and without milk. I was amazed at the conformation of these women.

We came to another of these islands which was a tiny one and contained only one house inhabited by a weaver who had a wife and children, a few coconut plants and a small boat by means of which he fished and sailed to any of the islands be liked to visit. This island contained also a few small banana trees; but we saw no land birds there except two ravens which flew towards us as we put in at the island and circled round our ship. By God, I envied that man and would have liked the island to belong to me so that I might retire there until my death.

Then I came to the island of Fua Mulak where lay the ship of captain Ibrahlm, the ship in which I had decided to travel to Ma'bar. He came along with his comrades to see me and they entertained me to a splendid feast. The vezir had written a letter for me directing that I should be given in this island one hundred and twenty bustu of cowries, twenty bowls of atwan, that is, coconut-honey and a certain quantity of betel, areca nuts and fish daily. I stayed seventy days at this island of Fua Mulak and married two women there. It is one of the most beautiful islands and wears a fresh look. One of the wonders I saw there was that a branch cut off from its tree and planted in the earth or fixed on a wall produced the leaves and grew into a tree. I also saw that the pomegranate there bore fruit continuously all the year round. The inhabitants of this island feared lest captain Ibrahim should pillage them at his departure and wanted to seize the weapons on his ship and keep them until the day of his departure. This led to a quarrel; then we returned to the Mahal island but did not enter it. And I wrote to the vezir a letter telling him what had occurred, whereupon he wrote to say that there was no cause for seizing the arms. Then we returned to the Fua Mulak island, which we left in the middle of Rabi-us-sani 745 [August/September 1344]. In the month of Shaban of this year [December1344 / January 1345], the grand vezir Jamaluddin died. May God have mercy on him! The sultana was going to have a baby by him. The baby was born after his death and the vezir Abdullah married the sultana.


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