Maldives Culture -
Maldives Culture - maldives island
Latest Updates arrow Maldives History arrow Early Maldives - up to 19th century arrow History of Maldives - Divehi Tareek - Preface 1981
Latest Updates
Advanced Search
Free Dhivehi-English Dictionary
Presidency of Mohamed Nasheed
Gayyoom's Dictatorship 1978-2008
Buddhism and Islam
Ibn Battuta 1343-45
Pyrard 1602-07
Rosset 1885
Maldives 1900-1922
Maldives 1924-1953
Majlis rule 1954-57
Suvadive Republic 1959-1963
President Nasir 1969-1978
Abdul Hakeem Hussein Manik
Maldives History
Maldives Art
Scripts of Maldives
Maps of Maldives
Traditional Stories
Magic - Fanditha
Photographs - Modern
Photographs - Historic
Ships of the Indian Ocean
Social Customs
Modern Stories
PDF Print E-mail

Introduction by Maldives Culture

The Divehi Tareek is a collation of government records ordered by king Imadudeen IV in 1902, from originals and copies of original documents dating back over 400 years.
Maldivian records were collated by judge Hassan Tajudeen at the beginning of the 18th century; a practice continued by his nephew Mohamed Muhibudeen. Later judges, such as Sirajudeen and his son Muhibudeen in the 19th century, added to the records until 1848 when the writings abruptly cease.
A Tareek seen by H.C.P. Bell in Male' in 1920 and 1922, and translated in abridged form in his Monograph (1940), was given as a gift to the government of Ceylon by king Mohamed Shamsudeen III. That version covered the period 1141-1821.
Bell first accessed a Tareek to contribute a list of Maldivian kings to an appendix in Gray's 1888 translation of Francois Pyrard.
In 1981, Maldivian writers Ibrahim Shihab and Hassan Maniku wrote prefaces for the first publication of the Divehi Tareek, nearly 80 years after Imadudeen's project began.
The published version only refers to the period 1558-1848.
Efforts by scholars to locate other Tareek manuscripts in Sri Lankan and Maldivian archives and libraries were unsuccessful until Hikoichi Yajima visited Male' in 1981. He was permitted to see three arabic copies of the Tareek and two copies in divehi script. These manuscripts are now kept in libraries and archives at Male', according to Bethia and Heather Bell in their 1993 biography of H. C. P. Bell.

History of Maldives - Divehi Tareek (Tariq)

National Centre of Linguistics and Historical Research
Male', Maldives
First printing 1981, second printing 1993
translated by Fareesha Abdulla with assistance from Majid Abdul-Wahhab and Michael O'Shea

Preface section A: General introduction to the concept of history, by Ibrahim Shihab
Preface section B: Early historians and the compilation of the Divehi Tareek, by Hassan Maniku

Preface section A
maldives national emblem
In the name of Allah, the Compassionate and Merciful

The Committee of Maldive History and Culture
President's Office
Male', Maldives

  shihab's dhivehi script
1981 sample of Ibrahim Shihab's writing.
His Divehi Tana script has no Arabic script additions, and uses Roman numerals.
Contrast with Hassan Maniku's script sample below.

History has a very important place in the world's collection of knowledge. Historical knowledge describes and makes coherent the rise and fall of civilisations, but it is not only human beings who draw on its lessons; divine teaching also gives prominence to history. Without doubt, valuable lessons and knowledge can be learnt from history. We have the complete basis and origin of all Islamic knowledge in the Holy Koran and its extensive historical accounts are designed to teach us wisdom.

There is almost no need to mention that history is a very wide-ranging discipline. When history explains what happened, it is not only describing human beings but also many of the things and places that existed in the past. History can be categorised into many areas of study, including the histories of people, nations, government, human development, and of science and the arts. There are the histories of all living creatures, the history of all past events, and each individual's history. It is the story of how, when, and why a particular event took place, and its place among other related events.

[Translators' note: In 395 CE, the Roman Empire was divided into East and West after the death of Theodosius I (379-95). From 395, Honorius (395-423) ruled in Milan, and Arcadius (395-408) from Constantinople. Shihab, who translated an Urdu romance novel into Divehi, probably learned this date from an Urdu language history book, although he also understood English.]

Scholars have divided history into four main periods. The first division is the time before humankind began to write about society and the environment around them. Academics call this the period of 'pre-history'. In the second period, stone, timber and other materials are used by humans to describe their society. Academics claim this period ended in 395 AD, and the third period lasted until 1453 AD when Istanbul was captured by the Turks. The fourth period begins in that year and extends to the present time.

The viewpoint of historians is that history changes as people's perception of events changes. For this reason, true history can be accurately written only by eye-witnesses. However, this method is not without its own problems and controversies. In the past, people usually wrote history about governments and kingdoms and ongoing events were linked to these official institutions. Sometimes these records contain information that rational minds find difficult to believe, but it is possible that the people who wrote these histories were just trying to tell an interesting story.

Scholars say that reliable historical method began with the writings of Herodotus, the 'father of history'. It is well-known that various accounts of Maldives have been written by foreigners during the last thousand years, but there is no doubt that the most well-known and valuable indigenous historical work was written by judge Hassan Tajudeen. Therefore, it is a noble gesture beyond description that the present government has decided to publish this history book in the Divehi language, based on chronicles that Tajudeen began. It is very desirable that history, and Maldive history in particular, receive recognition and status among Maldivians.

26 July 1981 AD
24 Ramazan 1401 AH
Ibrahim Shihab
Chairman of the Committee

Preface section B
In the name of Allah, the Compassionate and Merciful

Department of Information and Broadcasting
Male', Maldives

In 1902, during the reign of king Haji Mohamed Imadudeen VI, the monarch wanted a 'History of Maldives' written in Divehi Tana script, so he assigned a committee to the task. The chronicles started by judge Hassan Tajudeen, and afterwards compiled by various Islamic judges writing in Arabic, were given to that committee along with other records written in Divehi at different times. This book is the result.

Committee members
Sheik Mohamed Jamaludeen (also known as Naib Tutu), committee chairman.
Naib Hussein Salahudeen, deputy chairman.
Mohamed ibn Sayid Kateeb Ibrahim (also known as Kuda Seedee).
Moosa Manik ibn Vazir Ali, government secretary.
Buchaa Mohamed ibn Ibrahim, chief ship's master.

Knowing the members of this committee, we have no hesitation in praising and congratulating them on the thoroughness and depth of their work. Each of these able and learned men is a shining star in the sky of Maldive history. The first two members were in charge of updating and translating the Arabic chronicles. The other three members compiled the Divehi language sections and made them easy to understand. The king also ordered a group of appropriate people to assist the committee, and work began on Friday 22 August 1902.

King Mohamed Imadudeen VI
Without doubt, this book was very valuable part of the services that king Mohamed Imadudeen performed for the country. I would be the first to admit that not much of the king's legacy remains. However this book remains valuable even today, both in the way it is written and for the information it contains.

King Mohamed Imadudeen VI, also known as Haji Imadudeen, was the son of prince Hassan Izudeen and Annabeela Mandooge Didi. Hassan Izudeen was the son of king Mohamed Imadudeen IV.

King Mohamed Imadudeen VI came to the throne on 20 July 1893. At the beginning of his reign, the position of prime minister was held by Atireege Ibrahim Didi who was later known as Ibrahim Doshimeyna Kilegefan.

The king left Male' for the haj in the eighth year of his reign. Yes! On a Sunday afternoon during the fasting month of Ramazan in December 1901, the king was accompanied by Mandooge Doshimanipulu, the king's mother, his queen and their son. The royal trip was in a relatively small ship that traded in Male' for Jeevanjee's shop. The haj was completed and the royal journey finished with the king's return to Male' on Thursday 22 May 1902. Disembarkation took place on Friday morning the following day.

In November 1902, the king left Maldives to marry an Egyptian woman in what became known as the 'Suez marriage'. Before long, we see King Mohamed Shamsudeen III being appointed to the throne on 12 March 1903.

King Mohamed Imadudeen VI died in Egypt on 30 September 1932.

Judge Hassan Tajudeen (1661-1727)
In the preparation of this book, the main source was Hassan Tajudeen's Maldive history chronicles. Yes! Today, that book cannot be found. The original documents, written by the hands of the judges Hassan Tajudeen, Mohamed Muhibudeen Sheik Islam and Ibrahim Sirajudeen, were destroyed in 1752 when Malabari moslems burnt the palace. Since then, the most reliable extant copy was seen by H.C.P. Bell in Male' in 1920 and 1922. That copy was given as a gift to the government of Ceylon by king Mohamed Shamsudeen III. I think, no, I am sure, this copy is very similar to the original written by Hassan Tajudeen.

It would not be outside our frame of reference to give a short introduction to judge Hassan Tajudeen. He was the son of Mahumood of Gan island, Hadunmati (Laam) atoll. He was born in 1661/62, and from an early age, he showed a love for learning. Due to the unstable political situation in the kingdom and the palace at that time, he left the country for a short period and returned to Male' in December 1690 during the reign of king Kuda Mohamed. He was punished to a limited degree and then exiled to his home island at Gan, Hadunmati atoll. When that king's reign ended, the new king Mohamed Muhiyudeen recalled Hassan Tajudeen to Male' and gave him the position of leading advisor.

During the reign of Sayid Rasgefan, Hassan Tajudeen and other noblemen were educated by the king. From the time of the new moon at the beginning of Rajab month until the end of Ramazan twelve weeks later, hadith were taught in the Friday mosque for an hour from sunset prayer until late-evening prayer time. Devadoo Fandiyaru Takurufan was the chief judge until the reign of Sayid Rasgefan when the office was declared vacant on 4 November 1692. The king appointed Hassan Tajudeen to the position on Wednesday 12 November 1692.

Hassan Tajudeen resigned from the position of chief judge on 21 January 1701 and left with his family for Mecca. Not many days after his arrival there, he received an official letter from king Ibrahim Muluhirudeen requesting his return to Male'. Tajudeen returned immediately and was treated with great respect.

The king left for the haj in January 1704 accompanied by Hassan Tajudeen. Soon there were many difficulties to be faced, because when they returned to Male' the kingdom had changed. King Mulafaru Mohamed Imadudeen was on the throne. With this change and as a consequence of Tajudeen's connections with the previous king, Hassan once again found himself exiled to Gan island, Hadunmati atoll. However, he was very quickly recalled and made chief judge again in February 1705.

This period marks the beginning of the greatest service anyone has every done for Maldive history. At the instruction of the king, Hassan Tajudeen began to write the history of the country. Various written accounts and orally transmitted stories were examined and assembled in a reliable and useful way by Hassan Tajudeen. The last sentence he wrote was: 'On the 24 January 1725 the king's wife Aishath Kabafan gave birth to a daughter named Aminath Ranikilegefan.'

Hassan Tajudeen was 67 years old when he abandoned this temporary world near dawn on Friday 28 February 1727. For thirty-seven years, he had been chief judge. He was buried in the Friday mosque in Male'.

In addition to his history, Hassan Tajudeen also left some Arabic poems. Anyone who looks at his work will realise the extent of Hassan Tajudeen's learning and the meticulous manner of his research. He did not hesitate to state the facts, for he loved the truth, and his work is proof of this.

  sample of early 20th century text from Maldives
1981 divehi tana script mixed with arabic script, used by Hassan Maniku to write this section of the preface. His numerals are also arabic.

Judge Mohamed Muhibudeen
After his death, the records were kept by Hassan Tajudeen's younger brother judge Mohamed Muhibudeen Sheikh Islam, the son of Hussein Afeefudeen Bandara Naib Manikfan. This person began his record with the following sentence, 'In 1726, on Friday 26 July, a royal daughter was born.'

On Friday 23 September 1740, judge Muhibudeen was appointed as island chief of Male'. On Thursday 16 March 1747 he was appointed attorney-general and given the power to conduct trials under sharia law. Muhibudeen was forty-one years old.

In the early morning of Wednesday 20 December 1752, Malabari moslems invaded Male', burnt the palace and kidnapped the king. While the Malabaris were in charge, the position of chief judge was given to Naib Kateeb Mohamed Muhibudeen. Shortly after this, he left Male' for a quick visit to the Ali Rajah at Cannanore. As far as we know, he only reached Malosmadulu (now Raa and Baa) atoll. While he was there, the good news arrived that Male' was back under Maldivian control and he promptly returned. Lord Hassan Izudeen became king and Mohamed Muhibudeen remained the chief judge. In 1760/61 Muhibudeen left for the haj, and his records finish when Ibrahim Bahaudeen became judge.

In 1768/69, during the reign of king Mohamed Giyasudeen, Mohamed Muhibudeen became the chief judge for a second time until he died on Wednesday 10 August 1785. He was buried in Male's Friday mosque.

Judge Ibrahim Sirajudeen
The historical records became the responsibility of judge Ibrahim Sirajudeen who was Hassan Tajudeen's grandson and the son of Kateeb Ahmed Muhibudeen. King Haji Hassan Noordeen I appointed Sirajudeen as chief judge on Thursday 26 July 1787. A short time later, in 1789/90, 'the judge and some people with him had a conversation about usurping the kingship.' Sirajudeen was removed from his position and exiled to Kadu Huludoo island on northern Huvadu (Gaaf Alif) atoll. However, during the reign of king Mohamed Mueenudeen I, he was appointed judge for the second time in April 1806. Sirajudeen died in office on Friday 18 February 1831.

Yes! Hassan Tajudeen began a tradition of recording history that continued for generations. These words have been a brief comment on the lives of the record keepers.

This book is based on chronicles and other historical documents collated by a committee of learned people on the instructions of king Mohamed Imadudeen VI. It is not a direct translation of the chronicles kept by Hassan Tajudeen and other historians.

With joy, I say that this publication will fill the hearts of all Maldivian history students with gratitude. Yes! After our ancestors' sacrifices and struggles to preserve their proud history, some of the records are being published in a reliable form to give tiny Maldives its place in the history of the world.

Miguel Cervantes, a respected Spanish writer, says of history: 'Historians must be fair, honest and objective people. They should not abandon the truth with an emotional reaction to events. History is the mother of all activities. It competes with time and is a treasury of important events, and the witness of the past. History provides examples and lessons for the present and a telescopic view of the future.'

O holy Allah, guide the present and future generations of Maldivians in the same way as You have in the proud past, and maintain their independence and good actions so that they may follow in the holy and indomitable footsteps left by our nation's ancestors.

Hassan Ahmed Maniku
Department of Information and Broadcasting
26 July 1981

<Previous   Next>
top of page

Maldives Culture, Powered by Joomla!; free resources by SG web hosting