Monday, March 30, 2009

Medhu Ziyaaray: Whose Tomb is it Anyway?

Few people doubt that the tomb enclosed in Male’s historic Medhu Ziyaaray belongs to the scholar who brought Islam to the Maldives in 1153. However his personal identity has been at the center of a historical controversy for the last 650 odd years.

Ibn Batutta who visited the Maldives about 200 years after the conversion claims to have seen a plaque in Male’s Friday Mosque saying that the scholar who brought Islam was Abul Barakat Yousef Al-Berberi. However the plaque that survived to modern times (an obviously different plaque) gives the credit to Shamsuddin al Tabrizi. As their names suggest the two scholars (if indeed there were two) belonged to two different continents –Barbary was in North Africa and Tabriz in Iran. Interestingly Ibn Batutta was also a native of Barbary like Abul Barakat to whom he gives credit.

More recently a third claimant to the honor has surfaced in a historic manuscript, “Kitab fi Athaari Meedoo el-Qadimiyyeh” written by Allama Ahmed Shihabuddine of Midu in Addu Atoll in Arabic and translated into Dhivehi by Dhoondeyri Don Maniku son of Chief Justice Ibrahim Majduddine. The manuscript gives the credit to Yoosuf Gadir a scholar who first landed in Meedu, Addu Atoll.

A large number of people visited Medhu Ziyaaray, when it was opened to the public for the first time in recent history on Sunday. This was despite a warning not to visit the Ziyaaray issued by Adhaalath Party and echoed by Sheikh Mohamed Nasheed Adam in his Friday sermon at Masjid Mohamed Thakurufaanu Al Auzam.

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