I went to Kinolhas this year – that means 668 years after Ibn Battuta. I went on a white speed boat. The sea was bumpy and water keeps smashing on the side window.
When I set my foot on the land, I got a thrilled. Because I was standing on the first island Ibn Battuta visited in the Maldives.
He was my favorite adventurer.
Here is the story of Ibn Battuta in three breaths.
On June 14, 1325, at the age of 21, Ibn Battuta left his home on a donkey, trusting nothing but his own feelings, that led him to the greatest travel adventure in history. An adventure same like Marco Polo did 100 years before him.
‘I set out alone…swayed by an over-mastering impulse within me and a desire long cherished in my bosom to visit these illustrious sanctuaries.’ Rihla
Each city he visited, he was treated like a king, received several gifts, married several women of different countries, races, colors and types. His marriages deserve a whole separate article. Just to give an idea, he married six women and had many slave girls during the time he spent in Maldives.
After going to several cities. From Delhi he came to Maldives.
‘The people of the Maldive Islands are upright and pious, sound in belief and sincere in thought; their bodies are weak, they are unused to fighting, and their armor is prayer’. Rihla p.242
Those days Maldivians used cowries as a local currency, which has the exchange rate of twelve hundred thousand for one gold dinar, which is approx. 100 USD today.
But which part grabbed my eye balls most? The women. Boy it was fun!
‘It is easy to get married in these islands on account of the smallness of the dowries and the pleasure of their women’s society. When ships arrive, the crew marry wives, and when they are about to sail, they divorce them. It is really a temporary short marriage’
Women wore a sarong to cover themselves. Whole upper body is uncovered. I also verified this information from my grandmother.
When he spent some time as a vizier, he tried to enforce them to cover.
‘When I held the qaziship there, I tried to put an end to this practice and ordered them to wear clothes, but I met with no success…’ Rihla
After that he left from that island and travel to Mulak where he stayed for 70 days. The wazir Ibrahim welcomed him, gave him coconut, honey, betel, arcanuts and 30 dinar worth of cowries. He married to two wives from this island. After spending 70 days, he loaded merchandise to the ship, divorced the women, and headed to Ceylon.
Battuta was also robbed several times. One time he wrote: ‘They took everything I had preserved for emergencies; they took the pearls and rubies that the king of Ceylon had given me, they took my clothes and the supplies given me by pious people…. They left me no covering except my trousers.’
Facing difficulty and danger is what makes it worth the effort and adventurous . Just like Battuta, traveling is one of my favorite. Though in Kinolhas, I got less welcoming than Ibn Battuta, it made me appreciate his adventures.
Travels In Asia And Africa 1325-1354 (Internet Archive)