Globalization and the Maldives in the 14th Century & Today

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mal_woman.jpgArab traders brought Islam to the Maldives in the twelfth century AD. The following quote from a famous Arab traveler, Ibn Batuta (1304-77 AD), looks at the Maldivian society of the time when he reluctantly accepted the post of judge or Qadi:

The people of Maldive Islands are upright and pious, sound in belief and sincere in thought; their bodies are weak, they are unused to fighting, and their armour is prayer. Once when I ordered a thief�s hand to be cut off, a number of those in the room fainted. The Indian pirates do not raid or molest them, as they have learned from experience that anyone who seizes anything from them speedily meets misfortune. In each island of theirs there are beautiful mosques and most of their buildings are made of wood�Their womenfold do not cover their hands, not even their queen does so, and they comb their hair and gather it to one side. Most of them wear only an apron from their waists to the ground, the rest of their bodies being uncovered. While I held the qadiship there I tried to put an end to this practice and ordered them to wear clothes, but I met with no success. No woman was admitted my presence in a lawsuit unless her body was covered, but apart from that I was unable to effect anything.� (cited in Islam: A Very Short Introduction, Malise Ruthven, p. 123)

It is hard to believe that an unknown stranger would be invited to become the Attorney General upon arrival. Maybe people trusted each other more in those times. Or maybe the Maldivians are so sincere that they never think bad about other people. Who would not love to be a dictator over such a docile group of people?

Here is a site devoted to the ethnography of the Maldives. The most widely read news media is The DO news bulletin published on the net which happen to be banned and the URL blocked by the government. The site has the highest number of daily hits per capita of any banned political site on the web. For more on the Maldives read Thor Hayerdahl�s Maldives Mystery.

1 Comment

just letting you know the missing link in the
post
(http://www.maldives-ethnography.com)

and there are more statistics on DO at
http://www.dhivehiobserver.com/news/maldives_goisillegal.htm

-paul

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This page contains a single entry by Paul published on November 15, 2004 9:21 AM.

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