King of Ceylon

His name is Arya Shakarwati [Arya Chakravarti], and he is strong at sea. Once when I was in Ma’bar [Tamil Nadu] I saw one hundred of his ships, small as well as big, which had arrived there. And in the harbour there lay at anchor eight ships of the sultan of Ma’bar bound for Yemen (Yaman). The Sultan ordered that preparations should be made, and he collected annas [troops] with a view to protecting his ships. Despaired of availing themselves of an opportunity to waylay the ships the Ceylonese said, “We came here only to protect our own ships which are also bound for Yemen”.

When I came before this infidel king he rose, made me sit by his side, spoke to me very politely and said, “Your comrades may disembark here safely; they will be my guests until they choose to depart, since friendship exists between me and the Sultan of Ma’bar.” Then he ordered that I should be lodged. So I stayed there three days and received great honours which increased every day. He understood Persian, and all that I related to him about kings and countries impressed him. One day I went to him, while there lay about him a large number of pearls which had been brought to him from the pearl-fishery in his dominion. His employees were busy sorting out and classifying the best pearls from the rest. “Have you seen any pearl-fishery in the countries you come from?” he inquired of me. ‘Yes’, said I, “I saw them in the islands of Qais and Kish [in the Persian Gulf], which belong to Ibn-iiH-Sawamli.” “I have heard about it”, said he. Then he picked up a few pearls out of the lot and said, “Are the pearls in those islands like these?” “The pearls I saw”, I replied, “were inferior to these.” He was delighted at this and said, “These pearls are yours; do not be shy. You can demand of me whatever you desire.” “There is nothing I desire so much since I have landed here”, said I “as paying a visit to the sacred Foot of Adam (Peace he on him) They call Adam, ‘Baba’, and Eve they call ‘Mama’. “This is easy enough”, said he. “We shall send along with you someone who will take you to the place.” “This is what I want”, said I. Then I added, “The ship in which I have come shall have safe conduct to Ma’bar, and on my return would you send me in your own ship?” ‘Yes’, he said. When I related this to the owner of the ship, he observed, ‘I shall not depart until you return, even if 1 have to wait a year for your sake.’ I reported this to the king. ‘He will be my guest until you return,’ said the king. So he gave me a dola which his slaves carried on their shoulders. And he sent along with me four jogis, who go as a rule every year on a pilgrimage to the foot— besides three Brahmins and ten from the whole lot of his companions and fifteen porters to carry the provisions. As for the water, it is abundantly found on the way.

That day we encamped by the side of a river which we crossed by means of a ferry-boat made of the lopped off branches of bamboos. Then we left for Hanar Mandali [Minnen-Msndel]. It is a beautiful city lying at the extremity of the king’s dominion. Its inhabitants gave us a splendid feast which con- sisted of young buffaloes whom they had hunted in the neighbouring jungle and brought alive, besides rice, quail, fish, poultry and milk. In this city we met no Muslim except one from gfrurasan who had been stranded there on account of his illness. He travelled along with us and we left for Bandar Salawat [Halawatha/Chilaw]. It is a small town whence we travelled to places difficult to pass and with abundant waters. There are ‘numerous elephants * there which do not molest the visitors and strangers on account of the blessings of Shaikh Abu ‘Abdullah bin Khaflf. May God have mercy on him! He was the first to have opened the way to visiting the Foot. Previously infidels prevented the Muslims from visiting it, vexed them and neither dined with them nor had any dealings with them. When there took place Shaikh Abu ‘ Abdullah’s adventure which we have described in the course of our journey, that is, when his companions had been killed by the elephants and he himself was saved — an elephant having installed him on his own back — the infidels began from that day onward to honour the Muslims. They admitted them into their houses, dined with them and would entrust them with their wives and children. And up to this day they profoundly revere the said Shailgi and call him the ‘Great Shaikh’.

Afterwards, we arrived at the town of Kunakar [Kurunegala/Gampola] which is the capital of the Sultan-ul-Kabir [Emperor] of this country. The town is constructed in a trench in the midst of two mountains on a great bay which is called the ‘Ruby Bay’, for rubies are found there. Outside this town there stands the mosque of Shaikh ‘Ugman of Shiraz, known as Shaush. The ruler of this land as well as the inhabitants visit him and hold him in high esteem. It was he who acted as guide to the Foot. When his hand and foot were cut off, his sons and servants became guides instead. The reason for his mutilation was that he had slaughtered a cow, and the Hindu law which obtained there prescribes that one who slaughters a cow must either be slaughtered in the same way or closed up in the cow’s skin and burnt. But Shaikh ‘Ugman being held in high esteem by the Hindus, they only cut off his hand and foot and gave him the proceeds of taxes from a certain market.

Please write a paper in which you argue how this excerpt illustrates the many themes of world history taught in the second half of this class. Please show how the broader themes displayed in the tale as well as the strategies used, and challenges faced by Ibn Battuta and others are greater than this solitary event.

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