In countless tourist maps, pamphlets and travel books, the most prominent land marks in Male’ will always include the Hukuru Miskiy, the Sultan Park, the Islamic Centre (called the grand mosque) etc. At a point in time in the past, the government did try to get UNESCO world heritage site status to the mosque but apparently the status has still not been confirmed.
There is nothing wrong with the miskiy except that its surrounded by an old cemetery. From an Islamic theological perspective, a mosque shall not be surrounded by a cemetery. A cemetery or graveyard shall infact be the the furthest place from a mosque. However superstitious inhabitants would have liked to leave their loved ones nearer to mosques ,to get continued blessings of prayers offered in mosque which was the reason why graveyards surrounded the mosque. Also marking graves and constructing tombs and commemorative such buildings are prohibited in Islam.
That being the case, taking tourists to these historic places in Male’ one is immediately struck with the oddity of having to show graveyards to guests! For us these places of history are common place but a graveyard is a graveyard and perhaps could not be an ‘attraction’. If we are reduced to showing cemeteries to guest as our prominent historical places, then that shows how little we have of history and culture to show to the world. This couldn’t possibly be so, since we are told, this is a country that send political delegations to the Roman empire at its height. Surely we could do better than that.
Sultan Park is another historic place we were told was where the king’s place stood for many centuries. There certainly is no palace there now, nor even a billboard with a depiction of how the palace might have looked like or even the name of kings who would have lived in that spot. But visiting that hallowed ground of the former kings today, one is confronted with an empty unkempt ground with big trees and unstructured lawns, and not much else. The Sultan Park today looks much suitable for a car park than a tourist attraction.
In the absence of much historical buildings in Male’, thanks to overcrowding and just the fact that it had to be Male’ to be the capital of the Maldives, (despite there being bigger islands to do for a capital) there arises the question of having to do better with what we have in Male’ as historical places. We can start with Sultan Park, erect a billboard showing how the former king’s palace would have looked like. We could get help from historians to do this. We could indeed make the Sultan Park a little more beautiful by doing some work to for keep up because amongst the congested, hot and fume filled city of Male’, this is one small spot of land which the tourists can use to catch their breath and relax.