to folklore, the Maldives was first colonised by an
Indo-Aryan race, between the 4th and the 5th centuries
BC. However, it is certain that early settlers came
via Sri Lanka and practised age-old Buddhist customs.
conversion to Islam took place in 1153. Legend tells
us that during this time a demon rose from the depths
of the ocean once every month and demanded that a virgin
girl be sacrificed. A pious Moroccan saint, Abu al-Barakat,
who visited Maldives at that time, learned of the story
and exorcised the demon by reading verses from the Quran.
The event led the King to embrace Islam.
country has remained independent except for short periods
of time, the longest being the 17-year Portuguese rule
in the 16th Century. It
is said that the sea grew red with Muslim blood as the
invaders tried to enforce their Christian beliefs upon