Khadija of the Maldives



Known for

Sultan of Land and Sea and Lord of the Twelve-Thousand Islands


Hijri ~747-781 (AH); Common Era ~1347-1380 (CE)

Khadija of the Maldives


Sultana Khadija was one of the three sultanas who reigned in the Maldives during the Medieval period. One of the great sources for her life is the near-legendary Muslim traveler and chronicler Ibn Battuta who was very much impressed with Khadija and her court. He relates that she was the daughter of Sultan Salah al-Din Salih Albendjaly. After the death of her father, a power struggle ensued and Khadija married the vizier Jamal ud-Din who became ruler after the execution and deposition of Khadija’s brother, Ahmed. While Jamal may have shared power with this wife (Ibn Battuta claims he was the sole weilder of power), it is clear the Khadija exercised much influence of her own. Orders were issued singularly in her name. Moreover, Friday khutbahs were said in her honor. Perhaps chafing under his wife’s power, Jamal deposed Khadija who retaliated by assassinating her husband within the year. Khadija married again, this time a vizier named Abdullah who forced Khadija to abdicate and then himself succeeded to the throne. He ruled for three years but Khadija ultimately dealt with him as she had her previous usurper husband and had him assassinated. Thus, Khadija claimed the throne for a third time. Sultana Khadija reigned for nearly thirty years and after her demise it was another woman, her sister Mariam, who took the reins of power.


Fatima Mernissi, “Forgotten Queens of Islam.” Minneapolis: University of Minnesota Press, 2003.