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104. Ali Manikfan

Ali Manikfan (born 16 March 1938, Minicoy Island, Lakshadweep) is an Indian marine researcher, ecologist, shipbuilder, and a multilingual. He is noted for his self research skills in marine, ecology, agricultural fields even without holding any formal educational qualification.


Ali Manikfan was born to Musa Manikfan and Fatima Manika in Minicoy Island of Lakshadweep on 16 March 1938. His father, Musa sent him to Kannur for formal education. As he was not interested in formal education, he left his studies and returned to his home land. According to him formal education is artificial and pointless and best way to acquire knowledge is getting wisdom by observing our environment. Ali manikfan has excelled in number of languages. Besides mother tongue Divehi (Mahl), he learned English, Hindi and Malayalam, Arabic, Latin, French, Russian, German, Sinhalese, Persian, Sanskrit, Tamil and Urdu. His other areas of interest are marine biology, marine research, geography, astronomy, social science, traditional shipbuilding, education, fisheries, agriculture and horticulture. In 1956 he worked as a teacher and then became a clerk in Amin minicoy. (Indian government's chief civil official on the Island). But his interest was in marine life. In 1960s he joined in the laboratory of Fisheries Department.

 New fish species discovered

While working with a marine boilogist, Dr. S. Johns, Manikfan discovered a new fish species. S. Jones, impressed by Ali's observation skills and his wide knowledge about marine life, called the species Abudefduf Manikfani.

Ali Manikfan with two of his daughters, Aisha Manika and Amina Manika at his farm near Valioor. These two women have followed their father’s steps. The child is Ali Mankfan's grand daughter Jamila Manika.

Technical and agricultural experiments

Ali Manikfan follows agricultural methods that take nature in consideration. For his 130-acre (0.53 km2) land in Valioor in Thirunelveli district, Tamil Nadu, he produces his own electricity from a windmill which he designed himself. He built a house there with materials that are naturally available in the region are more eco friendly.


In 1981 Ali Manikfan was given the responsibility of making the ancient Arab trading ship, Sohar by Irish adventurer Tim Severin. He went to Oman to direct the team of carpenters. It took one year to build the 27 metres long ship and four tons of coir were needed to sew the planks of its hull, in the same way that ancient Maldivians had built ships. Tim Severin traveled 9,600 km from Oman to China by this ship. The 'Sohar' is now displayed at a Museum in Oman.

Sindbad the Sailor's replica ship the SoharThe design was found in a 16th century Portuguese document and was built to ancient Maldive naval architectural specifications in Oman under the supervision of Ali Manikfan

The Sohar which was built with Ali Manikfan's expertise and Divehi boatbuilding techniques


He designed a lunar calendar and strongly suggests to follow a unfied lunar calendar by Muslims all over the world.
The Islamic calendar (Hijra calendar) is a purely lunar calendar. It contains 12 months that are based on the phases and stages of the moon, and because 12 synodic months is only 12 x 29.53059=354.3671 days, the Islamic calendar is consistently shorter than a tropical year, and therefore it shifts with respect to the Christian calendar. The calendar is based on the Qur'an (Sura IX, 36-37) and its proper observance is a sacred duty for Muslims.
Unfortunately some Muslim astronomers have suggested that lunar date lines should be marked on the world map for the Muslims to begin their fasting and celebrating their Eid. According to them this would depend on the first visibility of the crescent and the date would begin form that place. The so-called curved lunar date lines always keep on changing and they pass through cities, towns and even houses! They do not abide the rules of the date line. So the Lunar date lines are impractical and meaningless. They are neither scientific nor Islamic.
Hijra Calendar is the same astronomical Lunar Calendar and the month begins and ends on conjunction (Astronomical new moon), conjunction being the last day of the month. Sometimes the conjunction falls on 29th day and sometimes on 30th day. Each phase of the moon and its angular distance indicates each date and it is like a natural calendar hung in the sky. Sometimes we cannot see the moon because of the changes in weather, but it does not make any difference in calendar dates because it is related to the motion of the moon. Its physical visibility is not the criterion. The astronomical new moon times and dates are already computed exactly for thousands of years backward and forward.

Palmyra grove within Ali Manikfan’s Do Nothing Farm near Valioor
Tamil Nadu, India


For his own purpose he invented a cycle fitted by a roller motor, which one can ride very easily at a speed of twenty-five km per hour. This cycle could work many hours continuousely. Ali Manikfan, along with his son traveled up to Delhi on this cycle. He owns a patent for this cycle.

Muraiduganduar Fatima Manika is the good-looking lady in the middle. She is carrying baby Ali Manikfan in this ethnographically significant photograph taken by a visiting anthropologist circa 1939

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Ali Manikfan says – Nobody has to do anything but refrain from destroying the natural growth. For the past so many years the life of Ali Manikfan is closely attached with nature. He eats all leaves and fruits. Ali manikfan himself says he eats all kinds of leaves that goats eat. Ali Manikfan gives us the message “We must depend on ourselves” through his own life splendid with self-dependency, self-sufficiency.

Source : Wikipedia

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