This is the complex housing the main tomb at Pulau Besar, the tomb of a person of high saintly status called Sultan Ariffin Sheikh Ismail. Now, many thought he is king as implied by the word Sultan and that Ariffin is also part of his name. Well, they got it wrong. This saint's name is actually Ismail, same name as the eldest son of the Prophet Abraham Alaihissalam. For information, the name Sultan Ariffin is actually a honorific to denote him as the king of the Ariffins, who really know God and has experienced gnosis. On the other hand, he is after all a king... It's just not in the usual sense of a royalty residing inside a palace ruling a kingdom and it's subjects in an everyday manner, no...
Bear in mind though the word Ariffin here is a Sufi or Tasawuf term derived from the Arabic root-name Arif - the person who knows. As in how do you truly know God? Well, you have to ask the masters about that. I will not attempt to describe much as this is a very difficult matter, one that could cause great confusion if not explained properly while a proper explanation could only be made to someone who already has the proper experience and training... Just like you can only truly explain Einstein's Theory of General Relativity to someone who have studied Tensor Calculus, that is high level mathematics.
Oh... I forgot to mention who Sultan Ariffin Sheikh Ismail is.... By the way, the name Sheikh is to denote that he is a religious master. For information, he is a fourth-generation (if memory serves me right) descendant of the much celebrated Sufi grandmaster Sheikh Abdul Qadir al-Jilani, the founder of the Qadiriyah tariqat or spiritual way who lived in 12th century Baghdad. According to the legends, Sheikh Ismail first came to the Malay Archipelago to find the kingdom of Samudera (in present-day Aceh) and guide the whole population to Islam, especially the king Merah Silu who was later proclaimed as Sultan Malikus Salih, king of the pious ones! As to how he ended up in Pulau Besar near the coast of Melaka, well, I don't think I have a proper answer for that. So let's just let sleeping dogs lie ya...
This is the tomb of Sharifah Rodziah, said to be a grand-daughter of Sheikh Ismail situated a small distance away from the complex housing the tomb of Sheikh Ismail but still within the overall compound. Notice the length of the tomb? I reckon not less than 20 feet long!
Then again, the tomb of Sheikh Ismail itself is about 30 feet long while next to it, within the same complex lies a much longer tomb, almost 50 feet long said to belong to Sheikh Ismail's teacher, Sheikh Yusuf as-Siddiq!
There, another long tomb, methinks within 20 feet long too but situated some 500 metre from the Sheikh Ismail tomb complex. If the previous tombs in this article are said to belong to highly religious figures, this one belonging to another legendary figure simply known as the nenek kebayan, an old female is among the exception. Not that she was not religious... For nobody knows that for sure and it is not wise to question one's faith without knowing the actual truth. Only that nenek kebayan is considered more of a magical mystical figure... She might be ugly like an old hag but the nenek kebayan have appeared in many Malay folklores as the gentle grandma-like figure who helped plenty of prince and princess in distress including matchmaking those in love but facing great difficulty in tying the knot because of objections from other parties! As to why she is buried here, hmm... Now I'm really dumb-founded!
Oh... Now we can get to the question posed in the title of this article... Pulau Besar, why so many long tombs. First we must know why the tombs are so long... It is not because the persons buried were giants or very tall? Nope, that would be very ackward as can be seen by the look of the tombs... How can you have someone 20 to 50 feet long but the width of the body still about 2-3 feet maximum just like a normal man? Can you imagine that?
Hmm... Maybe you could imagine a 50 foot tall man with his shoulders 3 feet wide but doesn't that look funny? How can you walk around with a body like that and become a venerated religious teacher some more? Heh! Now I'm being stupid, hehe!
Anyway, in old Malay beliefs, such long tombs actually denotes people of high spiritual status. Because of the favours bestowed from God due to their religiousness or good manners and intentions when alive, their tombs become elongated in time so that people in latter times could immediately recognise their status, at least this is what I understand about the long tombs.
As for why there's so many long tombs in Pulau Besar, isn't the answer now obvious? It simply means there's so many people of high spiritual standing buried on this island. And so that also explains why it is called Pulau Besar which literally means the 'big island'. Physical-wise, the island's size is only about 170 hectares but status wise, it is big enough to attract people interested in mystics from all parts of the Malay archipelago. In fact, the existence of Sheikh Ismail's tomb attracted visitors from as far as India, Pakistan and Africa too as he was after all a Qadiriyah grandmaster just like his great-grandfather Sheikh Abdul Qadir al-Jilani, the man known as Sultanul Awliya, the king of the saints!
Look at the far end showed in this picture, another abandoned major project after it has well taken off. The project was really a major one... I believe there's more than 10 blocks of 5-storey or so lavish apartment buildings definitely worthy of a five-star establishment. I've walked an 'played' at the area a few times and to me, the design made me feel like being in Italy or the Mediterraneans! The whole complex also reminded me of the Tivoli Villas, once considered among the most prestigous apartment area in the Klang Valley.
Problem is they say there were 'disturbances' that caused the project to be abandoned after it was almost completed... Apparently the workers got spooked by something while prospective future buyers got hint of a series of weird happenings involving the supernatural and decided it was not worth the trouble. The complex looks ready to be used except no appliance was fitted. So anyone can come and enjoy the five-star facility there, that is if you can stand being spooked just like in the movie Exorcist. Then again nowadays, one is now not so free to venture there as the owners has employed security guards to shoo away unwelcomed visitors. The news is the project is to be revived...
About half a year ago, I entered Pulau Besar at night and saw the lights coming out from that part of island just like at a full-fledged city. So does that mean, the apartment complex will soon have people occupying it? Well, in this particular visit in January, I found out it was all more for show... Maybe the owners want to give the impression that whatever spooked the place the last time has been cleared an the place is now ready to be a full-fledged resort... Maybe what I saw then was just an exercise to check that the electrical supply is all in order. But the locals say, the 'powers-that-be' won't allow any success as it means, unclean activities will come surging into the island... When one have foreign visitors coming in the droves, one is sure to see alcohol and fornications coming in too. That is why until now, the apartment complex remain as it is... Beautiful yes but empty...
This is the route to one of my favourite escapades on the island, a strip of beach that only a few knows where it is and how to get there. Often, I like to bath and swim in the nude and this is one of the open places in which I can indulge in this 'hobby'!, hehe! :]
And this is my very own istana hinggap, my 'weekend palace' or so... A friend who have stayed in Pulau Besar for more than 10 years built it himself and this is where I often stay when I'm here, that is when I'm not urged to sleep elsewhere like in front of the tombs or somewhere more 'exotic' like a certain cave facing the seas. Cheerio! :]