All mosques in the country will be brought under the purview of the Ministry of Islamic Affairs on November 1, Islamic Minister Dr Mohamed Shaheem Ali Saeed has said.
“The ministry is working to change mosques, Imams, muezzins, workers to the ministry from November 1 onward,” Shaheem tweeted on Sunday (September 28).
Responsibility for the maintenance and management of mosques was transferred from the Islamic Ministry to local councils by the landmark Decentralisation Act of 2010.
However, in April, President Abdulla Yameen ratified amendments to the Religious Unity Act of 1994 that would bring mosques under the Islamic ministry and outlaw independent prayer congregations. The amendments came into effect in mid-July.
In April 2012, Shaheem called for mosques to be returned to the ministry’s care following the refusal of some island councils to allow scholars to preach in mosques, most recently in the island of Innamaadhoo in Raa atoll.
The Innamadhoo island council filed a complaint with the Islamic Ministry in March against Sheikh Ibrahim Shameem Adam after the NGO Salaf preacher allegedly delivered a sermon in the island’s mosque without permission from the council.
In May 2013, Sheikh Imran Abdulla and Sheikh Ilyas Hussein – senior members of the religious conservative Adhaalath Party – were obstructed from preaching in Vaikaradhoo, in Haa Dhaalu atoll, whilst the Kamadhoo island council in Baa atoll prevented Sheikh Nasrulla Ali from preaching in the island’s mosque.
In Vaikaradhoo, the Adhaalath sheikhs were provided police protection in the face of unruly opposition protesters.
“Broadening the role of mosques” was among the eleven key policy objectives unveiled by the Islamic ministry in February.