A Maldivian man who publicly declared himself an apostate during a speech by Islamic speaker Dr Zakir Naik on Friday evening has repented and offered a public apology on Television Maldives (TVM).
Mohamed Nazim gave Shahada – the Muslim testimony of belief – during a press conference held at the Islamic Ministry today.
He also apologised for causing “agony for the Maldivian people”, and said “major misconceptions I had regarding Islam have been clarified.”
He further requested that the community accept him back into society.
After describing himself to Dr Naik as “Maldivian but not a Muslim” on Friday night, Nazim was escorted from Maafaanu stadium by Islamic Ministry officials into police custody. Several officers were attacked for trying to protect Nazim when members of the crowd turned violent, calling for his death.
The following day the Islamic Foundation NGO issued a press release calling for Nazim to be executed under Islamic law if he failed to repent.
Apostasy is considered a grave sin under Islam, although scholarly opinion varies as to its punishment: in response to Nazim’s question, Dr Naik clarifed that the penalty was only death “if the person becomes a non-Muslim and propagates his faith and speaks against Islam. Just because a person who is a Muslim becomes a non-Muslim, death penalty is not the ruling.”
Speaking after the press conference today, Deputy Minister for Islamic Affairs Sheikh Mohamed Farooq told newspaper Haveeru that Nazim had reverted to Islam “on freewill” after the Ministry had sent two scholars to counsel him while he was in custody.
“[After] two days of counseling he said that his misconceptions had been clarified and that he wanted to become a Muslim,” Sheikh Farooq told Haveeru.
President of Islamic NGO Jammiyyathu Salaf Sheikh Abdulla Bin Mohamed Ibrahim told Minivan News he was very happy to hear of Nazim’s repentance and thanked God, adding that incident has “damaged the good name of the country.”
He further said that there were “many people trying to introduce other religions to the Maldives underground”, and that he would “release the names of these underground people at the appropriate time.”
”The incident was the result of a lack of Islamic studies in the school curriculum,” he said. ”That is one of the reasons why such things as this happen.”
The Adhaalath Party said it welcomed Nazim’s repentance and congratulated him for re-embracing Islam.
Police have meanwhile yet to reveal whether Nazim has been released from custody.
Sub-Inspector Ahmed Shiyam said the court had decided that Nazim should be released, but he would not reveal whether police had yet done so.
“Police will analyse the situation,” Shiyam said, regarding Nazim’s safety.