Comment: Adhaalath out of sight, out of mind?

The Adhaalath party has blown the popsicle stand, having declared defeat in its efforts to ‘reform’ the sinful government led by President Nasheed.

In the days leading up to its decision to leave the coalition, Adhaalath provided the public with what it considers a damning indictment of MDP-facilitated transgressions: invited Jews to preach Christianity in the Maldives; sent young Maldivians to a Christian seminary otherwise known as Christ College, Oxford University; and encouraged Maldivians to commit the haraam act of gambling by publicising the US Green Card Lottery.

Adhaalath’s departure from the ruling coalition, and the preceding days it spent in the headlines, provoked different reactions among different segments of society.

For some, the party and its departure are inconsequential. They have no political power, anyway. A substantial number of social media pundits think Adhaalath should be wholly exempt from mainstream media coverage. There are two primary reasons offered as support for this position: Adhaalath is too stupid to be worthy of attention or Adhaalath is too good (read too Islamic) to criticise. The inevitable conspiracy theorists, meanwhile, see media coverage of Adhaalath as evidence of a covert operation run (probably by Mossad) to discredit Islam in the Maldives.

Quite apart from the fact that no right-minded journalist would turn down the opportunity to cover displays of such gargantuan stupidity by politicians, there are many reasons for the public watchdog to keep a wary eye on this party.

A party of little consequence?

It is a mistake to assume that Adhaalath has no political power because it has few bodies in state institutions. Power is not exercised simply by those in government; and governing is not done merely by elected politicians. The power Adhaalath has is greater than the sum of its political seats – it governs by dictating faith and thus penetrates further into people’s lives than a democratic government can.

Consider this: the Constitution requires that every Maldivian citizen be a Muslim. Automatically, that puts every citizen within the legitimate reach of any authority that claims to know Islam best. It is this power to govern the conduct of every citizen through a supposedly privileged knowledge of ‘true Islam’ that makes parties like Adhaalath important. It is a power that is outside the boundaries of legislation and government policy, yet manages to carry the most legitimacy among the people.

Over the last few years, Adhaalath has positioned itself as The Religious Party. Given the emphasis that Islam places on truth and honesty, it is the most politically advantageous position that any political party can occupy in the Maldives today. People are daily disillusioned by reports of corruption at every level of government, and within communities. Two years of intensely partisan politics have created strife within previously harmonious communities. The decentralisation project is increasingly revealing itself to be deeply flawed with untrained local councillors and people clashing on a regular basis. The promise of ‘equal justice for all’ remains not just unfulfilled but is being intentionally ignored, there being neither political will nor courage to change the status quo.

Let there be truth

In uncertain times, people flock to those who can shepherd them towards certainty. Adhaalath’s position as ‘the only honest party’ is proving attractive to many disillusioned voters. The septuagenarian Gayoom’s recent political acrobatics was an added bonus for Adhaalath as disgruntled voters, unsure of which letter of the alphabet to choose from, signed up for the simplicity and straightforwardness of ‘Adhaalath.’

Gayoom’s ploy to stem the number of people leaving him by aligning himself with Adhaalath’s version of Islam backfired somewhat. For many Maldivians who regarded the right path to Islam as intertwined with the road leading to Gayoom’s favour, his endorsement of Adhaalath provided a way of leaving the increasingly erratic Zaeem without betraying their religious loyalties. It is a little wonder that Adhaalath boasted a bump in membership numbers in recent weeks.

For the minority who have been exposed to alternative ways of thinking, Adhaalath’s policies may appear formulated in an intellectual vacuum, and no doubt provides much cause for levity. For the majority, however, Adhaalath speaks the truth. It is a claim Adhaalath never hesitates to reiterate, invariably shoring it up with references to the Qur’an.

The power of such truth claims is evident in the religious right’s ability to convince the population of an entire island that they were about to be infiltrated by a group of Jews pretending to be philanthropic farmers, whose real aim was not the local cabbage patch but preaching Christianity. It would be a mistake to underestimate the power of any group capable of convincing a population that such a scenario is not just probable but imminent.

The known unknowns

The Maldivian people, like most people across the world, have been put through an ideological and political wringer in the last decade. Unlike most other countries going through the chaos of transition, however, a majority of the Maldivian population has been vastly shielded from the intense debates surrounding the enormous changes in the world’s political, economic and ideological landscapes.

Thirty years in which ignorance was used as a tool of governance would have that affect. The long cultural and educational stagnation has created a society in which a majority of people are incapable of critically engaging with the world around them. The democracy that flourishes in such a society cannot help but be different from a democracy that takes shape in a society more widely exposed to diverse views and opinions.

In the absence of alternative views, on what comparative basis can the majority question the policies Adhaalath advocates? After all, the leaders of Adhaalath can recite the Qur’an, often from memory, and always have handy a suitable interpretation of Hadith whatever the situation. When they have all the answers, what is there to question?

Among a population that is being directed to spend their lives preparing for afterlife, there is no authority greater than the one that offers them a straight path to heaven. Adhaalath has positioned itself to be just that.

For those who advise against scrutiny of Adhaalath – if not now, then when? After the first person is hanged for blasphemy? After the first woman is stoned? After all civil liberties have been eroded in the name of Islam?

Refusing Adhaalath the ‘oxygen of publicity’ is not going to wane its influence. With the pulpits theirs for the taking, Adhaalath does not need the mainstream media for its message. Ignoring Adhaalath, on the other hand, will allow it to quietly perpetuate its ideology among people until every follower will happily to make a detour to the ballot box en route to heaven.

All comment pieces are the sole view of the author and do not reflect the editorial policy of Minivan News. If you would like to write an opinion piece, please send proposals to [email protected]


58 thoughts on “Comment: Adhaalath out of sight, out of mind?”

  1. "proud to be muslim"

    I think you completely missed his point.

    As Muslims' we're increasingly being drawn into an polarized world, where the choice appears to be 1) Be educated 2)Be a Muslim.

    Those of us who love the Sciences and argue that we could be both are dismissed as 'arrogant', just like you have.

    The truth is this - Most Mullahs that "lead" us know practically next to nothing outside of their scriptures, and often appear to be hostile to ideas that don't exist in that realm.

    I see this at their public speeches as well. They bring in "Dr." somebody, who speaks utterly stupid, easily discredited idiocy and calls it Scientific proof of the religion - which I personally believe is both a mockery of science as well as religion.

    This has the additional effect that the Muslims who follow these idiots in turn become hostile to the ideas of Science and education.

    You claim that the Earth is naught but a speck of dust compared to the Universe, but this knowledge was brought to you by Scientists.

    The fact that you and I are typing this on a web page is the results of hard work and efforts of thousands and scientists and engineers of centuries - people who value knowledge.

    The educated man is not necessarily arrogant. Often times, it is the educated who can truly grasp how insignificant humans and their holy wars are, compared to the majesty of the universe.

  2. Furthermore Yameen, it is educated (so called atheist) are more humanist, compassionate loving people. They can value human life and do respect every human being irrespective their race, religion, gender, and social behaviors. They know that the life is gift from creature and has to be respected at all costs. Educated (atheist) do value human freedom, prosperity and development. It is universal belief, if some craps from Maldives hate them does not make any difference, Science is the truth and truth will prevail, some bearded Mullas like Bari, Hussan Rasheed and Ilyas and all Adalath believers are irrelevant, so long free world is in power, nothing can stop educated people to free innocent human being who are enslaved from evil teaching.

  3. @Yameen
    The choice which appears to be as you put is what it appears to you, not to others. Islam urges muslims to excel in learning not to reject it. This idea that somehow islam forbids ppl from seeking knowledge is baseless hatred enemies of islam use to smear the religion. You don't need Awlaki to tell you that.

    The knowledge about earth, cosmos these were revealed by science thats true, but it doesn't mean somehow religion was there to hinder the progress of science. religion encouraged it and humanity progressed to reveal the works of god. Life induces growth, so science was bound to grown and eventually reveal secrets of nature. we muslims know this and we have no problem with that. its only the atheists who have a problem with science claiming it all to themselves as to say somehow they invented science. that is a very ignorant view of science.

    Dunno what your problem is, but you are making very absurd generalizations..
    you have a very idealistic view of life of which i think the majority of human race is in deficient? You say science is the truth and the truth will prevail and who exactly is disputing that? what are you implying by all these nice words? that somehow you only know that science is true and science will triumph? really?

  4. While adaalath's extreme views on certain aspects of life should be a great concern for us, the writer unfairly belittles them as being stupid (re jokes on spreading Christianity etc.).

    Few people I know fancy adaalaath n many self-righteous preaching mullahs, but without fail if they have done 1 single good thing it is standing up against this government selling us out to Zionism..!

    Not flaunting religiosity but as a human being what the state of isreal does to palestinians is downright disgusting, and adaalaath has to be applauded at least for the only party taking this stand in public.

    Also, they rightly point out the dangers of inviting Mossad into the country. Once in, they'll never be truly out. It's one thing to be democratic n liberal, it's entirely another thing to go overboard with "I love israel". For christ sake we're not the US..!

    Don't agree with them on most issues but credit where it's due - fight against Zionism is duly applauded..!!! And at any rate these extremists are the lesser of the 2 evils by any count: can't see who anyone from a humanist point of view can stand what Jews in power do in israel...!

  5. "proud to be a muslim"

    I don't know if you're being sincere, or just stating that as an article of faith.

    I do not see you on the other article where Adhaalath put out a press release against MAAS for doing a lecture on Science.

    Am I to believe that "enemies of Islam" instigated Adhaalath to put out that release to smear Islam?

    I do not claim Islam is by nature anti-Science. In fact, I have argued against that here:

    But the fact is that too many Mullahs these days are outright hostile to science and thinking. Islam definitely was a proponent of learning, and its early history is evidence of that.

    But I simply can't say that about Muslims today - and neither can you.

    We are plagued with idiots like Harun Yahya who actually lead a movement of anti-intellectualism, making a mockery out of science. Prove me wrong.

  6. Proud Muslim
    My post is focused on religious dogma that contradicts science, and I know people like adalath do not believe in science, the main reason is fundamentalist Islam is totally against science. Adaltha is driven by these fundamentalist ideas who view the world from 07th century eyes without any education except dissemination of Quran and words of Mohamed. These guys will kill non muslims ,cut hands of socially disturbed individuals, will stone the woman to death , will cage woman in a pile of cloths, will ban banks and all economics functioning, educations and you can go on without an end that is against human development if they have power to do so.

  7. Minivan news being a registered newspaper, falling under maldivian jurdistiction has been breaking the existing laws and regulations of maldives. They have been selectively targeting islam in their news covergae. They are continuously publishing islamophobic opinion pieces from people running hate blogs and anti-islam facebook pages. Their comment section is filled with hateful, degrading and threatening contents against islam. We believe that by publishing those, the editorial board of minivan news has broken certain laws of Maldives. We will be making formal complaints to the Maldives Media Council, Maldives Police Service and Ministry of Islamic Affairs. Our lawsuit against minivan news will also be submitted to the criminal court in a short period.


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