Comment: The extremities of democracy

The biggest threat to Maldivian democracy, it is increasingly said, is ‘extremism’.

Yes, there is an existential threat to Maldivian identity and its traditional belief system from specific sects and ideological movements claiming a monopoly on Islam.

But, how effective a counter strategy is it to pin the broad label of ‘extremists’ on them, describe them as a threat to our democracy, and place them outside of rational engagement? Is it not a contradiction in terms to describe as a threat to our democracy what are in fact the strongest, loudest and most influential voices within it?

Ignoring the role that democracy has played in their success reduces the chances of mounting a credible challenge. Consider how they came to be such change-makers in the first place.

The campaign for the ‘hearts and minds’ of the Maldivian people, which the Wahabbis or Salafis (and/or other groups yet to be officially documented) have run for the last decade is as thoroughly modern a campaign as any in the world’s most established democracies.

It was launched at the grassroots level and taken to the very top, sustained throughout by clever use of modern media. Their message is simple and powerful as most media-savvy messages are: “We come with The Right Islam. Reform, or forever be damned”.

From every available media platform – traditional and new, mainstream and niche – they have, for the last ten years, repeated the same message: “Our Islam is The Right Islam. Embrace it, or go to hell.”

These movements, just like any other successful democratic campaign, did not merely saturate the media with their message, but made their presence felt deep within the community. They pounded the pavements to talk the talk, made door-to-door calls, opened corner shops, performed acts of charity and carved out for themselves important roles within the community.

Their representatives are in Parliament, lobbying hard to push through changes that would make the law of their choice the dominant (or only) law in the country. With the same goal in mind, they impede the progress of any legislation they deem incompatible with their own ideologies, dismissing them as ‘un-Islamic’.

In doing so, they reiterate the same message at the top as they do at the bottom: “We have brought with us The Right Islam, the only Islam. Reform, or be forever damned.”

Their presence is similarly strong in the administration itself, with their representatives holding office at all levels from the ministerial cabinet to the filing cabinet. They have forged strategic political alliances that allow them leverage in key policy decisions they deem are in conflict with their ideologies. They have eager activists ready to take to the streets to protest against policy decisions they are unhappy with. Their presence is prominent in the judiciary to an even greater extent than it is in the other two branches of power.

From educational qualifications to dress code and type of punishment meted out – it is their beliefs that are being pushed as the judicial norm.

Bolstered by their unprecedented success on the domestic front, they have tried to stretch their reach to foreign policy and beyond, offering ‘extremist rehabilitation expertise’ to the wider world. Throughout all this, their campaign remains on message: “We have brought you The Right Islam. Reform, or be forever damned.”

The successes of their campaign to establish themselves as the official form of Islamic belief in the Maldives cannot be denied: it is most startlingly visible in our appearance – from the way we dress and how we comport ourselves to our demeanour.

Beyond the visible, these movements are rapidly changing the very fabric of Maldivian society. They have: (re)introduced draconian practises long since abandoned such as marriage of under-age girls, sex slavery and genital mutilation; legitimised domestic violence by providing instructions on a ‘right way’ and a ‘wrong way’ to hit a woman; sanctioned marital rape as an inviolable right of every husband to demand sex from his wife(s); reduced the female gender to no more than objects of sex, servitude and reproduction; and sexualised girls, some times as young as four or five, by making them wear the veil. This is a practise that, in effect, condones paedophilia with its underlying assumption that it is natural or normal – not aberrant or abnormal – for adult males to be sexually aroused by prepubescent children.

These movements, along with others, are fundamentally changing what it means to be Maldivian, what it means to be Muslim in the Maldives, and what Islam means to Maldivians.

But, whatever we may think of these movements – enlightened, misguided or crazy – it would be unwise to place them outside of our democracy. Such a claim is based on the assumption that democracy is an antidote to extreme thoughts, beliefs and any resultant violence.

To the contrary, research has shown that democracy – precisely because of its inherent freedoms – offers a more conducive an environment to the expression of extreme views, thoughts, and violence, than other forms of government. If we are to adequately deal with these movements, we need to do it within, and with, democracy.

We must first recognise the movements for what they are: political actors engaged in a democratic battle for power. They are running on the platform of religion, heaven is their campaign promise, and they have taken Islam hostage as their running mate.

Instead of labelling them ‘extremists’ – synonymous now with ‘crazies’ – they need to be confronted as rational actors with a specific political agenda. Without that recognition, it is not possible to adequately challenge their bid to establish a religious hegemony in the Maldives.

Seeing them as political contenders rather than a purely religious presence also creates the opportunity to loosen their stranglehold on Islam. Their success in convincing Maldivians that they have brought us ‘The Right Islam’ is most evident in how any criticism of their practices, rituals and beliefs has come to be immediately and unequivocally equated with criticism of Islam itself.

The myth that Islam is not just monotheistic but also monolithic has been propagated so successfully by the campaign machines of these pseudo-religious ideologues that it has come to be accepted as the ‘truth’, a given that is rarely if ever questioned.

It is this deafening silence of the opposition and their inability to perceive of, and engage with, these movements as legitimate forces within our democracy that pose the biggest challenge to its existence. None of the organs of democracy – of the state or within civil society – have so far challenged their campaigns and their Messiah-like claims of having brought The Right Islam to ignorant Maldives living in Jaahiliyaa.

The Maldivian Constitution ties its people unequivocally to Islam, but it does not demand that citizens follow a particular sect or ideology within the religion.

These ideologues – as part of our democracy – have every right to their beliefs, but they do not have the right to coerce or force all other Maldivians to follow them in their chosen path. It is the democratic right of every Maldivian to refuse to listen to their messages, to freely discuss, and observe, other ways of practising Islam and to deny them a monopoly on God.

Neglecting to do so is not just self-censorship but a betrayal of the democratic ideals that the Maldives and a majority of its people have embraced.

These religious sects have gained such influence within the Maldivian society not only because of the strengths of their campaign but equally because of the weaknesses of the opposition.

As a democracy, the government cannot be in the business of regulating people’s beliefs; it is up to the people to stand up for themselves and refuse to become subservient to another. If those who disagree remain silent – either as hostages to the dogma that to oppose these politico-religious movements is to oppose Islam; or because they are branded ‘extremists’ and denied rationality – their success is assured.

If that is not the direction in which we wish to take the Maldives, we need to find out who these people are, what they believe in and what they really want. We need to create a public sphere in which we can openly challenge these beliefs and goals. The biggest threat to our democracy is our failure to use our democratic right to disagree. It is in this silence that the frighteningly real prospect of a democratically-elected theocracy is growing stronger every day.

Munirah Moosa is a journalism and international relations graduate. She is currently engaged in research into the radicalisation of Muslim communities and its impact on international security.

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]


42 thoughts on “Comment: The extremities of democracy”

  1. Maldives is NOT a democratic country! We do not have the freedom of thought and religion here. Not even for Muslims, you either be a Sunni (extreme or not)or be pulled up and harassed! A fine democracy we boast! Yes...these words are coming from a very frustrated citizen.

  2. very well said. their campaign has been very successfull that even the most rational people i know have changed to follow their ideology. the crisis is very real and a major revolution is needed to combat this.

  3. "It is the democratic right of every Maldivian to refuse to listen to their messages, to freely discuss, and observe, other ways of practising Islam..."

    Ok. What are the other ways of practising Islam???

  4. Great article.. I'd b very interested to read about Munira's findings on her research into the radicalization of the Muslim communities.. Pls do share it with us..

  5. Frustration, injustice, the absence of genuine self sacrificial caring, these things create anger and hatred. Islamic "extremism" just gives this anger hate an ideological vehicle with which to vent itself, yet it also feeds this hatred until it becomes a huge "monster."

    Islamic extremism feeds a victim mentality which then reinforces the anger, justifies it, magnifies it.

    The nature of it is very diversionary, as it focuses the hatred against the wrong causes and the hatred is exploited by certain power hungry ppl to serve their own greed.

    I have a lot more to say about this. But I feel that although the efforts of minivan (freedom) news are noble and the guys good hearted, they have been handed a situation where they are constitutionally restricted from offering the real, the only antidote (anti-biotic) to this disease of hatred.

    The best that they can do is offer a good painkiller, a "liberal" form of Islam which serenades the soul like an opium whilst the real issues they are unable, constitutionally and legally, to offer a cure too.

    I hope I am wrong, but I don't think I am.

    Anyway, regardless minivan news I applaud your efforts at trying to give the picture.

    Munirah Moosa, perhaps you have presented the most merciful piece that can be presented under such circumstances, I commend your efforts.

  6. Israel has been condemned by UN & International court for violation of human rights, illegal occupation of Palestine many times.

  7. ekala muneera hilunee dhoa .. why? now look muneera !!! where were you all these days ? were you in hibernation period ? if someone with a beard comes out your battery gets recharged?

  8. Dear Munirah,

    it would be interesting for you to dig deeper into motives behind an individual who converts to radical practices of islam in the Maldives.

    Leaving aside intrinsic drivers such as "your special place in heaven", the extrinsic incentives offered in this world (not the after) are of great importance i believe.

    We know of 2 Mrf 500 notes being distributed with each text book teaching ways of the new radical Islam. One for the person who receives the book, the other for the person who distributed it. There are people desperate enough to change their ideology of religion just for this financial incentive.

    You may also notice that amount of long bearded business community have profoundly increased in our society during last decade with their stronghold and footing in businesses such as fabric retail. Where is this funding coming from. Its certainly not from an Islamic bank. The root may go further down the rabbit hole finally to a bearded arab counting his suicide bombers for cash inside a cave in afganistan.

    It would also be interesting to know if you have profiled the typical population who have converted to this new version of islam in the Maldives.

    Perhaps there maybe a strong correlation between those who are unemployed and those who practise this form of islam. This may lead to a conclusion perhaps radicalism is being supported by other factors such as lack of jobs for young children finishing school and families not encouraging children to join working population but rather entertaining a lazy lifestyle even after their kids finish A levels and O levels.

    Perhaps it may be the systematic failure of the education system over the last 30 years where schools produced more drop outs and below standard students than high achievers. Leaving alot of displaced people seeking a way out of failure in this life, so this new idea becomes a far more appealing prospect. pray 5 times a day and worship god for an eternal after life.

    I am very glad to know that a Maldivian is taking an academic approach and investigating this part of our rapidly evolving culture and religion since the beginning of the democracy movement.

    I only hope the people in this government take your recommendations and conclusions to heart and take rapid action in order to avoid our country from literally returning back to the way people lived in Mecca during the early 600s

  9. Wow, Munirah Moosa !

    Excellent article - intelligent, challenging, thought-provoking and very well-written. The best thing I've read all year.

    Cos the Wahabbis or Salafis (as you put it) take any criticism of themselves or their ideas as a direct afront against Islam, how can this be countered by reasoned argument without appearing anti-Islamic ? And maybe more importantly, how could a public voice be heard without a spokesperson brave enough to face things head on ?

    Please continue with your research and writings.

  10. Maldivians are more educated now, all round, than ever before.

    At the same time, they are more fanatic and extreme as Muslims than ever before.

    Usually, in Christian countries, high levels of education among the populace has been followed by more liberalism and tolerance.

    I do not know why this is not happening in the Maldives.

    Muslim scholars who have succeeded Mr Gayoom have been much more extreme in their views than Mr Gayoom was.

    My father was a Sheikhul Islam and Chief Justice in the 1940s.

    I have a letter he gave me as a letter of advice when I went abroad as a student.

    Much of the letter is about the teachings of Islam.

    Looking at the polarised religious views of many fellow Maldivians today on their national religion, I am sorry to say that we are going backwards in our religious thinking in the Maldive Republic.

    We should be going forwards.

  11. Please do let me know if any poll has been done throughout Maldives in every atoll on random people on your following statement:

    "The biggest threat to Maldivian democracy, it is increasingly said, is ‘extremism’."

    If not, than is not your argument flawed to start with? In western universities, we are encouraged to do surveys and polls before making any type of statements in our projects/assignments. Especially in journalism, politics, comparative religion, international relations and security. So since your doing the part of journalism, pls try to give some good evidence to any statements which makes the core argument of your article.

  12. I totally agree, but even the very educated and right minded people are intimidated to face public opposing these extremists. AS soon as you say a single word of truth against them you will be called a hypocrite and an infidel who deserves death. Believe me this is where we are now in our democracy. The extremist views are spreading like a raging fire. It is only behind the curtains we can fight these extremists.But we will never give up this.

  13. Munirah..Great article. Well articulated thoughts!

    Nevertheless, please do realize that it would be impossible to engage with these radicals or have a decent debate with them on a democratic platform.

    These lunatics see themselves as Messiahs sent by God to preach and convert all the muslims to their version of the "Correct Islam" and drag us all back to Middle Ages. If anyone dares to challenge them or question them, then that person is hounded and condemned as an apostate.

    Any person with courage to raise a voice against their dogma is threatened with violence. Even family members are not spared. Such is the hate and cruelty that these fanatics propagate.

    No wonder the vast majority of people are silent. They fear for their lives. They fear the Mullahs who would condemn them to hell in front of their neighbors, family and the public. Most people just go about their daily lives hoping and silently praying that things will change for the better.

    The spread of radicalism is a challenge for muslim communities more than any threat that it poses to the rest of the world.

    It is not impossible to deal with this menace. The Government must take the lead. With a well formulated strategy and a plan, we can start a counter campaign to turn the tide. But it won't be quick or easy. We will need at least 10 to 15 years before we see any signs of real progress.

  14. The idea of the Salafists/Extremists is to reduce Maldivian identity to a singularity. They have absolutely no say on what we should be or what we are. Democracy is not just about marketing campaigns where some salesman (Shaik Ilyas) with unkept beards and dressed in clownish uniforms claim themselves as authorised resellers and sole distributors for the genuine product with God's brand embossed on it. Public preaching from a pulpit is not a hallmark of democracy but of ignorance and it is a revival of the Master-slave relationship of Jaahiliyya (where we obediently do the Mullah's bidding and he pays us in invisible sawab and blessings). Democracy is built on public discussion.. public deliberation, reasoning and decision-making. It is not a Western product. It has been practised in Asoka's India, in Empress Suiko's japan.. Mullah wretches should be dragged into the ring of public reasoning.. down from their pulpits and their agenda for the enslavement of the mind exposed.
    cf. Sen's "Identity and Violence"

  15. An interesting comment was once made by President Nasheed (before he became the President) in a small debate before a journalist from Al-Jazeera with the Honorable Mr. Mohammmed Nasheed who was then the Information Minister under the Gayoom adminstration, and the Honorable Mr. Umar Naseer who was then the leader of the IDP. Mohammed 'Anni' Nasheed expressed that he believed a Government cannot end extremist attitudes through repression.

    Despite the fact that recent events in the Maldives (flag burning, the repression of women etc...) really do seem to make Anni's liberal beleif seem optimistic to the point of being naive', I can still say that ultimately, Anni was correct.

    Repression does not deal with the underlying issues which causes the hatred, it merely makes most people afraid of expressing that hatred openly whilst brewing that hatred like a pressure cooker.

    It can easily be argued that these problems of religiously masked hatred were created, initially anyway, due to the repression of people's hopes and ambitions (read the psuedo-anarchist like view on liberty such as Noam Chomsky for an example.)

    Evidence that I have seen, however, suggests to me that by merely granting freedom and removing political repression are nowhere near enough to get rid of the hatred. In fact, when freedom is given, often, the hatred does the opposite of dissipating, it vents itself fully. It reminds me of a cobra - lying still, wanting to attack yet afraid, then standing strong and venting - ready to attack once it has the power and freedom to do so!

    For example, about a year before Khomeini came into power in Iran in 1979, the US felt it had made a mistake giving too much power to the Shah to repress any dissidence. The US encouraged the Shah to remove many restrictions on thought and belief. The US did this because, anti-US sentiment was reaching boiling point and the US felt it needed to alleviate some of the tension it created and thought that hatred would die if freedom was given. However, Khomeini's fierce anti-US tapes and messages, banned by the Shah, all of a sudden made legal, reached EVERYONE, not only the ultra-religious and those in the game of smuggling propaganda illegally. All of a sudden, the hateful felt the courage to vent that hatred like never before, that whipped the whole nation up into a frienzy of hatred as the "fire' caught on, and WHAM! The Iranian ppl used the freedom they had been given to throw themselves into a darker, more brutal ideological prison than EVER!

    When the US encouraged the Saudi's to remove certain restrictions, extremist opposition, which lay dormant through repression, came "out of the closet" like never before!

    The same thing in Iraq when Saddam was taken from power.

    Let me make this clear.

    What I have said does not mean that hatred can be eradicated through repression! It can only be repressed through repression. Sometimes, unfortunately, until hatred and violence can be removed from a person's heart, it MUST be repressed for the protection of others.

    Yet only true selfless caring and personal humility can take away the disease of hatred in a person's soul. This may take years of pain and caring to achieve.

    I repeat, hatred does not just go away through the granting of poltical freedom. That is totally misguided, anarchist like overly optimistic nonsense.

    Political freedom does not automatically make people caring. That, quite frankly, is the lazy way of doing politics.

    I am totally against excessively laissez-faire attituded, they are irresponsible and dangerous.

    It is the cultivation of an attitude of caring which gives people the power to use freedom responsibly.

  16. cry for ever but you couldn't get freedom of religion in the Maldives insha allah ,,.. you are the people of extremism... we dont want democracy religion...democracy is extremist religion it spread robbery,,etc,,,

  17. Many in the Maldives share the alarm of growing religious extremism that Munirah depicts. Many share the same urgency to find a lasting solution to a problem many view as corrosive, and ultimately divisive. She has drawn a vivid picture of the tactics in use by these 'extremists', and of the underlying motivations that propel this movement, but has come short on offering any explanation why such a caustic interpretation of our common faith is finding such widespread appeal in the country at this particular moment in time. What is it so different about now? What has changed? What it is about this extreme views of religion that we find so emotionally comforting, that did not exist before? The author must strive to find answers to these questions if she hopes to recommend an enduring remedy. I find her offer of a solution, "to openly challenge these beliefs and goals" misguided and a bit unimaginative. The solution, I believe, must lie in our ability to use our democracy, as embryonic as it may be, to confront the root cause of the problem. 'Extremism' is no more than one symptom of a larger underlying malady.

    We must begin, I believe, by accepting that our society is broken. We can all see the signposts of social failure; from increased drug and alcohol abuse to escalating trends of crime and violence; from high homicide rates to high rates of imprisonment; from fear of increased vulnerability to violent crimes to loss of respect, tolerance and social hierarchy; from rampant child abuse to declining trends of general educational achievement; from declining levels of trust and honesty to the erosion of shared values; from the rise in incidences of anxiety, depression and other mental health illnesses to increased resistance to social mobility; from high divorce rates and seriously broken families to the lack of a sense of belonging to the community to name a few, and the list goes on and on. Whichever atoll, island or community you care to look at in this country, these conditions remain largely true. These are features that prominently characterize our society. When you place an adolescent in this background with his (or her) aspirations, what wonder is it that (s)he feels threatened, helpless and stressed? What does it do to his/her self esteem? Is it beyond our understanding that the context is already set for him (or her) to start his life with petty anti-social behavior and graduate to either violet crime or religious extremism in search of identity, purpose and meaning? The extremist community and the crime gang both offer a sense of security, belonging and respect. If we are to do away with extremism in this country, we need to fix our dysfunctional society first.

    But how do we fix our society? Can we use the relatively benign tools of policy and the budget at the state's disposal to fix it, without resorting to direct confrontation with the extremists? How did we get here, anyway? We can recall our society was not this badly broken in the early 90's or before then. What changed? I have a tendency to blame my toothache on Gayoom, and as I am wont to do, I place the blame for breaking our society squarely on his shoulders. It all began in 1994 with the legislation (3/94) that allowed the government to charge bed rent on all existing resort islands which resulted in increased revenue to the government by an order of magnitude over the preceding years. It is evident from the statistical records and census data that this increased access to cash by the government and Gayoom's brand of favoritism combined to create an ever widening inequality in real income between the rich and the poor. In the absence of income data it may not be possible to reliably quantify the differences in income distribution and wealth, but we can speculate that 80% of the wealth in the country is held by the richest 10% of the population. Study after study, in countries large and small, rich and poor, has consistently shown a high degree of correlation between income inequality and social failure. Not surprisingly, Pakistan, Yemen, Sudan and Saudi Arabia tend to be categorized amongst the countries with the highest income disparity. Again, study after study has established it is not the absolute level of mean income, whether high or low, that breaks a society but the inequality in income between the rich and the poor within the society.

    I will not go into the mechanism of how income inequality translates into weakened social cohesion. That income inequality causes stress, anxiety, low self-esteem, a sense of inferiority and how it acts as a trigger for violence and leads to extreme views, and the specific psychological mechanisms that come into play are all well documented. This country had less extremely rich individuals and less extremely poor persons, in relative terms, pre-1994, and it was a tolerant, caring, less violent and more vibrant society we lived in then. We have the power to reduce today's income inequality through fairer tax and social security legislations. If we could achieve this, we could reduce religious extremism and violent gang behavior drastically. We have a tax bill and a social security bill going through the parliament. Whether we can walk the streets at night in peace may depend on what the parliament does with these bills. A fairer tax bill could shave beards.

  18. @imran
    You're absolutely correct. The biggest threat to extremist Islam is discussion and reason.

  19. There is no God. Atleast there is no irrefutable proof of existence of a God.

    Religions are man-made idealogies to create a workable community.

    But most are afraid to admit this, for fear of persecution by the mullahs (who stands to lose everything). Islam is spread by fear and intimidation.

    I want religious freedom in the Maldives. I wish all do respect each others beliefs. I dont care if I do not go to muslim-heaven, in fact I will gladly give my slot to any body else.

  20. @ Munirah Moosa

    Did you say "The Maldivian Constitution ties its people unequivocally to Islam, but it does not demand that citizens follow a particular sect or ideology within the religion."?

    I have noticed you often cook up, lies in your meaningless grit. Have you ever read the constitution?? I don't think so.

    Here is proof that your are one silly, congenital liar!

    According to Article 2, The Maldives is a sovereign, independent, democratic
    Republic based on the principles of Islam. (Principles of Islam I think would mean Quran and Sunnah)

    According to Article 149, a person appointed as a Judge in accordance with law, must be a SUNNI Muslim. Why would all Judges require to be SUNNI Muslim? Obviously because the the judgment is meant to be passed on SUNNI subjects in a country that requires all it's citizens to be Muslims in accordance with the principles of Islam.

    According to Article 109, a person elected as President shall be a SUNNI Muslim.

    Before that, according to Article 106, all executive power is vested in the President and the President shall be Head of State, the Head of Government, and the Commander in Chief of the Armed Forces. All should fall under SUNNI Muslims.

    With that any one who is not a retard, would understand that wherever in the Constitution it speaks of the citizens having to be Muslims - the SUNNI branch is meant. That's only how you can base your religion on the PRINCIPLES of Islam as prescribed in Article 2 - meaning Quran and Sunnah.

  21. There is nothing called extremist Islam. Islam is Quran and Sunnah.

    I believe the biggest threat to our nation is from the extremely pious Secularists/Atheists.

    In other words the 'laa dheenee baigandu'

  22. The author has to some extent exaggerated the power of Wahhabis. True that most women wear buruga. True that more men follow Taliban fashion. But the situation is not so grave as you tried to demonstrate. Wahhabis are not loved by the majority, if anything they are hated and unwelcome. Look at the election results. Puritanical Islam is impossible to practise today. Mullahs are exposing themselves with illogical teachings and handing out solutions that is out of touch for modern man's problems.

  23. There seem to be similarities with the Situation in Maldives 2010 and those in Germany 1929-1933. Maldives will wake up after a Stanilistic Nightmare, and only then realize which values are part of the set they really want.

    The only way forward seems to push development of "real", that means "defensible" democracy, which protects itself against such foreign influences and guarantees the human rights of every citizen against other people and in front of the state.

    Secularization is something Maldives has to achieve as quickly as possible, if their democracy is meant to survive.

  24. @heck
    You're correct when you say there are no Islams. That there is only one singular Islam. The Islam that is in us to submit and desire Paradise. Perhaps the difference is in how urgently one wants to join virgins in Paradise. They are extremist in their urges.

    Regarding SUNNI islam, what you must acknowledge is SUNNI Islam is based on a collection of hearsay collection 200 years after the death of the Prophet (PBUH). If you want to build your faith on gossip that is your choice. But don't you dare defile Islam with your devious rants.

  25. @ ismail Al

    "Islam is spread by fear and intimidation."

    What about international celebrities accepting Islam?

    What kind of intimidation or fear occurs there?

  26. I don't see such a huge problem (though your article was good, Munirah!). As Alibeyya said, these Wahabis are unwelcome in the country. With their mentality they are not "Maldivian" anymore.

    I also don't see any future for Wahabism. To survive, traits must be favoured by nature. I don't see any advantage neither for natural selection, nor for sexual selection (DEFINITELY not the latter - how unsexy are these pants and stinky clothes?!).

    Whereas "belief" or maximum "religion" in a peaceful context could be beneficial for societies, or at least a by-product, extremism is definitely not. These people constantly feel being threatened to existence, be it by "Westeners", "Secularists", "Atheists", "the Chrisitans", "the Jews", and so on.

    I'd rather see a natural selection AGAINST extremism, particularly the one which covers a woman from head to toe.

    Being deprived of any ray of sunlight whatsoever can have dramatic consequences on bones (and cause other diseases), since sunlight is needed to generate Vitamin D.

    I don't see a long survival for them - regarded on long term. It may be a "trend" at this time... being "different", pretending to be a "better Muslim" than others, showing how to humiliate women, when actually their genitals are uncontrollable. Women in veils and hot skinny jeans still attract the attention of men. In the end, I don't see any change.

    Men are still the ones that go out to find a mate, and women still make themselves pretty to get chosen. Just as our ancestors did. Wahabism didn't change that.

    Maximum what will happen on the short term is that tourism gets lost because of extremism. There are similar tropical destinations, cheaper than the Maldives, where the "evil Westeners" can go to. Economic breakdown. Financial crisis. People will beg God for help. He won't answer.

    He'll just say:

    "I gave you this wonderful country. You had a chance to make something out of it. You missed it".

  27. @heck... reading your own interpretation and trying to apply to the rest?

    Read your own lines "Principles of Islam *I think* would mean ...." ... does anyone care what you think 'would' mean?

    Are you denying that Islam doesn't have sects... different followers of Prophet. Do you want a lesson of Islam from me? I mean me?

    Pakaaaaaaaas. Come out from your hiding and face reality... what the 'heck'?

  28. @ Marina (the Atheist)

    "These people constantly feel being threatened to existence, be it by “Westeners”, “Secularists”, “Atheists”, “the Chrisitans”, “the Jews”, and so on."

    The ORIGINAL should always be protected from FAKE.

    Nothing strange about it.

  29. @ Nazim

    "Are you denying that Islam doesn’t have sects…"

    Nono-nono-no-no! How can I ever deny?

    There may be as many as seventy three sects!

  30. @ Dr.Phil

    "The only way forward seems to push development of “real”, that means “defensible” democracy"

    Does "democracy" always come with a prefix or suffix?

  31. This is a very well written article. It is exactly what can be expressed at this time, especially on an issue that is an 'extremely' sensitive one to many Maldivians. I agree with everything Munirah has to say, and more importantly I agree with what she doesn't say. What she can't say.

    When these 'great learned scholars' who created the constitution decided to tie Maldivians down to a religion-based-identity constitutionally, they really could not have predicted what forms Islam could take, or what Islams that can arise transnationally due to socio-political factors. This is a clear danger of a theocratic society.

    Because of this constitutional fact, and other factors, language is very important when it comes to addressing these issues. One must not phrase things a certain way as it might lose the appeal it has to moderate Muslims who are against religious intolerance. These 'moderate' Muslims are the majority of this country, and it is important not to alienate them from this discussion. If they are alienated, reforming this society to a more tolerant one cannot be achieved.

    The movement against extremism should be based around a liberal Muslim identity that is against religious intolerance. NGOs such as Salaf and political parties that force Maldivians into this particular brand of Islam should be charged legally for destroying the religious harmony of this country. As it is they who have introduced this new form of Islam overriding the synchretic form of Islam that had existed in the Maldives.

    Journalists should focus specifically on religious rhetoric and how it is used as a tool for political legitimacy, if these articles could be in Dhivehi, that would be even better.

    If a political party existed with Islam as their basis, it should not reflect one that is a radical reinterpretation of Islam, coercing people into thinking that Islam is monolithic, intertwining global and domestic issues to make it seem as it were one in terms of an imaginary transnational Nation of Islam, or curtailing the ability for the society to come with their own conclusions by force-feeding a specific religious identity through fear and manipulation at large-scale public events.

    How have all of these things been able to happen even more within the past 4-5 years? Yes Bingo democracy. So it is time that this democracy was utilised to show the true colors of these people who have indeed hijacked Islam. I think the only way this would happen is when Adalaath party tries to gain power, otherwise the other political parties would not dare question them publicly as they will lose out on the religious-credibility they get via Adaalath. Such is the politics of this country and any country with majority Muslims.

    We are quite frankly effed for always, unless there is opposition to such attempts by religionists to define who we are, and who our cultural masters are.

    I hope my drivel is useful in someway.

  32. Dear heck,

    Are you saying that the “Westeners”, the “Secularists”, the “Atheists”, “the Chrisitans”, “the Jews”, and so on, are FAKES?

    Though you call me an atheist (I am a secular and tolerant Muslim, by the way, but let this be it), I would never say that there is only one truth and the rest is fake.

    The early humans are, as far as we know by today, not coming from an Arab country - are we all fakes then?

    Humans are as diverse as nature is.
    There is no ONE true animal, no ONE true plant.
    There is no ONE true strategy. There are many ways to achieve the same aim.

    I know you don't like my evolutionary examples - please don't feel offended - but it's like saying "you can only fly with feathered wings, and the rest is FAKE".
    So is the fruit bat that s$%ts on your head a FAKE with its modified mammalian arms, compared to the "true" feathered birds?

    You have to start thinking laterally, brother, coz we are all cousins and we are as diverse as nature. That doesn't make us FAKES from the original.

    That reminds me on Zakir Naik this year, when he asked Nazim "do you taste all food in the world to know what's best?" - what rubbish! You know what, I've got lots of favourite meals, and most probably they will differ from the ones of my friends. And from yours.
    But I'd never say you're fake, because you don't like to eat the same as I do.

    Tolerance is what we need. Not blowing each other's head up. Or burning flags for people who are coming to help.

  33. @ Marina (the Atheist)

    "Though you call me an atheist (I am a secular and tolerant Muslim..)"

    I did not know there were 'tolerant' Muslims who believed Man's ancestor was the chimp!

    Reminds me of all your blabbering against Zakir Naik's visit, trying to justify Man's ancestor was the chimp!

  34. @marina heck is very right and you are very wrong.
    "The early humans are, as far as we know by today, not coming from an Arab country – are we all fakes then?" what about tomorrow and the after 3 to four years time. These things came changing and you should know all these things. by ending "as far as today" does not make your comment right it shows its contemporary and also it shows theres plenty to dig. Back to drawing board. LALALA

  35. who tells you that human's ancestors are chimps??? you got something terribly wrong, dear, heck! understand first what you are trying to deny


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