“It was not done by him alone. It was a whole system that did it. It was Dhivehi tradition that did it. It was Dhivehi culture that did it…”
-President Nasheed from Minivan News article “If you want to sue Shafeeg, you’ll have to sue me,” relating to torture allegations.
Thank you Anni. This insight is a tremendous gift to your people.
I am not a Maldivian, but I have been personally hurt by and afraid of Abdulla Yameen (Gayoom’s brother) unjustly, so I have tasted this aspect of Dhivehi culture that Anni refers to. I have tasted the dehumanising crush of the fear which your nation has been shattered by, and the bitter hatred and anger which it becomes, and I don’t even have to live there.
For you guys, who have to live there and cannot escape it, I admire and revere your ability to push on with life under such heavy oppression. You guys are really my heroes just for being able to do that.
The political system of the Maldives is a vicious, self-reinforcing cycle of fear and aggression which manifests as narcisistic power hunger.
Leaders come into power with the greatest knowledge and the noblest sentiments, yet end up being made pawns of this cycle. In a desperate bid to restore order and civility in times of chaos, pressing corruption and violence, the noblest souls become tyrants even against their own will.
Small corruption is used to fight big corruption when it seems nothing else will work, but this small corruption in turn becomes big corruption when those who use it become addicted to it and enslaved by its power.
A strong hand and an extravagant display of might (the former palace of Theemuge’) is used to crush the will of potential anarchy, but it crushes the soul of the masses in the process. It too becomes addictive.
I saw Maumoon go through all this. Maumoon was a great and profound Islamic scholar and humanist who came to power with the most liberal of intentions. Transparency, democracy, he believed he could give it all. He wanted to, but the ‘system’ got the better of him.
I still have the greatest respect and admiration for Maumoon the scholar and great liberal thinker, but Maumoon the President became the face of that vicious culture Anni is referring to, even against the will of Maumoon himself.
It is obvious that even Anni has faced an inner conflict between his grand, beautiful desire to forgive and the apparent need to resort to tyrannical measures when nothing else works to control corruption and violence.
For true justice to be done for those 111 people mentioned in the cited article, it is not only the perpetrators who must face justice, but the system itself which perpetuates this injustice must be smashed to pieces through genuine acts of sincere tauba (repentance) and sincere forgiveness.
The real enemy is not Maumoon, or his cronies, or the gangsters, no, these are only pawns of the enemy, slaves of the enemy. The real enemy is fear and hatred itself and its system. Only forgiveness can bring true justice, because only forgiveness can destroy hatred and the cycle of fear and hatred it perpetuates.
The cultural cycle has to be ended by someone forgiving, and giving love in return for hatred, as hard as that is. You can’t elevate yourself above a culture run by hatred into the realm of a culture of peace and justice, unless one makes that self-sacrifice of one’s own right to take vengeance, and show mercy, even though vengeance (justice) is your right.
This is not to say that justice must not be pursued. Yet it must be pursued in a rightful manner, even if that drags out for years. The offer of forgiveness must always be extended to those who offer to repay stolen money or make amends for their wrong doings whilst justice is being pursued. Reconciliation must be pursued at the same time justice is pursued. The quick fix tyrannical solutions to eradicating injustice, though they seem like the only way forward when a whole nation is frustrated by corruption and violence, will only perpetuate the cycle of hatred and fear.
Of course, one must be prevented from perpetrating violence by force and by protecting the public from their evil through putting them somewhere (in Aarah), but even there the focus must be on rehabilitating them and helping them heal them so they can be kind, honest people. Even if they can never be released, because they can never be safe, they must be able to find human dignity through creative expression in jail (religion, art, exercise etc…) as the whole culture must change to uplift the essential dignity and sanctity of life.
Maumoon himself has been so intoxicated over the years by this vision of himself as a benevolent and compassionate leader, that he has still not been able to actually accept that he has hurt people. To do so, to accept this, Maumoon would realize that his vision of himself is a delusion, and everything he had ever lived for would seem like a failure. However, unless Maumoon does realize this, and does feel genuine sorrow for his victims, there will never be any real healing for the victims, and the hunger for vengeance which fuels Maldivian politics will burn on.
I wish I could offer this to Maumoon.
Maumoon, you are a great soul, but please realize the truth of what your position had forced you to become. Please don’t despair Maumoon, you can still be great, by asking for forgiveness from those you have hurt. If you don’t do this, you will die a failure. If you do this, you will be the great man you had been created to be as your contribution to the healing of your nation will be greater than anybody’s.
I ask everyone to contemplate these Ayat’s:
“… They should rather pardon and overlook. Would you not love Allah to forgive you? Allah is Ever-Forgiving, Most Merciful.” (Qur’an, 24: 22)
“The repayment of a bad action is one equivalent to it. But if someone pardons and puts things right, his reward is with Allah…” (Qur’an, 42:40)
“But if someone is steadfast and forgives, that is the most resolute course to follow.” (Qur’an, 42:43)
Believers are described in Qur’an as those who “control their rage and pardon other people.” (Qur’an, 3:134)
Ben ‘Abdul-Rahman’ Plewright
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