I write this letter in response to the Presidential Press Secretary Mr Mohamed Zuhair’s seeming need to justify his position on medicinal drugs using religion.
I feel that when Zuhair needs to bring religion into the picture to justify his position on something, the MDP are going backwards.
I once saw a heavy religious question fired at President Nasheed. ‘Anni’ humbly responded by acknowledging he was not an Alim and therefore did not feel adequate to comment. It was apparent that he would have had an opinion, and that he knows more about Islam than what most people know he does. But as an intelligent thinker, I think, he can see the danger when a President takes the role of religious authority, and chooses to feign ignorance in this area unless he has to offer an opinion.
When a politician must appear to be religious to win respect because the Constitution demands he or she be of a particular religion, religion becomes shallow, meaningful only as a way to win respect.
The competition to appear the most religious in religious-political societies has always involved lies, blackmail, bribery, torture.
Just stating all Maldivians must be Sunni Muslim does not mean the constitution protects Maldives’ religious unity, as was claimed.
Social repression of such nature creates resistance, tyranny, disunity.
Islam itself can be used as a force for disunity just as easily.
If a group wanted to break away from the mainstream government, they could say their separatist cause is an Islamic Jihad. An example? Maumoon was accused of not being a Muslim, therefore, according to very radical militant Hanbali style Zahiri, he and the NSS, if they defended him, were legitimate targets for Jihad.
For Islam to be imposed for unity, it must be controlled and defined by an elite so that contradictory understandings are oppressed. This amounts to putting a mental straitjacket on society, which will provoke a violent resistance from those who have a different understanding of Islam.
I have met Maldivians who detest preachers of Islam because they had been sexually abused by clerics as children. They associate the Qur’an with hypocrisy, oppression and sexual abuse.
Imposing religion via the Constitution and having Islam controlled by headstrong literalists is sure to provoke a sense of violent betrayal and anger against Nasheed’s government.
Imposing religion will divide Maldives, not unify it, as many will rebel, if not openly at least in their hearts. The only way to invite back such people to Islam is to demonstrate that Allah is gentle, Allah is not into forcing himself on people via the Constitution.
This aggressive controlling of human minds and hearts creates frustration, hate, resentment and militant Islam.
Allah is locked in a perpetual, raging power struggle against false representations of himself.
All Maldivians are deeply grateful for the sacrifice of the martyr. But some see their sacrifice as being for the freedom of Maldivians from oppression.
At that time the will to freedom, the strength for dignity was expressed through Islam. But to use Islam now as a force for oppression is against the reason the martyr died.
The dignity and sovereignty of the Dhivehin, for which Thakurufaanu died, has as much to do with pre-Islamic Fanditha type culture as it does Islam. Fanditha culture is as Maldivian as fishing and family, yet “orthodox” Islam is opposed to Fanditha culture.
Nearly 50 per cent of Maldivian tradition, which most Maldivians call “Islamic”, would be considered unorthodox or bida’ (innovation) by the Adhaalaath brothers i.e. Islamic fundamentalism is against Dhivehi culture.
This may seem paradoxical, but freedom of religion improves morality in a society. Religious freedom was fought for in Europe by those who wanted to improve morality, not abandon it.
On the surface the USA looks like the most immoral society on Earth, but dig deeper into Al Mamlaka Al Arabiyya Al Sauddiya and the other religious societies (Vatican, Taliban-led Afghanistan etc…) and you will see these places are morally much worse than America.
I studied Saudi history and I tremble to even think of the activity that goes on there regarding child prostitution amongst the Sheikhs.
When religion does not depend on the state for funding and is not controlled by the state, the religious are free to act as a check and balance against government corruption without fear of retribution or without being silenced.
Majid may be less obliged to remain silent about certain more serious issues than discos and graveyards if he had not climbed to power through the support of some questionable figures.
Religion should not compromise its own values for power.
When religion is not imposed through a constitution, the religious have to work harder to win people over through inspiration rather than through intimidation, as a consequence, their moral standards are elevated and they inspire others moral standards.
I knew a guy who used to refuse to come to discos as he loved the closeness to Allah he felt in the Mosques and this eventually inspired me to follow him.
If he had tried to threaten me into following him, I would have partied at the disco ten times longer.
Furthermore, to get power, even if it’s power to do good, as politicians will begrudgingly concede during rare moments of honesty, a compromise of moral values occurs.
Politicians often think that the few lies and crooked deals will be worth all the good they’ll do once in power, but if a religious leader does it, this sets a bad example.
It says the end justifies the means. People don’t strive to be as moral as possible as a consequence of the ‘amorality’ of their role models.
Ben ‘Abdul-Rahman’ Plewright