Malé City Council has turned to private donations to repair mosques for the Islamic month of Ramadan after the Islamic Ministry’s failed to release funds.
Deputy Mayor Shifa Mohamed told the press on Tuesday many mosques in Malé are badly in need of repair. With just three months remaining for Ramadan, the council has decided to “do what can be done” from the council’s budget and private donations.
The Islamic Ministry has failed to respond to a two month old request for a MVR 1.5 million (US$ 97,087) to paint and renovate mosques, the council said.
The permanent secretary of the Islamic Ministry told the council that a decision will be made on consultation with Minister of Islamic Affairs Sheikh Mohamed Shaheem Ali Saeed.
“We have already met the Islamic ministry and reminded them that Ramadan is approaching, and at that meeting the Islamic Ministry permanent secretary said a decision would be made after consulting with the minister. Again, last week the mayor [Mohamed Shihab] went to the meet the Islamic minister and brought these issues to his attention. [The minister] has said that some assistance would be provided this week. So we are hoping now,” Shifa said.
Malé City Councillor Zaidul Ameen said businesses are now sponsoring some of the repairs and said the council had recently received paint from a shop in Malé.
Responsibility for the maintenance and management of mosques was transferred from the Islamic Ministry to local councils by the landmark Decentralisation Act of 2010. However, following an amendment to the the Religious Unity Act enacted in April 2013, all mosques will be under the jurisdiction of the Islamic ministry starting 13 July 2014.
An Islamic Ministry official told Minivan News today that it had received a total of MVR10 million (US$648,508) from state budget to repair mosques around the country, and the amounts necessary for mosque renovation would be transferred to the councils as soon as requests are submitted.
“We have now released a circular [June 1] requesting all councils to submit the amounts they require [for mosque renovation],” the official said. According to the official, this amount is from the state budget and does not include any funds from the Islamic Ministry’s mosque ‘Waqf’ fund.
The ministry has already announced plans to build new mosques and “broaden the role of mosques” in the future in a more sustainable manner.
In July 2012, the Islamic Ministry collected more than MVR15 million (US$974,000) million as donations from members of the public for the “mosque fund” established in 2010. At the time Shaheem said that he decided to ask for funds from the people of Maldives as the state budget could not provide it.
After an Algerian businessman donated MVR3.1 million ($US200,000) to the fund, Shameem announced plans to construct a ten storey building ”Darul Iman” (House of Faith) to sustain the Waqf fund. Shaheem said he expected Darul Iman to generate MVR1.8 million (US$116,731) annually, which would then be used to construct and renovate mosques.
Shaheem also requested more funds from Kuwait, Qatar, Saudi Arabia, the UAE, Malaysia, and Brunei. In March this year, he handed over the construction project to state owned Maldives Transport and Contracting Company (MTCC) for MVR24.9 million (US$1.6 million).
In February, the ministry announced plans to construct 40 new mosques within the year. The ministry said 14 are already under construction with MVR72.6 million (US$4.7 million) from the state budget.
A total of MVR65.2 million (US$4.2 million) was allocated in the 2013 state budget for the construction of 17 mosques.
Saudi Arabia has also agreed to donate funds to construct seven mosques within the year. The ministry said it has received MVR 28.8 million (US$ 1.8 million) for six of these mosques.
The Crown Prince of Saudi Arabia, Salman bin Abdulaziz has also donated US$1million to the ministry when Shameem brought up the renovation of mosques in a meeting with leaders of the Indian Muslim community,