Revised penal code will “destroy Islam,” insists Sheikh Ilyas

A draft penal code under consideration by parliamentary committee will “destroy Islam” in the Maldives if the bill is passed in its current form, Sheikh Ilyas Hussain of the Adhaalath Party (AP) repeatedly insisted at parliament today.

The chair of the religious conservative AP’s scholars’ council and member of the Fiqh Academy was summoned to the committee after claiming that the draft legislation (Dhivehi) did not include Shariah penalties for fornication, apostasy and violent robbery.

“If it is passed, there is no doubt that there will be no religion in this Muslim society that claims to be 100 percent Muslim. There will be no Islamic punishments,” Sheikh Ilyas stated in a sermon delivered at the Furqan mosque in Male’ on March 23.

Sections of an audio recording of the sermon were played at the committee meeting today.

Ilyas however stood by the assertion and pointed to the bill specifying two years banishment as the punishment for fornication, instead of public flogging as prescribed in the Quran.

“Refusing [to incorporate] a single Hadd [fixed punishments specifically mentioned in Quran] is destroying Islam,” he said.

Other hudud crimes include murder, theft, highway robbery, consuming alcohol, apostasy and defaming a chaste woman.

Responding to Ilyas’ allegations, MP Ahmed Hamza, chair of the committee, noted that the draft penal code specifies as offences zina (fornication), theft, alcohol consumption and illegally toppling the government.

Following tense exchanges between Ilyas and MPs in a question and answer session, Hamza however conceded that “some [hudud] punishments” were not included in the draft legislation.

Hamza explained that a provision (article 1205) was added by the committee after the draft penal code was opened for public comment, under which sentencing persons convicted for premarital sex to 100 lashes is left to the discretion of judges.

Hamza also observed that a high degree of certainty is required in Islamic Shariah to convict a person of a hudud crime, such as four witnesses to prove fornication.

The hudud punishments were not incorporated because the Maldivian judiciary does not have the competence and public confidence to deliver fair judgments, Hamza said.

“I believe that our justice system has not developed to the level of establishing hadd,” he said, adding that the Prophet’s (pbuh) sayings advised against meting such punishments if there was the slightest doubt.

The six-member select committee reviewing the revised penal code includes MPs Ahmed Hamza, Imthiyaz Fahmy and Nazim Rashad from the Maldivian Democratic Party (MDP), MPs Abdul Raheem Abdulla and Abdul Azeez Jamal Abubakur from the Progressive Party of Maldives (PPM) and MP Ahmed Mohamed (Vice Chair) from the Dhivehi Rayyithunge Party (DRP).

A revised penal code was submitted to parliament in late 2009 to replace the existing law put in place in the 1960s. The bill has since been at committee stage.

The initial draft of the penal code was prepared by legal expert Professor Paul H Robinson and the University of Pennsylvania Law School of the United States, upon the request of the Attorney General in January, 2006. The project was supported by the United Nations Development Program (UNDP).

Professor Robinson’s team have published two volumes (Volume 1 and Volume 2) consisting of commentaries on sections of the draft legislation.

“The author’s review suggests that the Maldivian criminal justice system systematically fails to do justice and regularly does injustice, that the reforms needed are wide-ranging, and that without dramatic change the system and its public reputation are likely to deteriorate further,” Professor Robinson wrote in his summary conclusion.


At today’s meeting, MDP MPs accused Ilyas of “lying” and misleading the public when he swore by God during his sermon that Shariah punishments were not included in the revised penal code.

MP Imthiyaz Fahmy said he deeply regretted Ilyas’ remarks in his sermon that implied that members of the committee were not Muslims.

“I am aware that I am a Muslim, not because of any relation between myself and Sheikh Ilyas,” Imthiyaz said. “I am a Muslim because of a connection from the bottom of my heart to God.”

Inciting religious hatred was a crime under both domestic and international law, he added.

DRP MP Ahmed Mohamed said that the first draft of the bill was in conflict with Islamic Shariah but the committee has made significant changes at the advice of religious scholars.

He went on to defend the committees’ efforts in reviewing the bill in consultation with state institutions, religious scholars, legal experts and the Islamic Ministry.

PPM MP Abdul Azeez Jamal Abubakur meanwhile asked Ilyas why he chose to make allegations in public and sow discord instead of sharing his concerns with the committee.

He stressed that the review process was ongoing with the input of experts and religious scholars.

“When you say this is a law intended to destroy Islam, what happens is that we face threats,” he said. “People who love religion even called us kafir (non-believers) at the time. So this is a dangerous matter.”

The PPM MP for Laamu Maavah also disputed Ilyas’ claim that the bill did not specify consensual sex between adults as an offence.

In response, Ilyas said it was his duty to inform the public after the committee invited views and comments as most people were not well-informed on religious issues.

Ilyas also objected to a provision (article 411) exempting a woman from being lashed even if she confesses to fornication, if the man denies it and four witnesses are not produced.

“This is definitely against Islamic Shariah,” Ilyas said, adding that a confession at court should lead to punishment.

Sheikh Ilyas argued that such provisions contravened the constitution as article 10 stated that no laws contrary to any tenet of Islam shall be enacted in the Maldives.


59 thoughts on “Revised penal code will “destroy Islam,” insists Sheikh Ilyas”

  1. @ peasant

    Now, who has been fooled more, gullible me or enlightened you??!!

  2. @ peasant

    And the just society in Europe came into existence after their injustice was unleashed on poor countries and after their wealth soared! How just is that???

  3. @human being on Fri, 17th May 2013 7:09 PM

    "The whole point is our system is better, we have more answers..."

    Really? I'd like to hear those answers. How do you prove that the Quran really is divine? It does require belief in Allah as a pre-condition. There is no existential proof unless you can show otherwise.

    Note that the Christians never say there WAS a version of the Bible from Jesus. The Bible as far as they are concerned narrates the life of Jesus and what he told his followers. Muslims claim there was an Injeel and that's not part of Christian belief.

    How do we know there was an Injeel? Just because we believe in Allah, the Quran and the Prophet? That's not really answering or showing proof. That's blind faith. All religions have that sort of blind faith.

    By the way, the 'religion' of the Buddhists is as much a 'religion' as anyone else's. 'Religion' is a way of living one's life according to certain principles (a very generalised version). Even an atheist has a 'religion'.

    I'm not sure what more detail a Muslim has to offer that others cannot. How do you prove that God created men? How do you prove the existence of Heaven and Hell? Show me the evidence to the rivers of wine and virgins that are awaiting in Heaven. Now, don't tell me that this is just part of Muslim belief. I know that already.

    As an alternative to reincarnation we Muslims believe in the "after life". How do we show that our version is correct? Again, without blind faith, there's no answer.

    Without a pre-condition of belief, there are no answers to these difficult questions! Show me if you have them.

  4. @peasent: As allways, you have said insightful things.

    Perhaps the prerequisite for a just society is that there be enough wealth to be spread around without threatening investment optimism.

    Many factors have influenced the development of relatively just societies, geo-politics, geography in general, ideology, economic opportunity, the cause of justice is a debatable issue.

    It has been argued that the West became that rich and therefore JUST at the expense of the degradation of the humanity and environment of the rest of the world. Is it not a kind of irony that after breaking the health and soul of the rest of the world to get rich, us Westerners then want the world to see how generous we are when we share the wealth around and preach and teach compassion. We want to look so good to heal the world which we broke when we broke that world, and only by breaking them were we wealthy enough to fix them?

    Great materialistic genorosity comes from great wealth. Yet great wealth comes from great evil.

    Many psychologists have reported great unhappiness in the Western world, claiming that they have studied poor societies, with stoic mentalities, who are happier than us in the West, or, more content. As I have made very clear, I reject fundamentalism. But, I believe that there is something in traditional Maldivian Islam which is worth fighting for. Wealth, and the ways of the West, are not the happiness we have tried to make people think that they are. Too many people groups have lost their soul in the name of develoment, and the existential vacuum it creates attracts extremism.

  5. I have a hell of a lot more thoughts on these issues but no time, but just one more point. Social Justice may depend on great wealth to start with. But social justice comes through the struggle and resistance of the poor and oppressed, not through the benevolence of the rich. Charity comes through the benevolence of the rich, but charity is something different to JUSTICE and EQUALITY.

  6. Shimy,

    Rote learning and playing follow the leader has unfortunately conditioned you to see the world in polar extremes, black and white, good and bad.

    Reading a book, watching a documentary, the editorial line of a news organisation or the stance of a political party only elicits either of the two extremes of emotion, utter contempt or obsequious fawning.

  7. @Shimy: Thanks, thankyou so much for YOUR important input.

    It is healthy, in fact necessary to vent about politics and against politicians, from and against those of ALL sides of the political divide. You MUST be able to do so both without fearing the consequences of doing so, and in trust that the politician involved will feel the pain which drives your anger towards them, and be motivated by that pain to work towards alleviating your suffering and its causes.

    Noone should be a politician if they are not strong enough to be able to absorb the punches, the verbal aggression and anger - and therefore the PAIN of the people. THAT, is the definition of love, real love, not bullshit Western style romantic love, true love is the capacity to become one with the pain of the loved, and be driven by that pain to alleviate its causes.

    If a politician is inclined to lash back at the people, through their own pride, or through an in-ability to resist the temptation to strike back, then that politician is a bum, and, no matter how intelligent, cunning, eloqent, charismatic and knowledged they may be, they can do very little good for the people. It takes super human strength to resist the urge to strike back, believe me, the pain of a caring leader would be absolutely ferocious, but only a caring leader will be driven to work for your good.

    The pain and anger of Maldivians towards ANY leader is often FIERCE. I have not seen any Maldivian politician strong enough to transform the energy of the aggreesive fire of Maldivian rage into compassion and constructiveness, selflessly, without yielding to the all too natural urge to strike back. I have seen both Maumoon and Anni strike back, and both of these men have had beautiful ideals and wonderful charisma in their own way.

    You should not look up to anyone, or anything, who is indifferent to your pain, who cannot feel the pain in your anger, who cannot absorb and empathize with your rage, take that pain upon themselves and use its energy to drive them towards serving you better. POWER is for Service, if power cannot serve you it does not deserve to be, to have power.

    No human can be revered the way some Maldivians revere Maumoon or Anni, as no human is capable of becoming the ideal leader I have written about. Revering Anni or Maumoon that highly is to set yourself up for bitter dissapointment. The ideal SHOULD be there as something to aspire towards, and perhaps we should support whoever we feel is closest to that ideal. Although, the difficulty with this idea is that, the general public will rarely get to know the truth about a persons character, we may never know how close they are to the ideal or far from it they truly are. Our perceptions depend on the media, which by in large usually seems more like propaganda than objectivity striving information seeking. Media is like that everywhere, that is true.

    Perhaps the best you can do is patronize the rhetoric which is most just and use people power to hold the politicians to account for their own words, their grand promises have to be used as a leverage to propel them to try and do what they promise.


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