Former State Minister for Islamic Affairs Sheikh Mohamed Shaheem Ali Saeed has written an article calling for studies in comparative religion to be included in courses at the Islamic Faculty of the recently inaugrated National University.
The national university “should be a place that conducts research on issues that the Maldives faces today, especially issues related to human rights, comparative religion, terrorism and the rights of women,” Shaheem wrote in an article (Dhivehi) on the Adhaalath Party’s official website.
Shaheem first floated the idea in April 2010, emphasising that the subject should not be taught at a secondary level “because [students’] minds are not [yet] prepared to deal with these philosophies.”
However at a university level, “it is very important to research and understand other religions,” said Shaheem. “You will not become an infidel for learning about other religions.”
”At Medina’s University Faculty of Shariah they teach comparative religion as well as at the International Islamic University in Malaysia,” he said. ”Terrorism is a rising issue today, and it is very important to know the difference between terrorism and jihad, and the obligations and reasons for jihad.”
He also said that it was the former government that paved way for the Maldives College of Higher Education to progress to a University.
The National University of the Maldives was inaugurated on February 15 by President Mohamed Nasheed, who appointed former Education Minster Dr Mustafa Luthfy as the university’s first chancellor and presented him with the institution’s seal.
The last time to the topic of comparative religion was raised in the Maldives, Adhaalath Party President Sheikh Hussein Rasheed told Minivan News the party would not support the prospect until an understanding of the basic principles of Islam were strengthened. will not support the study of comparative religion in the Maldives until understanding of the basic principles are strengthened.
While he did not disagree with it in principle, Rasheed said that before introducing comparative religion the government should teach Islam in more advanced manner.
President of Jamiyyathul Salaf Sheikh Abdullah Bin Mohamed Ibrahim said in April that people should understand Islam comprehensively before comparative religion was introduced.
Sheikh Abdulla said there were some necessary subjects of Islam many people in the Maldives did not yet understand or were not being taught.
”Only a few people understand the ‘Tafsir’ [exegesis] of Quran,” he said, adding that ”knowledge of other religions is already taught in verses of Quran and Hadith.”