Comment: Cancer in our heart

With my own ears, I’ve heard more than one Maldivian long for death’s release. And the chills that ran down my spine the first time I heard it reside in me still, slowly corroding my hope for a better national future.

Recently – amidst the political turmoil that has dominated everyone’s consciousness – there was a spectacular suicide that captured us for the briefest of moments. A wayward youth, giving in to his inner turmoil, flung himself from the air traffic control tower – departing this world, not by meeting the ground below, but rather by meeting a hangman’s noose. His body left dangling, silently screaming his frustration and his surrender.

Did the abuse he endured in life end with his death? Was the respect and dignity he so desired afforded him after he passed from this world? No.

Accused of apostasy, people have called him a showoff for his ever-so-public last testament. A lunatic. Someone unworthy of sympathy. They have taunted him and scarred his memory and even gone to such as extent as to suggest that he should not be given his due burial rights. That he was not God’s creature and that his alleged disbelief in God meant he is somehow less than human.

With this poor soul, we have failed. Failed in offering alternatives to troubled youth. Failed in addressing the intolerance in our society. And we have failed in our duties as human beings.

Social Negligence

As a nation we have developed a culture of neglect. While being among the nosiest of peoples, constantly sticking our noses where they don’t belong, we have not taken the next step: actually caring about those around us and the plight of others.

The social ills we face are greater than I have seen in any other non-war-torn nation. Soaring sexual and drug abuse rates have become the widely accepted bane of our society. And those who are left with significant psychological damage are left without avenues for help. Those who have entered into depression, who feel their very soul being eaten away, and who no longer believe in the value of their lives, have no avenue for help. While physical abuses have only just started to be addressed, mental abuses of all denominations have been forgotten.

This culture of neglect must end. We have to encourage more therapists, psychologists and psychiatrists to come to this country. We have to convince government and private institutions that we cannot heal our nation if the souls of our nation remain in tatters. And we cannot continue to pretend that the local Imam is all knowing and qualified to deal with all manner of mental problems.

Ideologies of Intolerance

We especially have to stop pretending that neo-salafi ideologies based in the Hanbali school of Islamic Jurisprudence are competent enough to deal with this world’s problems and issues. I believe Islamic counseling has a place in our society; that it helps bring people fulfillment and that it is an integral (not primary) part of efforts such as drug counseling. However, the recent global trend towards the propagation of neo-salafi ideologies is something I cannot accept.

Not only is neo-salafism fundamentally against Maldivian culture and heritage, it is also the most intolerant of all the classical Islamic schools of jurisprudence. It does not allow the scholars of this ideology to relate to victims of mental abuse. It does not allow for varying thoughts to exist, which is necessary to help in the process of healing. Instead, this ideology calls for the strict imposition of their beliefs, wiping out whatever was there before – removing all traces of the person who once existed.

Would be Saviors

They see all the world as sinners, and themselves as the would be saviors of our nation. The salafis and all their ilk would save our society from all of our ills. They will bring us to heaven’s gate and lead us hand and foot into the Creator’s embrace, with never a moment’s consideration that such action would leave ours meaningless.

“We can talk about there being no compulsion in religion till we lose our voices, but conservatives will not care, and this will not lessen the number women being abused, or the number of atrocities being committed in our religion’s name,” Tariq Ramadan, Islamic scholar at Oxford University and grandson of the Islamic Brotherhood founder Hassan Al-Bana, told me at a conference on Islam and democracy in April.

I do not believe in secularism in the Maldives. But I do not accept neo-salafism as the only answer to it.

The Result of Conservatism

This poor soul, Ismail Mohamed Didi, was pushed to the edge as a result of the conservative ideologies present in our society. Those who knew him well have all attested that he was “a nice guy” who did not impose his atheism in others. The problem was that some who knew of his beliefs were offended by the fact that he had them to begin with, hence the official complaint and investigation. It is pure and simple: blatant intolerance is surpassing our need to have love for our fellow Maldivians.

Maldivians are becoming fanatical in their beliefs and the world has started to notice. We are importing Saudi-based neo-salafi ideologies rooted in the Hanbali School of Islamic jurisprudence. Out of the 1.5 billion Muslims on earth, only 10 percent of the Islamic world agrees with this interpretation. An interpretation, mind you, which refuses to accept the validity of any of the other classical forms of Islamic jurisprudence.

Religion is not something you wear on your sleeve, or with a long beard or Arabian dress. The growing norm in Maldivian culture is a complete eradication of it, because today in Maldives to be a better Muslim, you need to be a better Arab. Forget Indonesia, Malaysia, and even Egypt, because those are apparently not real Muslims. They are not educated enough. And even though many of their scholars have a lifetime of learning behind them, they do not see the truth.


Our Choice

Social negligence, which has existed for time immemorial, mixed with the newly institutionalised ideologies of intolerance have proven to be in this instance a fatal concoction. And this darkness has spread through our nation.

We all have a choice to make. We either chose to stand in the light, or to recede further into darkness. We each need to take responsibility for our actions and inaction. We each need to take responsibility for our society and the ills we see in it. We need to stand up for what is right; turning away from ignorance, hatred, intolerance and complete societal degradation. It starts with each and every one of us.

All comment pieces are the sole view of the author and do not reflect the editorial policy of Minivan News. If you would like to write an opinion piece, please send proposals to [email protected]


28 thoughts on “Comment: Cancer in our heart”

  1. Salim Waheed,
    Please don't talk about ISLAM and yourself and your father in your articles BECOZ you and your family is a disgrace to Islam!! We know how so called "liberal" you are!! And you talk of intolerance? Look into your family and when they talk much they mock ordinary muslim folks in Maldives and islamic countries!! Don't talk about Social Negligence as you have no idea of the Maldives social situation!!

  2. Son of Dr.Waheed Mr Salim Waheed,

    What the hell do you know about the youth who passed away (either suicide or murder which is not confirmed..Allah SW knows best)??? Do you think your father does any dame thing regarding youth in this country? All he does is sit and cry over his fame and unfounded or greed for more power!! This is a small country and could make huge difference if an effort is put..but what does he do? Sit and complain!! All these political people (anni, Dr.Hassan, Dr.Waheed, Gayoom, Dr.Munawar, Thasmeen, Yameen..etc) are just greedy for power!! And you are also following the same footsteps sincerity!! When was the last time you prayed Fajr prayer on time?? When was the last time you helped a poor? When was the last time you read the Quran with its meaning to understand and comprehend the world around you? When was the last time you said no to your greedy father and like minds in politics to stand up for justice and truth? When was the last time you said no to those who mock (Secularist among your friends who wants every body to wear t-shirts and jeans and eat like them and drink beer like them?) people who practice Islam (in any sense they understand) or any other religion? When was the last time you fasted other than ramazan? When was the last time you did something good for someone with out the "show off"? Ask yourself who you are? Are you a carbon copy of your family, friends or famous idols like films stars or so called religious socolars? Or you want to follow Prophet Mohammed (MPBH) closely and be a progressive muslim or simply a muslim under the banner and name of it..but a secularist at heart who is too coward to show the true colors?? May God help this nation!!

  3. Good job Salim.

    This was a wonderful article and you should keep up the good work! I hope u can knock some sense into these people, and i'm glad u said what anyone else would have been scared to say under their own name. Islam is not about hatred. And I am glad you trying to turn us away from it.

  4. The honesty and truth in this article was enough to make me weep masonry and brickwork.

    I will now save this article - for even if the enemy sees it fit to knock this article down from this page - it will survive in the internet.


    Oh and "ibrahim", So-called "Islamic countries" deserve mockery. While their palestinian brothers and sisters are being massacred, they will not raise a finger to aid them - why?.

    They know that allowing such atrocities to continue will cause misguided muslims all over the world to continue to fuel a war that only serves as oil revenue profit for themselves.

  5. Hi Salim,

    Great article! Although I'd say we can't eliminate intolerance by hiding behind a veil ourselves, without openly calling for a secular government. I suspect you know that, but you cannot say that without bringing out the crazies.

    I know with an intolerant and ignoramus society, and the strange acceptance of illogical arguments by the people, that is going to be difficult.

    As you see from the above comments, being vocal is considered better than being sane.

  6. We should be ashamed of ourselves when this kind of things happen. We are a muslim nation but we cannot force religion into anyone. Religion is what we believe in whole heartedly. And when you try to force people into it, this is the out come.
    All lives, whether they are muslim or non muslims are precious. Just because a certain person is not a muslim does not mean s/he is a lesser person.
    What we need in this country is for people to be more aware and sensitive about this matters.
    I urge the government to take actions against people who bully people in the name of our sacred religion Islam.
    There should be a law by which the government should have standards where we can measure these so called scholars.
    There are people who has studied religion from very reputable universities, however they are sidelined because of these "new muslims". These people abuse our children and abuse women but everyone turns a blind eye because they use religion as their weapon.
    Its not only the politicians who use religion for their own advantage, its these so called scholars who abuse and bad name our religion.
    Therefore, instead of harassing Salim for writing this article we should applaud him for taking the time to care about this serious situation and bring our attention to this.
    what do we gain by calling names to him and his family? In my opinion we are belittling only ourselves. for sure, our religion calls for people to respect one another. Not to say stuff to people and their parents.

  7. Boring.

    And your reasoning or justification Jeffrey? That WE should tolerate gays, atheists, and all other forbidden ilk in this constitutionally 100% Muslim country? I think not.

    Again ... boring. Get yourself checked before you start raving your mad ideologies here within us. Not everyone here is a "terrorist, neo-salafi, blah blah, mumbo jumbo, etc", but that does not make us throw away fundamental Islam, its teachings and what is and is not Haram. Sorry ... but what can one expect from you? I will not be judgmental on this (hell, why not!), but here is a question. When was the last time you prayed 5 times in a day Jeffrey?

    If the answer is "never", I SUGGEST you STOP with your nonsense, and like the BP guys did "put a cap on it" 😉

    btw, @peasant, if others are simply "vocal", I'd call you retarded talking the way you do in this Islamic society. Jeffrey was OK with alcohol sales in the city hotels too (amongst other things) - so one need not look too far away to know his twisted logic.

    and the "shadowrunner", who jumps to the word "Islam", as usual had something negative (hateful) towards the God-fearing Islam loving citizens of this country. Grow up boy, the whole Internet community mocks you now!

  8. hmm. i have a question. lets say there is this country in the middle of no where. many people in this country are drug addicts. no matter how much work is done addiction couldn't be stopped. does that mean that the government should allow drugs?

  9. Wonderful article, well written and sums up the problem we are facing.

    And I applaud Salim Waheed for writing this under his own name.

    Its a pity some of the comments here are trying to drag politics into this issue. I would say this problem is much bigger then even the political turmoil, cause that maybe solved, but this.

    The society seems to be heading in a very bad direction. And like Salim said its the responsibility of each and everyone of us to try and repel this tide and work towards a more tolerant society.

  10. Maldivians are proud to be Muslims and the best heritage they own…..!
    The world’s most backward countries are Muslim countries, is there anything to be proud for being 100% Muslim. The Arabs where Islam has originated do not regard non Arabs as Muslims.

  11. Jeff the wounds in this society are so deep and so pervasive. Many of the vocal people are so narrow minded, so ignorant and so so selfish. It really is beyond words. If only people could see what is becoming of us, what has become of us. If only we could put our various differences aside and be humane.

  12. Salim
    Good work! Your article gives an insight of the sorry state of our social situation. Unfortunately there's no political will to stop extremism in this country. Secular state would be the answer to begin with.

  13. What is the purpose of this article? To lament and mourn M.I.Didi's death? An attempt at understanding why he took away his life? Or does the author, as usual, find in this unfortunate incident another Islam-bashing opportunity?
    This article seems to blame what its author calls 'neo-salafi' Islam for I.M.Didi's suicide. However, the article does not clearly explain how this contributed to Didi's suicide. Did the so called neo-Salafists threatened Didi? Did they abuse him in any way? If they did, the article does not mention!
    Even though, Didi's friends or the public failed to embrace or support his atheism or his disgust towards spiritual matters, there is no mention in the artilce that they abused him. Although Didi embraced atheism, it was not strong enough to lend him the courage and support he needed to pass through the state he was going through. As a result, unfortunately - for his closed ones at least - he decided to take his life. Therefore, one cannot blame neo-Salafism or any other Islam for not providing him with the moral courage he could not yet find in his atheism to deal with the pressures of life.

  14. I commend Salim for expressing what many would dare not in this country. Neo -salafis are an intolerant bunch who have no respect at all for any other thought of religion. I would say, it will be just a matter of years before they take lead from Hitler as the cause of most murders and killings in the world. See Afghanistan for an example. I just wonder why they were given such power here in the Maldives. I am a Muslim but against Salafism of Maldives... ridicule me in subsequent comments if you want! say I don't know religion...or what ever. But, some people have to stand up towards this intolerance!

  15. Well said Jeffrey. Thank you for exhibiting such courage and writing about this. I believe the more important question that we need to ask is, is being a Muslim a vital part of the Maldivian identity?I am sure that there are many who feel it is, but the on the other hand there are many who don't. I personally believe that we need the Maldives to be a secular state, as we all know very well that half the people in the country do no practice or believe in Islam. It does not make sense for us to lie to ourselves and condemn anyone (such as Ismail) who has the courage to demonstrate the truth and the hypocrisy within ourselves and the society.
    I consider myself a Muslim and I practice, yet at the same time I will still call for a secular Maldives because it does not make sense for me to discriminate based on religious beliefs.

  16. One of the few articles i have read written by a maldivian young person, that tells it as it is, extremely courageous of you Salim. Keep up the good work - keep expressing

  17. Jeffery Waheed is a confused soul who I cannot call a muslim as he doesn't believe in fundamental islamic principles! Rather he mocks and objects them on internet and with his family in sitting rooms!! He is currently trying to promote his twisted version of Islam which he calls to be modern and moderate! My dear boy..yes's boy..Islam is neither old or camel aged...its always modern and moderate among all other religions! Its people who know nothing of islam..while comit zina, drinks alcohol or permits it..or even commit gay acts...and those who objects these indecent acts call them intolerent or fundamentalist!!

  18. With this kind of SUBTLE invitations to MOCK Islam, you are doing nothing BUT maiming your father's political ambitions.

    I would call you "the undiagnosed tumour" in your father's political life if you continue to be "progressive" like this.

    SUICIDE is not only JUMPING off from a tower in the quiet of the dark.

    It could also be CLIMBING to a spot in broad daylight, from which you can't come down !


    This is the beauty of human mind. We can twist anything and everything in favour of one view point yet can disguise under the context of being honestly opinionated. This is our GOD given intellect power, yet some will use it for extreme view points for both sides of any argument. I marvel the ability given to us humans by GOD. I can only imagine how perfectly and beautifully GOD created us humans. We have freewill as a gift. Ability to make choices that was not given to any other creations of GOD but humans and jinns only. Even out of those two intelligent being we humans are made the "conquerers" of this earth with the kind of intellect and physical features that we enjoy in everyday life.We take it for granted.I'm aware few does not use these abilities and goes on to follow things that are convenient and desirable to them. Some may say that as out of ignorance. But I don't think so. So called "ignorance" comes out of choice and when a choice is made,human mind would have calculated a complex equation to make that choice. The beauty of human mind and it's scope is something the scientist are still learning.Lot we know,yet lot more to be discovered.

    I salute to all those who had made their view points here. This is the experiment and the outcome itself. Right in front of your eyes.Scientific evidence of GOD's power and his in-depth knowledge that we can never comprehend fully. One of his best creation, us humans and their capabilities of intellect in live action.

    But we can't challenge GOD. That is not in our capacity at all.GOD is the greatest.

    GOD is most just and most merciful and when he willed freewill to us he would never intervene in our decision makings. Out of his mercy for humanity he sent guidance and it's just left for us to accept or not to.

    I feel sorry for you Mr.Salim Waheed.

    Let me explain why?


    If at all anything has taken firm root in this soil, it’s Satanism & Atheism. (intoxication from illegal drugs,corruption,daylight robbery, murder on the streets, gang violence, rapes, child abuse, hypocrisy, and on and on….) All imported from where? from Saudi Arabia or from West? Do your research on crime records of the Countries of this world and then lets talk. Perhaps I might be mistaken to ask you to check those records. You might have known those very well already.

    Did Muslims kill their own people in Millions or West in WW1 & WW2. Did Muslims bombed Hiroshima & Nagasaki?

    Didn't anyone at least tried to see how all sorts of extremism within Muslim Communities came? It came as a product of continues harassment from the western media and their propagandas against Muslims/Islam and not to mention all the killings of Muslim's own blood right in from of their eyes. Now compare those harassments and it's outcomes with the story that everyone is so sympathetic about (One of our dear countryman committing suicide which is in deed tragic). Why didn't we all talked in-depth about the deaths on the streets of Male' with such sympathy and with such noises. Or for that matter have we forgotten mysterious murder cases such as of Azleena's, Hussain Solah and various others in our Country.

    Have we forgotten about the deaths of a Palestinian father and his little boy right in front of this world.

    Let me refresh that event which is just one of millions of atrocities against Muslims.(in Palestine,Bosnia, Chechnya, Kashmir,etc)

    12 yr old boy SHOT DEAD in front of your eyes Updated 9.48 p.m., 3rd Oct 2000 {}
    "Recorded live, the incident below: In one of the most horrifying scenes shown on world television, 12-year old Muhammad Al-Dura was shot dead in cold blood by an Israeli sniper, while his father, Jamal, was trying to protect him from the hail of Israeli bullets. Shortly thereafter, when Palestinian Red Crescent Society ambulance driver Bassam Al-Balbisi, 45, approached the father and son in order to move them into an ambulance, he was shot and killed by the Israeli soldiers as well. Jamal, the father of five remaining children, is in critical condition, having sustained five bullets, to the upper thigh, pelvis, stomach, and lower leg."

    These are just few of examples of tragic events.If we do a thorough research we wouldn't be so biased in our views.

    In fact doesn't anyone know that Qadianis,Wahabism and all sorts of new brands/sects within Islamic societies are products of Western influence. Did everyone forgot that European Imperialism swooped through the Globe and enslaved the world once during 19th century. Did we forgot we were ruled by them and enslaved by them in our history.It's logical and known fact that imperial powers leave physically but the ideology would be implanted forever within people's hearts and minds who they leave in the state of confusion. A good example is Afghanistan of today. Some are portraying them as an exemplary Muslim State while they know for fact they are failed by their occupiers (Russians & US first and now again occupied by US).Does anyone know the famous "divide and rule" concept adopted by these powers. I can go on and on ,but that will not make any difference for the people who doesn't want to remember these. They just chose to forget.We forget so beautifully. That's one of our character and ability.

    We are "wise man","knowing man",yet the "forgetful man".

    You guys will not stop, and should not 😉 so we can prove our points clearly.

    May Allah unveil all the hypocrites of this community and lead us out of this mischief.
    Allah knows best

  20. I lol'd at gaahaka's accusation.

    So according to them, speaking against social ills, injustice and the suffering of fellow Maldivians is considered "speaking negatively about islam."

    Very interesting...

    Also double lol'd at this whole "100% muslim" joke. Everyone knows that's an invention of the former regime when they needed to keep the common people in check.

  21. @Ahmed Aliased on Mon, 19th Jul 2010 2:12 PM : You have a point with 100% issue. Relating the case to ISLAM or ISLAMIC EXTREMISM is not logical and that's not an accusation but a quite obvious fact. If there's any thing in extreme,it is "extreme westernization of this society (in wrong manner)". (Please note that I'm not against West but against all the "wrongs" of West (there are some beautiful practices within them as well) and for that matter all the "wrongs" of Pre-Islamic cultures and attitudes of this society and all those so called “Muslim” societies as well.)

    A True Muslim society will be peaceful, honest, loving, merciful and just.

    "There is nothing such as absolute evil or absolute saints amongst humans." We humans will make mistakes, will be erroneous but that doesn’t mean we have to be on that path forever. The moment we repent sincerely and get back to the path of GOD, Insha Allah, surely he will forgive. GOD is oft-forgiving and most merciful.

    @Fasy on Mon, 19th Jul 2010 2:17 PM
    Thanks, but I'm fine with just normal comments. I'm just a student, seeking knowledge and trying to bring out the Truth on issue by issue basis.

    May Allah bless us all with peace, wisdom & knowledge and make us brave.

  22. @gaahaka

    I partially agree with one thing you said- that I'm a 'retard'. I'd rather be labelled a 'retard' than be smart like you are.

    Google "logical fallacies" and then try to have an intelligent discussion.

    Unless of course you just want to rant...if so, carry on Sir!

  23. @Ahmed Aliased on Mon, 19th Jul 2010 2:12 PM : You have a point with 100% issue. Relating the case to ISLAM or ISLAMIC EXTREMISM (trying to portray so called "extremism" as a part of ISLAM which is not. By the way Allah totally rejects extremism in our way of life [Deen]) is not logical and that's not an accusation but quite an obvious fact. If there's any thing in extreme it is "extreme westernization of this society (in wrong manner)". (Please note that I'm not against West but against all the "wrongs" of West (there are some beautiful practices within them as well) and for that matter all the "wrongs" of Pre-Islamic cultures and attitudes of this society and all those so called “Muslim” societies as well.)

    A True Muslim society will be peaceful, honest, loving, merciful and just.

    "There is nothing such as absolute evil or absolute saints amongst humans." We humans will make mistakes, will be erroneous but that doesn’t mean we have to be on that path forever. The moment we repent sincerely and get back to the path of GOD, Insha Allah, surely he will forgive. GOD is oft-forgiving and most merciful.

    @Fasy on Mon, 19th Jul 2010 2:17 PM
    Thanks, but I'm fine with just normal comments. I'm just a student, seeking knowledge and trying to bring out the Truth on issue by issue basis.

    May Allah bless us all with peace, wisdom & knowledge and make us brave.

  24. "A True Muslim society will be peaceful, honest, loving, merciful and just."


    The values behind those words are hard to find in this so-called 100% muslim country. Thus, it become simple hypocrisy.


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