New religious unity regulations: English

This is an unofficial English translation of the new religious unity regulations for the Maldives, produced by the Ministry of Islamic Affairs. The original Dhivehi is available on the Ministry’s website, and in the Government Gazette.

UNOFFICIAL TRANSLATION: Regulations on protecting religious unity of Maldivian Citizens

CHAPTER 1: General Clauses

(1) Introduction and title

(a): This is a general Regulations defining general principles to ensure religious unity as authorized by Law No. 6/94, Religious Unity Act of Maldives.

(b): These regulations shall be called ‘Regulations on protecting religious unity of Maldivian Citizens’.


The principles compiled in these regulations aim to maintain the religious harmony existing among Maldivians for eons; solve conflicts that arise from disagreement among Islamic scholars on certain issues; ensure that information regarding such issues are spread so as not to sow discord in society; facilitate Islamic scholars to raise religious awareness among the public; maintain religious unity of Maldivian citizens; and to advice Ministry of Islamic Affairs on such issues to establish an advisory Board, and to set out the responsibilities of such a Board.

(3) Chapters included

These regulations are made up of 5 Chapters. They are,

(1) General areas

(2) Advisory Board on religious unity among Maldivian Citizens

(3) Giving sermons, advice and issuing religious rulings in Maldives

(4) Spreading religions other than Islam

(5) Outlawed actions

(4) Authority tasked with enforcing these regulations

These regulations shall be implemented by the Ministry of Islamic Affairs. The Ministry has the right to delegate to another authority enforcing of any actions deemed necessary to maintain religious unity as stipulated by these regulations.

(5) Authority tasked with propagating Islam in Maldives

(a) Ministry of Islamic Affairs shall be the ultimate authority to propagate Islam and dictate its principles.

(b) Ministry of Islamic Affairs shall decree the ‘official fatwa’ as shall be practiced in Maldives where issues of conflict occur among Islamic scholars. Such religious rulings shall be based upon the Quran, the Sunnah (norms) of the Noble Prophet, agreement among the Islamic scholars, and local religious etiquette.

CHAPTER 2: Advisory Board on religious unity among Maldivian Citizens

(6)Compiling the Advisory Board on religious unity among Maldivian Citizens:

The President must establish a special Board, on the advice of the Ministry of Islamic Affairs, to provide advice and assistance to the Ministry of Islamic Affairs and other relevant authorities in the implementation of Laws and Regulations made to maintain religious unity of Maldivian citizens.

(7) Board’s name

The board’s name shall be ‘Advisory Board on religious unity among Maldivian Citizens.’

(8) Board’s Secretariat

The board’s Secretariat shall be administered by Ministry of Islamic Affairs.

(9) Members making up the board

Ministry of Islamic Affairs will decide on the number of members that shall be represented on the Board. At least one representative from each of the following fields shall be chosen to be on the Board. Ministry of Islamic Affairs must have three members on the Board.

Ministry of Islamic Affairs

Ministry of Education

Maldives Fiqh Academy

Maldives Police Service

Maldives College of Higher Education

A member nominated from among local NGOs

A local Islamic scholar

A person with a legal background

(10)Criteria for qualification as Board Members


(1) The person shall have reached 25 years of age

(2) Having at least a First Degree in Islamic Studies, or Sharia, or (general) law  from an Islamic University recognized by the Government of Maldives

(3) The person shall not be a person who was convicted of a ‘hadh’ crime as stipulated in Islamic Sharia (law)

(11) Board’s Presidency

The Presidency of the Board will be held by the person chosen by the Board Members from among the three Board Members of the Ministry of Islamic Affairs. All documents of the Board shall be expressly under the Ministry of Islamic Affair’s name.

(12)Board’s mandate

(a) The Board shall assist the Ministry of Islamic Affairs to formulate and implement policy relating to the above-mentioned licenses as stipulated in these regulations or those regulations which are formulated by the Ministry of Islamic Affairs.

(b) Give advice to the Ministry of Islamic Affairs whether to revoke or not (preaching) licenses if it is deemed that the person has acted in violation of these regulations.

(c) Give advice and help if such advice and help are required by the Ministry of Islamic Affairs in appealing to relevant government authorities to take legal action against any person whose actions are deemed to be threatening religious unity of Maldivian people, and if it is deemed that such actions need to be brought to an immediate stop.

(d) Recommending to Ministry of Islamic Affairs any amendments needed to be brought to Laws, Regulations and Policies in order to protect religious unity of the Maldivian people.

(e) The Board shall not adopt any decisions that are in violation of the tenets of Islam.

(13)Board’s quorum

A meeting of the Board can be held if at least 5 members from 5 fields are present. (If even one member from any single field is represented, it will be deemed that that sector was represented).

(14)Board’s Decisions

Board’s Decisions can be adopted only by a majority of those present at the Board’s meeting.

CHAPTER  3: Preaching, giving sermons, and issuing religious rulings in the Maldives

(15) Preaching and giving sermons

Preaching, giving sermons, and issuing religious rulings in the Maldives can only be carried out by getting the permission described in Clause 2 (a) of the Maldives’ Religious Unity Act.

(16) Criteria for giving preaching license

(a) The permission mentioned in Clause 15 of these Regulations can be obtained once the application form, and the material and documents prescribed in the form, are forwarded and studied by the Ministry of Islamic Affairs and if the Ministry deems the applicant meets the necessary criteria as stipulated in Clause (16) (b).

(b) The following criteria have to be met in order for the Ministry of Islamic Affairs to grant a preaching license, as mentioned in Clause (15) of these Regulations.

(1) The person must belong to any sect of the Sunni Muslims

(2) The person shall have reached 25 years of age

(3) The person shall have attained at least a First Degree in religious studies from a University recognized by the Government of Maldives

(4) The person must not have been found guilty in a Sharia Court of having violated any clause of Law 6/94, Religious Unity Act.

(5) The person must not have been found guilty in a Sharia Court for a crime for which there is a ‘Hadh’, fraud, accepting of bribes, sexual misconduct, and drug abuse.

(c) If a person does not have the Degree as prescribed in Clause (16) (b) (3), the person’s service to religion so far, education and experience can be considered by the Board and exceptions made and permission given by the Ministry of Islamic Affairs.

(17)Bringing foreigners to conduct religious lectures and giving sermons

(a) A written permission must be obtained for any association, NGO or individual, to bring a foreigner for preaching and giving sermons in Maldives.

(b) The permission mentioned in this Clause shall be given after the person is deemed to meet the criteria — after study of the person’s background and in accordance with policies set by the Board, once the application form for a preaching license, together with the material prescribed in the form, and certificates of qualifications are forwarded to the Ministry of Islamic Affairs.

(18) Translation

If a foreign preacher’s sermon is to be translated into Dhivehi, any such translation should be carried out by a person or organization permitted by the Ministry of Islamic Affairs.

(19)Foreign preachers to respect local norms

Foreign preachers should shape their sermons in line with Maldives norms, traditions, culture and social etiquette.

(20) Issuing religious rulings

(a) In Maldives all religious rulings shall be issued in line with the sects of Sunni Muslims.

(b) A ruling cannot be issued that is in contravention of what is generally accepted among majority of Islamic scholars.

(c) Rulings on controversial issues shall be issued in line with the general guidelines of ‘Fiqh.’

(d) While preaching in Maldives, any preacher should act in accordance with the religious rulings issued by the following institutions:

(1) Islamic Fiqh Academy of the Organization of the Islamic Conference (OIC)

(2) European Council for Fatwa and Research

(3) Dhaarul Ifthaaeel Misriyya of Egypt

(4) Allajunathudhdhaaimathul Lil Buhoolil Ilmiyaavalifthaai

(5) Majmaul Buhoolil Islamiyyaa of Al Azhar University of Egypt

(6) Islamic Fiqh Academy of Maldives

(7) Fiqh Academy of Raabithathul Aalamil Islamee

CHAPTER 4: Spreading religions other than Islam

(21)Maintaining religious unity

It is an obligation on the Government and all the people of Maldives to protect the religious unity of Maldivian citizens as Maldives is a 100 percent Muslim nation and because Islam maintains harmony of Maldivian citizens and because Islam is the basis of the unity of Maldivian citizens.

(22)Immunity granted for activity conducted for scholarly pursuit

These Regulations do not prohibit, for scholarly reasons, or for research, surveys, and lectures that are given under formal education; and information disclosed about other religions, if such information is disseminated to contrast Islam and other religions.

(23)Exemption for archaeological artifacts and historical sites

Archaeological sites and artifacts that have been and are being discovered in Maldives shall be exempt from these Regulations, including maintenance and protection of such, in order to retain them for history.

(24) Authority to deport anyone who propagates any religion other than Islam

Ministry of Islamic Affairs has the authority to order all relevant authorities to deport for a definite period, or deport for life, all foreigners who propagate any religion other than Islam or engage in spreading of beliefs that contravene any of the sects of the Sunni Muslims — if such a person is accused with ample evidence of any such illegal action or action that is related to propagation of other religions.

CHAPTER 5: Giving religious education in Maldives

(25) Operating institutions which give religious education

Any institution which gives religious education can only do so with express permission from the relevant government authority.

(26)Finalizing curriculum for religious education

(a) Any subject relating to religion shall be taught in accordance with the curriculum that is approved by the Government.

(b) Curriculum on religious education shall be modeled, and such education carried out, in ways that will not violate the religious unity of Maldives.

CHAPTER 6: Prohibited activity

(27) Illegal actions while preaching giving sermons and issuing religious rulings

The following actions are prohibited when preaching, giving sermons and issuing religious rulings in Maldives.

Promoting one’s own individual opinion on issues that are in disagreement among Islamic scholars.

Encouraging violence; inciting people to disputes, hatred and resentment; and any talk that aims to degrade a certain sex and gender in violation of Islamic tenets. Telecasting and broadcasting of such speeches shall be deemed illegal.

Fabricating lies against trustworthy Islamic scholars and scholars who are Sunni Muslims.

Promoting your opinion, if such opinion violates a religious ruling as unanimously agreed upon by the Fiqh Academy of Maldives.

Talking about religions other than Islam in Maldives, and propagating such religions.

Talking about the culture and traditions of other religions in a way that aims to coerce a person’s mind to favor those religions; or any attempts to create such a spirit amongst the people.

(28) Acting in violation of these regulations, during preaching, by those who are licensed to preach

(a) If anyone talks against Clause 27 of these Regulations, the person shall be prosecuted under the Religious Unity Act, and in addition, as an administrative measure, preaching licenses shall be revoked, or held for a definite period. These Regulations empower the Ministry of Islamic Affairs to take such action.

(b If, in the spirit of these Regulations, a licensed preacher reveals aspects of Islamic Sharia as beheld by the sects among Sunni Muslims, Islamic scholars, and the evidence that they favor, such action shall not be deemed to be in violation of these Regulations.

(29) If a Maldivian or foreigner preaches, gives sermons and issues religious rulings, in violation of these Regulations

It is illegal for any Maldivian or foreigner to preach, give sermons and issue religious rulings in violation of these Regulations.

It is illegal for any person, other than those licensed, to preach and give sermons in public places.

(30) Propagating any religion other than Islam or building places of worship of other religions
Propagating any religion other than Islam in Maldives and trying to convert people to any other religion are prohibited actions for both Maldivians and foreigners.

It is illegal to build in Maldives buildings or places of worship of other religions.

In Maldives, any slogan that is representative of any religion other than Islam, shall not be produced and distributed.

It is illegal in Maldives to use any kind of medium to propagate any religion other than Islam; such media shall not be used to share or exchange information that may stir interest in any other religion.

(31)Translating into Dhivehi books on other religions and distribution of such translations

In Maldives, it is illegal to translate into Dhivehi, books or various other sources of information on other religions, and print, distribute or spread such material.

(32) Insulting or committing any action that may offend Islamic slogans

(a) Committing any action, uttering a word, or drawing anything that insults Allah, His Prophets and Messengers, the Companions of Prophet Mohamed (PBUH).

(b) It is illegal to utter a word or commit an action that insults the Koran, Islamic Mosques, and other Islamic slogans.

(33) Non-Muslims expressing their religious slogans or carrying out their religious activities

It is illegal for non-Muslims who visit Maldives and non-Muslims who live in Maldives to express their religious slogans; publicly display objects that express religious slogans of non-Muslims; gather at places and get into groups to express their religious slogans; sell objects of their worship; conduct any activity with an intention of spreading their religious slogans; participation of a Maldivian in any such activity; and allowing a Maldivian to participate in such an activity.

(34) Propagating any religion other than Islam

(a) It is illegal to propagate in Maldives any religion other than Islam and inviting people to such religions.

(b) It is illegal for any foreign non-Muslim teacher teaching in Maldives, and other such people, to talk about any religion other than Islam, in schools and outside of schools.

(35) Telecasting, broadcasting, and printing of programs that may result in damage to religious unity of Maldives

(a) It is illegal for any party licensed to telecast and broadcast to show programs or spread sound bites of programs that harass Allah, the Noble Prophet or any of his Companions, or the Noble Quran, or the Noble Prophet’s Sunnah or the Islamic religion. And it is illegal to show or spread sound bites of programs on religions other than Islam, and any such literature, drawings, advertisements, music, and songs.

(b) It is illegal to use any Internet website, blog, newspaper, or magazine to publish such material as mentioned in Clause (35) (a).

(c) It is illegal for any parties conducting business in Maldives and companies to act in a way that disrupts Islamic etiquette when advertising their products or making announcements.

(36) Providing education on any religion other than Islam and providing education against the rulings of sects among the Sunni Muslims

(a) It is illegal to provide education on any religion other than Islam in anywhere in Maldives.

(b) It is illegal to provide education in Maldives that flaunt the principles of the sects among the Sunni Muslims.

(37) Prayer congregation

(a) It is illegal to lead a prayer congregation in a mosque in Maldives against the principles of the sects among the Sunni Muslims. Prayers should be conducted according to the Quran and the Sunnah of the Noble Prophet.

(b) It is illegal to conduct a separate private prayer congregation away from the main congregation while the main congregation is in progress inside that mosque; to be of the opinion that the official congregations in Maldives are not lawful and therefore deliberately staying away from main congregations; later in that mosque or elsewhere conducting a separate congregation in order to divide the society.

(c) It is illegal to conduct a congregation of Juma prayer, or Eid prayer, or Eclipse prayer in violation of principles set by the Ministry of Islamic Affairs.

(38) Punishment

All that is prohibited in these Regulations, and those actions which the Regulations call on people not to engage in, shall be deemed an offence. The punishment for any offense, for which any specific punishment is not prescribed in these regulations, shall be the punishment prescribed in Law 6/94, Religious Unity Act.

(39) Glossary

(a) The “Board” that is referred to in these Regulations is the advisory Board to maintain religious unity among Maldivian citizens that is appointed by the President of the Republic of Maldives on the advice of the Ministry of Islamic Affairs in order to protect the religious unity of Maldivian citizens.



(2) Any word that is used in these Regulations shall be translated generally into the way the word is generally understood in a general context.

(3) …

(40) Start of implementation of these Regulations

These Regulations will be implemented from the day it is published in the Government Gazette.



32 thoughts on “New religious unity regulations: English”

  1. So basically we aren't allowed to have opinions about our own personal faith anymore.

    How on earth are we supposed to know what's being debated or not anyways.

    Things are debated for a reason, and that reason is that not everyone will have the same opinion about everything; especially on issues as personal as faith and religion.

    So we basically believe in nothing until all versions of Islam merge into one?

    Should all women wearing the full veil remove it? Scholars sure as hell are debating on that issue.

    Are we even allowed to ask such questions anymore?

    So from now on, disagreeing with say, Adhaalath, can have legal repercussions?

  2. Poor draft, may be the translation. Legal words, legal patterns, legal usage shall be considered.

  3. "They must find it difficult, those who have taken the authority as the truth, rather than the truth as the authority" Gerald Massey

  4. Iran we will become.. Lost is everything that we fought for.. The hunger for power is leaving HEP with no other option but to turn into a puppet of the religious fanatics..

    All this because HEP let the activists ruin this country. There is still time and hope is still left in the hearts of the people who fought for reform. Get the activists out of Government and bring in capable people. HEP, you can still salvage the situation. By doing nothing you are making it worse.

    Soon our country will be renamed 'Maldivestan'....

  5. So there go the human rights for another century - not just the choice for religious identity - also the right to criticize!

    I agree that this is the beginning of the end - but for both citizens & the Islamic ministry likewise!

    Please all let's embrace Dhivehistan.

  6. maumoon is the answer. we should bring him back and send anni and all wahabis to somalia

  7. In other words, in Maldives, the ruling political party will be the "ultimate authority to propagate Islam and dictate its principles".
    Is there anything in the holy Quran that supports this idea?

  8. Neither a Religious Unity Act nor the Islamic Ministry can say anything is "ILLEGAL" without it being in our laws. And the laws are NOT made by the govt ministries or any board. It has to be passed by the parliament.


    "(a) Ministry of Islamic Affairs shall be the ultimate authority to propagate Islam and dictate its principles."

    GET REAL... Neither Shaheem nor Majeed can dictate how people r going to interpreted the Quran, nor is their interpretation the correct one. If the govt try to dictate people's beliefs, i foresee much turbulence...and it wud definitely lead to extremism of another sort to come out in a big way...

    Everywhere in the world it is this sort of narrow mindedness that has lead to violent extremists to declare war, and feel like they r justified in killing people. Also it is such actions that make rational minded moderates to start leaving the nation...esp educated people.

    What does the govt think they are doing... Anni needs to focus on what is happening in our nation, instead of busying himself with traveling to foreign lands...

    MANY PEOPLE SACRIFICED TO BRING A CHANGE... WE WANTED GOOD GOVERNANCE, JUSTICE & DEMOCRACY, NOT JUST TO GET RID OF THE AGING DICTATOR, NOR TO PUT ANNI IN POWER... If he cant bring what we sacrificed for, then he better understand that he will not have much of a legacy to talk about... nor will MDP win the next election...

  9. Ok DRP for the win! From now on, I will seriously support them, and this government IS going down! If THIS is the freedom Anni wanted to bring, sorry, but we don't want it.

  10. This draconian piece of regulation is a calculated move to consolidate 'religious' power under a few men.

    Also, what little freedom of expression and basic civil liberties we have managed to win is all lost now.

    A tragic joke, if there ever was one.

    Are you listening, Mr. President?

  11. Seems like I am not the only person appreciating Maumoon now.

  12. Does it always has to be black and white?. Maumoon is not the answer. Six short years is not enough for me to forgive and forget the previous regime's crimes against so many people.

  13. I support the idea Balrog. If Anni is giving in to these medieval minded people I will definitely switch my support to DRP.
    We cannot accept this conservatism. This not Aneh Raajje that we fought for.

  14. Kiss ass MDP!
    Granting power to curb civil liberties and rights to Adhaalath and cohorts in order to win the council elections.

    Anything to consolidate power.

    And they still claim religion should not be used as a tool for political gain?

    I wish i'd never worked for Change!

  15. Now, I want Juha to come out and translate this. He may have a different version.

    Now, what freedom do we have Mr Shaheem, can we have sex with our own wives? or do we have to get prior approval from the ministry?

    Do we get the seat on UN Human Rights Council still Dr Shaheed? I think it will be good if we have Iran, Maldives, Afghanistan, Libya, Saudi Arabia on this council.

  16. This must be the skyline of aneh Dhivehi Raajje that the President is boasting about.

    I can see the mullahs and the penguins swimming along the coastline of this aneh Dhivehi raajje

  17. We don’t need any Islamic Ministry. This is unwarranted expenditure of the Government. Let all mullahs do the Islamic preaching and fatwa with their own expenses. Probably through charity. Why we should put these uneducated mullah under government payroll.

  18. "And we must win the battle of ideas against extremists who want to replace democracy with theocracy. " (Anni at Donors Conference March 2010)

  19. reminds me of George Orwells 1984 - thought control and thought police.. tsk tsk..goodbye free thought goodbye free speech... worst thing tht one cud do to freedom is to shackle down one's mind and tunnel ur vision.. shame.. shame..

  20. Muaa is right, the country doesn't need that Ministry. Let's allocate the millions of governmental money they get for the poor, for the children, for the disabled, for education!

  21. Marina,

    You want to remind something to the President? He dont care what he says. He is someone who says one thing and deos another...simple, after all this is the Goverment of Kenereegey Mohamed Nasheed (He said this, not me)

  22. "And it is illegal to show or spread sound bites of programs on religions other than Islam, and any such literature, drawings, advertisements, music, and songs."

    does this mean Indian sitcoms that have seeped into the minds of middle class and all classes of stay-at home women in the Maldives are illegal now?! that's good.

    but seriously, Mr.President, this unity act reads to me 'pack away your brains" .you said "freedom of thought" is more important than fenaa narudhamaa. so what happened?

    power really does corrupt

  23. Hold on to your horses guys. I bet President Nasheed will never let the Islamic Ministry to gazette the regulation! They just put it on their website (in my opinion to provoke people - in the hope that a similar crowed to the anti alcohol regulation would come out and pressure the President to gazette this regulation). That will not happen.

    More than anything else, I think this is evidence of a power struggle within the religious groups. Adhalath (through the Islamic Ministry) wants to consolidate their power and ensure that they are the only ones who can issue a Fatwa.

    Important thing is that we as a society are not effected by this power struggle and the rights we fought for are not lost.

    I don't think President Nasheed will let it happen. If it does happen, I guess we will have to vote for a new guy in '13.

  24. If you want to see how many active atheists in Maldives come to this site and article and count the number of people who have commented against this Regulation. Simple, isn't it!

    We will not be darned if a bunch of atheists go berserk! This is Maldives not Dhivehistan, okay, Marina?

    -The jungle chimp-

  25. @SM.I am going to be laughing so hard when your precious anni doesn't come to the rescue.

    I've said this before, but I told you so 😀

    (p.s. it really is quite tragic how we are degenerating into another afghanistan. Bets on how long it takes before we are declared dangerous to society? Before we start having our own terrorist training camps (if we don't already have them))

  26. Well what does this mean? Last time I checked laws are made by the parliament not the Islamic Ministry. Or is this Islamic Ministry a government within a government?

    I knew religious freedom was a distant dream even with this government, but I did hope that the situation would improve but apparently it is getting worse and worse. The damn extremist are going to bring this country to it's knees.

  27. One more thing, forcing religion onto the population in such an open and obvious way will only backfire on religion itself. Especially given how a large percentage of the population are rebellious youths like myself. We saw the same thing in Iran where a Islamic revolution brought to power a fundamentalist government which forced religion on society and as a result turned a devout community away from religion and caused them to hate religion.( not of course the majority but a large and vocal group)


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