Today marks the first official day of Ramadan in the Maldives following the conclusion of final preparations for the month of fasting and prayer.
After the anticipated sighting of the new crescent moon did not come on Friday as expected, the Islamic Ministry announced that Sunday (June 29) was considered to be Ramadan 1 in the Hijra year 1435.
The start of festivities also began at midnight across much of the world, with Yemen reported to be the only country to have started celebrations on Saturday.
President Abdulla Yameen has called on Maldivians to observe the period with piety, encouraging the performance of pious deeds and virtuous duties.
In a statement released by the President’s Office, Yameen noted Maldivians’ preservation of the Islamic faith, appealing to all to continue this tradition over the next 30 days.
The government’s efforts to assist with preparations were also acknowledged by Yameen, with a number of temporary and refurbished mosques having opened in recent days.
Vice President Dr Mohamed Jameel Ahmed was in attendance at the reopening of the Al-Furqan mosque on Friday after six years of construction and multiple delays. The mosque is reported to be the most expensive in the country’s history, at MVR21 million (US$1.3 million).
Speaking at the opening ceremony for new mosque – capable of facilitating 3000 people – Jameel urged Islamic scholars to uphold the country’s Islamic identity by presenting it in a way comprehensible to the nation’s substantial youth population.
Local media have also reported the opening of a temporary mosque in Maafannu to compensate for the recently demolished Fandiyaaru Mosque. The Maldives National Defence Force completed the mosque – with capacity for 800 people – in just 14 days, reported Sun Online.
After initial fears regarding funding, the Islamic Minsistry announced the release of MVR800,000 to Malé City Council for repairs to 22 mosques. Minister of Islamic Affairs Dr Mohamed Shaheem Ali Saeed has pledged to spend MVR10 million on mosque repair for Ramadan.
Additionally, President Yameen has pledged to reduce waiting times for the overburdened Malé-Hulhumalé ferry to just 10 minutes while state utilities company Fenaka is said to have pledged interrupted power supply to all islands this month.
Working times for the Maldives’ 25,000 civil servants have been reduced to the hours between 10am and 2pm after local women’s rights NGO Hope for Women had argued the previous arrangement allowed insufficient time for women’s increased domestic workload during the month.
Meanwhile, the government announced that schools would be closed for grade 9 and below throughout the month, while class times will be reduced for other age groups.
Haveeru has also reported a reduction in the price of a number of basic commodities at the local market, as well as the opening of an additional fresh market in the capital.