Comment: The enigma of the Adhaalath Party and their radical politics

In the autumn of the first elected democratic government, the Adhaalath Party (AP) brought in major radical reforms and sidelined their original party leadership. The freedom they enjoyed after the 2008 elections became a chance for opportunists among them to seek personal vendettas in politics.

The radicalisation of the AP became most prominent when they gathered on the 23rd of December in 2011 to honour and glorify Allah by becoming the judges of Allah. This reminded me of the assassin who brutally murdered Caliph Ali Ibn Abi Tholib saying, “There is no judge other than Allah” portraying himself as the judge in killing the leader of Muslims.

In a similar fashion, the 23rd December alliance portrayed themselves as judges in becoming the triggermen for ousting their ‘un-Islamic’ president, proclaiming him an infidel. These repercussions were the result of a speech given by President Mohamed Nasheed in Denmark to a predominantly non-Muslim audience regarding the growing fundamentalism of Islam.

The gist of his speech suggested that the way the holy Quran and Prophets words or Hadhith was interpreted by some sheikhs created polarisation among Muslims – a theory widely agreed upon by several Muslim scholars around the world. The radical ideology created by the AP, however, was that they were the only learned Islamic scholars who could glorify Islam – in a country which has been practicing Islam for hundreds of years without any radicalisation or polarisation.

The opposition of Nasheed’s government at the time intelligently utilised the AP as bait in instigating continuous and consistent public strikes, by deceiving the minds of faithful Muslims. The AP was given the role of labelling the government un-Islamic and creating fear among the faithful Muslims that ‘God’s treasured nation’ with one hundred percent Muslims will become a Christian or an atheist nation.

The public became more engaged when small radical groups sponsored by envious politicians came out in public demanding religious freedom. The fall of democracy began with more and more hatred and with the charismatic sheikhs becoming highly pragmatic and vocal against Nasheed -calling him and his regime un-Islamic, accusing him of forming allegiances with Christians and Jews.

The more moderate sheikhs kept their mouths shut and hence did an injustice to naive Islam-loving citizens. One exception was an apolitical sheikh who, through media, spread a silent interpretation in which he claimed the ousting of the leader of a nation who is in Islamic faith is against prophet’s teaching. However, the media turned a blind eye to these words, being more interested in bad news – as bad news is always good news for them.

On the February 7th of 2012 the storm struck and the elected president was ousted. The AP completed their assignment with high distinction. Hence they became powerful and vocal, and got a fair share from the government labelled as a “coup regime” by the Maldivian Democratic Party (MDP).

To most people, the AP was Sheikh Imran, the ‘mighty mouth piece’ of AP who seemingly acts as God’s judge in giving verdicts to defame their opponents as infidels. The people became nostalgic and now could not decide what was right or wrong. The arrogance, pride, and prejudice the sheikh holds against his opponents in fact became so controversial that many in the public came to regard him as a disgrace to Islam. The irony was that no sheikh or learned scholar was able to criticise him. The reality was that most of the learned Islamic scholars were behind the AP, supporting them and looking for opportunities to promote their political careers.

When the time came for parties to prepare for 2013 presidential elections, the AP had a misconception that they were the playmakers in the game, as they believed their high distinction in toppling governments could always change things in their favour. However, the incumbent president was not well convinced and disagreed with them. The opportunists among them demanded large amounts of money according to pundits, which turned off Dr Mohamed Waheed.

This rejection led them to join with Ibrahim Gasim.  They went through the first round with Gasim and were unable to beat the MDP. The obvious second round dragged them to a dilemma and they could not keep their word. It was strange for such people acting on behalf of God and claiming to glorify Islam to show such hypocrisy in their decision-making.

The watchful public then started feeling disgust over the so called truthful, honest, Islam-glorifying sheikhs. The public in fact saw them as unable to make up their mind and lacking in any principles or political ideologies, but rather becoming hitch-hikers and opportunists.

To make matters worse, the AP became much weaker in the new government than they had been under the governance of their arch-rival Nasheed. To their dismay, the old loyal sheikh and classmate of Gayoom – who was cartooned and lampooned by AP sheikhs previously – became their superior in a ministry they had sole control of in the past.

The hitch-hikers finally realised their position when their coalition partners defied their request to allocate some constituents for them to compete for parliament. For them the AP was just a parasite and a pain in their rears. Overwhelmed with lack of support they contested against their partners with the hope of winning over them. However, the already intimidated public rejected their candidates, with the exception of a famous woman with a high reputation for being modest and open minded.

The AP have gradually understood their position in the coalition and have become so weak, they now have to bow down to politicians far more ‘un-Islamic’ than Nasheed. The dilemmas and the enigmas now made them see that ‘There is no judge other than Allah’ and no one can claim to be a judge on behalf of Allah.

The educated elite behind AP want a reform, but regaining public trust is an issue they must overcome. To make matters worse, all major political parties want them to be sidelined as radical fundamentalist Islam is not accepted anywhere in the world, and the supreme leader of the PPM has a powerful aversion to sheikhs. Most of the AP sheikhs also have gone into hiding from public, realising that they had abused a naive public into believing an ideology they created with no basis or principle.

Their arrogance has led several sheikhs allied with them to fall silent and perhaps even to repent for their mistakes in throwing the state in to chaos in the name of Islam. For AP to rise up they need to create a political ideology to play politics equally well with their competitors. The use of Islam, and claiming to be the sole authority of glorifying Islam is no longer a slogan they can sell to public as their competitors now all have equally learned sheikhs with them.

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