Islamic Minister Dr Bari resigns

Islamic Minister Dr Abdul Majeed Abdul Bari has resigned from the position after pressure from the Adhaalath Party.

He confirmed to Minivan News today he that he had submitted the resignation letter to the President’s Office.

”I resigned out of respect for the decision made by the Adhaalath Party to break its coalition agreement with the government,” Dr Bari said. ”I sent the letter today and they have not responded yet.”

Dr Bari said that although he had resigned from the position as well as the Chairmanship of Adhaalath Party’s Religious Council, he would “remain active in politics.”

Recently, Dr Bari and State Islamic Minister Sheikh Hussain Rasheed Ahmed were asked by the Adhaalath Party to resign, however Sheikh Rasheed issued a statement explaining his refusal to do so.

Dr Bari had earlier resigned from the Chairmanship of Adhaalath Party’s Religious Council.

Today he told the media that he had resigned from the council’s chairmanship after the council issued a statement against his view on Imams, reciting Bismi aloud and permanently reciting Qunoot in Fajr prayers.

The President’s Press Secretary Mohamed Zuhair confirmed to Minivan News that Dr Bari had submitted his letter of resignation, but said President Nasheed had not had a chance to read it yet as he had been out this afternoon observing the implementation of the goods and services tax (GST).

Zuhair said he was “surprised” by Bari’s decision as he had “worked patiently and in accordance with the government’s policy” prior to his resignation.

“Even with the religious unity regulations, he worked patiently with the government in a non-partisan way, and he had the last word before it was published,” Zuhair said, noting that Bari had chosen the government’s side in 2009 over its previous alliance with the Jumhooree Party (JP).

Zuhair added that the President valued Dr Bari’s contribution and “patient and academic efforts” as Islamic Minister.

It was too early to speculate on a replacement, he said. However speculation today was that Sheikh Rasheed was among the most likely candidates.

Sheikh Rasheed did not respond to Minivan News at time of press.


Former Adhaalath Party leader criticises new leadership

Former President of the Adhaalath Party Sheikh Hussain Rasheed Ahmed has strongly criticised the new leadership of “acting dictatorially” and issuing press releases without consulting either the heads of party organs or Islamic Minister Dr Abdul Majeed Abdul Bari.

In a statement published on his official website this week, Sheikh Rasheed wrote that “the biggest change” he brought to the Islamic Ministry’s functions after being appointed State Minister in December was to “change the dictatorial policy of the ministry’s former senior officials” to ensure that important decisions were not made without “direct instruction from the minister.”

“The rule of granting permission to make sermons based on a person’s face was abolished. Work being done that conflicted with government regulations and policy in a way that could facilitate corruption was reformed and brought into line,” he said.

Sheikh Rasheed, a founding member of Adhaalath, condemned a press statement issued by the party on September 5 regarding the controversy surrounding Qunooth (an invocation recited during prayers) and reciting Bismillah out loud as “very irresponsible.”

The press statement argued that the invocation was not compulsory except during periods of adversity.

Rasheed claimed that a letter sent to the Addu City Council regarding Qunooth was based on Dr Bari’s advice: “Therefore I can’t believe that Dr Majeed would talk to Adhaalath members differently about the issue of saying Bismillah [out loud] during prayers,” he said.

“Adhaalath Party’s Scholars Council Chair [Dr Bari] told me that he had informed [the party] not to issue the press release like that,” he continued. “And the deputy chair apparently knows nothing about the press release. The party’s charter states that when dealing with religious issues, a statement could only be issued after a meeting of the religious scholars council and with the consensus of its members.”

Rasheed went on to say that there were “know-it-all scholars” and a culture of attacking anyone who opposes their statements or ideology, adding that the scholars in question believe the country’s policy should be based on their thinking.

Statements made on foreign policy by some Adhaalath senior members reminded Sheikh Rasheed of “thoughts that come and goes quickly to a person suffering from a mental illness.”

“Anyone who disagrees with their religious opinion turns into a criminal [in their minds],” he wrote, referring to the Adhaalath’s public antagonism to NGOs Jamiyyathul Salaf and Islamic Foundation of the Maldives (IFM).

Sheikh Rasheed called on officials in senior leadership positions to adhere to the party’s charter or governing rules.

He also urged Dr Bari to be consistent in statements made in his capacity as Islamic Minister and chair of the religious scholars council.

Rasheed said he was moved to publicly criticise the new leadership because of the extent to which “the dictatorial [tendency] of some Adhaalath party members” has grown.

Islamic Minister Dr Bari told Minivan News he did not wish to comment on the matter.