Islamic Foundation donates food aid to Somalia

Islamic Foundation of the Maldives (IFM) has donated vital food aid to over 80,000 victims of famine in the drought-stricken Somalia.

In a press statement released today, the religious NGO claimed that the food aid which included rice, flour, sugar, dates and cooking oil was handed over to 84,040 Somalis. Most recipients were women, children and the elderly.

According to IFM, food items worth Rf365, 203 (US$23,683) were equally distributed among 10,050 households belonging to the four worst hit areas: Bay, Bakool, Lower Shabelle and Banadir.

During the last quarter of 2011, an IFM official went to Somalia and dispersed the aid with the help of Islamic Relief Worldwide (IRW), the statement noted.

The UN has officially declared six parts of Somalia to be suffering from famine amid the worst drought in east Africa for 60 years.

“The Somalia crisis is everybody’s responsibility and Somalis need support now. We cannot afford to wait or we will let down the Somali people,” said Mark Bowden, the UN humanitarian coordinator for Somalia.

According to Bowden, more than half of Somalia’s 10 million people who are in dire need of help “will die without assistance”, while tens of thousands, including children, have already died of starvation.

The drought in East Africa has put an estimated 11 million people at risk. Suffering decades of relentless conflict, Somalia is the worst-hit country in the region.

Somalia’s south are experience the worst cases of famine, particularly the regions of Lower Shabelle, Middle and Lower Juba, Bay, Bakool, Benadir, Gedo and Hiraan, where the UN says an estimated 310,000 now suffer from acute malnutrition.

Meanwhile the UN has appealed for $1.5 billion for 2012, warning that the humanitarian crisis gripping millions of Somalis will persist for the coming months.


Islamic Foundation to host two-day workshop on Tawheed and Shirk

The Islamic Foundation of the Maldives (IFM) will host a two-day Islamic workshop (Nadwa Islamiyya) on Tawheed and Shirk conducted by Islamic scholars including Sheikh Aboobakr Ibrahim (Hinnavar), Sheikh Ibrahim Fareed Ahmed, Sheikh Mohamed Ibrahim (Naifaru) and Sheikh Mohamed Moosa (Naifaru).

A statement from the IFM noted that the session would examine the division of Tawheed into its components, which are Unity of Lordship, Unity of Worship, Unity of His Names and His Attributes, and Unity in following the Prophet Muhammad (PBUH).

Scholars will also teach the the basis of Shirk creeping into Islamic doctrine or forms of polytheism, which include” invoking or supplicating to a false deity besides Allah, with the purpose and intention of worshipping a deity other then Allah. Obeying any created being against the command of Allah, and loving a created being or an object more than Allah involves Shirk.”

The workshop will be held at Nasandhura Palace Hotel from February 25 to 26, 2011, and both male and female participants are invited. A membership fee of US$20 (Mrf 250) will to be charged from each participant. IFM will provide course materials and serve all meals during the study sessions.

Application forms are available on the IFM’s website


Charges against Sheikh Fareed “political matter, not a religious issue”

The President of the Islamic Foundation of the Maldives (IFM) Ibrahim Fauzy has called on the authorities to withdraw charges against Sheikh Ibrahim Fareed Ahmed, after he appeared in the Criminal Court charged for violating the former Religious Unity Act.

The Court alleged that Sheikh Fareed had preached on some islands without permission from the government authorities in 2007.

Sheikh Fareed was summoned to the Criminal Court today and was given the chance to respond to the charges.

”The former Religious Unity Act is contradictory to the new constitution, it is not acceptable to charge Sheikh Fareed over this issue,” said Fauzy. ”It is all related to politics. The former government confiscated his permission to preach, and later he only spoke at political rallies when he was in the ruling Maldivian Democratic Party (MDP).”

Sheikh Fareed was arrested alongside many MDP delegates while he was aboard a boat traveling from Thinadhoo in Gaafu Dhaalu Atoll in the year 2007, said Fauzy.

”Perhaps he sometimes gave advice to people at political rallies, but that cannot be considered preaching,” he said. ”It is a political matter, not a religious issue.”

Sheikh Fareed told Minivan News today that he was not sure about the nature of the charges against him.

”They are saying that I preached without the permission of authorities,” said Sheikh Fareed. ”I have requested the Criminal Court provide me details of the case.”

Sheikh Fareed said that he could only be certain of the case when he received the documents from the court.

On January 25, 2007, local newspaper ‘Miadhu’ reported that Sheikh Fareed was arrested moments after he walked out of ‘Ibrahimi Mosque’ after concluding Isha preayers.

Miadhu then reported that he was arrested for allegedly taking part in a demonstration that took place in Male.

Later on March 17, 2007, Miadhu reported that he was released from house arrest, kept in Maafushi jail for a few days, and then returned to house arrest.

Furthermore, Sheikh Fareed was arrested several times during the former regime for his participation in anti-governmental protests.

According to the local media, he was also once charged with terrorism but was released after the court found him innocent.

In 2007 he was the former vice president of MDP religious council but resigned after alleging that the party was against Islam.


Political figures join protests in surge of anti-Zionist sentiment

Anti-Zionist protests continued over the weekend reflecting the anger of some Maldivians about Israeli medical assistance being supplied to the country, leading to a rally held by the Tsunami Memorial on Friday with a host of high profile political figures speaking at the event.

Hundreds of people gathered at the protest with some carrying banners in both Dhivehi and English with messages ranging from “Say no to Israeli terrorism” and “Jews said Allah is poor” to “We are with anyone who fights Israel & USA” and “Bloody Zionists”.

The protests are said to be directly focused on deporting an Israeli NGO called Eye from Zion that is conducting eye surgery at a number of hospitals around the country. The religious NGO Islamic Foundation of the Maldives (IFM) said the protests were also targeted at rising concern over “President Mohamed Nasheed’s decision to have closer ties with Israel.”

A host of speakers including State Minister for Islamic Affairs, Sheikh Mohamed Shaheem Ali Saeed and former Deputy Leader for the opposition Dhivehi Rayyithunge Party (DRP, Umar Naseer, addressed attendees, voicing their opposition to accepting any aid from Israel amidst anger at its foreign policy towards Palestine.

Miadhu reported that Sheikh Shaheem spoke during a sermon on the day of the protest claiming that “the history of Jews was deception, trickery, rebellion, oppression, evil and corruption.”

“So it is not it is not acceptable that one who would stab the ummah in the heart could heal the eyes?” he reportedly said. “This philosophy is not acceptable.”

Alongside these comments, Naseer claimed that no aid should be taken by an Islamic state such as the Maldives until Israel settles the issues of occupation in Palestine in solidarity with other Muslims. The IFM claimed that other similar protests were held in Addu Atoll and Fuamulaku over the weekend.

Some 739 people in Male’ and 879 in Addu and Fuvahmulah had registered for treatment at eye camps run by the NGO as of December 9.

Last week, the co-founders of the IFM said that although they were not directly involved in the protests, it would not discourage its members from joining so called anti-Zionist demonstrations such as flag burnings and peaceful protests that have taken place over the last month over concern about the visit of ‘Eye from Zion’.

IFM co-founders Ibrahim Nazim and Ibrahim Fauzee said that they did not wish to “prohibit its members” from taking part in the ongoing protests that it saw as a “spontaneous reaction” to concerns over Israel’s attitude towards Palestine.

Nazim said that the IFM did not favour violence as an organisation and claims by “other organisations in the country” that Jewish people were planning to take over the country were setting back legitimate concerns over the visit of Eye from Zion and Israeli foreign policy.

“What I feel is that some groups are trying to win publicity by making radical statements,” he said. “We do not believe this is good and in the long-term it is not be favourable [towards effectively opposing Israeli activities in the Maldives].”

Fauzee added that he believed the protests reflected the fact that “many people in the Maldives do not accept Israel as a state.”

In response to the anti-Zionist protests and criticism that the government was engaged in a pro-Israel agenda, Press Secretary for the President Mohamed Zuhair said that the government “holds friendly relations with Israel, as it does almost every other nation in the world.”

“We are not at loggerheads with any states, though we have some differences with Burma over the treatment of [formerly arrested dissident] Aung Sun Suu Kyi,” he said. “There is nothing special in terms of agreements with Israel.”

Though Zuhair claimed that the Maldives government has been “consistent on criticising Israel over Palestine and other foreign policy issues it did not agree on”, this was not a barrier to humanitarian cooperation, he said.

Zuhair added that by having bilateral relations with a large number of nations, the Maldives was able to benefit from cooperation based on technical assistance, education and humanitarian aid.

He claimed that the medical expertise offered by Eye from Zion was a strong example of this.

“We ourselves don’t have the means for this type of surgery, which has so far treated 140 patients in Male’ and 40 people across islands in the outer atolls,” Zuhair added. “In this case, the patients that thankful for the treatment they have received, which outweighs the protests against [the doctors].”