MDP carries out nationwide “Maldivians for justice” protests

The opposition Maldivian Democratic Party carried out protests across the country on Friday under the banner “Maldivians for Justice,” calling for the release of former President Mohamed Nasheed.

Demonstrations took place from Haa Dhaalu Kulhudhufushi and Raa Meedhoo in the north to the Addu City in the south. Hundreds of supporters in capital Malé offered a special prayer at the Islamic Center after Friday prayers, and thousands participated in a protest march at 9:30pm.

Speaking at an opposition march for the first time, MP Ahmed Mahloof said: “Former President Nasheed is loved by thousands of Maldivians and his jailing will not bring any gain to President Yameen.”

The MP for Galolhu South was expelled from the ruling Progressive Party of Maldives for allegedly defaming President Abdulla Yameen.

Mahloof accused the government of prosecuting the opposition leader as well as former Defence Minister Mohamed Nazim in a conspiracy to eliminate political opponents.

He also praised MDP MP Ismail Fayyaz, who was arrested from a protest and is being held in remand detention after he refused to accept the Criminal Court’s condition of not participating in protests for 60 days.

A motorcycle rally took place in Kulhudhufushi in the afternoon, whilst hundreds wearing black gathered for a rally at the Feydhoo harbor in the southernmost Addu City.

Earlier in the day, hundreds of MDP supporters participated in a special prayer outside the Islamic Centre after Friday prayers.

“Brutality reigns in our country. Justice abolished. O Allah! May our country be saved from the brutality of our rulers, and may we be taken to safer shores,” the prayer stated.

“Our beloved leader, a man loved by a majority of us, Mohamed Nasheed, has been unjustly sentenced and imprisoned. He has suffered and continues to suffer. O Allah! Save Mohamed Nasheed from this brutality.”

The prayer gathering prompted Home Minister Umar Naseer to call for police action against usng mosques and surrounding areas to “make political statements.”

The MDP condemned Naseer’s “warning” in a statement today, describing the tweet as “shocking.”

“Mosques are used for worship and prayer. The acts of brutality in the Maldives are prohibited and praying to be saved from such acts is encouraged in Islam. We see interfering with citizens of a Muslim country’s praying and threatening them as this government’s brutality getting to a whole new level,” read the statement.


Approximately MVR10 million spent on mosque renovation, says Islamic minister

The government spent about MVR10 million (US$648,508) on renovating mosques across the country ahead of Ramadan this year, Islamic Minister Dr Mohamed Shaheem Ali Saeed informed parliament yesterday.

Responding to a question tabled by Addu Meedhoo MP Rozaina Adam concerning developments in her constituency, Shaheem said MVR1 million (US$64,850) was allocated in July for the renovation of 65 mosques in the southernmost atoll.

Plans for the construction of a large “modern” mosque in the Hithadhoo ward has been discussed with the Addu City Council, he revealed.

As the people of Addu City, however, requested the construction of an Islamic Centre with classrooms and a library, Shaheem continued, the project has been revised “in line with the people’s wishes.”

Funds have been allocated in this year’s budget to commence the project, he added.

The council was also informed earlier this year of plans to construct a waqf building to raise funds for Islamic affairs, he continued, noting that proceeds from leasing the building would be spent under the council’s supervision.

The funds would be used for mosque renovation and Quran classes, he explained, adding that the ministry was seeking finances from the Islamic Development Bank in Jeddah.


Religious scholars symposium concludes with consensus on contentious issues

A first-ever symposium for local religious scholars organised by the Ministry of Islamic Affairs concluded last night with participants reaching consensus on a number of longstanding religious disputes and points of contention in Maldivian society.

Among the contentious issues deliberated and agreed upon by the 80 scholars were reciting Qunooth (invocation) during dawn prayer, the exact time of Friday prayer (12.35pm), the number of rak’ah for Tharavees prayers during Ramadan and reciting Bismillah aloud during prayers.

The scholars also opposed authorising Israeli national airline El Al to operate in the Maldives and decided to ask the authorities to remove controversial SAARC monuments in Addu City as they are considered an offense to Islam.

The religious scholars also decided to back Islamic Minister Dr Abdul Majeed Abdul Bari’s request to parliament’s National Security Committee that the airline not be allowed into the Maldives.

On the issue of Qunooth – an invocation offered in times of adversity – a majority of scholars concurred that the practice was not a bid’ah (heretical innovation). Sheikh Ibrahim Fareed Ahmed of the Islamic Foundation of Maldives (IFM) and Sheikh Ilyas Jamal however insisted that the invocation was an innovation when the issue was put to a vote.

Moreover, a majority of scholars could not agree that praying in front of pillars in mosques was an innovation.

On the optional Tharavees prayers during Ramadan, the scholars agreed that the number of rak’ah could exceed 20 or end at a lower number.

The decisions made during the symposium also included forming of an association of religious scholars to raise awareness among the public and assist the Islamic Ministry in “responding to those who deny or cast doubt on the Sunnah.”

Seven papers were presented by prominent scholars at the two-day symposium that took place at the Islamic Centre while participants were divided into three discussion groups. In addition to Islamic Minister Dr Bari, the papers were presented by MP Dr Afrashim Ali of the Progressive Party of Maldives (PPM), Sheikh Mohamed Giyas, Sheikh Abubakur Ibrahim of IFM, State Minister for Islamic Affairs Sheikh Hussein Rasheed Ahmed, Sheikh Nasrulla Musthafa and Sheikh Ahmed Saleem Hussein.

The papers focused on points of conflict and disagreement among scholars over issues of ambiguity.

Speaking to press at the conclusion of the symposium last night, Dr Bari said the event was a success and noted the absence of serious disputes among Maldivian scholars.

Dr Bari observed that disputes were more common in the public than among religious scholars.

As a measure to reduce misunderstanding among the public, said Dr Bari, participants at the symposium agreed to issue fatwas only after reaching consensus among all scholars.

Following the success of the symposium, Dr Bari added that the Islamic Ministry was considering making the gathering an annual event.


Alms registrations up by 1300

Registrations for alms at Ramadan are up by 1,300 this year in Male’, Haveeru reports.

Over 10,600 people are said to have registered as of Thursday, August 25. Alms will be distributed in Male’ on Sunday, August 28. This is one day earlier than the Islamic Ministry had originally planned.

Alms this year, or nisab, costed Rf53 per person for Basmati Rice, and Rf32 per person for Thailand Rice. Registered alms recipients can pick up their sum from the Islamic Centre in Male and the Housing Development Corporation (HDC) in Hulhumale between 1 and 3pm on Sunday.