Sheikh Fareed files defamation case against President of Islamic Foundation over fraud allegations

Well-known religious scholar Sheikh Ibrahim Fareed, and Vice President of the Islamic Foundation of the Maldives (IFM) Mohamed Fauzee, have filed a defamation case against the religious NGO’s President Ibrahim Fauzee.

The case was submitted after Ibrahim Fauzee alleged to local media that Sheikh Fareed and IFM Vice President Mohamed Fauzee had defrauded the NGO.

A lawyer for the two accused told media today that the case filed sought payment of more than MVR 3 million (US$195,000) and a public apology from Ibrahim Fauzee on local media for three consecutive days.

The lawyer said Mohamed Fauzee ran a Quran class in Male’ and a construction company, and that the remarks by Ibrahim Fauzee had affected his work.

President of IFM Ibrahim Fauzee told Minivan News he has evidence to support allegations including CCTV footage.

‘’They are worried because we can prove criminal charges against them,’’ he said, adding that he would release the footage to the press. “The story in the media is inaccurate.”

Fauzee said Sheikh Fareed had been dismissed from his position as Vice President of the Religious Council of IFM, and Mohamed Fauzee from the position of the NGO’s Vice Presidency following the matter. Fareed was one of the organisation’s founding members.

Sheikh Fareed’s mobile phone was switched off and he was unavailable for a comment at time of press.


Blog crack-down “is just the beginning”, warns censored blogger

The website of controversial Maldivian blogger Ismail ‘Hilath’ Rasheed has been shut down by Communications Authority of the Maldives (CAM) on the order of the Ministry of Islamic Affairs. The Ministry made the request on the grounds that the site contained anti-Islamic material, a CAM statement read.

CAM Director Abdulla Nafeeg Pasha told Minivan News the Islamic Ministry has the power to regulate website content.

Pasha did not wish to comment on the procedures for closing down a website, but said “if the ministry tells us to shut it down, that’s what we do. We do not make the decision.”

Once closed, Pasha explained, a website can only be re-opened by order of the court.

Islamic Minister Abdul Majeed Abdul Bari had not returned calls at time of press, and Permanent Secretary of the Ministry Mohamed Didi had not responded to enquiries.

In a statement issued today Hilath defended his blog as an expression of his Sufi Muslim identity.

“I am a Sufi Muslim and there is nothing on my website that contradicts Sufi Islam. I suspect my website was reported by intolerant Sunni Muslims and Wahhabis,” he claimed.

Under the Maldivian constitution every Maldivian is a Sunni Muslim. The constitution also provides for freedom of expression, with Article 27 reading “Everyone has the right to freedom of thought and the freedom to communicate opinions and expression in a manner that is not contrary to any tenet of Islam.”

New regulations published by the government in September, enforcing the 1994 Religious Unity Act, bans the media from producing or publicising programs, talking about or disseminating audio “that humiliates Allah or his prophets or the holy Quran or the Sunnah of the Prophet (Mohamed) or the Islamic faith.”

“This also includes the broadcasting of material (on other religions) produced by others and recording of such programs by the local broadcaster, and broadcasting such material by the unilateral decision of the local broadcaster,” the regulations stipulate. Under the Act, the penalty for violation is 2-5 years imprisonment.

Hilath claimed he was being censored for expressing his version of Islam, and called for more freedom of interpretation within the faith.

“I call upon all concerned to amend the clause in the constitution which requires all Maldivians to be Sunni Muslims only,” his statement read.

“‘Unto you your religion and unto me my religion,’ and ‘There is no compulsion in religion’,” he said, quoting Qur’an 109:6 and 2:256.

Hilath believes the block of his website has a political edge. “If Sunni Muslims are the conservatives, then the Sufi Muslims are the liberals,” he told Minivan News. “I think this is a conservative attack on the site. They think if you’re not a Sunni, you’re an unbeliever.”

Hilath said he would approach the issue from its constitutional roots. “If I want to unlock my blog I will have to go to court, where they will say I’m an unbeliever which is illegal. So I will have fight the larger issue of the constitution,” he said.

The label of ‘unbeliever’ was tantamount to ‘enemy of the state’, he said, adding that bloggers such as himself were afraid of the consequences of being labelled as such. Hilath is one of only a few Maldivian bloggers who write under their own names.

In January 2009 the Islamic Ministry shut down several blogs for allegedly publishing anti-Islamic material. The action closely followed then-newly elected President Mohamed Nasheed’s statement that the Maldives would be a haven of free expression.

Hilath said he was ashamed of the government’s maintenance of its original declaration for a liberal democracy. “I know the President said this was a liberal democracy, but I am ashamed that the Islamic Ministry has assumed so much power,” he said. “I call upon the president to address this issue.”

A 2009 review endorsed by UNESCO’s International Programme for the Development of Communication defined freedom of expression in the digital age as dependent on “neutral” networks “in the sense that the flow of content should not be influenced by financial, cultural or political reasons.”

“In particular, in the case of filtering, the origin of filtering lists and the underlying criteria and processes should be publicly available,” read the report.

The report made three recommendations for the Maldives:

1) To stop blocking websites as was done in March 2009;

2) If blocking is necessary, it should only be pursued following a favorable court decision;

3) To foster open discussions on internet regulation among citizens, government members, NGOs and international parties.

To Hilath’s knowledge, this is the first time a websites has been blocked since January 2009. He believes his website is part of a “bigger conservative fight against the [ruling] Maldivian Democratic Party” and is only the beginning of a new wave of censorship.

“This time I think the conservatives behind the Islamic Ministry think they can put pressure on the government to see all these things as anti-Islamic, like with the SAARC monument issue. More blogs will probably be blocked. I think this is just the beginning.”

The opposition to Hilath’s blog “is a minority of the population, but it’s very vocal and active,” he said. By contrast the younger generation, which composes approximately half of the Maldives population, may take a different view, he claimed.

“The younger generation is educated and enlightened about religion and freedom and Islamic principles. I think the majority will support my move. But few feel free to speak out,” he said.

Mohamed Nazeef, President of Maldives Media  Council (MMC), said he was not familiar with the blog in question. However he said that the media – even bloggers – were subject to the society it served.

“Even when you talk about democracy there are ethics, and you have to respect the prevailing culture of the country and the needs of its people. Even in the name of freedom there are boundaries. That’s why we have a media code of ethics.”

When asked whether a citizen’s blog could arguably represent or oppose the greater good, Nazeef explained that a balance between people and the law was important.

“The constitution must be respected because people are under the constitution. Nobody is above the law. If you want to do something that is not allowed you have to properly amend the law.”


IFM expresses concern over “increase in sinister crimes”

The Islamic Foundation of the Maldives (IFM), led by Ibrahim Fauzee, has expressed concern over the “increase in sinister crimes occurring in the Maldives’’ and has called for implement harsh penalties to be applied to those who commit such crimes.

The IFM said the reason for the rise in crime was that Islamic Sharia had not been implemented. Furthermore, verdicts delivered by the judges were not being applied, and convicted criminals remained at large, the IFM said.

“It is very concerning that many new-born babies are being found abandoned, many children are being abused, and crime against women is increasing as well as assault and murder,’’ said the IFM, condemning all such actions.

The IFM said the reason why theft, robbery, assault and murder cases were increasing was due to the easy availability of drugs in the Maldives, and called on the government to stop the importation of alcohol and other drugs.

The foundation also called on the government to administer the penalty, mentioned in the Islamic Sharia, to those who produce and sells drugs.

“We call on parents to be protective of their children and to keep them away from persons who have records of child abuse, and especially do not send female children anywhere without a parent,’’ said IFM.

The organisation assured that it would “fully cooperate to curb the rising crime rate.”

Three abandoned infants have been found dead in Male’, Hulhumale and Villingili this month, and three women arrested in connection with the deaths.

On May 5 a dead infant was found in a plastic bag in the swimming track area of Male’. A medical examination later concluded that the baby had sustained cuts, bruises and other wounds.

On May 21, the corpse of a premature baby boy was discovered inside a Coast Milk tin on the island of Villingli.

On May 22, the body of a newborn baby boy was discovered in a park in Hulhumale’. The infant was found with underwear tied tightly around his neck, the most likely cause of death according to the hospital.


Islamic Foundation to host international Dhivehi Islamic event in Sri Lanka

The Islamic Foundation of the Maldives is holding an international Islamic event in Sri Lanka on May 22, 2011: ‘Da’wah Islamiyya at Colombo 2011’.

“The event consists of two religious lectures conducted by popular preacher Sheikh Ibrahim Fareed Ahmed and Sheikh Izzadeen Adnan, followed by a Q&A session,” the foundation said in a statement.

The sermons will be aimed at Maldivians living in Sri Lanka, and will be conducted in Dhivehi.

“Da’wah Islamiyya at Colombo 2011” will be held on May 22 at 4:30pm at Shahran Banquet Hall, 56 Hospital Road, Dehiwala.


Comment: Democratic openings and Islamic nahda

Who is not worried about the recent spike in violence of all forms? Who is not anguished by the madness of senseless killings? And inflation? What explains these issues?

And what explains Adhalaath’s reaction or action? Maybe ‘functionalisation’ of Shari’ah in an effort to enlist more members before the upcoming Adhalaath party elections?

Maaddi was a word that was prominently censured in Sheikh Ilyas’s darus on April 22. Now according to maadi social science, attempts toward ‘shariatisation’ of the state happen under such general socio-political conditions as we now see in the Maldives, and as we witnessed under not very dissimilar conditions but in a different context of post-Suharto Indonesia.

That is, however, another story for another comment.

So is lack of Islam to be blamed for social ills?

History of Islam in the Maldives: a mixed story

Maldivian history is littered with examples of ‘bad’ religious beliefs and practices: from Maloney’s ‘parallel religious system’ of fandita, sihuru-haahooru, astrology, and so on to visiting the dead, maulood, and beliefs in demons of all sorts; from unveiled women to women who would not cover their chests; from a woman ruler (which was noted with ‘strangeness’ by Ibn Battuta) to ex-wives sharing homes with ex-husbands and to people fainting when Ibn Battuta passed hudud punishments, we see a very mixed story in our history. The popular Islam in the Maldives especially prior to late 1970s was a far cry from the ‘puritan’ Islam we now see.

Hence, I argue, it is simply bad maaddi social science to blame the recent social ills on alleged lack of proper Islamic education.

Gayoom’s ‘renewed commitment’ to Islam

Writing in the late 1970s, Clarence Maloney, a maaddi anthropologist who did maaddi ethnography in the Maldives, has this to say: President Gayoom’s government ‘engineered a renewed Islamic commitment’. In fact, since the 1980s we have seen a hitherto unseen effort to Islamise the society.

From Mau’had to Arabiyya to the introduction of Islamic studies at all levels in the education system; from annual Ramadan Ihya darus started by Gayoom at Mulee-aage to darus throughout the year by Gayoom’s government in the islands; from the ‘lot of attention given to Islam, as part of nationalism’ (as the then Minister of State for Presidential Affairs Mohamed Hussein was quoted in Gayoom’s biography) to re-marking of the mythical Maldives’ conversion-to-Islam day in 2000, the Maldivian society we see today is far more conscious of ‘true’ Islam than it had ever been in the past.

Democratic openings and Islamic nahda

If what President Gayoom did was not enough, come 2004’s democratic openings, we saw an unprecedented Islamic nahda in the country. The young public sphere or al-mujtama’ al-madani saw itself largely controlled by Salafi organisations.

From Jamiyyathul Salaf (the first-ever salafist NGO in the country) to quasi-political Adhalaath party to the Islamic Foundation, this rise in the salafi phenomenon has not been matched by all other jamiyyas combined. In terms of organisational capacity, outreach, activeness, and financial capabilities salafis surpass all others.

From rallies addressed by world-class televangelists and da’ees like Zakir Naik, Abdurraheem Green, and Bilal Philips to darus CDs to Facebook groups, blogs, websites like,,,, and to almost daily darus at rallies, in taxis, on television and radio like Radio Atoll; from children’s specialized darus to religious camps like Hijra; from Rihla to I’lmi khazana; from English-language madhaha and nursery rhymes to other innovative outreach programmes such as road-side darus on mega-screens, the country has seen an unprecedented effort to re-Islamise the society.

This is truly an Islamic nahda.

Correlation between Islamic nahda and social ills

Now there is a clear positive correlation between Gayoom’s Islamisation and recent re-Islamisation phenomena and the apparent rise in social ills in the country.

But, no, I will not blame these Islamisation phenomena for the social ills.

Blaming Islamisation phenomena for social ills seems to me as bad an explanation as Sheik Ilyas’s explanation that Islamic studies get a meager three hours weekly in the curriculum, or that Islam teachers are not qualified, or people are not Islamic enough, or there is a harb al-afkar against Muslim Maldivians by adaavaaiythereen (enemies).

If there is one single thing prominently wrong with our education system, it is the utter lack of maaddi social sciences and humanities subjects such as sociology, political sciences, anthropology, philosophy, theology, linguistics, and literature.

Finally, I am not a maaddi sociologist, so I do not know where the explanation for our social ills lies. Disappointingly, we do not have sheiks doing such research in the country, and hence the government’s increasing ‘militarisation’ of the issues.

All comment pieces are the sole view of the author and do not reflect the editorial policy of Minivan News. If you would like to write an opinion piece, please send proposals to [email protected]


Authorities investigate arrival of self-proclaimed ‘Messenger of Allah’

The arrival of a Canadian man in the Maldives claiming to be a messenger of Allah was “a false alarm”, said Police Sub-Inspector Ahmed Shiyam.

”According to information we have received we have been unable to confirm that it is true,” Shiyam said.

Press Secretary for the President Mohamed Zuhair said the President’s Office was also informed of the man’s arrival.

”The Islamic Ministry requested police investigate the matter,” he said earlier today.

Local media reported that Hussein Iqbal, a Pakistani national who lives in Canada and claims to be a messenger of God, arrived in the Maldives on the invitation of Maldivians who follow him. A group was reportedly scheduled to leave for Sri Lanka on a pilgrimage.

Ibrahim Fauzy, President of local religious NGO the Islamic Foundation of the Maldives (IFM), told Minivan News that there were “hundreds” of Maldivians who followed Iqbal.

”I met last night with some of his followers in Male’,” Fauzy told Minivan News. “I learned that his call first reached the Maldives seven years ago and since then people have been joining him.”

Fauzy said that he also understood that Iqbal preached against the Sunnah and Hadith and encouraged his followers to believe solely in the Quran.

”Their original call comes from a person called Khaleefa Rashad who dismissed the Hadith and Sunnah,” Fauzy said.

He said Iqbal and his followers used verse 30 and 31 of the Surah Mudhassir to support their argument and try to convince others they were right.

”They use a mathematical formula and subtract some numbers from 19, and claim that the Prophet Mohamed (PBUH) was the last Prophet but not last messenger,” he said.

Verse 30 of the Surah Mudhassir reads ”over it are nineteen” and 31 reads ”And We have set none but angels as Guardians of the Fire; and We have fixed their number only as a trial for Unbelievers, in order that the People of the Book may arrive at certainty, and the Believers may increase in Faith, and that no doubts may be left for the People of the Book and the Believers, and that those in whose hearts is a disease and the Unbelievers may say, “What symbol doth Allah intend by this ?” Thus doth Allah leave to stray whom He pleaseth, and guide whom He pleaseth: and none can know the forces of thy Lord, except He and this is no other than a warning to mankind.”

Fauzy said that those following Iqbal were only praying three times a day. He also said that one of Iqbal’s followers  had a divorce case pending in the Family Court, contesting that his wife was a disbeliever, “which raises many complicated legal issues.”

Khalifa Rashad was an Egyptian-born, US-educated biochemist who claimed that the Archangel Gabriel had “most assertively” told him that chapter 36, verse 3, of the Quran referred specifically to him. He was stabbed to death in 1990 at an Islamic school in Arizona and his body drenched in xylol, a flammable printing solvent.


“Cucumber” censored in Islamic Foundation’s TV ad

The Maldives National Broadcasting Corporation (MNBC) has censored the word ‘cucumber’ from an advertisement produced by the Islamic Foundation of the Maldives (IFM), due to the potential for public embarrassment.

At the beginning of the advertisement, Sheikh Fareed asks viewers whether Allah created “men or the cucumber” for women.

President of Islamic Foundation, Ibrahim Fauzy, claimed the statement was a voice clip from a sermon Sheikh Fareed delivered in 2002 in response to an article published in a Maldivian magazine, which reportedly claimed that cucumbers were “better” than men.

“After that sermon he was arrested, but it was a response to a statement in the magazine,’’ Fauzy said. “The magazine was registered with the then Information Ministry.’’

Fauzy said that when the word cucumber was removed from Fareed’s statement, it “no longer makes any sense.”

“They quit broadcasting the ad without even informing us. We noticed that the ad did not appear last night,’’ he said. “We went to the MNBC station to ask about it and only then did why learn why this was the case.”

Chief Executive of MNBC Mohamed Asif told local media that the advertisement had to be censored because of an “embarrassing phrase’’, and that the station had begun reviewing the matter after removal of the offending vegetable.

The advertisement was for Sheikh Fareed’s ”Farewell” sermon, to be delivered tomorrow night at the Artificial Beach.


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


Salaf calls on government to offer military training to citizens “before Jews take over the country”

Religious NGO Jamiyyathusalaf has called on the government to “provide military training to all Muslim Maldivians and familiarise citizens with the use of modern weaponry” before “Jews take over the country”, days before a controversial visit by a team of Isreali surgeons to offer free-of-charge eye camps in Male’, Gaaf Dhaal Thinadhoo and Addu Atoll Hithadhoo.

A statement on Salaf’s website claims that “Maldivians would not accept under any circumstances extremist Jewish organisations from Israel, which ignores UN resolutions in brutalising Muslims, exerting influence in the Maldives.”

Following the announcement of the eye camp last month, the Islamic Foundation of the Maldives called on the government to “shun all medical aid from the Zionist regime” and not to normalise relations with Israel.

The Foundation claimed that Maldivians should be wary of the eye surgeons as Isreali medical teams “have become notorious for illegally harvesting organs from non-Jews around the world.”

Political Counsellor at the Israeli Embassy in New Delhi, Itay Tagner, dismissed the claims as “outrageous and ridiculous” with “not one gram of truth to it.”

The religious conservation Adaalath party, coalition partner of the ruling Maldivian Democratic Party (MDP) which controls the Islamic Ministry, meanwhile issued a press release yesterday claiming that it has learned “from reliable sources” that the camp is funded by the American-Jewish Joint Distribution Committee (JDC).

“Doctors who are coming for this eye camp are from a Zionist organisation called ‘Eyes from Zion’,” reads the Adhaalath statement. “Don’t think that these are doctors from a normal hospital! We have learned that a group from the Israeli Foreign Ministry will be coming with them.”

It adds that while the party has welcomed medical teams from countries such as Germany, America and India in the past, the Israeli delegation was a different matter.

“Allegations that the Maldivian government has secret ties with the Israeli government is something Maldivian citizens should be concerned about today,” it continues. “What is the truth about claims that some senior government officials made secret trips to Israel via Jordan?”

Adhaalath further claims that the Isreali government gifted a floating ambulance to the Maldives in June this year but was not made public by the Indira Gandhi Memorial Hospital (IGMH).

The statement adds that “Zionists wishing to freely assist a 100 percent Muslim country defies logic” since it is “as clear as the afternoon sun that Jews would not wish well for Muslims”, cautioning that help from Israel would only come with “a hidden agenda”.

“Today it’s a team of doctors. Tomorrow it will be Israeli flights. Then will follow Israeli teachers, technicians and advisors,” it reads, adding that Adhaalath has voiced concern with the government’s efforts “to dim the role of Islamic studies” ever since it began pursuing relations with the Jewish state.

The party claims that the government’s plans to make Islam an optional subject in higher secondary education and allegedly remove reservations it holds to international conventions “could no longer be seen as coincidences.”

The party cautions citizens to be wary of Jews infiltrating the Maldives and “be watchful of agents that facilitate their plans”.

However, Islamic Minister Dr Abdul Majeed Abdul Bari told Minivan News today that the ministry has neither raised concerns with the government nor urged the authorities not to go ahead with the camp.

Bari insisted that the Adhaalath press release did not reflect the views of the Islamic Ministry.

Some 739 people in Male’ and 879 in Addu and Fuvahmulah have registered for treatment at the eye camp on December 9.