New regulations require inmates to shower twice a day

The government has imposed stricter standards of personal hygiene in prisons and limited the length to which inmates can grow their facial hair.

The regulation on inmates’ discipline requires inmates to shower twice a day and clean their cells under the supervision of Maldives correctional services officers.

The stricter sanitary measures are expected to reduce the spread of diseases and will improve prison cleanliness, said commissioner of prisons Mohamed Husham.

“Skin diseases are very common in jail. Before these regulation were written, we could not tell a prisoner to even take a shower. Now we can, which will benefit both the prisoner and his cell mates,” Husham said.

The new regulation also requires male prisoners to shave their facial hair completely or keep a two-inch beard. Inmates cannot shave their heads, and hair must be kept at two centimeters.

An inmate from Maafushi Jail told Minivan News there is a lot of resistance to the new regulations.

“A majority of inmates are against it because it dictates our appearance. Plus some of us grow our beards because of religious beliefs. We won’t obey the rule. But I think there will be some who will,” he said.

Some religious scholars have expressed concerns over the provision requiring shorter beards.

“Islam requires men to grow their beards long. So no one can impose a ban on that which God has instructed us to do. It also goes against the Maldives constitution which states that no law or regulation should be made against Islamic principles,” said Dr Iyaz Abdul Latheef, the vice president of the Figh Academy.

Husham, however, defended the regulations saying it “establishes a disciplinary standard for the inmates. The appearance of prisoners is also important in the rehabilitation process.”

The commissioner of prisons said he had expected some controversy over the beards, but said: “My point is the inmates are here to be disciplined and rehabilitated. There should be an established standard on how inmates should keep their beards as well.”

Vice president of the human rights commission of the Maldives, Ahmed Tholal, says he has “some concerns” over the new regulations, but said he cannot disclose further information without a discussion among the five commissioners.

Staff at the correctional services in 2012 got the Maafushi court to annul a regulation banning them from sporting beards, but the High Court overturned the verdict citing a procedural mistake.



Health Protection Agency plan youth services to bridge gap in sexual health education

A sexual health education pilot aimed at young people will be launched in Hulhumalé before the end of this year, the Health Protection Agency (HPA) has told Minivan News.

“There is no comprehensive sexual education in the schools,” said the source. “We have to keep talking about these issues, about how to keep young people safe.”

The pilot will provide a comprehensive sexual health and general health service to all young people aged 10-24 years old.

According to the agency’s Reproductive Health Unit (RHU), the the project will attempt to bridge gaps in sexual and reproductive health services for young people.

A member of an established health service provider, who wished to remain anonymous, highlighted age-appropriate guidelines as key barriers to sexual health education.

The comments come after the body of a new-born baby was discovered in a house in Maafanu earlier this week. Local media reported that the 18-year-old mother, currently in police custody, committed infanticide after having hidden her pregnancy.

National Guidelines

The national guidelines issued by the Ministry of Health and Gender prohibit some elements of sexual health education – including condoms and safe sex – until students are 18-years-old.

“There is a standard which is maintained by the health sector. There are a lot of cultural and religious barriers in providing this information,” the source told Minivan News.

“Unless those issues are not tackled, the stigma in accessing [health education] will not happen.”

Reticence in the health sector is mirrored in the family sphere, argued the source, who stated that family members are reluctant to speak candidly with their children about sexual health.

“There are some views of parents that if you talk about sexual health, they might go and do it.”

With no accurate information from schools or parents, the student will often turn to peers or the internet for support on sexual health, noted the source, which results in the rapid spread of mis-information.

Religious barriers

Under the 2008 constitution the Maldives is a 100 percent Muslim country, with national guidelines surrounding sexual and reproductive health being strongly influenced by religion.

A report conducted by the Department of National Planning in 2013 concluded that religious beliefs had been the reason behind an increase in trends such as a preference for home schooling, refusal of vaccination and other medical services for women.

Expressing a similar view, the health sector source noted that religion had contributed to some of the barriers in delivering sexual and reproductive health education.

“That’s a huge barrier actually on sexual health education, because there’s certain beliefs on providing information, or on family planning, on safe abortion,” stated the source.

“They [religious scholars] have a lot of myths related to sexual reproductive health.”

The source suggestion that there is support for the assimilation of religion into sexual health education delivery, but that disagreements between religious scholars had meant that progress was slow.

Next steps

The RHU project is underpinned by the imminent release of their new guidelines, National Standards for Adolescent and Youth Friendly Health Services for Young People.

These guidelines outlines the key standards for health education for all young people aged 10 – 24 years, ensuring that they will “enter the productive age in the fullest possible wellbeing.”

Noting the closure of previous similar projects, such as the Youth Health Café, the RHU noted that there are a number of difficulties in launching a new healthcare service.

The RHU source also wished to remain anonymous, reflecting the strong emotions provoked by discussion of sex education.

“Convincing people to initiate something in health facility is not easy,” they stated.

“It will be difficult. At present it is very difficult, unless the person is coming seeking the services it is difficult.”

When asked if they felt that young people are getting the right information at the right age, RHU representatives responded with a firm “no”.

“Not all. They are not getting that information. As far as access, there is no access.”

Issues regarding a lack of support services for sexual and reproductive health in the Maldives have been well-documented in the past.

A report entitled ‘Maldives Operational Review for the ICPD Beyond 2014‘, carried out by the Department of National Planning (DNP), claimed that incidents of infanticide and unsafe abortions are symptoms of a lack of sexual education in young Maldivians.

The report identified, “clear indicators of the imperative need to provide access to information on sexual reproductive health and reproductive health services to the sexually active adolescents


Legendary performer Meynaa Hassaan bids farewell to music

The news came out yesterday – famous musician ‘Meyna’ Hassaan is going to end his musical career at 49-years-old. His final performance will be at Raalhugandu – the capital Malé City’s surf spot – tonight at 8:30pm.

The farewell show’s title ‘Hayyaru Kurumuge Kurin’ (‘Before being arrested’) refers to the fact that Hassaan has been summoned to the Criminal Court on a drug-related case and may soon end up in prison.

His potential incarceration is not the reason Hassaan is ending his musical career, however. His carefully considered decision has been made – in his own words – “to move away from heroin and to move closer to God”.

Tonight’s nostalgic show is going to be as fun and enjoyable as his performances from the nineties, Hassaan promised, with the catchy, hummable, sing-along hits from his earlier albums alongside brand new material.

The lineup – ‘Hassaan and Friends’  – will feature the famous traditional boduberu group ‘Habeys’ – just some of the fellow musicians who will play alongside Hassaan for free this evening. Indeed, the whole show is without any corporate sponsorship.

For Hassaan, the show is very personal and comes with with a personal message. As well as sharing good music, the main objective of the show is to transmit a message regarding heroin addiction – something the majority of Maldivians are directly or indirectly affected by.

“I want to warn the people of Maldives against heroin and drugs. Because I have struggled with it, I lost my family and everything, my whole life was ruined. I want to share my experience. My intention now is to do everything I can to help everyone, old and young, to get out of heroin [addiction],” Hassaan explained.

Musical beginnings

Meyna Hassaan (Hassaan Mohamed) is from Holhudhoo in Noonu Atoll, grandson of the famous Meyna Kaleyfaanu – founder of one of the first schools in the country.

Hassaan’s unique style of music and poetry can be described as melodic, Maldivian, and relatable. The combination of traditional beats and rhythm accompanied by unique Dhivehi lyrics makes him the most ‘Maldivian’ in the modern local music scene. It is for this reason he has received such huge support across generations. His music reflects his poetry, and his poetry reflects the Maldivian traditions, environment, lifestyle, and ethos.

The roots of Hassaan’s music and poetry lie in his childhood. His father was well versed in the Dhivehi language, while his grandmother was a poet who used to sing lullabies and educational and religious songs. Hassaan was also influenced by the Quranic literary form and the local form of melodious recitations.

His brother’s ‘music band’ with home-made instruments also influenced him greatly, along with a musician who was banished to the island when he was young. By the time he was twelve, Hassaan had started writing his own poetry as well as singing and dancing at ‘Hithaanee’ circumcision functions.

“Poetry usually comes to me when I am by myself, and it usually comes in rhymes and in metric forms. I dont have to sit down and fit them, it just comes naturally like that. Then as soon as I write them down and learn it by heart it becomes a song in my head. There it is…and when I go sing it to a musician, they will play some chords and it would all fit perfectly and become a real song.”

In the nineties Saikura Ibrahim Naeem, a poet himself, labelled Hassaan ‘Eesa Dhari’ – a poet from folklore, known for spontaneously making ‘raivaru’ form of poetry after being touched by the raivaru monster’s tongue.

Hassaan came to Malé to study at around 15-years-0ld and soon found himself missing the sound of his brother’s music practice so much that he found it hard to even sleep. Hassaan promptly started his own band with his own friends.

At just 16-years-old he took a job at his brother’s tourist resort, studying in Malé only in the off-season. This is where his musical career and the mixing of traditional and modern musical styles would begin.

Rannaalhi resort would also be the birthplace of the legendary group ‘Zero Degree Atoll’ (ZDA). The band’s member ‘Mohoj’ was a manager at the resort who would meet Nashid and perform at the resort on the weekends. Hassaan would join them, knowing how to please the crowd by mixing Italian and other languages with his poetry.

Rise to fame

Around 1988, Hassaan went with the ZDA group on a trip across the islands to collect the natural and cultural sounds of the Maldives – to be included in their ‘Dhoni’ album. On the trip they gave a show in Naifaru, in Lhaviyani atoll, which would be Hassaan’s first real public performance. The support he got was noted by Nashid and the other musicians who subsequently asked Hassaan to perform with them in Malé.

It was through his performance at the ‘Dhivehi Fannaanun Ge Musikee Eedh’  – an annual music festival for local artists – that the whole country would come to discover Hassaan’s music.

In 1992 he released his first two albums ‘Maldives Fantasy’ and ‘Maldives Ecstasy’.

“After that it seemed impossible to give a show in Malé without my participation. The fame had an impact on my personal life as well. By that time I had already started thinking about leaving the profession,” Hassaan recalled.

His performances were particularly praised by President Maumoon Abdul Gayoom and he soon received a government scholarship to study music in India.

“I was doing really good there, but after an year I lost interest. If I really had a full interest in music, I would have produced more songs though my career. After the first few years [of my career] I started losing interest in it. I loved God too much to focus on these things. I keep singing because of other people’s influence. Wherever I am people see me as a singer.”

This would Hassaan’s first turn towards religion, and his first attempt to quit music. He would grow a beard, wear more Arabic clothing, and spend most of his time in the mosque. He was trying to “live a clean life”, as he puts it.

Fall and return

“Whatever I do, I have to do it right. I can’t follow Islam in parts, I have to follow it completely. But the government at the time did not like that, so I was arrested while I was at the mosque – my beard was shaved with chilli sauce and I spent around forty days in Gaamaadhoo Prison. I thought there was no escape from this whether I do good or bad. I realised there were no democratic or Islamic values here.”

He was asked to write a letter to President Gayoom justifying and detailing his lifestyle change, after which the president himself met Hassaan and offered his unsolicited religious advice. Gayoom explained to him that another man named Hassaan (a companion of the prophet) had used his skills in poetry to prevent a war during the prophet Muhammad’s time.

Hassaan was not convinced that his songs could in any way be compared to this other Hassaan’s poetry. But he felt he had no choice but to return to music as requested by the president.

Hassaan performed at some major shows after the return, such as the O’Neil Deep Blue Open surf event in 2003, the One World Beat music festival to help children with HIV/AIDS in 2004, and the Dhidhooo Eid Festival in 2005.

After another break he returned to music once again in 2007, now describing himself as a moderate Muslim. During this period he released the ‘Oivaru’ album.

Hassaan subsequently disappeared once again from the music scene, returning around 2010. In 2011 he was seen with Maldivian Democratic Party – something he states was based on principles rather than on money – with his political performances being seen as recently as March’s parliamentary elections.


Hassaan, like thousands of others around the country, went through a great deal of suffering from heroin addiction for a large part of his life.

“It was around 1996 I think, back then people didn’t have a clue about what heroin really was. A friend would give you some and you would use it, a few days later you realise you absolutely have to use again and then there is no escape from it. At the time people used it to get the cannabis feel, which is not such a harmful drug compared to heroin. But we should not use it either. Human beings do not need any of these drugs. A pure and clean mind is what is best for us, now I am like that.”

Within a year of being released from prison by President Gayoom, Hassaan relapsed. He stayed in Holhudhoo to escape his addiction for a while, but eventually had to return to Malé for work.

“After feeling better I would take some money from my wife before returning to Malé, I would promise her never to use again. But by the time I reache Thulhaagiri I am already thinking about certain houses in Malé. I am thinking about it before I even reach Malé. This is the level of power heroin can have over a person. To come over this strong power, we need a stronger power. And for me that is God.”

For Hassaan, the biggest encouragement to stay away from drugs came when it cost him his marriage and his relationship with his children. Without a place to live, Hassaan realised he had to be clean for good.


Escaping heroin by turning to God is the main reason Hassaan wants to quit music, as he believes music to be drawing him closer to heroin while turning to God keeps him away from it.

“We have to question ourselves about our purpose in life, we have to be courageous and fight. God has given me courage, and I have fallen in love with God. I love God more than anything else. Merely believing in God is not enough or believing in Islam is not enough. Focusing on God is the only way.”

His turning toward religion came with certain elements of the literalist Salafi form of Islam. Hassaan no longer believes in celebrating birthdays and he no longer believes music is good for people.

“I won’t say it is forbidden in Islam. I can’t tell other people what to do, but I know it has a negative impact on my behavior. It is hard to sleep at night when I get into music, so it is best to stay away from it. As soon as I returned to music I went back to heroin. Why did he [Gayoom] have to bring me back to music?”

Hassaan doesn’t believe that using drugs makes musicians any better in performing or composing, but does feel that turning to God makes him lose interest in music.

However, his body and movements during performances suggests he still loves music. Even during practice sessions last week he still seemed intoxicated with the music, dancing as if in a trance.

Hassaan admits that he still enjoys himself and to this day feels ecstatic whenever he is performing, though he maintains that he does not want to do it anymore.

He is completely abandoning music and poetry, with the exception of patriotic and religious songs without music. When asked if there is any way that he could make music and God coexist in his life, he replied:

“Please let this performance at Raalhugandu be my last. I don’t think I have many days to live.”

Hassaan requests everyone who loves him and his music to join him tonight and stand against heroin.


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.

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]


Maldives – A Return to Religious Conservatism: The Diplomat

“As Maldivian President Abdulla Yameen completed three months in office on February 17, one could not help but notice the Indian Ocean archipelago’s return to religious conservatism and its growing engagement with China,” writes Vishal Arora for the diplomat.

“The Maldives, a string of 1,192 islands, has made several moves to cement the supremacy of Sunni Islam since Yameen was sworn in as president in November 2013.

The Ministry of Islamic Affairs has set its top priorities for 2014, which include blocking all religions except Islam in the nation, ensuring that all laws and regulations adhere to Islamic principles and developing and strengthening the Islamic Fiqh Academy to issue fatwas.

The ministry has also signed an agreement with the Saudi Arabian Muslim Scholars Association to receive a grant of MVR1.6 million, or $104,166, for the “mutual goal” of developing and improving the study of the Quran and religion.”

Read more


Religion and nationalism key themes on National Day

The government held an event inaugurated by Vice President Mohamed Jameel Ahmed at the Republican Square on Wednesday night to mark the Maldives’ 440th National Day.

The day is marked to celebrate the anniversary of the country’s independence from the Portugese invasion.

Members of the cabinet, foreign dignitaries, members of independent commissions as well as the security forces attended the event.

President Abdulla Yameen Abdul Gayoom – who is currently in India on his first official trip abroad after assuming office in November 2013 – also gave a pre-recorded national address via the state broadcaster on the occasion.

In his address, the President stated no individual must be allowed the opportunity to take away the nation’s peace for political purposes or to gain personal benefit.

While it is important to view every citizen as a stakeholder in matters of the country, people should not be given the chance to challenge nationalism or conduct any activity that may threaten independence and sovereignty in the guise of freedom of expression or through differences in political opinions, Yameen continued.

“We must instill the spirit of nationalism in the younger generations who will inherit this country in future. The moral we must take away from National Day is for those in power and leading the country, citizens and all responsible leaders to raise national and community interest over personal interest as we work to overcome challenges. This is the example set by Mohamed Thakurufaanu [Maldivian ruler who saved the country from the Portuguese conqueres who ruled the country from 1558 to 1573]. This is the true meaning of his jihad in national interest back on that day,” Yameen stated.

“We must repeat the work our ancestors conducted in rain and shine. The reason we are to take breaths of independence today is due to the glorious jihad and sacrifices they made then for the sake of gaining independence. The country will not be able to take breaths of independence tomorrow unless we succeed in doing major work to overcome economic slavery and establish economic contentment,” he continued.

He pledged to fulfil his term serving all citizens equally and justly.

“I will make this government into one that is kind to its people, and loved by the people. I will bring swift changes as is desired by people and take the Maldives into a new era of development. My team and I will not be deterred in our work regardless of how rough the political seas we must cross become,” he concluded his address.

National Pride

“The spirit of nationalism can be maintained in its purest form only when social justice is established in the country,” Vice President Jameel said, speaking at Wednesday’s event.

The current government would work following the example set by Mohamed Thakurufaanu, Jameel said and called on citizens to protect the country’s independence and sovereignty.

“True nationalism can only be experienced with the improvement of living standards, and the country develops its health and education sectors,” he said.

“The nation must today be covetous of its national pride, of increasing self-sufficience, and should not let go of the national character. Today, if one has love for nationalism, one will not damage the country’s social fabric. One will not give away the country’s economic power into the hands of a foreign party. They will not sell off the national identity to a foreign group with no consideration towards national pride just for political gain. They will not let things go to the point where the country is stripped of the right to speak up about its own internal matters,” Jameel continued.

He appealed to the public to ensure that no one allows any other person to “damage the brotherly bonds between us in the name of establishing democracy, or in things that arise from differences in opinion, or any other cause”.

He then said that the day emphasizes the bridge between nationalism and islam in the country, adding that thus what must be given highest priority is the strengthening religious faith.

“Psychological war against religion, nationalism”

Home Minister Umar Naseer warned in his speech at the same event that there is an “ongoing psychological war aiming to lead astray our faith in Islam, and break up our ties of nationalism, a war that is escalating at a very fast speed”.

He stated that while this is a global danger, the Maldives is not far removed from being in its “line of fire”. Stating that the currently is already being affected by it, he appealed to all Maldivians to refrain from joining the “war” against the nation.

“For a Maldivian son to become a slave of this psychological war is like a cancer cell forming in the body of this nation. It is a huge danger,” he stated.

“It is important to become more independent in the country’s development work, and to give up depending on foreign labourers. There is no reason that the sons of fathers who scraped moss off the underside of fishing boats have to depend on a foreigner just to dust off their motorcycles,” the Home Minister said.

“Ours is a blessed land. It is a land that breeds heroes. Every time a foreign power has tried to meddle with our independence or our Islamic faith, Maldivian soil has brought out heroes that will cause the whole world to step back from,” Umar stated.

Irreligious acts are common today: Adhaalath Party

Religious conservative Adhaalath Party has also released a statement today, extending greetings on the occasion.

The statement spoke of the heroic events of Mohamed Thakurufaanu who had “slain the Portugese commander who had tried to force alcohol down the throats of pious Maldivians”, and then proceeded to compare heroes of the past with present day Maldives.

“The biggest difference is the mentality of Maldivians then and the mentality of Maldivians today. Then, when attempts were made to force alcohol down their throats, they resisted. Yet today, alcohol and narcotics is an epidemic which is alarmingly common among Maldivians,” it read.

“Then the Portuguese tried to force other religions unto Maldivians. Yet today, irreligious acts against Islamic norms are abundantly observed among Maldivians. This is not something the government can deal with by making it the mandate of a specific ministry, but a goal that all institutes must unite to reach.”


Parliament to review constitutional amendment regarding religion

An amendment seeking to inhibit parliament’s scope to change the constitutional guarantee of Islam as the Maldivian state religion has been accepted by the parliament.

The proposal was submitted by Maldivian Development Alliance (MDA) MP Ahmed Amir, who argued that the relevant clauses must be protected from the legislature.

“I find it very disturbing that the constitutional requirement of holy Islam staying as the religion of the state is subject to being changed just by the parliament if they so wish. And thereby, with the belief that changing it so that MPs alone cannot bring any changes to this article will bring peace to the minds of the parliamentarians, I have taken the initiative to propose this,” he said.

Following heated arguments for and against the amendment, parliament voted to accept the bill after 29 members in attendance voted for, 13 voted against, and 6 abstained.

The proposed amendment asks for Article 10 to be included as the first point in Article 262(b) of the Constitution of the Maldives.

Article 10 states that “(a) The religion of the State of the Maldives is Islam. Islam shall be the one of the basis of all the laws of the Maldives” and “(b) No law contrary to any tenet of Islam shall be enacted in the Maldives”.

Article 262 (b) states that the president must accept any constitutional amendments made by the Majlis after a public referendum.

“Even if one citizen does not want to allow other religions, it must remain so”: MP Amir

“The rhetoric that this bill calls for a public referendum where citizens are to be asked whether or not they want Islam to be here is, I believe, a further attempt to create resentment and dishearten people through misinformation,” he alleged.

“The best way that an amendment like this can be framed, even I believe, is to ensure that once it is reviewed in committee stage, it comes out in such a way that this article is made strong enough to not allow any changes to it at all as long as there is even one single citizen in the country who wishes it to remain the same, without allowing other religions,” he continued.

“Even we are aware that it is not necessary to include Islam in this, our constitution. Islam itself has given us a divine law to follow. As long as we are abiding by this divine law, there is in reality no need for it to be included in our man-made laws,” Amir said.

“However, because there is a fear that such an article in our constitution may be tampered with, we are obligated to protect it,” he stated.

“Instead of a referendum, mandate Supreme Court approval”: MP Muhthalib

Some of the MPs stated that while they supported the intentions behind its submission, they would choose to bring ‘minor changes’ to the proposed implementation.

Jumhooree Party (JP) MP Ibrahim Muhthalib stated that, “As things are in this world today, if even 50 people vote to say they want to adopt a religion other than Islam, foreign governments will back them up and soon start advocating for these people’s rights. They will then start harassing us. They will interfere with the internal matters of this country.”

“My suggestion is that instead of a public referendum, we change the amendment to read that such a change cannot be brought about unless it is passed by the parliament, then approved by the seven judges sitting on the Supreme Court bench, and after which it will still need to be ratified by the president,” he proposed.

“Then, god willing, there is no way that it can ever be changed. My wish is that the amendment is passed in such a way that neither Article 9 or 10 can ever be changed, even by any future parliament,” he said.

Article 9 concerns the qualifications for citizenship, which includes a clause stating that non-Muslims cannot become citizens of the Maldives.

Opposing the amendment

According to some other MPs, Article 10 of the Constitution cannot be amended or debated anywhere, including the parliament floor. Many added that they did not believe the article could be changed even after a public referendum.

Some MPs claimed that if the current parliament was to amend the article, there might be a time in the future when another composition of MPs decide to annul it altogether, insisting it was inadvisable to begin something that may lead to “serious unpredictable implications” in future.

MDP MP Ali Waheed was removed from the premises after he protested against the holding of a debate on the amendment, claiming “while there is life in this body, and I am sitting here in parliament, I will not allow such a debate to be carried out here.”

After initially taking up procedural points, he later stood in front of the speaker’s seat to express disapproval until the speaker ordered the Sergeant at Arms to remove him from the premises.


Jamiyyathul Salaf ask PPM and JP not to use its religious sermon except for religious purposes

Religious NGO Jamiyyathul Salaf has today said that the NGO had received information that Progressive Party of Maldives (PPM) and Jumhoory Party (JP) coalition was using the recent lecture delivered by Salaf’s lecturer Sheikh Adam Shameem, against the purpose of the lecture.

The NGO said that the lecture and the name of the NGO was not to be used for anything other than its actual purpose, which was to remind the people to be careful of those trying to destroy the independence and Islam in the country, and to remind the people not to let those people achieve their goal.

Salaf said the NGO appeals to the members and leadership of PPM and Jumhoory Party and the coalition of parties aligned with JP not to use the NGO’s sermons and name for any other purpose.

Jamiyyathul Salaf also stated that the NGO is not affiliated with any political party and that the NGO is an independent civil NGO.

The NGO said that it could not stop the way people feel about a sermon delivered and also that sermons being an advantage or disadvantage for political parties was not an excuse to stop the NGO from fulfilling its responsibilities.

Salaf said that the NGO does not consider the timing when holding their religious events.

Meanwhile, yesterday Salaf issued a statement accusing Maldivian Democratic Party (MDP) of misleading the public over the purpose of the sermon ‘Andalus’, as the sermon was “receiving huge support from the public”.

On September 18, The Maldives Broadcasting Corporation chairman along with members of the Maldives Broadcasting Commission were summoned before the Independent Institutions Committee’s sub-committee  following complaints by MDP MPs that the sermon by religious NGO Jamiyyathul Salaf preacher Sheikh Adam Shameem Ibrahim infringed the rights of the party’s presidential candidate.

Maldives Broadcasting Corporation Chairman Ibrahim Umar Manik told the Independent Commmission’s sub-committee that the live feed of the sermon was cut off around 11:35pm that night after the editorial team noticed that the sermon was heading to a direction which was not its original objective.

The sub-committee decided to forward the issue to the Independent Institutions Committee.

In December 2010, Salaf called on the then-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.


Translation: Jamiyyathu Salaf’s ‘Al-Andhalus’ sermon

Religious NGO Jamiyyathu Salaf held a sermon titled ‘Al Andhalus’ on Tuesday, in which they described the current status of the Maldives and offered a prediction of the fate of the country “if people back an irreligious man”.

The sermon  was broadcast live on Radio Atoll and on four TV channels, including state broadcaster, TVM. While the sermon was interrupted on TVM for violating the state broadcaster’s guidelines, it was shown in full on the other channels, including VTV and DhiTV.

The following is an abridged translation of the sermon “Al Andhalus” delivered by Sheikh Adam Shameem. A link to the televised coverage can be found here.

“Upon hearing the news that I am to come here, my beloved mother asked of me, due to the current time and situation, not to speak of politics. However, I hope my mother, family firstly, and the rest of you do not misinterpret the meaning of this topic, as well as the meaning of speaking about politics. This is because politics and religion are concepts that people are often confused about. What we, our scholars, have always asserted is that politics and religion are not two separate religions or concepts. Politics is the sturdiest, most important component of Islam.”

“Love the pious, despise the unbelievers”

“In a Friday sermon I gave last year on the topic of ‘Al Walaa Al Bar’aa’, I spoke of how we must, for the sake of Allah, love those pious and faithful to Allah, and despise those who are unbelievers or those who hate Allah or his religion. Even among believers, there must be a difference between the love we have for the righteous and pious, and those who are led astray.”

“When we think of Andalus, we see history repeating itself. If we repeat the mistakes made in history, we will face the same fate. If we learn from them, and refrain from those mistakes, Allah will save us from that fate. If we are negligent and allow the reasons for those countries’ misfortune to occur in our country, then there is no doubt that we will have to face sorrowful times.”

“I have come here today to give you the frightening warning that this beloved Muslim nation may have to face similar misfortune.”

“Spain, or Andalus, which had an 800 year old Islamic state, an Islamic Caliphate, had Islam wiped out of it in under just 300 years. The Islamic power there allowed Jews to live there with freedom, Christians also lived in happiness and freedom under this power. And yet, even the name of Islam was wiped out of it in under 300 years, and even today Spain is the country with the least number of Muslims” – [here Shameem concluded with a statement alleging that Islam had been wiped out of Andalus after the Muslims built relations with non-Muslims].

‘Multiparty systems are against Islam’

“Prophet Muhammad married Aesha when she was 9 years of age, we do not deny this. However, this was the norm among Arabs in those times, and because it is not inhumane, Allah made it ‘halal’. However, this is not something that the Prophet preached as religion to the masses. People who describe Islam as such are enemies of Islam. They spread such lies to create hatred towards Islam. I mean, it is the truth that they speak, but they speak it so as to spread confusion and to make people hate Islam.”

“The death penalty is there. But it is Allah’s justice. However, in order to spread fear they say Islam is a dangerous religion where we amputate hands and behead people. So unless we all strive to protect our faith and religion, Islam will be wiped out of here too.”

“Our current state right now is that due to business or political relations, some of us love kafirs. They joke around with them, ride behind them on motorcycles, do everything with them. Yet they have envy and hatred burning in their hearts for their Muslim brothers. Beloved Muslim brothers, this is why Andalus fell. They started loving non-Muslims, and hating Muslims. Due to politics, Muslim brothers fell apart into different groups and parties and started competing against each other. As a result, to topple an Islamic power of one’s Muslim brother, they built relations with Jews and Christians.”

“Tomorrow, what will happen if this Maldives splits into different powers? How can we say it won’t happen when one group wants Islamic governance, another wants European governance, another wants a secular governance where state and religion are kept separate? Breaking up into parties is the basis of weakening and destruction of a people. Therefore Allah has prohibited this. However, modern, secular democracy comes and says that this shouldn’t be so, that we need multi-party politics, where each party has a different ideology, religion, ‘fiqh’ and discipline.”

Islam and politics

“What we are seeing today are attempts to bring in western secular democracy to an Islamic country. A land where there is no chance of praying to any God except Allah. With God’s will, this country is so far in the hands of Muslims, an islamic governance. But now that is near to changing. There is just one single clause in our constitution which says no law can be ratified if it is against Islamic Principles. However, political parties have the right to say what they please. Once this clause is removed, we lose everything. In the struggle among political parties to come to power, we are seeing dangerous parallels with the real reasons why Andalus fell: seeking help from non-Muslim leaders, bringing in their power and companies to our country. It is not prohibited to have non-Muslim labourers, but if we let any non-Muslim entities exert their power, even in business, over Muslims in our land, that is the end of us.”

“If you see a non-Muslim, start keeping his company, fall in love with him and start admiring his way of life, where will you put your religion? It will slip away from your hands. We must strongly hold on to faith in ‘Al walaa al bar’aa’. How can Jews and Christians love each other when they have so much enmity between them? But, despite their internal hatred and differences, they become twin brothers in any circumstance where they want to rise against Muslims”

“Do not make those who mock your religion into your allies. We Muslims are obliged to love each other. If someone leaves their faith in Islam and mocks religion, then they are among the Jews and Christians. We must stick to this whether this person who mocks religion is from our families or close friends. It is Allah’s command.”

“Today many of our politicians and other Muslims seem to bow down to non-Muslim rich and powerful people. Even people who are seen as our leaders, when they are among kafirs, see it as normal to act like them and refer to themselves as one of them. A man who at least claims to be a Muslim, who shows some Islamic values when among Muslims, who – like many of our Muslims – attend Friday prayers, people like this are increasing among us today. When among kafirs, they eat what they eat, drink what they drink and the saddest thing is, they express more love for the kafir’s religion than the kafirs themselves. They point out the weak points of Islam, and advise the kafir on how to work against Islam or an Islamic state. They have stooped to this level today.”

‘Liberal means Ladhini’

“Listen, in our presidential candidates, or politicians, how many of them have clearly stated internationally and nationally that they want a secular democracy, and that we do not yet have a secular democracy in our country? Everyone is pleased when this word is used. This astounds me.”

“Now, in Arabic, ‘secular democracy’ or ‘secularism’ or ‘liberalism’ or liberal whatever, what does it mean? If it comes with the words ‘secular’ or ‘liberal’, it means something without religion. Regardless of what it is we speak of.”

“A liberal religion means ladhini [irreligious]. What does it mean when they say they want Islam, but not the 7th century? You can interpret it for yourselves.”

Criticism of politics and politicians

“In my recent travels to the islands, I went to some where ‘local tourism’ has been introduced. I am not saying that guesthouse businesses are haram, or that this will lead to only haram acts. But if we can’t hold tourism within Islamic standards, that will be what destroys us. We are selling pork and alcohol in our tourism field. We must control and stop this, or we will not get Allah’s blessings.”

“Thankfully, due to Allah’s mercy and the work of some politicians, alcohol and pork are today only sold in tourist resorts, which is a place in which Muslims don’t live. I am not saying it is halal, but it is good for us that this is done in places where we don’t live. Therefore, in these islands which have local tourism – which was introduced in the name of a political party – dear lord, the things that happen there. Yes, these islands may earn more dollars, but even today, alcohol is being consumed in these islands. Friends of mine from these islands have told me that as the island gets dollars from tourists, they hold ‘bodu beru’ shows for tourists, where they drink alcohol and dance while locals – Muslims – stand around and applaud them.”

“Some people tell us that despite supporting a certain politician, their faith cannot be changed, although they say they know [the politician] does not believe in Allah. I am very happy that there are people with such strong faith among us. It is indeed an extraordinary man who can hold onto his faith while being with a kafir, an infidel who commits sinful acts and uses intoxicating substances. However, he used to say there will be no way any other religion can be practised here, but his tune has changed. Today he says that despite churches being built, his faith will personally not change. That people of other religions should also be able to live here freely and be granted rights as Islam is a peaceful, just and caring religion. This is very true, but what he wants is a horrible result. He wants to challenge Allah about the justice in our religion.”

“He means to say that Muslims, being from a just religion, should not harass or act against people praying to other religions in churches while in other countries, Muslims are being inhumanly slaughtered and stripped of their belongings. Andalus is a sufficient example of this. Therefore, Allah has commanded that we should not allow sinful acts in an islamic land of tawheed.”

“If we want to maintain peace in this country, we must never allow any other religion here. If we do, we will face the fate of Andalus tomorrow. Yes, tomorrow, it won’t take long.”

“The enemies of the state are also seeing this, and the Satan is getting depressed about this. As in, when a man who used to be a drugdealer or criminal comes to mosque today, wears a turban and raises his hands to Allah in prayer and repentance, the blood [of the enemies] will boil. They will lose hold of their senses and rain their envy on us.”

“A man who previously worked with them then repents and comes to us and says ‘Sheikh, I have done this against Islam, we have done this against Sheikhs, I have assisted these persons to work against Islam. How will I ever repent?’ This is why I, and some of my other scholar colleagues, never switch off our phones even in the middle of the night. I have always from long long away, always taken care to never switch off my phone as somebody might call and ask for advice at any time of the night. There is no one except the advice of Allah and his Prophet that can answer these queries. The People’s majlis can’t provide answers. UN won’t find answers for these questions. Denmark’s Christians and Jesuits cannot provide answers, they are a disabled people. Therefore the atheists of Europe who claim there is no religion or God, who formed secularism or irreligiousness in Europe are now on the losing end. When the christianity that existed there started contradicting with material development, they boycotted christianity. They pushed out religion from policies and said the state will not be based on any religion.”

“Many citizens are confused about the idea of separating religion from politics. The actual meaning of secular democracy is that there will be no religion in the state, that there will be no fiqh academy to criticize or give advice to the state on matters of religion. Scholars are to live like other common folk. They are to stay in their homes or churches or mosques and speak, but in a limited manner. They can advise someone to pray but they cannot say that something is haram, and should not be allowed.”

“This is Heaven, Heaven on Earth and they [kafirs] will want to rule over us, and spread their ways here.”

“Fear of Allah is one of the main things God commanded. This is because if someone does business without fear, plays sports without fear, has fun without fear or does anything without fear, he will become ruined and become a prey for Satan. How can we take any other meaning of this? In this country, without any gender segregation, people mix and play, hold music shows”

“What worries is not just that they say things against Islam and faith. What we should be more worried and scared of is sitting to listen as he speaks in public, in flowing dhivehi language, against Allah and His religion; of continuing to listen to a man as he openly ridicules the right path that the Prophet showed us. This is far more dangerous. There are people who have gone astray in any community. However, the reason that communities have to face the wrath of God is when they continue to listen to such a man, and fail to stand up against such men”

“Egypt’s Ihwanul Muslimin- Morsi – won in ‘one round’. Why did he succeed in winning in one round, instead of having to try in three or four rounds? Because he is from a religious organisation which wants to establish Islamic governance.”

Criticism of International Community

“When [in Maldives] they couldn’t win in one round, what did they then say? They said ‘Look. In a country which you say is 100% Muslim, nearly 50% of the people have voted for us – for a man who is a drug addict, a marijuana addict – so this means when we win we should make narcotics legal. This wasn’t said by religious extremists, or by scholars of Adhaalath Party. This was said by….you have heard his name”.

“He lives abroad in a neighbouring country now, and has claimed will come back and legalize homosexuality here. After the government changed, he was in the front row of protests with a placard on which red lips were drawn and the words, “I love A N N I” was written. He has openly mocked the Prophet. He protested in Male’ asking to allow other religions here.”

“The police turned a blind eye on it due to the negligence of the government then in power. We heard on the news that some youth struggled with them and chased them away. Then, he had hurt some little place on his head and a drop of blood fell, this group published photos of this on the internet. wrote ‘these are such violent people”, and used this to get the sympathy of the international community.

And it worked, the whole world believed them. Even UN took is an issue, but in Myanmar the Muslims are beings slaughtered, same in Syria and Eqypt. Where is the UN then? Where are these allies of idolatry who call for peace? Nothing. Not a word from them. If a religion of idolatry gets accepted here, and they get legal rights to live here, then we are done for, there will be much more unrest and discord here. And on top of that, even if they have only about ten of them here, if walking past one of them a bearded man trips and falls, the UN will come there. The UN will come and arrest the bearded man. It will then take photos of anyone who resembles the man, and arrest them too. They will then use their force and power to provide full freedom to these ten or so idolaters, and weaken us. They will separate islands and put up crosses there and claim it to be a separate nation. This is how they operate.”

“Scholars have highest responsibility to protect Islam”

“The biggest failure of Andalus is that the majority of Islamic scholars failed to stand up against what was happening there, be it to do with economy or entertainment or whatever. The mandate of a scholar is to stand up united if things happen against islamic principles, whether it be to do with economy, discipline or politics.”

“You have been given the opportunity to read the Quran and sunnah and learn from it. You have been chosen from among many humans and have been made heirs of the Prophet. Your responsibility is far more than that of any other. On the day of judgement, God will ask of you about the people, about the citizens. Whether you spoke the truth. You will be asked if you stood up and spoke the truth as the people were being given wrongful advice and led astray. We must be ready to answer these questions. At the least, we must be people who protested against this. Muslims must be able to live as in the Quran and sunnah without fear. This is what we must do without fear.”

“I must say that I do not preach with complete freedom now. I do not want to fear anyone but Allah. I do not want to be afraid that some other human might get displeased, or throw things at me. It is not without fear that I preach, or even go to the mosque. Why? Such a tragedy as has never happened in the country’s history happened recently. Dr. Afrasheem was murdered. Who did this? What brutal tyrants? Do such a people have the right to speak of guaranteeing freedoms? Do such a people have the right to speak of making this place more of a paradise? No, they cannot. This country had a lot of hope in Afrasheem. He and I had some differences in relation to religious principles, but as Muslims we respected and were civil to each other.”

“Previously we have heard many people say this country was ruined by a 30 year regime. Yet, they have shown they are liars today. They sing another song now. Ask them today who ruined this country, they will say it is religious scholars. Beloved Muslims, no country will ever be ruined by religious scholars. There might be a few such people among scholars, but they cannot generally say that against the scholars. We must all say the same thing and stand up against this.”

Army and police

“Allah will protect this religion if we say the words that with Allah and the Prophet, we are ready to come out to jihad and sacrifice our lives to protect our religion. If people give up ‘jihad’ for religion, that is another reason for the fall of an islamic country. Not ‘jihad’ in the way the Westerns interpret it. To sacrifice as much as we each can. The rich can donate their wealth. The young and strong can serve to defend us by forming Islamic armies. Or standing up against Islam. By coming out to war if that is needed to save the country and religion from irreligious, brutal people.”

“Women should be taught modesty. No one is saying to not educate them. They should be disciplined to be patient, courageous, strong mothers. They are the ones who produce men. They are the madrasas responsible for upbringing of men. That is the high importance of women.”

“The role of youth is to protect Islam. In this way, Allah’s love and praise for ‘mujahiddeen’ is best deserved by the army and police of the Maldives for protecting the country and religion. They are sacrificing their lives for our nation, religion and the Islamic community”

“May Allah ensure the security forces are pious and courageous people who do not allow any religion except Islam into the Maldives, and protect the nation and Islam.”

“It is a very wrongful act to defame the security forces when people speak at political podiums, streets or through media. This is an act that will destroy the nation. It is a wrong, evil and hurtful act done by some among us to openly allege that all police officers, soldiers and political opponents are evil and wrong people.”

“This country will have a dark future if we allow the police and army to be exposed to the training sessions given by non-Muslims, outright kafirs, in the guise of professional development. The kafirs will then have an opportunity to make the police and army hate Islam”