This is an unofficial English translation of the new religious unity regulations for the Maldives, produced by the Ministry of Islamic Affairs. The original Dhivehi is available on the Ministry’s website, and in the Government Gazette.
UNOFFICIAL TRANSLATION: Regulations on protecting religious unity of Maldivian Citizens
CHAPTER 1: General Clauses
(1) Introduction and title
(a): This is a general Regulations defining general principles to ensure religious unity as authorized by Law No. 6/94, Religious Unity Act of Maldives.
(b): These regulations shall be called ‘Regulations on protecting religious unity of Maldivian Citizens’.
The principles compiled in these regulations aim to maintain the religious harmony existing among Maldivians for eons; solve conflicts that arise from disagreement among Islamic scholars on certain issues; ensure that information regarding such issues are spread so as not to sow discord in society; facilitate Islamic scholars to raise religious awareness among the public; maintain religious unity of Maldivian citizens; and to advice Ministry of Islamic Affairs on such issues to establish an advisory Board, and to set out the responsibilities of such a Board.
(3) Chapters included
These regulations are made up of 5 Chapters. They are,
(1) General areas
(2) Advisory Board on religious unity among Maldivian Citizens
(3) Giving sermons, advice and issuing religious rulings in Maldives
(4) Spreading religions other than Islam
(5) Outlawed actions
(4) Authority tasked with enforcing these regulations
These regulations shall be implemented by the Ministry of Islamic Affairs. The Ministry has the right to delegate to another authority enforcing of any actions deemed necessary to maintain religious unity as stipulated by these regulations.
(5) Authority tasked with propagating Islam in Maldives
(a) Ministry of Islamic Affairs shall be the ultimate authority to propagate Islam and dictate its principles.
(b) Ministry of Islamic Affairs shall decree the ‘official fatwa’ as shall be practiced in Maldives where issues of conflict occur among Islamic scholars. Such religious rulings shall be based upon the Quran, the Sunnah (norms) of the Noble Prophet, agreement among the Islamic scholars, and local religious etiquette.
CHAPTER 2: Advisory Board on religious unity among Maldivian Citizens
(6)Compiling the Advisory Board on religious unity among Maldivian Citizens:
The President must establish a special Board, on the advice of the Ministry of Islamic Affairs, to provide advice and assistance to the Ministry of Islamic Affairs and other relevant authorities in the implementation of Laws and Regulations made to maintain religious unity of Maldivian citizens.
(7) Board’s name
The board’s name shall be ‘Advisory Board on religious unity among Maldivian Citizens.’
(8) Board’s Secretariat
The board’s Secretariat shall be administered by Ministry of Islamic Affairs.
(9) Members making up the board
Ministry of Islamic Affairs will decide on the number of members that shall be represented on the Board. At least one representative from each of the following fields shall be chosen to be on the Board. Ministry of Islamic Affairs must have three members on the Board.
Ministry of Islamic Affairs
Ministry of Education
Maldives Fiqh Academy
Maldives Police Service
Maldives College of Higher Education
A member nominated from among local NGOs
A local Islamic scholar
A person with a legal background
(10)Criteria for qualification as Board Members
(1) The person shall have reached 25 years of age
(2) Having at least a First Degree in Islamic Studies, or Sharia, or (general) law from an Islamic University recognized by the Government of Maldives
(3) The person shall not be a person who was convicted of a ‘hadh’ crime as stipulated in Islamic Sharia (law)
(11) Board’s Presidency
The Presidency of the Board will be held by the person chosen by the Board Members from among the three Board Members of the Ministry of Islamic Affairs. All documents of the Board shall be expressly under the Ministry of Islamic Affair’s name.
(a) The Board shall assist the Ministry of Islamic Affairs to formulate and implement policy relating to the above-mentioned licenses as stipulated in these regulations or those regulations which are formulated by the Ministry of Islamic Affairs.
(b) Give advice to the Ministry of Islamic Affairs whether to revoke or not (preaching) licenses if it is deemed that the person has acted in violation of these regulations.
(c) Give advice and help if such advice and help are required by the Ministry of Islamic Affairs in appealing to relevant government authorities to take legal action against any person whose actions are deemed to be threatening religious unity of Maldivian people, and if it is deemed that such actions need to be brought to an immediate stop.
(d) Recommending to Ministry of Islamic Affairs any amendments needed to be brought to Laws, Regulations and Policies in order to protect religious unity of the Maldivian people.
(e) The Board shall not adopt any decisions that are in violation of the tenets of Islam.
A meeting of the Board can be held if at least 5 members from 5 fields are present. (If even one member from any single field is represented, it will be deemed that that sector was represented).
Board’s Decisions can be adopted only by a majority of those present at the Board’s meeting.
CHAPTER 3: Preaching, giving sermons, and issuing religious rulings in the Maldives
(15) Preaching and giving sermons
Preaching, giving sermons, and issuing religious rulings in the Maldives can only be carried out by getting the permission described in Clause 2 (a) of the Maldives’ Religious Unity Act.
(16) Criteria for giving preaching license
(a) The permission mentioned in Clause 15 of these Regulations can be obtained once the application form, and the material and documents prescribed in the form, are forwarded and studied by the Ministry of Islamic Affairs and if the Ministry deems the applicant meets the necessary criteria as stipulated in Clause (16) (b).
(b) The following criteria have to be met in order for the Ministry of Islamic Affairs to grant a preaching license, as mentioned in Clause (15) of these Regulations.
(1) The person must belong to any sect of the Sunni Muslims
(2) The person shall have reached 25 years of age
(3) The person shall have attained at least a First Degree in religious studies from a University recognized by the Government of Maldives
(4) The person must not have been found guilty in a Sharia Court of having violated any clause of Law 6/94, Religious Unity Act.
(5) The person must not have been found guilty in a Sharia Court for a crime for which there is a ‘Hadh’, fraud, accepting of bribes, sexual misconduct, and drug abuse.
(c) If a person does not have the Degree as prescribed in Clause (16) (b) (3), the person’s service to religion so far, education and experience can be considered by the Board and exceptions made and permission given by the Ministry of Islamic Affairs.
(17)Bringing foreigners to conduct religious lectures and giving sermons
(a) A written permission must be obtained for any association, NGO or individual, to bring a foreigner for preaching and giving sermons in Maldives.
(b) The permission mentioned in this Clause shall be given after the person is deemed to meet the criteria — after study of the person’s background and in accordance with policies set by the Board, once the application form for a preaching license, together with the material prescribed in the form, and certificates of qualifications are forwarded to the Ministry of Islamic Affairs.
If a foreign preacher’s sermon is to be translated into Dhivehi, any such translation should be carried out by a person or organization permitted by the Ministry of Islamic Affairs.
(19)Foreign preachers to respect local norms
Foreign preachers should shape their sermons in line with Maldives norms, traditions, culture and social etiquette.
(20) Issuing religious rulings
(a) In Maldives all religious rulings shall be issued in line with the sects of Sunni Muslims.
(b) A ruling cannot be issued that is in contravention of what is generally accepted among majority of Islamic scholars.
(c) Rulings on controversial issues shall be issued in line with the general guidelines of ‘Fiqh.’
(d) While preaching in Maldives, any preacher should act in accordance with the religious rulings issued by the following institutions:
(1) Islamic Fiqh Academy of the Organization of the Islamic Conference (OIC)
(2) European Council for Fatwa and Research
(3) Dhaarul Ifthaaeel Misriyya of Egypt
(4) Allajunathudhdhaaimathul Lil Buhoolil Ilmiyaavalifthaai
(5) Majmaul Buhoolil Islamiyyaa of Al Azhar University of Egypt
(6) Islamic Fiqh Academy of Maldives
(7) Fiqh Academy of Raabithathul Aalamil Islamee
CHAPTER 4: Spreading religions other than Islam
(21)Maintaining religious unity
It is an obligation on the Government and all the people of Maldives to protect the religious unity of Maldivian citizens as Maldives is a 100 percent Muslim nation and because Islam maintains harmony of Maldivian citizens and because Islam is the basis of the unity of Maldivian citizens.
(22)Immunity granted for activity conducted for scholarly pursuit
These Regulations do not prohibit, for scholarly reasons, or for research, surveys, and lectures that are given under formal education; and information disclosed about other religions, if such information is disseminated to contrast Islam and other religions.
(23)Exemption for archaeological artifacts and historical sites
Archaeological sites and artifacts that have been and are being discovered in Maldives shall be exempt from these Regulations, including maintenance and protection of such, in order to retain them for history.
(24) Authority to deport anyone who propagates any religion other than Islam
Ministry of Islamic Affairs has the authority to order all relevant authorities to deport for a definite period, or deport for life, all foreigners who propagate any religion other than Islam or engage in spreading of beliefs that contravene any of the sects of the Sunni Muslims — if such a person is accused with ample evidence of any such illegal action or action that is related to propagation of other religions.
CHAPTER 5: Giving religious education in Maldives
(25) Operating institutions which give religious education
Any institution which gives religious education can only do so with express permission from the relevant government authority.
(26)Finalizing curriculum for religious education
(a) Any subject relating to religion shall be taught in accordance with the curriculum that is approved by the Government.
(b) Curriculum on religious education shall be modeled, and such education carried out, in ways that will not violate the religious unity of Maldives.
CHAPTER 6: Prohibited activity
(27) Illegal actions while preaching giving sermons and issuing religious rulings
The following actions are prohibited when preaching, giving sermons and issuing religious rulings in Maldives.
Promoting one’s own individual opinion on issues that are in disagreement among Islamic scholars.
Encouraging violence; inciting people to disputes, hatred and resentment; and any talk that aims to degrade a certain sex and gender in violation of Islamic tenets. Telecasting and broadcasting of such speeches shall be deemed illegal.
Fabricating lies against trustworthy Islamic scholars and scholars who are Sunni Muslims.
Promoting your opinion, if such opinion violates a religious ruling as unanimously agreed upon by the Fiqh Academy of Maldives.
Talking about religions other than Islam in Maldives, and propagating such religions.
Talking about the culture and traditions of other religions in a way that aims to coerce a person’s mind to favor those religions; or any attempts to create such a spirit amongst the people.
(28) Acting in violation of these regulations, during preaching, by those who are licensed to preach
(a) If anyone talks against Clause 27 of these Regulations, the person shall be prosecuted under the Religious Unity Act, and in addition, as an administrative measure, preaching licenses shall be revoked, or held for a definite period. These Regulations empower the Ministry of Islamic Affairs to take such action.
(b If, in the spirit of these Regulations, a licensed preacher reveals aspects of Islamic Sharia as beheld by the sects among Sunni Muslims, Islamic scholars, and the evidence that they favor, such action shall not be deemed to be in violation of these Regulations.
(29) If a Maldivian or foreigner preaches, gives sermons and issues religious rulings, in violation of these Regulations
It is illegal for any Maldivian or foreigner to preach, give sermons and issue religious rulings in violation of these Regulations.
It is illegal for any person, other than those licensed, to preach and give sermons in public places.
(30) Propagating any religion other than Islam or building places of worship of other religions
Propagating any religion other than Islam in Maldives and trying to convert people to any other religion are prohibited actions for both Maldivians and foreigners.
It is illegal to build in Maldives buildings or places of worship of other religions.
In Maldives, any slogan that is representative of any religion other than Islam, shall not be produced and distributed.
It is illegal in Maldives to use any kind of medium to propagate any religion other than Islam; such media shall not be used to share or exchange information that may stir interest in any other religion.
(31)Translating into Dhivehi books on other religions and distribution of such translations
In Maldives, it is illegal to translate into Dhivehi, books or various other sources of information on other religions, and print, distribute or spread such material.
(32) Insulting or committing any action that may offend Islamic slogans
(a) Committing any action, uttering a word, or drawing anything that insults Allah, His Prophets and Messengers, the Companions of Prophet Mohamed (PBUH).
(b) It is illegal to utter a word or commit an action that insults the Koran, Islamic Mosques, and other Islamic slogans.
(33) Non-Muslims expressing their religious slogans or carrying out their religious activities
It is illegal for non-Muslims who visit Maldives and non-Muslims who live in Maldives to express their religious slogans; publicly display objects that express religious slogans of non-Muslims; gather at places and get into groups to express their religious slogans; sell objects of their worship; conduct any activity with an intention of spreading their religious slogans; participation of a Maldivian in any such activity; and allowing a Maldivian to participate in such an activity.
(34) Propagating any religion other than Islam
(a) It is illegal to propagate in Maldives any religion other than Islam and inviting people to such religions.
(b) It is illegal for any foreign non-Muslim teacher teaching in Maldives, and other such people, to talk about any religion other than Islam, in schools and outside of schools.
(35) Telecasting, broadcasting, and printing of programs that may result in damage to religious unity of Maldives
(a) It is illegal for any party licensed to telecast and broadcast to show programs or spread sound bites of programs that harass Allah, the Noble Prophet or any of his Companions, or the Noble Quran, or the Noble Prophet’s Sunnah or the Islamic religion. And it is illegal to show or spread sound bites of programs on religions other than Islam, and any such literature, drawings, advertisements, music, and songs.
(b) It is illegal to use any Internet website, blog, newspaper, or magazine to publish such material as mentioned in Clause (35) (a).
(c) It is illegal for any parties conducting business in Maldives and companies to act in a way that disrupts Islamic etiquette when advertising their products or making announcements.
(36) Providing education on any religion other than Islam and providing education against the rulings of sects among the Sunni Muslims
(a) It is illegal to provide education on any religion other than Islam in anywhere in Maldives.
(b) It is illegal to provide education in Maldives that flaunt the principles of the sects among the Sunni Muslims.
(37) Prayer congregation
(a) It is illegal to lead a prayer congregation in a mosque in Maldives against the principles of the sects among the Sunni Muslims. Prayers should be conducted according to the Quran and the Sunnah of the Noble Prophet.
(b) It is illegal to conduct a separate private prayer congregation away from the main congregation while the main congregation is in progress inside that mosque; to be of the opinion that the official congregations in Maldives are not lawful and therefore deliberately staying away from main congregations; later in that mosque or elsewhere conducting a separate congregation in order to divide the society.
(c) It is illegal to conduct a congregation of Juma prayer, or Eid prayer, or Eclipse prayer in violation of principles set by the Ministry of Islamic Affairs.
All that is prohibited in these Regulations, and those actions which the Regulations call on people not to engage in, shall be deemed an offence. The punishment for any offense, for which any specific punishment is not prescribed in these regulations, shall be the punishment prescribed in Law 6/94, Religious Unity Act.
(a) The “Board” that is referred to in these Regulations is the advisory Board to maintain religious unity among Maldivian citizens that is appointed by the President of the Republic of Maldives on the advice of the Ministry of Islamic Affairs in order to protect the religious unity of Maldivian citizens.
(2) Any word that is used in these Regulations shall be translated generally into the way the word is generally understood in a general context.
(40) Start of implementation of these Regulations
These Regulations will be implemented from the day it is published in the Government Gazette.