The Ministry of Islamic Affairs yesterday announced that Rf14.8 million (US$963,500) has been raised through public contributions to aid repairs of mosques across the country.
The ministry yesterday told media that Rf2,645,000 (US$171,530) had already been spent on repairs.
Minister of Islamic Affairs Sheikh Mohamed Shaheem Ali Saeed stated that the ministry had already begun repair work at 60 mosques as part of wider plans to renovate some 100 mosques around the nation.
Sheikh Shaheem added that additional funds were already on their way, with the ministry expecting to raise over Rf 15 million for the proposed repair work.
Shaheem also stated that the ministry has completed draft legislation designed to regulate the collection of alms (Zakat) and urged the general public to keep paying these funds despite the introduction of taxes.
“I call upon the general public to engage in giving alms. I believe that the existing laws for taxation have a mechanism to deduct the amount from tax money that has been given to alms,” he said. He further added that he would try to ease the procedure of re-imbursement of the money by contacting the relevant authorities.
The Islamic Ministry also revealed that from money collected as alms, Rf26 million has been spent last year to help the poor and the needy.
Shaheem claimed that about 490 parties have been provided with financial assistance from alms money to cover accidental losses and medical costs for procedures such as dialysis.
Aside from the assistance given to the general public, Shaheem also stated that the money collected was used to provide funding for students pursuing higher education both in the country and abroad.
“Previously the funds were used to provide books and stationary for the needy, but now that government provides it free for all students, we have decided to spend that money for higher education. This practice has been carried out in several Islamic countries,” he said.
The ministry also announced that it had opened up opportunities to apply for grant aid for students pursuing higher education in the Maldives. Shaheem said there was already a “long queue of students that are present to apply for the aid”
Also speaking at the press briefing, Minister of State for Islamic Affairs Ahmed Abdulla Didi claimed that the ministry had worked hard of late to build religious awareness amongst the public – with a specific focus on young people.
“As you would know, there are several grievous crimes committed in the society, we have made it a priority to work more on building religious awareness amongst the youth,” Didi said.
He added that the ministry was working on publishing and distributing pamphlets to build religious awareness among the youths as well as translating several Arabic books to Divehi.
He further added that the Islamic ministry is also conducting sermons across the country on religious awareness, including at rehabilitation centres and schools.