Minister of Islamic Affairs Sheikh Mohamed Shaheem Ali has called on the state to withdraw all court cases filed against Islamic scholars during past administrations.
“The cases filed against scholars during past administrations often involve charges for preaching religious advice without permits,” Shaheem told local media SunOnline.
“There are some charges previously filed against certain scholars, for example Sheikh [Ibrahim] Fareed. The charges against him are for preaching without a permit. I have spoken with Sheikh Fareed about this matter. In my capacity as Islamic minister, I call on the relevant authorities of the government to withdraw cases like this. These are very hurtful charges. Such charges should not be allowed to be levied against university educated, capable scholars, especially not under the current constitution,” Shaheem said.
Shaheem said that in a time where freedom to preach religion is exercised so freely, it is the duty of scholars to “invite people to religion to the extent of their capabilities” and that they should be granted that freedom as long as they do not make any statement which goes against Islam.
“Now, if they start giving out ‘fatwa’s, giving out judgements on what is ‘haram’ or ‘halal’ and speaking against the principles of Sharia, then action against them can be taken under the Religious Unity Act. I, however, cannot agree that there must be charges against someone for simple religious preaching, like asking people to go pray or pay alms,” Shaheem stated.
Speaking about scholars who held different views on religious matters, Shaheem said that such differences should be sorted through peaceful dialogue, and not through jail sentences and torture.
The Ministry of Islamic Affairs has previously held meetings to resolve dissenting opinions on religious matters, under the name of ‘Scholar’s Dialogue’.
Shaheem was travelling and unable to speak at the time of press.