Sheikh Mohamed Shaheem reiterates calls for control of mosques to return to Islamic Ministry

Islamic Affairs Minister Sheikh Mohamed Shaheem Ali Saeed has continued to call for the control of Maldivian mosques to be returned to his department from the country’s island councils.

Local media has reported that Sheikh Shaheem used social media this week to reiterate his hopes that the Islamic Ministry would reclaim control of the country’s mosques following the failure of one scholar to obtain permission to speak on the island of Fuvahmulah.  Sheikh Shaheem was unavailable for comment when contacted by Minivan News today.

Local authorities in Fuvahmulah said today that the decision not to grant permission for Sheikh Idhrees Hussain to preach at a mosque in Maadhandu Ward on the island was the result of an administrative oversight rather than a personal “grudge” against the scholar.

However, in referring to the issue of granting permission for Sheikh Idhrees to preach during his visit to Fuvahmulah on Facebook yesterday, Shaheem stated that he hoped the country’s mosques would be soon back under the legal control of the Islamic Ministry.

“This is the result of handing over mosques to Councils. God willing, all mosques in the country will be brought under Islamic Ministry,” Sun Online reported Shaheem as stating on his Facebook page.

In the meantime, the Islamic Affairs Minister said that his department would continue to work with island councils who were presently responsible for local mosques to ensure order in the nation.

Following the failure of Maadhandu Council in Fuvamulah to grant permission for Sheikh Idhrees to preach at the mosque, island officials said that about 15 people gathered at the council’s offices to protest at the decision yesterday. The protest was claimed to have lasted for around 15 minutes.

Ahmed Wafir, a member of Maadhandu Council today told Minivan News that the issue arose after Sheikh Idhrees visited Fuvamulah on a personal trip and wanted to preach in a mosque in Maadhandu Ward without the permission of Maadhandu Council.

“He [the sheikh] apparently asked the Atoll Council instead of Maadhandu Council, and the Atoll Council informed four councils in the island that he had requested for permission to preach in some of the mosques in the island,’’ Wafir said.   He noted that there was a total of eight councils in Fuvamulah representing different wards.

Wafir claimed that the Maadhandu Council President responded at the time that he alone cannot give such permission to the scholar and therefore, a council meeting had to be held to grant the permission to preach. According to the council’s rules, Sheikh Idhrees was then required to send a letter to the council along with a copy of his preaching license.

“Some of the islanders got angry about this and the next day total 15 persons came near Maadhandu Council Office to protest, but after 15 minutes they left,’’ he said.

Wafir claimed that the council knew of Shikeh Idhrees and had previously permitted the scholar to deliver sermons at the local mosque  when he had requested to do so according to the rules.

“It’s not that the council has any grudge against Sheikh Idhrees, but everyone has to follow procedures and rules,’’ he said. “Sheikh Idhrees later changed the schedule and delivered the sermon in another mosque not in Maadhandu.’’