Islamic Minister reportedly planning Islamic university in Maldives

Representatives of the Maldivian government have requested assistance from India’s Jamia Millia Islamia University in setting up an Islamic University in the country, reports Indian media.

The Business Standard reports that a delegation from the Islamic Ministry, led by Sheikh Mohamed Shaheem Ali Saeed, has visited the Delhi-based national Islamic university.

“Highlighting the Maldives’ successful assimilation of Western education into Islam, the visiting minister underscored the need to promote Islam, which was liberal, tolerant and integrated varied influences,” reported the Business Standard.

As part of an Islamic education drive, the current government has introduced Arabic lessons to schools, promising to focus on Islamic education and the study of Quran.

The paper reported Shameem as pointing out the Maldives’ had been “immensely successful in making women equal stakeholders in the country’s affairs as was evident from the assumption of high offices by them in different walks of life.”

Following the conclusion of the country’s recent Majlis elections, both the Commonwealth and the EU observer missions noted the “extremely low numbers of female candidates,” with a total of 23 female candidates – just 5 of whom were elected.

The World Economic Forum last year reported that Maldivian women experienced relative equality in terms of health and education, they were found to be falling behind in terms of political and economic participation.


Islamic Minister states MVR 35 million deposited in the Hajj Corporation to date

Minister of Islamic Affairs Sheikh Mohamed Shaheem Ali Saeed has stated that to date, MVR35 million has been deposited in the accounts of the Maldives Hajj Corporation.

Speaking at the launching of PPM Parliamentary Candidate Ahmed Nihan’s campaign, Minister Shaheem stated that the “large amount of money deposited in the corporation in such a short period of time shows the level of trust that the citizens have in the corporation”.

The minister further revealed that both the previous and the incumbent administrations have provided financial aid to the corporation, detailing that the Yameen administration has so far provided MVR5 million.


Islamic Ministry receives Rf14.8 million in public donations for mosque repairs

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.


Islamic Ministry discusses mosque project with Saudi authorities

The Maldives is set to sign a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) with Saudi Arabia for assistance in constructing a number of mosques in the country, Islamic Minister Sheikh Mohamed Shaheem Ali Saeed has told local media.

Shaheem yesterday confirmed that an assistance agreement was expected to be reached during an ongoing visit to Sri Lanka to meet the ambassadors of nations with strongly Islamic societies. These nations included Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates and Egypt, local newspaper Haveeru has reported.

During these discussions, the Islamic minister was also reported to have discussed a number of issues such as extending the Maldives’ quota of Hajj pilgrims.

Shaheem has claimed that the MOU would be signed with the Saudi Arabian government in the near future.

According to local media, talks have also held with Egyptian authorities in order to strengthen ties between the two nations through initiatives like the provision of placements for Maldivian students at the Al Azhar University.

Enquiries were also made about bringing scholars from the same institution to the Maldives during Ramadan.