State Islamic Minister calls for end to judicial vigilantism

State Minister for Islamic Affairs Sheikh Mohamed Shaheem Ali Saeed has called for the termination of illegal ‘street’ courts, following the inauguration last week of a ‘people’s court’ by Maldivian Democratic Party (MDP) activists.

“I call on everyone to stop illegal acts such as smearing the name of the state’s judiciary in the name of justice,” said Shaheem. “The Attorney General [Husnu Suood] has also declared that these actions are illegal.”

Shaheem said that judicial vigilantism would disrupt civil peace “without a doubt”.

“I call on the honorable parliamentarians who are involving themselves in these actions to stay away,” Shaheem said, “and I appeal to everyone to conduct their work within the boundaries of the law.”

Shaheem said that if there were any “unnecessary things” occurring inside the courts, the situation should be rectified “according to the laws.”

He also condemned an attempt to attack Speaker of the Parliament Abdulla Shahid last week during his weekly badminton game at Imaduddeen school.

“Recently we heard that some people tried to kidnap and threaten the Speaker of the Parliament – this is something that should not be done,” Shaheem suggested. “These are very low-grade act in terms of discipline.”


Buruny islanders protesting for new mosque over refurbishment

Islanders of Thaa Atoll Buruny have been protesting since last Thursday demanding the government build a new mosque on the island.

Moosa Abdul Gadir, councilor of Buruny, told Minivan News that the protest began when the Islamic Ministry decided to upgrade an old mosque on the island instead “of building a new one with the Rf4.6 million that the government of Brunei gave the Islamic Ministry.”

”Our people are disheartened because the Islamic Ministry told us last year in October that they would build a new mosque for us with the money from the Brunei government, which would be large enough for 700 people. But later they said would upgrade the existing old mosque,” said Moosa.

Moosa said that 90 percent of the island’s population took part in the protests outside the gate of the island office, wearing white bandanna’s on their head to represent that they were peaceful protesters.

Moosa said that the protest was peaceful, and was proceeding according to the law, but warned that ”humans can only be patient for a certain amount of time.”

He said the Islamic Ministry had not discussed the change in its decision with either the islanders or the island office.

”When the protesters gathered on Thursday they gave a signal that they would build a new mosque,” Moosa said, ”but again now they have disagreed on building it.”

Moosa said there five mosques on the island: one of them which he claimed was large enough for only 10 people and was built near the graveyard, the second was 100 years old, the third “was built for Villifushi people who migrated after the tsunami incident” and the remaining two mosques were “woman mosques”.

”I think the Islamic Ministry is trying to make people hate the government,” he said. ”Why else they would do something like this?”

State Minister for Islamic Affairs Sheikh Mohamed Shaheem Ali Saeed meanwhile guaranteed that the Islamic Ministry would not make a decision that would make the islanders unhappy.

”They were having a dispute among themselves over whether to build a new mosque or upgrade the old mosque,” Shaheem said. ”That’s why the Ministry was confused. We will do it according to how the people wish.”


Islamic Ministry expresses concern over isolated congregations

The Islamic Ministry has expressed concern at the rising number of privately-held, unsanctioned congregations.

The ministry said it was “advisable” for such congregations to immediately cease worshipping in isolation and conducting sermons administered by scholars not licensed by the ministry.

The Islamic Ministry said that private congregations were against laws protecting religious unity.

”The Islamic Ministry does not believe that there is any reason to perform isolated congregations as the state is based on Sunni Islam, and formal congregations in the mosques are approved,” the Islamic Ministry said in a press statement.

The ministry advised Imams not to dispute religious issues or get into disputes over ‘Madhab’ (way of thinking, persuasion) , and to instead follow the Sunnah of Prophet Mohamed (PBUH) and to believe and return to the way that trusted Islamic scholars had advised.

Sheikh Ali Zahir said that the issue could be spoken about for a long time, but that the Islamic Ministry was the authorised department and had said its word.

However, a man who follows Islam in a private congregation told Minivan News on condition on anonymity that his group had decided to isolate themselves “because the current government is following a law established in 1982 by the former government, a law protecting religious unity which is contrary to the tenets of Islam.”

He said that according to the Constitution Article 10[b], “no law can be enacted contrary to the tenets of Islam.”

”So we do not have to follow the law protecting religious unity,” he said.

He said that according to the tenets of Islam there were no different ‘Madhabs’ on the Sunnah of Prophet Mohamed (PBUH).

”They force all the Imams to pray according to the Shafi’e Madhab, so we cannot follow the Imams who pray according to a Madhab, we follow Prophet Mohamed (PBUH),” he said.

He said another reason for the isolated congregations was that the former government ordered the Imams not to read ‘Gunooth’ during the fajr prayers.

”Now they read Gunooth when the Imams feels like it,” he said.

Furthermore, he said, the three powers of the government had been divided and Shari’ah Law had not been implemented in the Constitution and Penal Code, contradicting the tenets of Islam.

”According to Islam all the powers should be in one  hand,” he said.


Government shuts down Arabiyya School after cracked wall topples

The government has decided to shut down Arabiyya School in Male’ after cracks in the building caused a wall to collapse yesterday.

Nobody was physically injured in the collapse but the principal, Mohamed Rasheed Ibrahim Rasheed, said two students suffered shock.

He said that the school had been aware of the condition of the school’s walls six years ago.

”The school was built out of granite 20 years ago,” Rasheed said. ”We knew this six years ago and we had been informing the education ministry about the problem ever since.”

Rasheed said the education ministry promised to reconstruct the school but ”have no budget.”

”Senior officials from the education ministry came here yesterday and met with the school board,” he said.

He said the school would be closed temporarily and the students will have to wait until the ministry decides what to do with them.

He said he had recently told the education ministry that the walls of the school were very weak, “and that I would not be taking responsibility if a student got injured.”

Deputy Minister for Education ministry Adam Nazeer said the ministry had decided to demolish and reconstruct Arabiyya.

”We had finished drawing the chart of the building,” he said, ”and will be publishing in the gazette for submission of proposals by those who are interested in doing the job.”

He said the ministry would meet the school board to discuss what to do with the students in the meantime.

”We will arrange it in such a way that they can study with their classmates and their teachers,” he said.

State Ministry for Islamic Affairs Ahmed Shaheem said the ministry was very concerned about the issue and “regretted” that the students would be kept waiting without studying.

”The Islamic Ministry will help them in any way we can,” Shaheem said.

He noted that students who graduated from Arabiyya School “have never taken part in violence or crime.”

”I’m very confident that the education ministry will decide the best way ahead for them,” he said.