19 March 2008

Member of Human Rights Commission says music is forbidden in Islam

One of the five members of the Human Rights Commission of Maldives (HRCM) have said that music is haraam or completely forbidden and a sin. He was among the 22 Islamist Mullahs who was seen declaring music haraam in a special video presentation at a Jamiyyath-uh-Salaf (a local Islamist NGO) meeting.  Disapproval of music and arts is a common feature of Islamist groups around the world, with some of them going to the extent of banning and burning musical instruments and cassette players.  In the Taliban ruled Afghanistan, it was a crime with severe punishments. Today, many fear that Maldives is headed in the same direction.

Sheikh Kareem, according to the official profile on HRCM website, got his secondary and tertiary education at Jamaia Daarul Salaam, Umar Abad in South India.  And like the majority of Islamist/Salafi mullahs in Maldives, he obtained his First Degree from the Islamic University of al-Madinah al-Munawarah in Saudi Arabia.

Sheikh Ahmed Abdul Kareem preaching in a mosque
Sheikh Kareem, since his return to Maldives have been promoting Saudi-endorsed Islamist ideas in Maldives. An Imam and preacher in local mosques, Sheikh Kareem also appears on  national TV and Radio to spread the message. His articles appear regularly on some local newspapers (mainly for papers owned by president Gayoom's friends and family members; Miadhu and Aafathis dailies), in which he discuss religious and social matters along with international politics from an Islamist perspective. Articles on international politics will usually have him praising terrorists as martyrs of Islam at times and bashing western nations. 

He is among many other mullahs that used the education system to spread the Islamist ideology with President Gayoom's blessing. He was a lecturer at  Kuliyyathul Dhiraasath Al Islamaiyya and Faculty of Education (Maldives College of Higher Education) and wrote several books on "Islamic Education" for primary and secondary level teachers and students. He is also the external examiner for Islamic Studies at the Department of Public Examinations since 2002, responsible for setting and marking Islamic Studies Examination for secondary and higher secondary school leavers.

[The jamiyyathusalaf video presentation]

Several State employed Mullahs, including senior members of the Supreme Council of Islamic Affairs and the Centre for the Holy Qur’an can also be seen in this video. Influential political figures like the President of Islamist Adhaalath Party, Dr.Abdul Majeed Abdul Bari and Maldivian Democratic Party (MDP) religious council member Sheikh Adam Naseem also appeared declaring music haraam.

Islamism which was rejected by the Maldivian society for a long time is now going mainstream with more mullahs are in positions of great power and influence. They are becoming more and more organised in Maldives while any opposition or any voice to counter their ideology are suppressed whether it is Islamic (Dr.Afrasheem) or rational (Aaniyaa).

Dr. Afrasheem Ali who completed his doctorate studies (in Islamic Fiqh and Usul al Fiqh) at the Islamic University of Malaysia was denied the license to preach publicly by the the Supreme Council of Islamic Affairs. He have been accused of blasphemy and humiliating Islam by several Mullahs and was even attacked by an angry mob after a Friday prayer he lead in a Islamist dominated mosque in Male'.

The Information Minister Mohamed Nasheed (Kutti) who supports moderate Islamic views have been endorsing Dr.Afrasheem for a while now, even defying the Islamic Council by allowing him to preach on national Radio and Television. However, the Sheikh is much hated and criticized by Islamists and even the local media. Several articles critical of Mr. Nasheed and his 'Sufi' Sheikh (who says music NOT haraam in Islam) have appeared on Jazeera, Haveeru and other local dailies.

28 February 2008

Human Rights Commission of the Maldives silent on rights of non-muslim citizens

Human Rights Commission of the Maldives (HRCM) have not only ignored the issue of citizenship of non-Muslim Maldivians, but also ignored their existence in their recently published Annual Report 2007.

The introduction of the report states that Maldives is a 100% Muslim country, officially endorsing the constitutional amendment which made non-Muslim citizens of Maldives legally stateless for the first time.

In addition to this, giving a general overview of human rights in Maldives throughout the year 2007, it says the commission is happy to note that "basic freedoms and rights which are also included in the Universal Declaration of Human Rights are perfectly included in the second chapter of the new draft constitution".  The commission seems to be rejecting Article 18 of this declaration, a document which was banned as an Islamic document in 2005. The ban was later lifted following much international pressure.

While rejecting the right to freedom of thought, conscience and religion, the Commission expressed its concern over religious divisions in the society. The solution proposed in the report was more the government to have more control over religion, with the Supreme Islamic Council propagating a state approved "authentic" version of Islam for citizens to unite upon.

"Political divisions and political conflicts are problems which would be solved as people become more aware. And political differences could be resolved with dialog. However, religious divisions and differences of opinion in matters of creed among people is very dangerous. The signs of danger and horror of this is now visible even in our Maldivian community. And  we are  experiencing the losses brought about by this even today. This commission have expressed our concern over this matter even before. Finding the reasons for these religious divisions in our small community and taking  necessary action in a responsible manner is of utmost importance. When the number of people who have thinking and orientations which contradict the beautiful Islamic principles are increasing, it is very important that the concerned government authorities bring out to the citizens the authentic information about religion (Islam) in a responsible manner. And (the commission) would also like to note that in order to save the society from religious divisions it is very important for the Supreme Council for Islamic Affairs to play a broader role than now." --  From the report (Page 9).

15 February 2008

Secularism is not something for Maldives - Umar Naseer.

Presidential candidate and Islamic Democratic Party (IDP) leader Umar Naseer have said that secularism is "not something for Maldives" and that it is bad for the country.

Secularism is not something for Maldives. Secularism is a pill. It is a medicine, very good for countries with multi-race, multi-religion, multi-culture. But if this pill is given to a wrong patient, like Maldives, where we have a single religion for the past 400 years, then this pill can cause irritation in your stomach. So this secularism is not good for Maldives." Umar was quoted as saying.

Speaking to MinivanNews Umar said that being a 100% Muslim country, Maldives needs a "special version of democracy" where things like secularism, pluralism, homosexuality, abortion and alcohol are excluded. He said that IDP's policy is that of one religion, one race, and one language.

I am sure all the political parties would agree with me on these points, but the question is how committed are people when you have to really defend that" said Umar, who describes himself as a "moderate" Muslim. He warned that religious extremism will become a serious problem for the Maldives and that if he wins the election, he would not be soft on fundamentalists.

source: minivannews.com

26 January 2008

Maldives Supreme Council for Islamic Affairs claims the sun rose from the west on Mars

The Maldives Supreme Council for Islamic Affairs has officially endorsed a scientific hoax (spread mainly through forwarding emails) which states that the sun has risen from the west on planet Mars. An article translated in to dhivehi by 'abu osama' (purportedly from an Arabic language Islamic magazine) was displayed on the council's official noticeboard.

The article displayed on the Council noticeboard.
[view the full article here: Pages 12 and 3 ]

The article was also published on the Islamist Adhaalath Party's official website and Haveeru daily news paper as well. Copies of this article -with the stamp of the Supreme Council for Islamic Affairs on it- was also distributed by islamists around the city. The council have repeatedly confirmed this hoax to be true, when ever people inquired by phone or by visiting the council.

Quoting from the Quran, Hadiths and Islamic Scholars, the article argued that this (sun rising from the west) may to earth as well, and  that it would be a sign of the end of days. It called on all muslims to "hasten to do good deeds" and invited non-Muslims and heedless Muslims to return to Islam because "once the sun rise from the west (for earth) the doors of repentance will be closed forever".

After a local science enthusiast responded on his blog (in english and dhivehi) by exposing scientific inaccuracies of the article, Haveeru news and Adhaalath Party have agreed that there were 'some mistakes' in it, without admitting they fell for a hoax. 

To this day the Supreme Council have not apologized nor professed they were wrong in endorsing a hoax. The Council which operates under the Office of the President have earlier banned the animated cartoon film "The Prince of Egypt" and the Universal Declaration of Human Rights.

17 January 2008

Adhaalath Party condemns constitutional ammendment allowing women to run for presidency

"On Monday (14 January), the Special Majlis (constitutional assembly) voted in favour of giving women the right to compete for President. Clause 34 of the current Maldives constitution, which lists the eligibility criteria for presidential candidates, states a person "shall be qualified to be elected" if "he is a male."Forty Special Majlis members voted against a constitutional amendment proposed by opposition Maldivian Democratic Party (MDP) MP Hussain Ibrahim to ban women from standing.Twenty-two members voted in favour of his amendment, while twenty-four abstained." - Minivannews.com

According to Minivan News, the religious conservative Adhaalath Party condemned this amendment arguing that the Prophet Muhammad have said that women should never rule a country, hence making it one which contradicts the Islamic Shariah. While the Foreign minister described the amendment as "a vital step towards a modern Democracy", Adhaalath President Mohamed Didi said that it was "another step away from Shariah".

"Anything forbidden by the creator is not an individual right" Didi was quoted as saying.

In a letter addressed to the Chair of Special Majlis Qasim Ibrahim, the Party have explained with religious arguments why women should never be allowed to rule a country.

07 January 2008

"No room for other religions" - President Gayoom.

The current government of Maldives will not give place for any religion other than Islam, President Maumoon Abdul Gayoom said today. Addressing a gathering at H.A Atoll Ihavandhoo island (on a campaign trip for the upcoming presidential elections), Gayoom said that some foreign entities are unhappy that Maldives remains a 100% Muslim country and they are working to create a place for other religions (in Maldives).  He assure that "there is no place for that" in Maldives.

He also said that the government gives a  high priority to protect the Islamic unity in Maldives and that it has been the very first and one of the most important tasks he began after coming to power (in 1978).

During Gayoom's rule the constitution of the Maldives have been amended to make president of Maldives "the supreme authority to propagate the tenets of Islam in the Maldives” (Article 38, Constitution). He also introduced a “Protection of Religious Unity of Maldivians Act” under which; Maldivian convert from Islam, anyone that express views contrary to the government approved version of Islam can be penalized. It allows punishments for displaying religious symbols of other faiths and possessing religious books of other faiths as well. Gayoom himself an Islamic Scholar with a masters in Islamic Sharia and Civil Law from Al Azhar University of Egypt, came to power using religion to portray his predecessor as "western" and "unislamic".

[Source: Official Website of The President's Office]

26 November 2007

MDP sheikh warns against "dangers" of religious freedom

Ahmed 'B.A' Naseem, a member of the Islamic Advisory Council, National Council and the Congress of Maldivian Democratic Party (MDP) has given a fatwa saying it is haraam to build places of worship for other religions in the Maldives, and warned against freedom of religion, describing it as a violation of (God given) rights of Muslims.

In his regular column on Minivan (a dhivehi daily connected with MDP) he wrote that "there is no way, building a temple on Maldivian soil will be legal in Islamic Shariah". Warning against the "dangers" of freedom of religion, he wrote that according to some Islamic Scholars; "it is obligatory for Muslims to destroy the existing places of worship (except mosques) after conquering a non-Muslim land". 

Here is a translation of the concluding lines of his article;

"Building places of worship for people of other religions, and letting them live in Maldives, with freedom of religion guaranteed by law, will leave Maldives in religious conflicts and unthinkable chaos, considering how things are these days. In such a situation it is most likely that, with the aid of millions and millions of dollars, and international conventions, and in the name of human rights; people of other religions will overpower Muslims of Maldives in the Maldives. May Allah save this country from such a humiliating fate! Amen! Right now it is important to think deeply about the assaultive activities of non-Muslims against Muslims in the name of human rights or in other such names.

O people of intellect. Is depriving Muslims of a right which have been given to them and giving that right to a people of some other religion in the name of human rights, acceptable to the sane mind? What glory is there being stuck in things, deceived by materialism?"

[Note:According to the constitution/bylaws of MDP, the Islamic Advisory Council's responsibilities are; creating Islamic awareness, forbidding the unislamic and enjoining the good, advising MDP on religious issues.]