Maldivians are going to decide their prevalent candidate to govern the nation for next five years on the upcoming presidential election on the next Saturday. In the presidential race there are four candidates competing very competitively. In the campaign, we witness the most crucial and the vulnerable element is the religion.
Each candidate have pledged that Maldivian will remain as an Islamic State. The suspicious allegation against Nasheed, Candidate of Maldivian Democratic Party, is ostensible that he had made several unislamic statements on several occasions during his tenure as president. As the main Islamic Party is allied with the Business tycoon Gasim Ibrahim, it is subject to severe criticism by the Opposition.
Adhalath Party, the main Islamic party, registered with the Election Commission, mandates to protect the tenets of Islam. The party plays vigorous roles in the past years, which concludes that it remains as a political party rather prioritizing the Islamic believes in the political spectrum. As the Islamic governance system conflicts with the Maldivian governing system-which is a full-fledge democracy, Adhalath remain as hypocrite sideling with democracy and religion at the same time.
Maldivian Democratic Party has pledges that during their government Islamic principles will be sustained, and no other religion except Islam can be recognized in Maldives. More expressly, MDP is pledging that it will never give the freedom of religion in Maldives.
Nasheed has often made lot of unislamic statements, mainly his statements on Drugs, about the religiousness of people, relying on Sheiks, making blasphemous statement on religion Islam, Adhalath has exaggerated it. Nasheed who pretext himself as religious person, sometimes pictured performing ablution and prayers, on the other hand, Nasheed remain the main critic of Islam in Maldives. Some of his close friends, who are the top leaders of his party, were found recently with narcotics and drugs. As the investigation began, they denied producing urine sample, which in fact is a crime by the newly amended Drug Act, as a result they are being prosecuted now. Nasheed’s Party has stressed the trial as “political”.
The founder members of the Adhalath Party, Dr. Abdul Bari, and Sheik Hussian Rasheed are associated with Nasheed. The two sheiks that put Nasheed in to boiling water has now joined the campaign and are advocating and propagating that Nasheed as the “Most Religious Person” in the presidential race. Nasheed’s supporters are mostly the liberal voters who support absolute freedom.
Yamin, brother of President Maumoon, seems the most liberal candidate in the presidential race. Maumoon had confronted and sidelined the hardcore extreme religious followers in his regime. Mosques were managed in direct supervision, and no mosques were able to control by the extremists. After the 2008 election, a mosque in the capital city is under the power of Extremists for Friday prayers. Nasheed and Dr. Waheed have failed to halt the Friday prayer in the said said mosque. Yamin is not associated by any of the Islamic scholar, may be because, the sheiks were arrested for preaching in public places in Maumoon regime.
Lastly, Dr. Waheed who was once supported by the Adhalath, remains as a liberal candidate. Dr. Waheed is an American Graduate and a UN ex-fellow. Dr. Waheed is supported by the DRP.
Toward a secular state
Maldivian Constitution states Maldives is an Islamic state. The sources of law shall be followed mainly depend on the Islamic Principles. Judges are required to follow the Constitution and Statutes in rendering verdicts. More interestingly, only Muslims can become the citizen of Maldives.
Therefore, with the above facts, with reference to the constitution, I would say that it’s impossible for anyone, for any candidate, to introduce any other religion except Islam. If any candidate has an agenda to introduce he shall present it to the Parliament and should seek an amendment to the constitution, which is highly impossible.
Maldives has a mix system in the judicial proceedings. The family act says all family matters shall be governed by Islamic law, and some crimes are being prosecuted under the Islamic law. The head of Islamic affairs or the highest authority over the Islamic affairs is not mentioned, nor was it included in a statute.
The Adhalath party and Sheiks believe that the head of state should be a religious person, and should protect the notion of Islam in every expect during the tenure. Some of the sheiks believe that Maldivian streets should not allow half-naked, or semi-covered Muslims, should not hold DJ and mix-gender dances.
Democracy in absence of religion
In Maldives, democratic values are based on the perception of the parties themselves. In the books, democracy is the majority of the people. The Maldivian Constitution states that all the powers of the state shall commence from the power or the will of the people.
Democracy in Maldives is modified: it is the power of the people, whether the corrupt, criminals, juntas or any one doing any crime, bribing anyone for the benefit of a political party. Rule of law is a concept in the book and the famous words within the judiciary and judges are subjected harassment when they deliver justice.
As the presidential oath states “respect” the religion Islam and other articles of the constitution stipulates to govern the state within the umbrella of the constitution. However, the usual practice within the past regime was that if they find any verdict in favor of their opponent, they send thugs, and juntas to the Judges home. In addition, their Children and spouses are targeted.
As the democratic principles are upheld to this extent, the religious sheiks, and their opponents in rival more apparently. Former chairman of MDP, Reeko Moosa has directed all of their followers, members, whose number extends more than 40,000 to leave the mosque if any opponent presides over the prayer. In addition, the Sheiks have open verbal fight against the opponents.
As the society has crossed its natural norms so far, the belief within the community is democracy shouldn’t be hijacked by the Sheiks, on the other hand, the Sheiks believe that persons who made blasphemous comments about Quran, and Sunna should not be allowed to run in the presidential race. The idea to separate Religion and State in the Maldivian context is simply impossible. As the nation is 100% muslim by the papers, it’s believed that 99.99 of the state are Muslim in fact, and most of the Maldivians are Islamic, and the state and its powers are required to follow religion in their endeavors.
Politicians on both the conservative and liberal believes are desperate on allying to the religious groups and parties. Moreover, some of the candidates tries to post maximum pictures of them in pray houses. Therefore, my opinion is, democracy can only be existed in the form of co-existence with the religion in this republic.
[This article was written prior to the election date- Just thought of publishing]