ISLAM and MUSLIMS IN MALDIVES

      

General Information

Republic of Maldives

National name: Dhivehi Raajjeyge Jumhooriyyaa

Total area: 116 sq mi (300 sq km)

Population (2007 est.): 369,031

Capital and largest city (2003 est.): Malé, 81,600

Monetary unit: Rufiya

Languages: Maldivian Dhivehi (official); English spoken by most government officials

Ethnicity/race: South Indians, Sinhalese, Arabs

Religion: Islam (Sunni)

Literacy rate: 97% (2003 est.)

Economic summary: GDP/PPP (2007est.): $1.588 billion; per capita $4,600. Real growth rate: 6.6%. Inflation: 5%.

The Republic of Maldives is a group of atolls in the Indian Ocean about 417 mi (671 km) southwest of Sri Lanka. Its 1,190 coral islets stretch over an area of 35,200 sq mi (90,000 sq km). With concerns over global warming and the shrinking of the polar ice caps, the Maldives is directly threatened, as none of its islands rises more than six feet above sea level.

The Maldives (formerly called the Maldive Islands) were first settled in the 5th century B.C. by Buddhist seafarers from India and Sri Lanka. According to tradition, Islam was adopted in A.D. 1153. Originally the islands were under the suzerainty of Ceylon (now Sri Lanka). They came under British protection in 1887 and were a dependency of then-colony Ceylon until 1948. An independence agreement with Britain was signed July 26, 1965. For centuries a sultanate, the islands adopted a republican form of government in 1952, but the sultanate was restored in 1954. In 1968, however, as the result of a referendum, a republic was again established in the recently independent country.

Islamic History and Muslims

Islam was introduced in 1153 by travellers. The king converted to Islam and told his subjects to do the same; the country had been Buddhist for hundreds of years prior to that. Islam is the state religion of Maldives, and adherence to it is legally required of citizens by a revision of the constitution in 2008: Article 9, Section D states that "a non-Muslim may not become a citizen of the Maldives." With the exception of Shi'a members of the Indian trading community, Maldivians are Sunni Muslims.

Islam is important in Maldives. The traditional Islamic law code of sharia, known in Dhivehi as sariatu, forms the basic law code of Maldives as interpreted to conform to local Maldivian conditions by the president, the attorney general, the Ministry of Home Affairs, and the Majlis. On the inhabited islands, the miski, or mosque, forms the central place where Islam is practiced. Because Friday is the most important day for Muslims to attend mosque, shops and offices in towns and villages close around 11 a.m., and the sermon begins by 12:30 p.m. Most inhabited islands have several mosques; Malé has more than thirty. Most mosques are whitewashed buildings constructed of coral stone with corrugated iron or thatched roofs. In Malé, the Islamic Center and the Grand Friday Mosque, built in 1984 with funding from the Persian Gulf states, Pakistan, Brunei, and Malaysia, are imposing elegant structures. The gold-colored dome of this mosque is the first structure sighted when approaching Malé. In mid-1991 Maldives had a total of 724 mosques and 266 women's mosques.

Prayer sessions are held five times daily. Mudimu, the mosque caretakers, make the call. Most shops and offices close for fifteen minutes after each call. During the ninth Muslim month of Ramadan, cafés and restaurants are closed during the day, and working hours are limited.

The isolation of Maldives from the historical centers of Islam in the Middle East and Asia has allowed some pre-Islamic beliefs and attitudes to survive. Western anthropologist Maloney reports being told by a Muslim cleric during his 1970s fieldwork in Maldives that for most Maldivians Islam is "largely a matter of observing ablutions, fasting, and reciting incomprehensible Arabic prayer formulas." There is a widespread belief in local evil spirits (handi, furētha) leading to the use of various charms and spells for protection. The popularity of these beliefs has led some observers to identify a magico-religious system parallel to Islam known as fanditha, which provides a more personal way for the islanders to deal with either actual or perceived problems in their lives.


The Islamic Centre, housing the mosque Masjid-al-Sultan Mohammed Thakurufaanu-al-A'z'am

Local Mosque

Mosque is Naifaru Hukuru Miskiy

Friday Mosque or Hukuru Miskiy is one of the oldest mosques in the Capital Male'.

  Islamic Centers and Organizations

Al masjidul Noor, Male, Henveiru

Al-MAsjidh Dhinnoorain, Hithadhoo, Addu Atoll
Phone: 6885965

SUPREME COUNCIL FOR ISLAMIC AFFAIRS/Al Masjid Muhammad Thakurufán, Male
Phone: 00960-3352671

MALDIVIAN ISLAMIC YOUTH ORGANIZATION, Male
Phone: 00960-318912-321463

Leeway Maldives Private Limited, Male
Phone: 00960-9994242

MALDIVES YOUTH CENTRE, Male
Phone: 0960-323658

AGENCE ISLAMIQUE POUR LE SECOURS EN AFRIQUE, Male


Starship, Male, Kaafu
Phone: 960-313696

Masjid-ul-Jamaath, Kulhudhuffushi


Masjid ul nooru, Ha Dalu, makunudhoo

  Al Masjid Rilwan, Manadu
  Al Masjidh Thagwaa, Naifaru
  AL Masjidhul tharaahumi, Ungoofaaru
  AL MASJIDIL MOHAMED THAKURU FAANU, MROSHI
  Al masjidul Noor, Male
  Al-Masjid Hadhi, Male
  Al-MAsjidh Dhinnoorain, Hithadhoo
  Boalha Miskiy, Male
  Holiday Island Resort Mosque, Mamigili
  Masjid Al Amaaniyya, Dhiyamigili
  Masjid Al-ikhlaas, Haa Daalu Atoll
  Masjid Mohamed Thakurufaan, Utim
  Masjid Noor, Shaviyani Atholhu
  Masjid Sultan Muhaamad Thakurufan Al-Audam, Male
  Masjid ul Ibrahim, Male
  Masjid ul nooru, Ha Dalu
  Masjid-ul-Jamaath, Kulhudhuffushi
  Masjidul Amaan, Seenu Atholhu
  Masjidul Aman, Addu Atholhu
  Masjidul_Hazaara, Gaha Faro
 
SUPREME COUNCIL FOR ISLAMIC AFFAIRS/Al Masjid Muhammad Thakurufán, Male

  AGENCE ISLAMIQUE POUR LE SECOURS EN AFRIQUE, Male
  MALDIVES YOUTH CENTRE, Male
 
MALDIVIAN ISLAMIC YOUTH ORGANIZATION, Male

  Madhrasathul Arabiyyathul Islamiyya, Male

   Muslim Owned Business

Allocate Business Comapny Pvt Ltd, Addu Atoll
  General Information, Male
  Leeway Maldives Private Limited, Male
  Petals and Leaves, Male
  Roadha - Your Ramazan Partner, Male
 
Starship, Male

References
Islam in Maldives ( http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Islam_in_the_Maldives   , September, 2008).
Info please ( http://www.infoplease.com/ipa/A0107755.html ,  September, 2008).
Islam Finder ( http://www.islamicfinder.org/cityPrayerNew.php?country=maldives , September, 2008).
Anonymous, Documents from Representatives of Islamic Organizations in Maldives, September 2008.