Maldives Minicoy Mahl Dhivehi
Historic Maldivian religious icon: Exhibit at Malé National Museum

Historical Flag of the Maldives
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Historic Maldivian religious icon: Exhibit at Malé National Museum
 Veiled women in the Maldives
- victims of Arab colonialist infiltration


Gabe Mirkin, M.D.

A recent report from Turkey shows that women who wear veils have lower blood levels of vitamin D and therefore are at increased risk for suffering osteoporosis.

Vitamin D is found in egg yolks, liver and salt-water fish oils from sardines, herring and salmon. The vast majority of people on earth do not eat enough of these foods to meet their requirements for vitamin D, so they have to depend on sunlight. You get enough vitamin D to meet your requirements by exposing a few inches of skin to sunlight for less than one half hour a day. Veiled women in Turkey rarely expose any part of their bodies to sunlight, so they have low blood levels of vitamin D that increase their risk for osteoporosis. Fortified milk is not a good source of vitamin D because the calcium in milk uses up vitamin D to increase a person's need for that vitamin.

Source: Vitamin D status and bone mineral density of veiled and unveiled Turkish women. Journal of Womens Health & Gender - Based Medicine, 2001, Vol 10, Iss 8, pp 765-770. R Guzel, E Kozanoglu, F GulerUysal, S Soyupak, T Sarpel.

© 2003
Box 10, Kensington MD 20895 USA.


France Defends Ban on Veil

Reuters, 30 Nov 2003

Paris: The French Government plans to ban the Muslim headscarf from public schools to protect teenage girls from “fundamentalist pressures” to wear it, the French Prime Minister, Jean-Pierre Raffarin, said.

Mr. Raffarin told his centre-right UMP party on Friday defending women’s rights would be the guiding principle in any law the Government passes about the veil.

Women politicians have been especially keen for a ban on the headscarves, saying Islamic fundamentalists and conservative male family members were pressuring teenage girls into wearing them in violation of France’s principle of sexual equality.

“The legislative decision we take will be good if it protects women, all women, from all fundamentalist pressures,” Mr. Raffarin told a party meeting in the Paris suburb of Villepinte. “That is the main point. This is not about religion, it’s about lifting a constraint on women.”

The above Reuters report was sent by a regular visitor to the site. The following is a slightly edited extract of the accompanying email:

France's predicament is relevant in the Maldives because the anachronism of the dholhi/ burugaa/ veil was self-inflicted after 1984. Before that year this problem did not exist in the Maldives, but when the Saudis dished out petrodollars and hard-line schools opened (eg: Mauhad el-Diraasaat el-Islamiyyah and el-Medrasah el-Arabiyya el-Islamiyya), the pandora's box was opened.

Now there are many girls (some of them closely related to us) who hate it, but are forced by their parents to wear it. I know of terrible stories about this violation of girls' rights.


ahih Muslim Book 4: (Kitab Al-Salat) - Hadith number 1034
Abu Huraira reported: The Messenger of Allah said: A woman, a donkey and a dog disrupt the prayer, but something like the back of a saddle guards against that.

riana Fallaci writes in her book The Rage and the Pride that "Because our cultural identity has been well defined for thousands of years we cannot bear a migratory wave of people who have nothing to do with us … who are not ready to become like us, to be absorbed by us….Who, on the contrary, aim to absorb us. To change our principles, our values, our identity, our way of life. And who in the meantime molest us with their retrograde ignorance, their retrograde bigotry, their retrograde religion. I am saying that in our culture there is no room for the muezzins, for the minarets, for the phony abstemious, for the humiliating chador, for the degrading burkah."

adame Bardot presents Muslims as barbaric and cruel invaders, responsible for terrorist acts and eager to dominate the French to the extent of wanting to exterminate them", a Paris court said of former actor Brigitte Bardot's book A Scream in the Silence in which she laments the "underground and dangerous infiltration of Islam".

University of Essex Islamic Society: The Virtues of Hijab

Maldive women who have chosen the veil are invited to exercise their right of reply to this article. Replies sent with verifiable identities of the author will be published under the author's legal name

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Traditionally, the veil is foreign garb in Maldives.

The old Maldive word for the women's veil is dholhi, the same word used for the piece of cloth tied around the head of a human corpse to prevent the mouth from opening. This probably indicates the oppressive view of the garment held by early Maldivians.

The current Dhivehi word for the veil is burugaa, borrowed from various Indian languages

Several mediaeval Arab visitors to the Maldives noted with alarm what they regarded as the revealing attire of Maldive women.

An artist's impression of Queen Siri Raadha Abaarana (Khadija) with her attendants and husband. This image was in a web site called Maldives Story. It is interesting that the Queen and her female attendants appear to be wearing upper-body garments. Historical records show that Maldive women of the period (15th century) went topless in public. The queen banished her younger brother to gain her throne and assassinated two usurper husbands in order to hold on to it. It is anyone's guess what fate would have befallen the person who dared dictate her attire.
The author's great grandmother, the Princess Consort Maandoogey Don Didi (above left) and aunt the Princess Uthuru Ganduvaru Tuttu Goma.

The author's great grandmother's photograph shown here is the oldest available of a Maldive lady- taken in about 1895. These ladies would have laughed at the thought of wearing a veil.

The most notable amongst them was Abu Abdullah Mohamed Ibn Batuta who served as the chief Islamic magistrate of Malé early in the 15th century. Not only did he endure the "indignity" of serving a female sovereign (Queen Siri Raadha Abaarana), but also he tried in vain to make women cover their bare breasts.

Maldive women of the time wore a skirt called the feyli hanging from just below the navel to just above the ankle. This was not due to a shortage of cloth. Maldives at that time produced a large quantity of fine textiles, with a healthy surplus for export. Back then, people were more sensible in terms of what they wore in a humid and hot climate. Ibn Batuta was able to force his Maldive wives and slave girls into an upper garment and the veil, but these unfortunate women were heckled and jeered at on the streets.

The only record of the official enforcement of the dholhi for live humans, was in the 17th century. In March 1691 a fundamentalist nobleman succeeded to the throne. Proclaimed as King Siri Naakiree Sundhura (Sultan al-Adil Mohamed Mohyeddine), this new ruler was a follower of the Iraqi mullah Abdel Qadir Jeilani.

According to page 75 of the Tarikh, Siri Naakiree Sundhura made a public proclamation on 6 April 1691, which included the following:

  • drinking alcohol was banned
  • fornication was banned
  • women were forced to wear the veil.
  • women were forced to stand aside for men on the streets


She would rather hang from a tree

The author's aunt (not the one pictured on this page) is a formidable elderly lady with a mind of her own. While on her regular early morning walk, she was accosted by a male member of the foreign-funded veil-mongers' brigade and received an ear-full of abuse for walking "naked" in public. To these people an unveiled woman is much the same as a nudist.

Better luck with school girls

The author's aunt was told that her "sin" would result in her being hung by her hair from a tree in hell. She thought for a while and replied that this new revelation meant that any remote chance she would ever be wearing the veil was now gone.

Her mother and grandmothers were unveiled, and she couldn't bear the thought of basking in paradise while her mother and grandmothers were hung by their hair from trees in hell.

The foreign-funded veil-monger was lost for words by this display of female rudeness. He hung his head low and walked away in disgust..

Sahih Bukhari Volume 4, Book 54, Hadith number 464
Narrated 'Imran bin Husain:
The Prophet said, "I looked at Paradise and found poor people forming the majority of its inhabitants; and I looked at Hell and saw that the majority of its inhabitants were women."

The Tarikh was quite specific on the point that this was the first time such laws were adopted and enforced by the state in the Maldives.

The traditional dress of the Maldives is fast being abandoned in favour of nightie- type Arab clothes. Some of those who adopt the Arab dress would accuse Maldive women who favour Western fashions of being unpatriotic. A case of the kettle calling the pot black.

Eleven months later, Siri Naakiree Sundhura died. The throne was then siezed by a foreign missionary and mentor of the king's. The foreigner, a native of Hama in Syria proclaimed himself as King Siri Mikaalha Madhaadheettha (Sultan Mohamed Shamsuddine I). This mullah first arrived in the Maldives a few years before in the reign of Siri Kula Ran Meeba Katthiri Bavana (Iskander Ibrahim I). On that occasion he was deported for preaching puritanical religious fetwas that the locals found intolerable.

Under Mullah Shamsuddine, restrictions became more severe. Those who missed the five prayer times each day were executed by beheading, according to page 70 of the Tarikh. After five months of oppression, Mullah Shamsuddine died of food poisoning.

There is no further record of veiled women in the Maldives until the 20th century,

An attempt was made by mullahs to introduce the veil early in that century but it did not gain any significant support, though a few jealous men seized the opportunity to force their women folk into the veil. By the 1960s, the veil was again virtually non-existent and wearers attracted the the traditional ridicule.

Enlisted women of the Maldive National Security Service (NSS) on parade in Malé. By example, the government upholds a Maldive cultural tradition of veil-free women. The first time the NSS women appeared publicly on parade (circa 1990), a notorious foreign-funded fundamentalist onlooker threw up his hands in the air and in a guttural voice, shrieked out the innovation "O Allah who created and raised me! Show me, your slave, a day other than this!"
Since the 1980s, a campaign has again gained momentum to force Maldive women into the veil. With no active government backing, this fanatical foreign-backed campaign has not been completely successful. As was the case in the 1680s and 1690s, the campaign has its roots (and significant funding) in foreign interests centred in the Middle East, and a cocktail of threats, coercion and financial reward, together with jealousy among men, seems to be making this campaign more successful than previously.

The difference this time is that the objective is not just the imposition of an alien headgear. There seems to be an attempt to introduce complete wardrobes from Taliban Afghanistan, Saudi Arabia and Palestinian refugee camps.

This web site unequivocally supports
French President Jacques Chirac for applying the ban on the veil. As in the Maldives, the veil is foreign garb in France. The veil is used as a political statement to achieve the objective of altering the character of the French Republic. The French people must resist this barbaric assault on their culture. Franco-Maldive political relations go back to the 18th century to the premiership of the author's grandfather seven times removed.
Belgian Interior Minister Patrick Dewael for backing draft legislation by two Belgian senators to ban the veil from state schools. The emotive demonstrations by about 15,000 Muslims across France against its planned law to ban the wearing of hijab by girls in state schools has had apparently no effect on authorities in Belgium.
Seven out of the sixteen German states for banning the hijab.
Tunisia, a Muslim country where the state religion is Islam, for its long-standing policy to ban the hijab.

Turkey for its long-standing policy to ban the hijab. Turkey is officially not a Muslim country but 99% of Turks would acknowledge their Muslim background. Turkey is a member of the Islamic Conference Organisation


From: "ahmed"
Sent: Thursday, 24 July 2003 20:06

Dear Maajid,

Regarding the articale about "veiled women" I think you were a bit biased about the "veil", Buruqa or dholhi. You see the articale gives the impression that the "veil" is a totally alien attaire to the maldives, now I'm not a fanatic advocating that women should be "veiled" however there is Maldivian version of the burqa or rather as I should say more or less resembling a "scarf" which many women even among the educated & westernized elite have adopted, which is their own choice. Oyu see this attaire I mentioned is in no way resembling or even close to the very extreme cases that you have just metioned. So while agreeing with you in condemning the extreme versions of the burqa i think a moderate version of it by a womens own chioce is quite alright.

It is interesting to note that the women who have adopted this particular "Maldivian Version of it" are quite open minded as regards to the scarf. So let us men not be baised about it a women has the right to make her chioce either to veil or to un-veil. We should respect their choice don't you think.


Dear Mr "Ahmed"

Thank you for your unsigned mail. I always write openly using my own identity and so appreciate those who display the courage of their conviction to contact me with their own verifiable identities. Those who choose not to make their identities known are making themselves wide open to accusations of being cowards.

In the article that you refer to I have mentioned historical facts with references to Ibn Batuta and the Tarikh. I also have two photographs of my own close family members taken circa 1895 and 1920. They are among the oldest available photographs of Maldive women's attire. The way the ladies in the photos were dressed was the norm rather than the exception in their time and earlier. No veils are apparent in those photographs

It is based on this type of evidence that I have come to the conclusion that the women's veil is historically and culturally alien to the Maldives. If you have comparable evidence to suggest to the contrary, I look forward to hearing about it

It is interesting that women would "choose" to adopt a permament headgear, be it shaped like a scarf or whatever else, in a climate so humid as that of the Maldives

I have a small database of narratives that suggest coercion, financial reward, financial penalty and threats as the reason for specific women in the Maldives to have made what you suggest is "a free choice" to adopt such a restrictive foreign garb as the veil. I do not base my arguments on narrative and so did not include these as evidence in my article

I suspect that you regard someone as being "Westernised" if they have spent time, as perhaps a student, in a Western country. This is not necessarily the case. There are Maldive students in Western countries who insulate themselves completely from the local population. Some of them return home without so much as having a social chat with a local. Some women among these students actually "voluntarily adopt" the veil while living in the West. In some cases, the fear of being labelled as "Westernised" and the resulting social consequences drive them to make such decisions.

Thank you again for your interest in my article. I wish you had the courage of your conviction to identify yourself. .

Maldive press article condemning Western precautions against global terrorism