Maldives Minicoy Mahl Dhivehi
 Second Degree Apostasy

"What is your religion?"

"Are you a Muslim?". Since about the end of 2002, these and similar questions have been frequently asked of Majid by an identifiable core of visitors to this site from mainly England, Malaysia and the University of Otago in New Zealand.

Those who ask these questions identify themselves as Maldivians and by and large appear to belong to the fundamentalist Islamic sect known as Wahhabism with possible al-Qaeda sympathies. They also seem to have a strong dislike of the regime in the Maldives.

Majid's standard response is that it is an unusual question to be asked of someone with a Maldive background by those who claim to be Maldivians.

The Islamic Position

12 year-old Shabnam's memory of Taliban Afghanistan. Source RAWA

"If a man says to his brother, 'O Kafir (disbeliever)!' Then surely one of them is such (i.e., a Kafir)."

Source: Sahih Al-Bukhari Hadith 8.125A Narrated by Abu Huraira

"`Ibn Umar related that the Holy Prophet said: If a Muslim calls another kafir, then if he is a kafir let it be so; otherwise, he [the caller] is himself a kafir.''

Source: Abu Dawud, Book of Sunna, edition published by Quran Mahal, Karachi, vol. iii, p. 484

"Abu Zarr reported that the Holy Prophet said: No man accuses another man of being a sinner, or of being a kafir, but it reflects back on him if the other is not as he called him.''

Source: Bukhari, Book of Ethics; Book 78, ch. 44

"Withhold [your tongues] from those who say `There is no god but God' --- do not call them kafir. Whoever calls a reciter of `There is no god but God' as a kafir, is nearer to being a kafir himself."

Source: Tabarani, reported from Ibn Umar

Maldive legal precedent against such queries

Banned by the Taliban Ministry for the Promotion of Virtue and the Prevention of Vice

For men and women

  1. Pork, pig oil and lobster
  2. Movies and photographs
  3. VCRs,TVs and satellite dishes
  4. Computers and the Internet
  5. Kite flying and chess playing
  6. Pool tables and firecrackers
  7. Pet pigeons and sewing catalogs
  8. Clapping at sporting events
  9. Singing and dancing
  10. "Anything that propagates sex and is full of music".

For women

  1. Speaking or laughing loudly
  2. Riding bicycles or motorcycles
  3. Showing their ankles
  4. Wearing shoes that click
  5. Makeup
  6. Leaving home unaccompanied by a close male relative
  7. Attending school
  8. Speaking to men who are not close relatives
  9. Working (except for a few doctors and nurses.)

In the late 1950s a Maldivian was convicted by a Malé Islamic Sharia court for apostasy. Evidently this person had a bad temper and in the heat of an argument, someone asked him "are you a Muslim?" to which he angrily replied "no!". The man was convicted for apostasy and sentenced to be flogged in public. Interestingly the person who asked the question was also convicted and meted out with the same punishment. Perhaps the latter committed second degree apostasy!

Legal position in
New Zealand

Those who ask these questions from New Zealand would be well-advised to take into account the following cautions:

  1. That they may be exercising interference as defined in Section 13 of the New Zealand Bill of Rights Act 1990 of the Parliament of New Zealand.
  2. That they may be committing "criminal harassment" as defined in Section 8 of the Harassment Act 1997 and be liable, on summary conviction, to imprisonment for a term not exceeding 2 years.
  3. That they may be in breach of the spirit, if not the letter, of Section 12 of the University of Otago Ordinance 1869 of the Government of the Province of Otago. This Ordinance is now enshrined in the Fourth Schedule of the University of Otago Amendment Act 1961 of the Parliament of New Zealand.

Extracts from Buraara Koi's Account of Maldive history

"During the reign of these two brothers (circa AD 1574) the older people in most of the islands of Miladhunmadulu had taught the young to go to the toilet without bending their knees and to clean themselves afterwards without water. With the old teaching the young in this way most people in the islands of Miladhunmadulu became infidels. When this news reached Malé Utheem Bandaarain sent a selection of men from the two regiments to each island. Each group went to an island and made it Islamic. When they returned to Malé and reported, the island was given to them. All the islands in Miladhunmadulu given to the groups [olhi olhi] are islands that have been made Islamic twice." (p. 429)

"Goa Kalhu Faranji decided that since he was in the land of his birth he would land and have a look before leaving. (circa AD 1557) 'Prepare the baththeli,' he ordered, and rowed into the Kabaadhi and secured it there. He told the crewmen to wait, and came down onto the island and walked around. He noticed a particularly high pavilion among the low bush heylhi of the beachfront at Ranjehi, and decided to go over and investigate. He stood at the entrance just as a mauloodh recitation was about to start. He also heard talking and shouting from the southern side of the pavilion and went over to see what was happening there. As he came out through the north gate and onto the two dhaala he found two keyn with their wrapping undone. He ate some rice from each one and walked into the pavilion. The island elders respectfully but firmly asked him to leave and he asked them why.

"They explained they were Muslims and about to start a mauloodh recitation, and he was an infidel. Faranji agreed he was an infidel but that he still had a right halaalu to share the mauloodh rice, and he wasn't going to leave without eating it. He also reminded them that the chandelier dhullisaa lighting the pavilion had belonged to his mother. Despite the insistence of the elders he refused to leave, so someone went off and informed the King, who then sent for Seeraji Fan'diyaaru Kaleygefaan and told him about it. 'Your Highness, what Faranji says is true. Though he's an infidel, mauloodh rice is halaalu for him.'" (pp. 137-138)

From Bodu Thakurufaanu Vaahaka as narrated by Buraara Koi transcribed by Ibrahim Ismail Feebo. Saada Press. Malé. 1958. (This book was first published under Censorship Permit number 153 dated 16 Dhlqaedah AH 1377 issued by the Directorate of Instruction of the Government of the Maldives) Translated by Fareesha Abdullah and Michael O'Shea. 2002.

The myth of Portuguese Rule over the Maldives