An archipelago in the Indian Ocean, Maldives is well-known for its white sandy beaches, picturesque coral islands, and vibrant culture. The country encompasses a total area of 298 square km. The population of Maldives was estimated to be 427,756 in 2016.
Islam is the religion of the vast majority in the Maldives. It is also the official religion of the country. Nearly 85 to 90% of the residents of the country are Muslims. Other religions or non-believers constitute about 10 to 15% of the total population. Only the non-citizens of Maldives follow religions other than Islam.
A Brief History Of Islam In The Maldives
In the ancient times, Buddhism was the main religion of the Maldivians. However, following the arrival of Muslim traders in the country, Islam became popular among the royalty and then the masses of Maldives. Large sections of the islanders converted to the religion by the middle of the 12th century. Sufism has had a significant influence on the Islamic culture of Maldives. Until recently, Sufi traditions and practices including the building of tombs and the observance of dhikr ceremonies were a part of the Maldivian way of life. The country’s oldest mosque, the Hukuru Miskiy is located in the capital city of Malé. It was built in 1656. The legal system of Maldives is guided by the shariah law. Muslim festivals are celebrated as national holidays. Office hours on Friday are regulated to allow the people to visit the mosque for prayers. Mosques dot the entire landscape of Maldives.
Christianity In The Maldives
There is a small population of Christians in the Maldives. However, Christianity is the least tolerated religion in the Maldives. The public practice of this religion is discouraged in the country. Christian foreigners suspected of carrying out missionary work in the nation have been expelled in the past.
Freedom Of Religion And Tolerance In The Maldives
According to the government in the country, a citizen of the country must adhere to Islam. As such the freedom of religion is practically non-existent in the country. Citizens of the country are not allowed to practice or preach any other religion. Non-Islamic residents of Maldives are not allowed to vote, hold public posts or become citizens of the nation. Non-Muslims visiting the country are not given the permission of practicing any non-Islamic religion in public. The President of Maldives must be a Sunni Muslim. He will be responsible for ensuring that Islamic rules and principles are strictly maintained in the nation. Capital punishment might be meted out to any citizen of the nation who do not strictly adhere to Islamic beliefs in practice. Fatawas can be generated by authorized Muslim scholars.