Fatwa Council paralyzed, says Dr. Shaheem

Former Islamic Minister Dr. Mohamed Shaheem Ali Saeed has said the Supreme Fatwa Council has been "paralyzed".

Dr. Shaheem's remarks come at a time when there are differences of opinion among religious scholars in the Maldives regarding practicing yoga - a contradictory issue for Muslims.

On Wednesday, the government arrested several religious scholars for protesting against the International Yoga Day celebrations held at the Galolhu Stadium on Tuesday.

Referring to the incident, Dr. Shaheem said the Fatwa Council, established under the law to issue Fatwas on religious matters, should not be 'paralyzed' and that a strong Fatwa system should be established in the State.

"The previous government [President Yameen's government] established the Fatwa Council by law and appointed its members. New members have not been appointed since their term ended, and it has been this way for a long time. The consequence of freezing the institution this way is that others, not the State, are taking the responsibility of [the Fatwa Council's work] upon themselves,' Shaheem said.

Shaheem added that it is important to appoint people who have been educated in modern Islamic universities and are free from political influence to the Fatwa Council. He also urged to ensure the official source of the fatwa and protect the religious unity of the country.

The Supreme Council of Islamic Fatwa was first established in May 2016 during former President Abdulla Yameen Abdul Gayyoom's administration. Members were appointed to the council in December that year, with Dr. Mohamed Rasheed Ibrahim heading the council as its President.