Tuesday, January 27, 2009

Constitution or Shariah Law?

One of the important developments in our constitutional structure was the establishment of the Special Majlis; as a response to the demand for a strengthening of the checks and balances in the system of state administration and constitutional reform.
Recently, the special Majlis is forced to stay put on disagreements over whether to include Islamic Shariah law in the constitution. The government is equally uneasy of religious dissent apparently on the rise in the Maldives and fearful of the growing Islamic extremism in The Maldives.
In this state of affairs both opposition and the government is reluctant to enter a new stage of constitutional reform and practice in regard to fight for the basic right of freedom of religion.
This basic right is clearly stated in international human rights instruments, particularly Article 18 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights (UDHR) and Article 18 of theInternational Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (ICCPR).
"Everyone has the right to freedom of thought, conscience and religion; this right includes freedom to change his religion or belief, and freedom, either alone or in community with others and in public or private, to manifest his religion or belief in teaching, practice, worship and observance". UNIVERSAL DECLARATION OF HUMAN RIGHTS Adopted by UN General Assembly Resolution 217A (III) of 10 December 1948.
Until today, the main problems regarding the protection of freedom of religion have never entered the arena of Special Majlis and in constitutional reform. A constitution as the supreme law of the land sets out the basic structure of the governmental system in every nation. The constitution of every country, however, has different characteristics that can influence the form of the state.
As regards the freedom of religion, we often hear about the different concepts of a religious state, secular state and other types of state.
The Indian Constitution, which added the word “secular”, shows that India is a secular state that places special emphasis on the values of freedom of religion and tolerance.
The First Amendment to the American Constitution guarantees freedom of religion for each of its citizen.
In relationship between constitutions and freedom of religion, the countries that have majority Muslim populations are divided into four categories.
First, countries that openly declare themselves to be Islamic states.
Second, countries that have officially adopted Islam as the official religion of the state.
Third, countries that declare themselves to be secular states.
Fourth, countries that make no such declarations in their constitutions.
If Maldives belongs to the first category, then the question arises as to what is the real concept of the state that was created by our founding fathers?
The question is when did Maldives became an Islamic state and How?
What was the religion of our fore fathers?
Originally Maldivians followed the Dravidian Mother-Goddess worship and its rituals. The country underwent a conversion to Buddhism about 2,000 years ago which brought about an unprecedented flourishing of the Maldivian culture, including the language which by then developed its own script. Almost all significant Maldivian archaeological remains and cultural accomplishments are from that period. But about 800 years ago the country was converted to the Muslim religion.
A confessional state can only be based on a particular religion, while a secular state prevents religion from interfering with state affairs. Moreover, Can Maldives be or become a nation through its constitutional reform?
A religious state that protects and facilitates the development of all religions adhered to by the people without any differences in treatment arising from the number of a religion’s adherent?
In this context, it is essential that the State has a constitutional obligation to protect the freedom of religion of each of its citizens, when the Constitution is held in one hand, the holy book must be held in the other hand. This means that these two things have to work in harmony and that one cannot contradict the other.
Maldives is one of the countries that lack experience as regards the protection of freedom of religion through the constitutional reform mechanism. In fact, this mechanism is an important tool in other countries when the freedom of religion finds itself under attack by state action.
Constitutional reform in Maldives is confined to the review of laws. This means that the Maldivian constitutional system and its practice need to be developed more seriously. Due to the lack of constitutional protection mechanisms, there are currently huge obstacles in the way of citizens seeking to affirm their basic rights to freedom of religion.
The Maldives is going through a period in history which the nation has never seen before. Through the constitutional reform Shariah Law is included or not. In a modern and in a liberal democracy the constitution and its government function on basic human right in which includes.
1. A secular state.
2. A just and trustworthy government.
3. A free and independent people.
4. A vigorous pursuit and mastery of knowledge.
5. A balanced and comprehensive economic development.
6. A good quality of life for the people.
7. Protection of the rights of minority groups, religion and women and children.
8. Cultural and moral integrity.
9. Safeguarding the environment.
10. Strong defense capabilities

Out of the above ten most basic human rights. A free and independent people are one of the main principles of Islam and in a constitution. In a Shariah law or in a constitution or both combined, the most important is to create free and independent people.
Independent people are able to produce dynamic and positive new ideas which are beneficial for the promotion of individuals, families, society and country. Independent people are not a society which exempted from the rules law and ethics. It must be used as a base to develop a strong society and country.
An independent and free people must be able to select and choose for themselves, besides adopt an open attitude towards external cultures and traditions which do not go against values and ethics and that contribute towards the development of the nation. It is not merely slogans and declarations but requires sacrifices and serious efforts which contribute towards the development of the country.
IF Shariah Law is to be included in the constitution, what is the reason to make or amend the constitution at all?
when rule of law and regulation is written in Allah’s words in Holy Quran?

Wednesday, January 14, 2009

United Nations tries to outlaw criticism of Islam!

An ominous initiative that is discussed many times here -- the UN's efforts to silence those who call attention to the ways in which Islamic jihadists use the texts and teachings of Islam to justify their actions and make recruits --gets attention in the New York Daily News.

"UN-acceptable censorship: The United Nations tries to outlaw criticism of Islam," by Floyd Abrams for the Daily News, January 14:

Almost 500 years ago, on the wall of the Castle Church in Wittenberg, Germany, Martin Luther posted his 95 Theses, characterizing as "madness" the notion that papal pardons could absolve individuals for their sins. As viewed from Rome, Luther had maligned, even defamed, the church. Luther was eventually excommunicated. His conduct ultimately led to the creation of a Protestant Church in Germany and a Reformation throughout Europe.

It is difficult to believe that in the 21st century anyone would seriously propose that conduct such as Luther's should be deemed illegal. But a few weeks ago, the General Assembly of the United Nations took a giant step in that direction. It adopted - for the fourth straight year - a resolution prepared by the 57-nation Organization of the Islamic Conference calling upon all UN nations to adopt legislation banning the "defamation" of religion. Spurred by the Danish cartoons of 2005, some of which portrayed the Prophet Muhammed in a manner deemed offensive by the OIC, the resolution was opposed by the United States, most European nations, Japan, India and a number of other nations.

Nonetheless, it has now been adopted. [...]

From the very first OIC resolution to the current one there has never been any ambiguity about its purpose: to intimidate those who might criticize Islam. As phrased in the original OIC resolution introduced by Pakistan in 1999, Islam was "frequently and wrongly associated with human rights violations and terrorism." But it is a fact that however one may debate about whether "Islam" bears any responsibility for acts of terrorism ranging from the murderous 9/11 attacks on New York and Washington to the more recent massacre in Mumbai, terrible acts of violence have been committed in the name of Islam. It is also the case that repeated human rights violations, including female genital mutilation, also have occurred in the name of Islam.

It is one thing to urge that all Muslims should not be criticized because of these acts. But the notion that it may or should be made a crime even to "associate" Islam with crimes too often committed in its name is inconsistent with any notion that both freedom of speech and religion should be protected. What cannot be even negotiable is the freedom, the unfettered freedom, to publish challenging books, movies and - yes - the Danish cartoons.

Be sure to read it all.