Maldives History and Islam
Islam in the Maldives dates back to the year 1153 AD. At that point in time, The Maldives got converted to Islamic Maldives by one of the Muslims from the Maghreb. Islam in the Maldives has been popular since then. Even after Islam was adopted by the people, the Muslim leader stayed here so that he could teach the rightful Islamic principles to the people. Being a 100 percent Muslim country, Islam is the state religion of the Maldives. Since it has become the state religion, the citizens have a legal enforcement to follow it.
Islam has become so entrenched in the culture of the Maldives now, that anyone not adhering to Muslim custom is treated as Non-Citizen.
The Legend behind Conversion to Islam
As far as history is to be believed, the reason why the country got converted to Islam was primarily to give a fillip to trade relations. But many Maldives people believe it to be the other way round. According to legend, Rannamaari, a demon, rose from the water each month and threatened to destroy all the villages until there was a virgin sacrificed. So, every month a virgin was chosen through the lottery system, and as a part of sacrifice left in the temple. It was believed to be an intricate part of the culture of Maldives. An Islamic traveller, named Yousef Shamsuddin-al Tebrezi, use to stay with a destitute family. Yousef’s daughter was indeed chosen to be the one who would be sacrificed to please the evil power from the sea. So, to protect his daughter, he disguised himself and stayed in the holy temple instead. The Quran was recited by him, the entire night. On hearing the words of the Quran, the demon turned away and did not strike that night. When citizens came to the temple in the morning they were amazed to see Yousef still alive! He was seen piously reciting the Quran. Yousef explained to the villagers, how the power of the Holy Quran had saved him. He requested the king of Maldives to adopt Islam to ensure the security of the Maldives. So, as per his advice, the king himself converted to the faith. Later, he instructed the people of Maldives to adopt the faith happily. And, thus Islam in the Maldives came into existence.
Public Holiday in the Maldives
The Day the Maldives adopted Islam is declared as a public holiday in the Maldives, a country consisting of more than 1150 islands in the Indian Ocean. This day is now celebrated on the 1st day of Rabi al-Thani. The date keeps changing every year, as the calendar in Islam is solar-based.
This day is of great importance. It is supposed to signify Islamic Unity. On this day, the Ministry of Home Affairs organises a lot of activities which include various religious ceremonies, lectures as well as speeches. Villages celebrate in their own way, which includes lectures that talk about the conversion to Islam. This is also in order to promote the unity of religions in the whole country.
Islam is a national religion here and other religions are not permitted. Almost all the Maldivian citizens are Sunnis. Whether you marry or even own property in the country, only the Muslims in The Maldives can become citizens. The daily life of Maldives Muslims is under the regulations of the laws of Islam. So, in the Maldives, the Muslim community is what matters.
Food in the Maldives
Since almost all the people follow Islam in The Maldives, non-vegetarian food is popular. The Maldives is a littoral state and thus, obviously, a lot of seafood is found to be part of the Maldivian diet. The staple food is naturally rice and fish. These foods are also a popular source of protein there. Also, the popular meal delicacy is canut with Betal Lead, lime, also known as foh and cloves which can be chewed after meals. Islam in the Maldives is so important that once the government had to order the destruction of some artwork as the court ruled it to be a threat to Islamic unity. And according to them it also disrupted the peace and interests of the Maldivian state.