With the exception of Shia members of the Indian
community, Maldivians are Sunni Muslims; adherence to
state religion since the twelfth century, is required for
citizenship. The importance of Islam in Maldives is
evident in the lack of a secular legal system. Instead,
traditional Islamic law code of sharia, known in Dhivehi
sariatu, forms the basic law code of Maldives as
interpreted to conform to local Maldivian conditions by
president, the attorney general, the Ministry of Home
and the Majlis. On the inhabited islands, the
mosque, forms the central place where Islam is practiced.
Friday is the most important day for Muslims to attend
shops and offices in towns and villages close around 11
the sermon begins by 12:30 p.m. Most inhabited islands
several mosques; Male has more than thirty. Most mosques
whitewashed buildings constructed of coral stone with
iron or thatched roofs. In Male, the Islamic Center and
Friday Mosque, built in 1984 with funding from the Persian
states, Pakistan, Brunei, and Malaysia, are imposing
structures. The gold-colored dome of this mosque is the
structure sighted when approaching Male. In mid-1991
a total of 724 mosques and 266 women's mosques.
Prayer sessions are held five times daily.
mosque caretakers, make the call, but tape recordings
the human voice are often used. Most shops and offices
fifteen minutes after each call. During the ninth Muslim
Ramadan, Muslims fast during the daylight hours.
and restaurants are closed during the day, and working
limited. The exact occurrence of Ramadan varies each year
it depends on the lunar cycle. Ramadan begins with the new
and ends with the sighting of the next new moon.
The isolation of Maldives from the historical centers
Islam in the Middle East and Asia has allowed some
beliefs and attitudes to survive. Western anthropologist
during his 1970s fieldwork in Maldives reports being told
Muslim cleric that for most Maldivians Islam is "largely a
of observing ablutions, fasting, and reciting
Arabic prayer formulas." There is a widespread belief in
or evil spirits. For protection against such evils, people
resort to various charms and spells. The extent of these
has led some observers to identify a magico-religious
parallel to Islam known as fandita, which provides
personal way for the islanders to deal with either actual
perceived problems in their lives.
Data as of August 1994