Religion in Maldives - Understanding the Religious Beliefs in Maldives

At a sprawling 90,000 square kilometres, Maldives is an archipelago of numerous coral islands grouped into natural coral atolls in the Indian Ocean. When it comes to religion, there's no such thing as freedom of religion in Maldives. Converted to Islam in 1153 AD by a North African Muslim, Maldivians today believe that maintaining a single religion preserves national identity and brings harmony.

A non-Muslim is not entitled to citizenship. There are numerous mosques for citizens to practice their religion in Maldives while the most inhabited islands have the mosque of their own built of coral stones with thatched roofs. Being a strictly Muslim country, the tourists are recommended to leave any religious texts including the Bible and Hindu holy books at home itself to avoid any hassle at the airports in the Maldives.  

Besides the state religion is Islam, a very minute percentage of the Maldivian population adhere to any other religion. Read further to get acquainted with the religion of Maldives.

Islam in Maldives

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The belief of the President that the country loses its independence if it is not entirely Muslim has made the Maldives predominantly Islamic where Muslims constitute about 98% of the total population.  The government preserves and promotes Islamic values prohibiting the practice of any other religion in Maldives by the citizens and precluding any other religion from basic rights like voting and citizenship or holding public positions.

Christianity in the Maldives

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With an approximate 0.4% percentage Christians, Maldives hardly has any tolerance towards Christians. Citizens converting their religion to Christianity are not authorized to citizenship and can be subjected to a different law. Despite several expulsions by the Christian community, there's nothing that has been done; no doubt why the Island has a very small number of Christians and Catholics attending mass.

Buddhism in the Maldives

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No more or less as compared to Christianity in the Maldives, Buddhists constitute about 0.6-0.8% of the Maldives population. However, no matter how much unlikely it seems considering current conditions, there was a time when Buddhism was a predominant religion in Maldives. Destruction of the entire collection of Buddhist sculptures built late back in the 12th century by a group of Islamic extremists marked the beginning of Islam as its official religion.

Hinduism in the Maldives

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Hindu population constitute about 0.3-0.5% of the total Maldives population, majority of them belonging to Tamil or Malayalee origin of India who can be generally seen as employed foreign labour. The reason for this being people from the southern coast of India had been in regular contact with the Maldives. However, there are no official Maldivian Hindus as it is mandatory for every Maldivian to be a Muslim; Sunni Islam being the state religion in Maldives.
 
Maldives high inclination towards Islamic religion is the reason why Muslim customs and traditions are taken too seriously; coffee shops and restaurants being closed in the daytime during Ramadan.

This post was published by Neha Nagpal

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