Religion in Maldives - Understanding the Religious Beliefs in Maldives

The primary religion in Maldives is Islam with the majority population practising Sunni Islam. It is the official and state religion and the practice of faith other than Islam is prohibited. The foreigners and migrants are allowed to practice their religious beliefs only in private.

A non-Muslim is not entitled to Maldivian citizenship. 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. 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.  

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 Maldives

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Christians constitute only 0.4% percentage of Maldivian population. Citizens converting their religion to Christianity are not authorized to Maldivian 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 main reason for this is that the 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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