Tenets of Islam are not subject to change

UN High Commissioner for Human Rights Navi Pillay went to the Maldives, and there she said some things. She said some things relevant to human rights.

In an address delivered in parliament last Thursday, Pillay said the practice of flogging women found guilty of extra-marital sex “constitutes one of the most inhumane and degrading forms of violence against women, and should have no place in the legal framework of a democratic country.”

The UN human rights chief called for a public debate “on this issue of major concern.” In a press conference later in the day, Pillay called on the judiciary and the executive to issue a moratorium on flogging.

Well yes. Commissioners for human rights can be expected to say things like that, unless they are merely window-dressing commissioners for human rights. Flogging women for extra-marital sex does strike contemporary supporters of human rights as incompatible with respect for human rights. Flogging itself, flogging as such, is seen by people like that as incompatible with respect for human rights, and extra-marital sex is seen as a private concern as opposed to a state concern.

On article 9(d) of the constitution, which states “a non-Muslim may not become a citizen of the Maldives,” Pillay said the provision was “discriminatory and does not comply with international standards.”

There again – mandatory religion is widely considered incompatible with respect for human rights. So far so unsurprising. But the top people in the Maldives didn’t see it that way.

Statements by visiting UN High Commissioner for Human Rights Navi Pillay calling for a moratorium on flogging as a punishment for fornication and criticising the Muslim-only clause for citizenship in the Maldivian constitution have been widely condemned by religious NGOs, public officials and political parties.

Shortly after Pillay’s speech in parliament, Islamic Minister Dr Abdul Majeed Abdul Bari told local media that “a tenet of Islam cannot be changed” and flogging was a hudud punishment prescribed in the Quran (24:2) and “revealed down to us from seven heavens.”

Bari noted that article 10 of the constitution established Islam as “the basis of all the laws of the Maldives” and prohibited the enactment of any law “contrary to any tenet of Islam,” adding that the Maldives has acceded to international conventions with reservations on religious matters such as marriage equality.

In his Friday prayer sermon the following day, Bari asserted that “no international institution or foreign nation” had the right to challenge the practice of Islam and adherence to its tenets in the Maldives.

And there you go – as usual. It’s in the Quran; it can’t be changed; it was revealed. Islam is the basis of all the laws; any law contrary to any tenet of Islam is prohibited; the end. Allah said we can flog women if we want to (and that we, meaning men, are the only ones who count), so we’re going to, so shut up and go back to UNistan where you belong. By the way if you were a Maldivian we could flog you, so ha.

Meanwhile, the religious conservative Adhaalath Party issued a statement on Thursday contending that tenets of Islam and the principles of Shariah were not subject to modification or change through public debate or democratic processes.

Adhaalath Party suggested that senior government officials invited a foreign dignitary to make statements that they supported but were “hesitant to say in public.”

The party called on President Mohamed Nasheed to condemn Pillay’s statements “at least to show to the people that there is no irreligious agenda of President Nasheed and senior government officials behind this.”

The Adhaalath statement also criticised Speaker Abdulla Shahid and MPs in attendance on Thursday for neither informing Pillay that she “could not make such statements” nor making any attempt to stop her or object to the remarks.

Funny that the Adhaalath Party doesn’t seem to have read the memo about religion not being literal and being all about compassion.


  1. Randomfactor says

    They can change, or they can die out.

    Sadly, there is no third alternative. That’s what evolution is all about, Charlie Brown.

  2. Ned Champlain says

    Sounds like the Judeo-Christion bible

    Leviticus 27:34 These are the commandments, which the LORD commanded Moses for the children of Israel in mount Sinai.

  3. danielrudolph says

    And yet they ignore all sorts of stuff from the Koran (including basically everything about slavery). Give them a few decades and they’ll be claiming Mohammed didn’t really mean to beat cheating womans.

  4. Fin says

    Randomfactor, this is a quote I always think of, in relation to the growth of extremist religions:

    “If you want to know what’s shortly due for the guillotine look for the most obvious of all symptoms: extremism. It is an almost infallible sign — a kind of death-rattle — when a human institution is forced by its members into stressing those and only those factors which are identificatory, at the expense of others which it necessarily shares with competing institutions because human beings belong to all of them.”

    It’s from Stand on Zanzibar, by John Brunner, which deals with, among other things, overpopulation and the problem of differing understandings of rights when those populations are forced into intimate contact.

  5. lordshipmayhem says

    Basically, the Adhaalath Party has come out and stated that Sharia Law and Islam (at least their version of it) is incompatible with democracy.

  6. julian says


    Because respecting fellow human beings and treating them like real people is to much for a government to ask for.

  7. RaginCajun says

    It would be interesting to see a society which began with Sharia Law and how (if at all possible) it fully transitioned into a democracy. It seems like these two forms of government are completely different and are polar opposites, but under the surface they are quite similar. Sharia Law is strictly adhered from the Quran, while democracy strictly follows the constitution which was set up. Given, each constitution is written by a group of individuals and is an attempt to set up a government which will best serve its purpose for that nation.

    It seems as though any nation following Sharia Law would have too many obstacles to overcome in order to become a truly democratic society. An easier transition would be probably be to socialism or a dictatorship. Then from there to go through a revolution and form into a democracy. Which would take a decent amount of time to unfold, and could hit many bumps along the way.

  8. says

    ‘On article 9(d) of the constitution, which states “a non-Muslim may not become a citizen of the Maldives,” Pillay said the provision was “discriminatory and does not comply with international standards.”’

    I do not know of any country that denies citizenship to Muslims, even though Islam has a stated goal of world conquest. The attitude of Muslims and their political supporters to such a situation would be an entirely predictable hostility and condemnation. But at the same time, how do you take a tolerant attitude to those who want to put you down, or do you in?

    Religion is largely politics dressed up in celestial garb.

    Politics is largely about inspiring group solidarity around allocation of social privilege. But justice is largely about empathy on a scale wider than the consciousness of an individual.

    The leaders in religion and politics tend to run foul of empathy and peoples’ ideas of justice: as is happening in Syria at the moment.

    Islam is the prototype of fascism, and its most successful example to date.

  9. sailor1031 says

    @3 Danielrudolph:

    No. Give them a few decades and their stupid asses will be under water due to sea-level rising. I guess they’ll all be relocated to Saudi-Arabia when that happens…..

  10. frankb says

    Pillay giving that speech in the Maldives will hopefully be very beneficial. People heard about it and are talking about it. The leaders obviously didn’t like such ideas going around. Now people know there is an alternative.

  11. says

    Islam does allow men and women to bestoned. However if they repent in earnest they should be forgiven.
    The Holy Quran there is always room for mercy , forgiveness is better.
    May Allah bless the Maldive people.

  12. says

    It would be interesting to see a society which began with Sharia Law and how (if at all possible) it fully transitioned into a democracy.

    Well, there’s no reason why, say, Egypt couldn’t be a democracy under sharia law. A huge majority supports it! A liberal democracy is harder to imagine.

  13. julian says

    It’s not like the USA has done anything resembling an attempt at world domination.

    fyi, a lot of Ms. Benson’s readership isn’t USian nor are many of the critics of Islam she likes to quote and write about.

    Me you can totally hate on though. Enlisted and everything.

  14. says

    Oooooooh yes, James Gray, brilliant point, and well made. I say sharia is bad therefore obviously I am also claiming “we” (which somehow becomes the US) are good. QED!

  15. ema says

    Islam is evil, but we are good. Right? It’s not like the USA has done anything resembling an attempt at world domination.

    Wrong! Sharia law is bad irrespective of us/what the USA has done.

  16. Sili says

    And yet they ignore all sorts of stuff from the Koran (including basically everything about slavery).

    How so?

    I’m sure the Qu’ran has a lot say about the proper way to deal with and in slaves, but does it really say that it is necessary and mandatory to keep slaves?

  17. says

    Oh but the point isn’t saying it’s mandatory – it’s not saying it’s mandatory not to. Remember Aisha. I don’t think the Koran says it’s mandatory to marry and rape children – but it doesn’t say it’s mandatory not to, and then there’s the example of Mo, so…

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