The Adhaalath Party on Sunday called for respect of differing opinions on matters where there is a lack of consensus among religious scholars, after local clerics strongly opposed the nomination of two female judges to the Supreme Court.
The religious conservative party, which is part of the Maldivian Democratic Party-led ruling coalition, released a six-page statement regarding its stance, backing an opinion issued by the Fatwa Council last month which held that Islam prohibits women from serving as judges.
But the Adhaalath Party acknowledged the lack of consensus on the question.
“On matters that is validly contested among scholars, there is no room to believe that the opinion one favours is the only (right) view, and that those with differing views are lacking in faith or religion or a disbeliever or a person challenging or disbelieving Islamic shariah. And we must refrain from saying so,” it advised.
Islamic shariah advises respecting differing views and trying to “reach the truth” based on the Quran, the prophet’s teaching and the consensus of clerics. A person who endorses an incorrect opinion should not be considered a sinner, it added.
The party called on the public and scholars in particular to refrain from inciting hatred and sowing discord.
“Islamic Shariah is divine law revealed by Allah. Shariah does not have to satisfy the whims of the people, or popularity among people at a certain time, nor the approval of people from a certain place,” it said.
The Adhaalath Party’s coalition partner meanwhile praised President Ibrahim Mohamed Solih’s decision. The ruling Maldivian Democratic Party said it did not believe appointing female judges contravenes any tenet of Islam.
Female judges serve on the bench in several Muslim-majority countries, the MDP noted.
“More than half of Maldives population consists of women. This party does not believe that we can build the country while marginalising women in professional fields. Women, like men, must have the right to have a say and make decisions in economic and social matters,” it said.
“One of the most basic principles of this party is that a person’s gender must not be a barrier to doing the kind of work that the person desires.”
MDP MPs echoed the statement at Monday’s sitting of parliament after Independent MP Mohamed Nasheed Abdulla submitted a motion without notice condemning the imminent appointments.
The ruling party’s lawmakers, who comprise a three-quarters majority of the 87-member house, voted to accept the motion and open the floor for a debate. During the debate, MDP MPs lambasted the Nolhivaram MP who submitted the motion and accused of him misogyny. Female judges have been serving on the bench since 2007, some MPs noted.
“I want to say start getting used to it. Get ready for it. Women will reach the point where they rule the Maldives,” said MP Eva Abdulla.