The Fiqh academy of Maldives has flagged the promotion of black magic and sorcery in local media, warning that it could “lead the people away from Islam.”
The statement comes after opposition figures linked uprooting of old trees at the Republic square and removal of the republic monument in Malè to President Abdulla Yameen’s alleged fear of sorcery. The government has declined to comment on the issue.
“Some recent media reports have been encouraging people to use sorcery. This might lead the people away from the path of the Islam,” the academy said in a statement.
Seeking help from a sorcerer is prohibited in Islam, the Fiqh academy noted, urging the public to refrain from engaging practitioners of black magic.
Belief in sorcery and black magic, known locally as fanditha or sihuru, is common and widespread in the Maldives.
The Fiqh academy was established during the administration of former President Mohamed Nasheed in 2010. The academy’s mandate includes resolving differences of opinion and disputes on religious issues.
The academy has issued fatwas (legal opinions) on abortion, kosher meals, marriage of inmates, Muslims visiting temples, taxation, and life insurance.
The last person to be judicially executed in the Maldives, Hakim Didi, was killed by firing squad in 1953 after being found guilty of conspiracy to murder using black magic.
Didi’s daughter, Dhondidi, was also sentenced in 1993 for performing sorcery on behalf of the former President Maumoon Abdul Gayoom’s brother-in-law Ilyas Ibrahim, in his bid to win the 1993 presidential election.
In January 2012, local NGO Jamiyyathul Salaf called on the authorities to enact legislation to make sorcery or black magic illegal in Maldives.
Salaf’s calls followed the brutal stabbing of a 76-year-old man on Kudahuvadhoo in Dhaalu atoll, which was blamed on sorcery.
In 2009, parents on the island of Maamendhoo in Laamu atoll accused an islander of practicing sorcery on school girls to induce fainting spells and hysteria, which led to a police investigation.
In 2011, the Islamic Foundation of the Maldives (IFM) conducted a certificate level course on incantations, teaching the participants “spiritual healing” and how to cure diseases using “incantation”.