Interesting facts I discovered as a muslim traveling to Maldives

Maybe I was living under a rock, but somehow I had never heard that Maldives was a muslim country, until it was time to plan my trip! Well, it’s not entirely my fault. Thanks to the tourist industry, the images you conjure of Maldives are islands, white beaches and people sunbathing and that’s true for most of the tourist islands but not so much for the locals.

The Republic Square

Here are 5 interesting facts I discovered about Islam in Maldives during my trip.

1) The Republic of Maldives is a South Asian island country with Islam is the official religion. It has been a muslim country since the 12th century AD after a mass conversion from Buddhism. Although there are alternative accounts but the most probable seems to be that the then Buddhist king converted to Islam influenced by the moroccan traveler Abul Barakat whose tomb stands to this day in the capital city of Malé.

Old Friday mosque of Malé made of Porites coral boulders – a unique example of sea culture architecture

2) Salafi Islam. The above said tomb is locked and bolted from the outside. Our tour guide informed us that it had become a place of veneration since a long time and people would go there for prayers – a practice that is common in the Indian subcontinent but not considered a part of Islam by many scholars. However, since a few years this practice was banned. Online sources claim that these changes occurred after the 2004 tsunami due to an influx of Salafi preachers from Saudi Arabia which led to the gaining of salafi ideology (i.e. Ideolgy which follows the teachings of the Prophet, his companions and the early scholars )

3) The full veil for women is common. The moment we landed on the airport, I saw a lot of ground staff were young girls in their hijaabs. And a variety of styles at that too! I did come across a few women on the island who wore the niqaab or face veil. As a woman who wears it herself, it was indeed liberating to know that I could practice this just like back home without facing skeptic glances and stares from every other person who passes by.

The friendly locals. Pic credit: VisitMaldives.com

4) No alcohol in Male, the capital island and most other local islands are completely dry. An exception of hotel at the airport and the resorts are another story.

5) You don’t need to worry about halal food. We enjoyed eating non-vegetarian, something we can’t always do when traveling in addition to the delicious Maldivian cuisine which of course features a lot of seafood especially local tuna. The cuisine was quite close and pleasing to the Indian palette.

A typical Maldivian Thaali with different curries made with the local spices

As we spent a lot of time in Malé, soaking in the culture, some of my best memories of the trip are made of chatting with the locals and learning so much about their lives. I was very happy to meet my brothers and sisters in Islam.

Masjid-e-Sultan, The Islamic Center and the Grand Friday Mosque of Male’

12 thoughts on “Interesting facts I discovered as a muslim traveling to Maldives

  1. The Hooyo Blog Reply

    Lovely post! I also only recently found out it was a Muslim country too 🙈 I’ve learnt a lot more about the Maldives now, thanks to you! Xx

  2. Nazima Reply

    Wow never knew all of this about Maldives!! It is on my list of dream places to go!! Inshallah one day I get to visit.

  3. Nida Reply

    OMG Maldives is an island where I have been wanting to go for my honey moon before I had gotten married but unfortunately, was not meant to go. But it is one place I do intend to visit inshaAllah. A friend of mine went for her honeymoon and I loved the pictures she took. It is mesmerizing. Thank you for this post. I love this place even more because it is owned by Muslims and has mosques so entire feel is home mashaAllah.

  4. Nasra Sharif Reply

    I love this post, I knew Maldives is a Muslim country. I found out a few years ago and was quite shocked, just as you thought the images of the beach country and how it advertised to us says otherwise. But I have always wanted to go. And your post now makes me more determined. The country sounds beautiful, and looks amazing. Knowing that the locals wear hijab also puts my heart at easy, because those skeptic glances and stares really do get annoying. In Sha Allah I get to visit very soon.

    xoxo
    http://www.twemtyfivestar.com

    • ayesha Post authorReply

      Glad you liked the post. Hope you have a great trip soon, bi iznillah 🙂

  5. Farah Abdullah Reply

    Oooooohhh hubby said he will take me there someday, In shaa’ Allah. Have some stuff to ask you… will either PM on facebook u or email you for this 🙂

    • ayesha Post authorReply

      sure! I would be happy to help if I can.. shoot me an email at aysh.alyousuf @gmail.com

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