Religion in Maldives is an intriguing topic with its subtleties and peculiarities. If you are planning a vacation in this paradise country, religion will not go unnoticed. This article will not delve into the history of the emergence and spread of religion in Maldives, but it will provide useful information for tourists. Some facts will help you better prepare for your journey.
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Religion in Maldives – Islam: general information
The Maldives is a 100% Islamic country, and all citizens are Muslims.
Here are some general points to consider:
- The Islamic denomination in the Maldives is Sunni, which is one of the main and most numerous branches of Islam.
- All preachers, muezzins, and other religious officials must have special education from approved institutions.
Interesting fact:The entire population of the country is Muslim, and changing religion can lead to loss of citizenship in the Maldives.
In my personal observation, Islam in Maldives is more conservative than in Turkey, for example, where things are generally more lenient and liberal. There are more restrictions and religious prohibitions in the Maldives, despite the fact that they share the same religion.
However, tourists have nothing to fear. When I say “conservative Islam,” I do not mean an aggressive attitude towards other religions, but rather a stricter approach to oneself and the adherence to religious doctrines.
- There is an interesting article about the population on the islands, their attitude towards tourists, punctuality, and much more.
Features of Islam in Maldives
In 2011, the country’s parliament declared the dissemination and preaching of any religion other than Islam illegal in the Maldives. At the same time, this provision prohibits showing hatred towards people of other religions or those who wear other religious symbols.
What this means in practice:
- Propagation of any religion other than Islam is prohibited.
- Importing literature and religious materials that propagate other religions is prohibited. For example, a crucifix or a Bible.
How about in reality:If you bring a Bible, an icon, or a cross necklace with you on vacation, no one will do anything to you. But if you start walking down the street praising God instead of Allah, you’ll have problems. If you want to pray, do it alone in your hotel room, and you won’t have any issues.
The most important Islamic attraction in the country is the Islamic Centre in Male. A tourist’s guide to exploring Male and its sights.
What awaits tourists: restrictions and limitations on religious grounds
Since Islam is practiced in a quite radical form in the Maldives, here’s what tourists can definitely expect. Here’s a brief list of all the prohibitions and restrictions:
- Alcohol is completely prohibited. You cannot buy it in stores, bring your own, or find it on the menu in cafes and restaurants. If you are flying to a local island, be prepared that you will not have alcohol at all. If you are staying at a resort island, alcohol is sold to tourists as an exception, but it cannot be taken off the island. Here are two useful articles:
- Mosques. They exist on every local island and do not exist on resorts. Prayers take place five times a day, starting from 5 am. When looking for accommodation, try to take into account how close the mosque is and choose options that are further away..
- Pork and pork products are completely prohibited. You won’t find any pork dishes on the menu, even on resort islands. Only chicken, beef, lamb, and a lot of fish and seafood.
- Bikini beaches. You can sunbathe and swim in bikinis on resort islands anywhere. However, on local islands, you can only do this on tourist beaches called bikini beaches. It is forbidden to walk around the island in a swimsuit!!!
- Detailed information about beaches and beach holidays in the Maldives.
- Friday is a day off. Resting is not a problem, as shops and restaurants are open. However, the biggest problem is for tourists who arrive and depart to the Maldives on Fridays. Ferries and even private speedboats between islands do not operate on this day. There is a high chance of getting stuck in Male until Saturday.
Travel tips about religion in Maldives
In fact, when it comes to religion in Maldives, tourists have nothing to worry about. They are welcome here, and there is no hint of aggression towards them from the locals, nor do they stare at women.
Although religion requires women to cover their shoulders, head, and knees, no one looks at tourists disapprovingly. The main thing is not to walk around the city in swimwear. Remember: swimwear is only for the beach. Outside the beach, you can wear shorts and a T-shirt, but not bikinis.
Good to know:An attentive reader may have noticed that there are fewer restrictions on resort islands. Alcohol is allowed, there are no mosques, and you can swim in a bikini on any beach. Yes, that’s right. But vacationing on resorts is much more expensive than on local islands.
You can get to a resort by purchasing a package tour. Such a vacation is 3-5 times more expensive. If your budget allows and you are willing to spend $5,000 or more on your vacation, then I recommend this article: tour packages from London to the Maldives.
- For those with a limited budget, read this article: how to go to the Maldives independently or how to have a cheap vacation in paradise.
In conclusion, the religion in Maldives is Islam, but tourists don’t need to worry about it. Many things related to religious issues, you may not even notice. Perhaps the biggest inconvenience for those vacationing on local islands is the five-minute daily call to prayer before sunrise, the sounds of which are heard from the minaret throughout the island, and the complete absence of alcohol.
Resources to help you plan your dream trip to the Maldives