Former President Maumoon Abdul Gayoom, on Tuesday, proclaimed that Maldivians who participate in the civil wars of other countries cannot be considered 'jihadists'.
Speaking about ‘Islam and Jihad’ at the Maumoon Foundation’s Ihya Programme at which Vice President Faisal Naseem and several ministers were present, the former president stated that ‘jihad’ means defending one’s country and religion while in one’s own country, and therefore Maldivians battling in other countries cannot be considered as such.
Currently, a significant number of Maldivians are fighting in the civil conflict in Syria. While several of the insurgents travelled to Syria with their families, casualties of war among them have resulted in many orphaned children and widows. Various individuals have contacted the authorities, requesting to return to Maldives.
With regards to the situation, Gayoom stated, “Going to jihad is obligatory only when an Islamic country is being invaded and attacked by non-Muslims. Initiating conflict is not permitted in Islam, neither is waging war on a peaceful country”.
“Every Muslim can go to jihad in their own country. If an enemy country were to attack us, we would be obligated to defend ourselves, our country and our religion”.
He also mentioned the strict guidelines which must be followed even in jihad, such as the prohibition of harming those who are not part of the battle, such as the elderly, the sick, women and children.
Gayoom further stressed the importance of following these rules even in today’s progressive society as Islam is a sacred religion bestowed upon humanity by Allah.