Ruqya to be regulated in Maldives

Commissioner of Human Rights Commission (HRC) of Maldives, Dr. Ahmed Adham Abdulla and commission members, Aminath Shifaath Abdul Razzaq, Moomina Waheed | Photo: HRCM

Malé, Maldives – The Human Rights Commission of Maldives (HRCM) held discussions amongst various authorities of the state to regulate the practice of ruqya in the Maldives, in response to rising numbers of cases involving abuse under the guise of treatment.

Ruqya refers to an Islamic practice that involves the recitation of the holy Quran and Hadith, as a spiritual remedy for certain types of illness.

HRCM has conferred with the Gender Ministry, Islamic Ministry as well as the Police, in an effort to monitor and draw attention to issues related to the ruqya practitioners and methodology.

Speaking to a local media outlet, HRCM member Aminath Shifaath Abdul Razzaq stated that by creating and enforcing standard regulations, the state could potentially decrease the trickery and harm caused by false practioners.

Some of the cases presented to this Commission reveal that ‘ruqya’ was performed on kids and women in order to abuse them. In addition to this, other social issues, such as the desecration of graves, have also been reported.

Member of HRCM, Aminath Shifaath Abdul Razzaq

Over the last decade, the issue of persons taking advantage of others in the name of rugya has been highlighted as a major concern on many occasions by various civil society organizations, human rights watchdogs, and gender advocates. In such cases, the victims are typically women and children who often also face sexual assault in the process.

Most recently, in December 2020, significant public outcry resulted from a case involving a woman and her three daughters, all of whom suffered psychological, physical, and sexual abuse whilst being locked up in a house for three months, under the impression they were being subject to ‘ruqya treaments’.