Dr. Afrasheem Ali was controversially one of the most prominent Muslim scholars in recent history of Maldives.
His fascinating style of revealing Islam through argumentative answers lured a huge fan base, while creating an ever-growing number of hardliners hell-bent in staining his credibility and even disowning him as a Muslim.
The way Dr. Afrasheem portrayed his religious answers using critical thinking; the Quran, Sunnah of Prophet Mohamed (PBUH) and analyzing the views of major imams/scholars of Islam was astoundingly beautiful. His stunning explanations untangles many misconceptions, misunderstandings and also closes the doors to extreme thinking in the religion of Islam.
Difference between Dr. Afrasheem and existing Islamic scholars in Maldives was that his answers were not limited to a black and white line between halal and haram. His explanations dived deeper into the turbulent differential opinions of the leading Islamic scholars in debatable topics of Islam. Based on these views, the predominant view that is most harmonious with the Quran and authentic Sunnah of the prophet is presented to his audience captivated in awe to decide.
To some, he was an oasis to quest their thirst and enthusiasm for religious knowledge.
On 2 October 2012, Maldives woke up to the shocking sad news of the brutal and violent murder of Dr. Afrasheem. He was hacked to death by multiple attacks on the head and upper torso using a machete. In the record books his name will be written in blood as the first Member of Parliament to be killed in Maldives. He represented Raa Atoll Ungoofaru Constituency, in the 17th sitting of the Maldives Parliament.
The Burial service of one of the bravest Muslim scholars of Maldives was seen by Maldivian Democratic Party (MDP) and Adhaalath Party (AP) – as the opening ceremony of the blame game.
As soon as the dust settled on the grave of Dr. Afrasheem, supreme leader of MDP and former president of Maldives, Mr. Mohamed Nasheed was quick to declare that the killers have already left the country and were residing in a Middle Eastern country and that they were affiliated to the extremist elements of AP.
Sheikh Imran Abdullah the leader of AP squashed such assaults claiming MDP and Nasheed were the harshest critic of Dr. Afrasheem and thus, didn’t have any room to loosen the noose of suspicion around their necks.
How Nasheed was able to prophecies such valuable information must be considered the 8th Wonder of the world, considering the fact that the investigation of the murder of Dr. Afrasheem was carried by Maldives Police Service with close collaboration with the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) of United States.
At that time, the president in office was Dr. Mohamed Waheed Hassan Manik and his government launched the largest most intensive investigation with the highest manpower in the history of Maldives. They were vigorously looking for the perpetrators and promised to let no stone unturned in apprehending the slaughterers.
Why MDP and AP tipped the scale as prime suspects for foul play in the homicide of Dr. Afrasheem is well known by most Maldivians.
Initially it was AP members or sheikhs closely associated with AP that denounced Dr. Afrasheem as a true Muslim scholar. They went as far as nicknaming him “Ibileese”, which in English means devil.
The way Dr. Afrasheem answered religious questions was new and alien to the existing old religious scholars.
During Friday prayers, he was once verbally abused and physically assaulted while his young scared son stood crying by his side.
MDP came into a head-on collision with Dr. Afrasheem, as soon as he walked into politics.
Dr. Afrasheem became the most vehement critic of MDP and he was very outspoken about it. He even called for the investigation of Mr. Nasheed over accusation of drinking Sula Shiraz, while on a state visit to India. Drinking alcohol is haram in Islam.
When Dr. Afrasheem was appointed Vice President of Judicial Service Commission (JSC), Ms. Velezinee (Nasheed’s appointed president’s member) was accused of allegedly pushing a pencil inside her private parts and shoving it towards Dr. Afrasheem’s face. A strong MDP parliament then removed him from JSC claiming that he was destroying the judiciary.
Used engine oil referred to as “kalhu theyo” by Maldivians was thrown at his car by MDP demonstrators and his car window was also smashed in another attack by MDP demonstrators.
During live programs by Dr. Afrasheem on TV channels such as DhiTV, MDP supporters gathered outside the station protesting against him.
Rajje TV, a pro-MDP channel funded by MDP elite ran the most hostile anti Dr. Afrasheem reports and programs.
After the disputed resignation aka “coup”, Nasheed’s increased the tempo of attacks against his arch-enemy. The feeling was mutual as Dr. Afrasheem revealed that while in JSC, Nasheed ordered him to cooperate to remove Judge Abdullah Mohamed from office.
The battle progressed with attacks by Dr. Afrasheem for Nasheed’s support of Ms. Navi Pillay’s (United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights from 2008 to 2014), to her contradictory speech against Islamic Sharia and values. Verbal aggression amplified to such extents as Dr. Afraheem suggesting that Nasheed might have gone outside the boundaries of being a Muslim for his speeches against Islamic law.
Nasheed was summoned to court for his role in the kidnapping of Judge Abdullah Mohamed, and subsequently during a MDP rally in GDh. Fares Maathodaa, he got the last chance to strike the final blow in a speech reiterating his claim that it was Dr. Afrasheem who ruined the judiciary while in JSC.
Soon afterwards Dr. Afrasheem was neutralized.
Police apprehended the killer in the early stages of the investigation and identified as Mr. Hussein Humam of H. Lobby. While in police custody Humam confessed to the crime. According to Humam’s confession, he had an accomplice and a lookout placed outside Dr. Afrasheem house. The alleged accomplish and lookout were apprehended. Furthermore, two hardcore MDP activists were implicated from his story and also the high-ranking son in law of then Vice President of MDP, were arrested. Another person who acted as an agent to broker the deal was also arrested.
Even Humam later confessed in front of the judge and also asked forgiveness from Dr. Afrasheem’s family.
According to Humam, 4 million Maldivian Rufiya was proposed as the contract price to kill Dr. Afrasheem by Jaa, the son in law of MDP Vice President.
It was a planned attack and the police were unable to find enough hard evidence to convict the other arrested alleged suspects in a court of law.
Unfortunately for Humam, blood on his clothes linked him directly to Dr. Afrasheem’s murder, plus his initial confessions to police and in front of the judge was enough to guarantee a conviction.
It was much later that Mr. Abdulla Yameen Abdul Gayoom was introduced into the scene as a scapegoat by a fierce opponent. The competitive battle for the presidential ticket of 2013 from Progressive Party of Maldives (PPM), contended by Mr. Yameen and Mr. Umar Naseer, became the center stage used by Umar to hint that his challenger was somehow involved in the death.
Later Umar apologized and retracted his comments explaining it was purely for political purposes as a last-ditch effort to beat his powerful opponent.
Damage was done; accusation was enough fuel for political rivals to produce flimsy stories and unjustifiable tales to implicate Yameen.
Adding fuel to the fire, Mr. Mohamed Jameel Ahmed, who was at that time the Home Minister of Dr. Waheed’s cabinet, stated that Maldivians will be surprised if they knew who was behind the attacks. The reaction from Dr. Afrasheem’s family was unanticipated by Jameel and he was quickly forced to shamefully admit that it was just political rhetoric and apologized to the family.
These remarks provided enough breathing space for MDP and AP on whose doormat laid the bloody wreaths of suspicion. MDP propaganda machines started rolling slowly and it was in full gear by the time Yameen became president.
The final and most lethal attack was from the former Commissioner of Police Abdullah Riyaz, under whose close supervision the whole investigation was carried out. His cunning and devious statement to the effect that he will reveal the truth when the time is right was enough, to sow the seed of doubt even in diehard president Yameen’s supporters.
However, when the final verdict of the Supreme Court delivered the death sentence to Mr. Humam, unbearable pressure pressed down on Riyaz to reveal the truth.
Opposition and especially MDP supporters played the drum roll to a crescendo and when the curtain opened to the truth, it was just a ‘pop’- the soap bubble of false hope for the opposition burst into nothing.
Riyaz reluctantly admitted that president Yameen had no implication in the murder of Dr. Afrasheem.
Why any of these allegations failed to permanently dent the president’s reputation was the simple fact that the opposition could not come up with any concrete motive for their case.
Allegations such as that it was because Dr. Afrasheem had higher political ambitions does not carry any weight because even when he was given the opportunity of Deputy Leader of Z faction of DRP he said “let me be as I am”.
Another reason was that initially MDP painted a picture that the murder was by religious extremists who had gained a foothold after overthrowing Nasheed’s government. The murder was also used by Nasheed to justify and sell his version of religious extremism in Maldives.
Even though all the suspects apprehended were from MDP and the suspicious fact that Mr. Humam’s lawyer is a founder member of MDP, the highest step in the ladder of suspects, was the son in law of MDP chairperson and went no further. There is no concrete evidence that it was orchestrated by Nasheed.
From the information unearthed, the likelihood is that this was just a politically motivated revenge killing for maligning their political camp by a lone group of individuals who acted alone with no affiliation to their political party.
We may never know the real reasons why Dr. Afrasheem was killed, a wife widowed and his children orphaned or all the killers involved might never be caught and their ugly secrets might stay hidden in Dr. Afrasheem’s grave forever.
But what is most disturbing is that, Dr. Afrasheem is being politically stabbed in his grave not only by his enemies but also by his so called “friends”.