In a revolutionary move, Ministry of Islamic Affairs has announced it will outsource Friday Prayer and Eid Prayer leading on contract basis. Up to now these prayers were conducted by imams employed by the Ministry, who have now been given notice.
The Ministry has not revealed the details of the bidding procedure, or how the bids will be evaluated. However it is likely that the Ministry will employ a prequalification process. Permanent Secretary Mohammed Didi indicated this when he said 'capable' imams will be selected. Even though Didi did not spell out what he meant by 'capable,' Shaikh Ibrahim Fareed should not be very surprised if he does not find his name in the list of 'capable' people.
As of now it is unclear whether the bidding is open to foreign imams from countries like Saudi Arabia and Egypt, who will face difficulty in reading the Dhivehi parts of the sermons. However, this should not preclude them totally, as it can be circumvented by using Arabic transliteration. With transliteration they would do considerably better than Maldivian imams of the Latin Khutuba era.
For those not familiar with 'Latin Khutuba,' a little explanation may be in order. During the 1970s President Ibrahim Nasir abolished Thaana script and replaced it with Latin script (basically the English alphabet.) As a consequence, Friday sermons were also changed to Latin script. Old imams had difficulty reading the sermons and some could not finish even by Asuru Prayer.
[For details of the news in Dhivehi click here]