The Adhaalath Party enjoyed some support when it was first formed, probably for the melodramatic anti-Gayoom rants by its scholars thrown at a populace fed up of nearly three decades of the dictatorship. But the novelty wore off as Adhaalath slowly settled down to its staple themes of misogyny and women's clothing. It is said that no Adhaalath meeting takes place without a mention of the buruga.
But the democratic mood sweeping across the nation was at odds with the Adhaalath ideology. Women were an active, integral part of the demonstrations against Gayoom, and gender discrimination was slowly evaporating from the legislature. Despite vehement opposition by the Adhaalath Party and the MDP's own resident misogynist BA Ahmed Naseem, the constitution was amended to allow women not only to take up the post of magistrate but also the top job itself.
Finding itself increasingly out of touch in the shifting social and political dynamics, Adhaalath was silenced for a while. But the party soon started to tread on trickier ground by criticising Hassan Saeed's book Apostasy and Islam, even as its scholars failed to argue convincingly against the principal premise of that academic work. Having lost the argument, there was a point when Adhaalath was even supporting Saeed for president, before migrating to the Republican Party and all the money that the endorsement entailed.
However, with the opening up of the media and greater audience interaction, scholars of the Adhaalath Party found itself embroiled in yet another crisis. On their live shows, orrdinary citizens were irreverently questioning their positions and openly expressing contempt. The Party, which for so long had exploited people's fear and ignorance of religion, was not in the habit of having to provide evidence for its sweeping statements.
But their biggest defeat came when they challenged Gayoom in the Supreme Court with claims that the dictator was not a Sunni Muslim and, therefore, ineligible to run for office. Liberal scholars in Gayoom's payroll, however, easily tore into the arguments of Adaalath's Hussein Rasheed Ahmed and Abdul Majeed Bari. An observer remarked: "They didn't have either the academic background or the debating power to argue against Gubaad Abu Bakur and Afrasheem Ali." Fortunately for Adhaalath, their humiliating defeat was not publicised too much.
The Adhaalath Party was subjected to further ridicule when it stated its reason for endorsing the Republican Party. Gasim Ibrahim, they claimed, had demonstrated that he could "control" four wives and, therefore, could run a country. In the event, the Adhalath's professed influence over the electorate was not so great after all; Gasim secured less votes than Hassan Saeed in the first round of elections.
With the formation of the coalition, the MDP have unwittingly inherited the Adhaalath Party. Although the support of the religious conservatives may serve as a useful counter-argument to Gayoom's allegations that the opposition party is Christian, MDP insiders are saying the Adhaalath Party is more a headache than a blessing.
While the MDP want to be seen as a champion of democracy and human rights, they also want the conservative vote. Maintaining a balance can be challenging and Adhaalath are not helping with their persistent and, unconstitutional, rhetoric.
Abdul Majeed Abdul Bari recently said that women can be teachers, doctors and counsellors but not the leader of a country because "it is directly against Islam". But a position paper presented by the government of Saudi Arabia at the UN Conference on women in Beijing in 1996 stated that: "There is absolutely nothing in the Quran which directly or indirectly forbids a woman to become the head of a state, or even suggests that she is essentially incompetent for the position."
The Adhaalath Party are also unable to keep quiet about the role they think they will have in a future government. The MDP have pledged to create an independent council of Islamic affairs and the Adhaalath Party obviously want to head that body. But the Adhaalath's vision of the council may differ to MDP's.
The religious conservative party in 2006 called for a free and independent scholars council "that has priority over all the powers of the state." Moreover, the party's Abdul Majeed Abdul Bari has said that he supports the direct implementation of "hadd" punishments under Shariah Law, including the death penalty for apostasy if the person in question fails to re-convert.
But Maldivians have historically opposed "hadd" punishment and the death penalty. Indeed, no such punishment has been carried out in the country since the 1950s. The Maldives can also boast of having had one of first Islamic heads of state in the world, several centuries ago.
But a group of failed, incompetent misogynists is now vying to turn the clock back. They have shown that they will sleep with anyone to reclaim a position of power in the new government.
Where political prostitution goes the Adhaalath Party is the biggest slut in the Maldives.