The Maldives consists of 1,192 coral islands spread across an area of approximately 500 square miles in the Indian Ocean. The constitution states that “a non-Muslim may not become a citizen of the Maldives”. It is not clear whether a citizen who leaves Islam would have their citizenship revoked.

The Maldives’ tiny Christian population consists mainly of migrant workers from India and Sri Lanka, as well as a few indigenous converts who must live as secret believers or face reprisals both from the state and from their family and former friends.

Propagation of any religion other than Islam is a criminal offence, punishable by a prison sentence of up to five years. Maldivian Christians found with a Bible in their home also face imprisonment.

Minaret of Grand Friday Mosque in Malé

All non-Muslim worship is completely forbidden. According to Maldivian law, “Non-Muslims living in or visiting the country are prohibited from openly expressing their religious beliefs, holding public congregations to conduct religious activities or involving Maldivians in such activities.” Visitors who break the law can be fined, deported or imprisoned for up to five years.

The country’s constitution states that “no law contrary to any tenet of Islam shall be enacted in the Maldives” and, in 2016, the government passed a Defamation and Freedom of Speech Act, which criminalised comments against “any tenet of Islam”. Anyone convicted faces a fine that can be as high as 5 million rufiyaa (around £270,000; $324,000; €313,000) and those unable to pay can be imprisoned for three to six months.

In July 2021 the Maldives Customs Service announced an investigation into increased incidents of Christian literature, including portions of Scripture, in the Maldivian language of Dhivehi being sent by post from abroad. Customs officials believe that the intended recipients had not requested the items, and closed the investigation six months later.


Intercede for Christians in the Maldives, especially converts from Islam, asking that the Lord will sustain them in their faith despite the challenges they face. Pray that, if the Lord wills, limits on religious freedom will come to an end.