The constitution states Islam is the state religion and citizens shall draw the state’s governing principles and rules from Islamic tenets. It proclaims equality of rights and obligations for all individuals regardless of religion or belief. A law regulating religious practices establishes the Sunni Shafi’i doctrine as the only allowable religious practice in the country and provides sanctions for any other religious practice on the grounds of avoiding social unrest and the undermining of national cohesion and unity. The government states it ratified the law due to fears of religious radicalization.
Proselytizing for any religion except Islam is illegal, and the law provides for deportation of foreigners who do so. The law provides for prosecution of converts from Islam, but penalties are ill defined.
The law does not require religious groups to be licensed, registered, or officially recognized. The law allows organized Sunni religious groups to establish places of worship, train clergy, and assemble for peaceful religious activities. It does not allow non-Sunni Muslim citizens to establish places of worship or assemble for peaceful religious activities.
By law the president nominates the grand mufti, the senior Muslim cleric, who is part of the government and manages issues concerning religion and religious administration. The grand mufti’s position is attached to the Ministry of Justice, Public Service, Administrative Reforms, Human Rights, and Islamic Affairs, and he counsels the government on matters concerning the practice of Islam and Islamic law. The grand mufti chairs and periodically consults with the Council of Ulemas, a group of elders cited in the constitution, to assess whether citizens are respecting the principles of Islam. The grand mufti regularly addresses the country on the radio, applying Islamic principles to social issues such as delinquency, alcohol abuse, marriage, divorce, and education.
The law requires children between the ages of three and six to attend Quranic schools, either private or government-run, to instill moral, cultural, and Islamic values and to familiarize the child with the Arabic language. There are no penalties prescribed for failing to send children to these schools. There is no other provision for religious education in public schools. The government does not require the children of foreigners to receive Islamic instruction or Arabic language training.