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  • Sri Lanka has locked up this Muslim lawyer without charge for nearly five months
    The prominent Sri Lankan Muslim lawyer, Hejaaz Hizbullah, is being described by human rights groups as the latest victim of Sri Lanka’s draconian Prevention of Terrorism Act.

    On April 14, Hizbullah, 40, got a call from the Ministry of Health saying they were worried he may have contracted COVID-19 and advised him to remain at home.

    A day earlier he and others had written to the Sri Lankan president about his government’s decision to ban Muslims from burying their dead, forcing them to cremate their remains instead – a violation of their right to freedom of religion, as protected by Sri Lanka’s constitution and its international obligations.

    Hejaaz Hizbullah was a lawyer at the Supreme Court and worked as a state counsel for the Attorney General’s department. Beyond his legal work, he was involved...
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  • “කවදා හෝ යුක්තිය ඉටුවේයැ’යි බලාපොරොත්තු සහගතව ජීවිතය ගෙවනවා විනා වෙන කිසිවක් කළ නොහැකි වීම ගැන මට ඇත්තේ නොදැරිය හැකි වේදනාවකි”: මගේ මල්ලි හිජාස්
    හිජාස් හිස්බුල්ලා මගේ බාල සොහොයුරා ය. අගෝස්තු 25 වැනි දිනට එළඹුණු ඔහුගේ 40 වැනි උපන්දිනය ඔහුට ගත කිරීමට සිදු වුයේ පාස්කු ඉරිදා ත්‍රස්තවාදී ප්‍රහාරයට සම්බන්ධ බවට අභූත චෝදනා එල්ල කරමින් අයුතු ලෙස අත්තඩංගුවට පත්ව අපරාධ පරීක්ෂණ දෙපාර්තමේන්තුවේ රැඳවුම් භාරයේදී ය. හිජාස් පිළිබඳව මට ඇති පැරණිතම මතකයන් අතර බොහොමයක් කළුබෝවිල සිට...
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  • Hejaaz Detention: Fort Magistrate Orders CID To Submit All Statements Obtained In Investigations


    Following submissions by Defence Counsel that the Criminal Investigations Department is selectively reporting facts to the Magistrate in order to malign Hejaaz Hizbullah, Fort Magistrate today ordered the Criminal Investigations Department to submit a report of all statements obtained by them from persons relating to the investigations of Hizbullah.
    When the case was taken up today. Counsel for the Defence informed Court that the Criminal Investigations Department had obtained statements from all persons of the Save the Pearls Charity and the Teachers and Board of Management of the Al-Zuhriya Madarasa.

    However, none of those statements had been produced to date.
    They said that the statements would reveal that all the allegations made by the CID are a fabrication and were made in order to malign Hizbullah and...
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  • Hejaaz Hizbullah: Symptom and symbol
    What made him more enigmatic was that unlike most others in his profession who shield their lives beneath a calm facade, he taught exceptionally well Apparently he called the Easter attackers “fools who died as fools.” I can picture Hejaaz saying that   There’s an image of Hejaaz Hizbullah I return to over and over again. It’s an image of him holding a placard at a protest in 2018. The placard reads, “Asilachaara parliamenthuwak wenuwata seelachara parliamenthuwak” (“A cultured parliament in place of an uncultured parliament”). The reason why it resonates with me is that, even in the ecstatic way he holds it, he is quite unlike the Hejaaz Hizbullah I once knew. But then I realise that the Hejaaz I once knew couldn’t have been the real guy. 
    I first encountered the man in 2013 at my law school. He didn’t...
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  • Niqab Ban In France Violates Human Rights Of Muslim Women: UN Human Rights Committee
    The United Nations Human Rights Committee said France’s niqab ban violates the human rights of Muslim women and risks “confining them to their homes.” Women in France can be fined up to 150 euros for wearing the niqab, a full-face...
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  • Rathana At It Again; ACJU Is The Punching Bag For Everyone
    By Mass L. Usuf Mass Usuf Let this column begin with a Disclaimer. It is only an analysis and the writer is not holding a brief to defend or protect the All Ceylon Jamiyathul Ulema (
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  • Democracy Threatened: Impunity, Political Patronage & Rollback Of Devolution
    By S. Ratnajeevan H. Hoole – R. Sasilan: Assistant Commissioner of Elections Today we are opening new living quarters for our Election Commission’s man-in-charge in Batticaloa. I am so glad because R. Sasilan is a man I am proud of. He stands up for what is right without fear or favor. When a minister distributed gifts in elections some years ago, he confiscated a gift pack and filed a complaint with the police. The police, as often happens, disappeared the evidence. Sasilan sent a report to the Commission and that too disappeared....
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  • Coronavirus funerals: Sri Lanka's Muslims decry forced cremation
      Image copyrightEPA Image captionSri Lankan Muslim women wait for a Covid-19 test. Some in the community are fighting cremation rules Sri Lankan authorities are insisting on cremation for coronavirus victims - a practice forbidden by Islam. The nation's minority Muslim community says they are using the pandemic to discriminate, writes BBC Sinhala's Saroj Pathirana. On 4 May, Fathima Rinoza, a 44-year-old mother of three from Sri Lanka's minority Muslim population, was admitted to hospital with a suspected case of Covid-19. Fathima, who lived in the Sri Lankan capital, Colombo, had been suffering from respiratory problems and the authorities feared she had caught the virus. On the day she was admitted to hospital, the family was "set upon" by the authorities, her husband Mohamed Shafeek said. "The police and military along with...
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  • ජිනීවා මානව හිමිකම් කවුන්සිලයේදී රටවල් 5කින් ලංකාවට චෝදනා
    පාස්කු ප්‍රහාර සම්බන්ධයෙන් සැකපිට අත්අඩංගුවට ගෙන සිටින නීතිඥ හිජාස් හිස්බුල්ලා රඳවා තබාගැනීම, විශේෂ බළකායේ සැරයන් සුනිල් රත්නායකට ජනාධිපති සමාව ලබාදීම ඇතුළු කරුණු ගණනාවක් පදනම් කරගනිමින් එක්සත් රාජධානිය ඇතුළු රටවල් 5ක කණ්ඩායමක් එක්සත් ජාතීන්ගේ මානව හිමිකම් කවුන්සිලයේදී ශ්‍රී ලංකාවට චෝදනා එල්ල කර ඇතැයි ජිනීවා තානාපති...
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This could be your last Ramadaan

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REMEMBER the beginning of Ramadan last year: the festive supermarkets with their jampacked aisles, the makeshift roadside stalls outside restaurants selling crisp sambusas and subiya, the sounds of Adhan emanating from Masajid...

My house overlooked a Maghsalat-Al-Amwaat Al-Khairiyyah (a charitable organization which prepares bodies for burial in the Islamic manner), and as I walked home from the neighborhood supermarket laden with packages of food and other essentials in preparation of the next day’s fast, I caught sight of a family accompanying a bier in a hearse. The women huddled together, sobbing quietly, while the men stood at a distance in somber silence.

It struck me: While I was going home to the comfort of my home and the company of my family, this person was being dispatched alone, to answer the stern questioning of the grave. While I would be given the opportunity to fast and perform other deeds as Allah willed, this person, who had been given the same opportunity in past years, had been deprived of it this year.

Our Imam and Khateeb, may Allah preserve him, used to remind the congregants of the favors of Allah in allowing us to witness yet another Ramadan, by contrasting our state with those of the people of the graves, who would gladly give the world and all that is in it if they could, in lieu of the chance to worship Allah a little more, to add the tiniest good deeds to their scale that would enable them to draw closer to Paradise and take them further away from the Fire.

In a khutbah, Imam Abdul Bari Al-Thubayti, may Allah preserve him, said: “Whoever remembers death frequently is honored with three things: hastening towards repentance, contentment and energy in performing acts of worship; and whoever forgets death is punished with three things: delaying repentance, lack of contentedness and laziness in acts of worship.”

With disturbing reports of the MERS virus and the resultant panic pouring in from all over the world, it is no wonder that our thoughts naturally turn to death and dying.

Unlike some belief systems which consider the contemplation of death “inauspicious” or “macabre”, Muslims are encouraged to regularly remind themselves and others about the inevitable end of life, and what awaits a person in the Hereafter.

The Prophet once stood at the edge of a grave and called out to his Companions: “O my brothers! For this, prepare yourselves.” (Ibn Majah) and in another narration, he said: “O people! Remember often the destroyer of pleasures: death.” (Al-Tirmidhi, An-Nasa’i, Ibn Majah)

Once a man asked the Prophet , “Who is the wisest among the people, O Messenger of Allah?” He replied: “The one who remembers death most often and the one who is best prepared to meet it. These are the truly wise, honored in this life and distinguished in the Hereafter.” (Ibn Majah, Al-Tabarani).

The remembrance of death acquires a special significance with the advent of Ramadan, since it is the season of Hope and Blessings and an opportunity to earn innumerable rewards that can be reaped eternally, which is open to everyone equally.

Yet, many of us greet Ramadan with a sense of complacent déjà vu, a “been-there, done-that” lassitude, that could cost us dearly. Let’s face it: for many of us Ramadan has turned into a time for socializing with friends and extended family, spending hours preparing and sampling traditional dishes, watching TV sitcoms from Iftar to Isha – to the extent that we even spend the precious nights of Ramadan in auto-pilot mode, performing our prayers perfunctorily before hitting the supermarkets, malls, coffee shops and Internet cafes to shop or while the night away.

Somewhere at the back of our minds is the assurance that there’s always next year – or a succession of years – to count on, when we will magically have the “Ramadan of our dreams” with plenty of time to read the Qur’an, stand in prayer at night, seek forgiveness in the early morning hours, serve the ailing and poor, be hospitable to our neighbors and friends.

However, the sad truth is that as the years pass by, our energy and health dissipates and our responsibilities and distractions increase exponentially, distancing us from the mirage of the perfect Ramadan even further... until it may be too late.

The Prophet advised us: “Hasten to do good deeds before you become busy. Are you waiting for such straitened circumstances which will make you unmindful of devotion? Or such prosperity which will make you corrupt? Or such disease which will disable you? Or such senility which will make you mentally unstable? Or sudden death? Or the Dajjaal (Anti-Christ), who is the worst apprehended (sign of the Hou r)? Or (are you waiting) for the Hour? That will be most grievous and bitter.” (Al-Tirmidhi)

We have no guarantees that we will live to see another Ramadan, let us seize each blessing with eagerness and each opportunity to earn rewards with enthusiasm, to make this the best Ramadan of our lives.

Rahla Khan

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