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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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  • මුස්ලිම් නීතිඥයාට එරෙහිව 'ත්‍රස්ත සාක්කි' ගෙතූ රහස් පොලිසියට විනිසුරු විරෝධය

      පාස්කු බෝම්බ ප්‍රහාරයට සම්බන්ධ යැයි ජනමාධ්‍ය මගින් ප්‍රචාරය කරමින් ත්‍රස්තවාදය වැළැක්වීමේ පනත යටතේ අත්අඩංගුවට ගනු ලැබු මුස්ලිම් ජාතික නීතිඥවරයකුට එරෙහිව ව්‍යාජ සාක්ෂි ගෙතීමට රහස් පොලිසිය විසින් දරණ ලද උත්සාහයක් විනිසුරුවරයකුගේ මැදිහත්වීම නිසා ව්‍යර්ථ වී තිබේ.

    නීතිඥ හිජාස් ඕමර් හිස්බුල්ලාහ් රඳවා...
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  • Gnanasara Thero Once Again Inciting Sinhalese Against Muslims
    Malicious campaign pushing discriminated and frustrated Muslims to wall Few weeks ago Ven Galagoda Atte Gnanasara Thero, known for inciting Sinhalese and unleashing violence against Muslims, said he would dissolve his organisation Bodu Bala Sena as it has achieved its target of setting up a Sinhala Buddhist government without minority support. Latheef Farook Following the election of the present government to power on 15 November 2019, he was rather quiet. Now that the parliamentary election is forthcoming, he has started his campaign once again pitting the Sinhalese against Muslims.There were reports that during the presidential elections in November 2019 Buddhist monks and temples were used to demonize Muslims to win Sinhala votes assuring security. As part of this campaign to win Sinhala votes, he attempted to brand as extremist, several...
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  • Hejaaz: A lawyer for all seasons

    A year has passed since the deadly Easter Sunday attacks in Sri Lanka. Victims, survivors, and the general public still await answers. Amidst these desperate demands for accountability, Hejaaz Hizbullah, a prominent Muslim lawyer, is suddenly – and most unexpectedly – arrested and detained.

    I met Hejaaz during the first-ever debating tournament I participated in. He led the team from S. Thomas’ College, Mount Lavinia, and I represented St. Joseph’s College, Colombo. Our teams made it to the finals that year. I recall Hejaaz as a fierce competitor with the rare gift for conveying an argument with charisma and conviction. He also had a great sense of humour, taking friendly banter in good spirit. The Thomians triumphed that year, and deservedly so.

    What strikes me now is...
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  • Muslim writer in jail for 60 days without "explicit evidence"
    A group of activists in Sri Lanka has called upon the government for the unconditional release of a Muslim writer who has been held in detention for more than
    sixty days without “explicit evidence being produced”.

    In a letter to the Human Rights Commission of Sri Lanka (HRCSL) the Sinhala, Tamil and Muslim activists say that Ramzy Razeek arrested on April 09 for allegedly violating the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (ICCPR) and Cyber Crimes Legislation has also been denied medical treatment and legal access in detention.

    “Despite orders from the Magistrate to allow him access to medicine, reliable sources state that his health condition is deteriorating due to lack of access to specific medicines of which he is in dire need. A lawyer attempting to visit Razeek this week, was also denied...
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  • அடையாள அணிவகுப்புக்கு முன் ஹிஜாஸின் அடையாளத்தைக் காட்ட சிஐடியினர் முயற்சித்தார்கள்
    இரு சிறுவர்களிடமிருந்தும் வாக்குமூலம் பெறுவதற்கு முன்னர் சிஐடியினர் தனது அறையில் வைத்து ஹிஜாஸ் ஹிஸ்புல்லாஹ்வின் புகைப்படத்தை அவர்களுக்குக் காண்பிப்பதற்கு முயற்சித்தார்கள் என கோட்டை நீதவான் ரங்க திசாநாயக்க தெரிவித்துள்ளார்.

    புத்தளம் மத்ரஸாவொன்றின் மாணவர்களுக்கு தீவிரவாதத்தைப் போதித்தார் என சிஐடியினர்...
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  • CID attempted to show photograph of Hejaaz to children before ID parade: Fort Magistrate
    Fort Magistrate Ranga Dissanayaka said in open court that officers of the Criminal Investigations Department (CID) had attempted to show photographs of Hejaaz Hizbullah at his chambers prior to the recording of statements from two children.

    When the matter was taken up before Dissanayake on 24 June, he told Hizbullah’s lawyers that prior to the recording of the statements from the two children, this attempt had been made: “I want to reveal this. The CID officers tried to show pictures and I had to tell them to leave the Chamber.”

    Two children had made “voluntary statements” on 12 May to the Magistrate on camera regarding Hizbullah. An identification parade was to be held including Hizbullah with 10 children being summoned as witnesses to identify Hizbullah.

    Nawarathna Bandara PC, appearing with Harshana...
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  • Magistrate disallows ID parade for detained lawyer
    Counsel for Hejaaz Hizbullah objects to ID parade Says children lined up to identify suspect have been shown his photograph during questioning Magistrate uploads objections, fixes 1 July for next hearing Fort Magistrate Ranga Dissanayake yesterday disallowed the Police from presenting detained attorney Hejaaz Hizbullah for an identification parade after counsel for the suspect objected to the move. Hejaaz Hizbullah   President’s Counsel Wasantha Navaratne Bandara, who appeared for Hizbullah, said that the 10 children lined up to identify the suspect have been shown his photograph by the Police when they recorded a statement from them, and hence objected to holding the identification parade.

    CID officers who appeared in Court however...
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Police curfew in Aluthgama

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Police curfew has been imposed in the Aluthgama police area with immediate effect after tense situation in the area-police said

http://www.dailymirror.lk/news/48458-police-curfew-in-aluthgama.html


 

Counsel says Ven.Gnanasara Thera insulted him

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http://www.dailymirror.lk/top-story/48186-counsel-says-vengnanasara-thera-insulted-him.html

 

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Counsel Maithri Gunaratne in a complaint to the police said Bodu Bala Sena (BBS) General Secretary Ven. Galagodaatte Gnanasara Thera who passed by had made some insulting comments against the Counsel while he was speaking to the media near the Fort Magistrate’s Court  this morning.

The Thera appeared in the Court to answer charges of having obstructed a media conference held by the Jathika Bala Sena headed by the Ven. Watareka Vijitha Thera.  

Mr. Gunaratne appeared for Ven. Watareka Vijitha Thera and was addressing the media after the hearing when Ven. Gnanasara Thera had insulted him while passing by. (Lakmal Sooriyagoda)
 

බොදු බල සේනාවට එරෙහි චෝදනා ගොනු කරයි

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2014 ජූනි මස 09 11:27:10 | ලක්මාල් සුරියගොඩ

 

කොම්පඤ්ඤවීදියේ නිපොන් හෝටලයේ පැවැති ජාතික බළ සේනාවේ මාධ්‍ය හමුවට බලෙන් ඇතුළු වී වටරැක විජිත හිමියනට තර්ජනය කළැයි කියන සිද්ධිය සම්බන්ධයෙන් ජූලි හත් වැනි දා බොදු බල සේනාවට එරෙහිව චෝදනා ගොනු කරන්නැයි කොළඹ කොටුව මහේස්ත්‍රාත් තිලිණ ගමගේ මහතා අද පොලිසියට නියෝග කළේය.

බොදු බළ සේනාවේ ගලගොඩඅත්තේ  ඥානසාර හිමි පෙර දිනක උසාවිය අසළ දී ‘බල්ලා‘ යැයි කියමින් තමාට අපහාස කළ බව වටරැක විජිත හිමියන් වෙනුවෙන් පෙනී සිටි නීතීඥ මෛත්‍රී ගුණරත්න මහතා මහේස්ත්‍රාත්වරයාට පැමිණිලි කළේය.

ඒ ගැන පොලිසියට පැමිණිලි කරන ලෙස මහේස්ත්‍රාත් ඔහුට දැන්වීය.

 

http://www.lankadeepa.lk/index.php/articles/240500

 

අටුලුගම මුස්ලිම් පල්ලියෙන් අවතැන් වූවන්ට කෑම

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2014 ජූනි මස 04 15:23:20 | බිමල් ශ්‍යාමන් ජයසිංහ

 

 

බණ්ඩරගම කිම්මන්කුඩාවේ හා පනාපේ ගංවතුරින් අවතැන් වූ 500කට පමණ බණ්ඩාරගම අටුලුගම මුස්ලිම් ප්‍රජාව  ඔවුන්ගේ පල්ලියේ කෑම උයා ආහාර පාර්සල් 500ක්  පරිත්‍යාග කළහ.

 

http://www.lankadeepa.lk/index.php/top_story/239424

 

Flood Relief Work in Kalutara - Plan (Phase Out Basis)

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Assalamu Alaikkum,

Dear Brothers and Sisters,

We are being tested by Almighty Allah once again by the recent flood & landslides. 23 deaths reported and more than 43,000 people are affected in 9 districts . Out of the 9 Districts affected, Kalutara is one of the highly affected district. Currently we are engaged in supporting the victims in Mathugama & Agalawatte area. We are thankful to Almighty for giving an us opportunity and strength to serve for our fellow brothers and sisters who are in need. Al Hamdu Lillah. Still the water level is rising as the doors & spills of the dams are still open and the rivers are overflowing.


The needs are very big, but we have done, and will try to address the issues within our capacity.
The basic needs are food, clean water and sanitation facility. Most of the shops are affected, the owners have lost their livelihood (majority of our people in these areas are businessman) and also it has created the shortage of supply in those areas. Specially areas like Viyangalla, the land route transport is totally disconnected.

As per the situation and time, we have phased out the relief work as follows,

1st Phase: 
1.1 - Cooked Food, Clean Water, Medicine & Basic Sanitation facility (Currently being supplied by the neighbouring villages -Beruwela, Dharga Town, Atulugama etc.- Mass cooking)
1.2 - The Dry Ration includes: Rice, Dhal, Canned fish, tea, sugar etc.... (To share with their friends & families with whom they are living now & when returning to their houses)
They need Dry Ration worth of 3000/= at least for a family to cater a 5 days, until they establish themselves back in normal order. .

2nd Phase: - (On Return to their houses)
2.1 - Kitchen utensils,
2.2 - School stationary for children,
2.3 - Other household needs such as mats, mattresses, blankets, mosquito nets etc.
2.3 - Baby care products, and hygienic kits

3rd Phase: (Upon returning to their houses)
-3.1-  Water purification needs - The wells are totally contaminated so they should be cleaned.
-3.2 - House cleaning needs - The detergents and disinfection chemicals, hand use sprayer tanks, etc....
-3.3 - Public Places (Mosques, Schools, Community Centre) cleaning needs - Fogging machine, detergents, disinfection chemicals
-3.4 - Medical Needs - Mass screening for infections and identification of severe conditions/cases of chronic diseases....

4th Phase:
-(Upon settling down)
-4.1- Helping to build their lifelines - micro / small level
-4.2 - Supporting to repair partially damaged houses and business places
-4.3 - Putting up new houses for  fully damaged ones

Though the medical needs are put in 3rd phase, that is one of the need which should be attended at all phases and levels...

The leading community based relief organizations such as Al Muslimath, SFRD, Caring Hands, Al Kafaala, and MCSL, are in the network and planning their work together.  Al Hamdu Lillah.
If any organization willing to support the needy, we humbly request to join hands together to avoid duplication & plan out their support according to their capacity and on phase basis, which would bring positive results insha allah.
Should anyone need further details on flood victims & flood relief programs, please feel free to contact us.

Bank Account Details (For those are willing to Contribute)
Account Name : Caring Hands
Account Number : 158 001 66 66
Bank : Commercial Bank
Branch : Dehiwala Branch
Email : This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it

Note: Please send us the details of the contribution with the details of the Contributor(s), Address , Contact details etc. This is to send official acknowledgement.
Jazakallah Khair

Asker Khan S.A.
Executive Director
Caring Hands
 

Making Sense Of The Bodu Bala Sena - Izeth Hussain

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According to the widely prevalent conventional wisdom of some time ago the Bodu Bala Sena was expected to fade away because of the internal dynamics of all such extremist organizations, and their lack of widespread appeal at the people’s level. Such, according to some reports, was the view of the President himself: don’t give it prominence, ignore it as much as possible, and it will vaporize after some time. That was the conventional wisdom even though it was known that the BBS had the backing of the second most powerful personage in the country, the Defense Secretary, and even though it was obvious that it had very powerful State backing as shown by its exceptionally privileged position in breaking the law with near total impunity. Nevertheless the conventional wisdom focused on the extremism, choosing to ignore the obviously important factor of State backing for it.

Today the BBS is widely seen as being just as virulent as ever, and as continuing to target the Muslims in particular to a very serious extent. The question of State backing for it could move to the forefront of public consciousness. An article written by a foreigner seems to assume that the President is in favour of it, and the question is posed whether the State backing for it is part of a wider political program. This question can be seen as arising, naturally enough, because the Government is seen as essentially Sinhala supremacist, racist, and quasi neo-Fascist while it is still quasi-democratic. We must also take into account the possibility that there could be a powerful nexus of forces working behind the scenes – something like Eisenhower’s military- industrial complex in the US.

In this situation we badly need to try to understand what the BBS is really all about. It is a large subject, and this article is no more than notes towards understanding the BBS. First, we must take note of its external dimension. It has been obviously very well-funded. A trip to Norway by some of its top notables suggested that there was a Norwegian connection. Islamophobes there and elsewhere could have noted the fact while Islamophobia has been rampant in the Christian and Hindu worlds, there has been none or hardly any of it in the Buddhist world. Norwegian Islamophobes could have been interested in using the BBS to fill up what they doubtless regard as a deplorable lacuna. There has been a nexus between Buddhists in Sri Lanka and Myanmar, an ancient historical one of course, but at present there seems to be an Islamophobic nexus between them. It was noticed that the T-shirts worn by anti-Muslim mobs in both countries looked identical except that the logos were different, and the rhetoric of Rev. Wirathu and others in Myanmar and the BBS had striking similarities. It has been reported that Rev. Wirathu, who seems to be widely regarded as the Buddhist Osama Bin Laden after having been featured on the front cover of Time magazine, has been invited to visit Sri Lanka by the BBS. I must mention also that Israel’s able assistance for the Islamophobic program could have been forthcoming as there is mutual visceral hatred between Muslims and Zionists all over the world. Our Defense Ministry is regarded by many SL Muslims, and others as well, as a pro-Israeli bastion.

I believe that the most important factor in the external dimension is that the Buddhist extremist assault on the Muslims and certain Christian sects now features in the UNHRC Resolution.  The Resolution will make the international community focus on the SL Muslim problem in a way that otherwise could have been avoided. Conclusions might be drawn that could be extremely unfavorable to the Sri Lanka Government because there are hard horrible facts that cannot be ignored. It is difficult to imagine a more submissive,  a more abjectly submissive minority, towards the Sinhalese or any other majority than the Muslims. For decades the Muslim political representatives have refused to speak up for the Muslims as that might displease the Sinhalese Lord and Master – a situation that is now in the process of changing. They always supported the Sinhalese against the Tamils, backing them wholeheartedly in every bit of ethnolunacy that led to the 30-year war. The Muslims had no substantial presence in the armed forces, but they contributed significantly to secret service activity against the LTTE. Their Home Guards got together with the STF and drove out Tamils from more than fifteen Eastern Province villages, which really was the prelude for the genocidal expulsion of Muslims from the North. During the war Pakistan and Iran gave help to the armed forces that was of crucial importance for Sri Lanka. These few details should suffice to show that the Sinhalese Buddhist campaign against the Muslims should be regarded as mind-boggling. True, every country can produce extremists but the anti-Muslim extremists in Sri Lanka have blatant State-backing. We are led ineluctably to one question:: If the Muslims are treated in this way, how can we imagine the Sinhalese racists will ever give fair and equal treatment to the Tamils? The anti-Muslim campaign can be seen as a resounding advertisement for Eelam or a confederal political solution.

I come now to the internal dimension of the BBS problem. Many Buddhists seem to be deeply agitated by the question of what the BBS version of Buddhism portends for Buddhism in Sri Lanka. This is a problem that can be resolved only by the Buddhists themselves. But I have an observation to make of a general order on the relationship between religion and the problem of coping with the pressures of modernity. No great world religion exists only in a single immutable form, and all of them have undergone variations in the course of the centuries. Probably all of them can be adapted to cope with the pressures of modernity, and it is probably wrong to assume that one or the other is better adapted to modernity. It is usually assumed – with might seem to be sound unprejudiced reasons – that Islam is of all the great world religions the most recalcitrant to modernity. But this is what Ernest Gellner – one of the brightest intellects of the last century, with a background of expertise in the sociology of Islam – had to say: “By various criteria – universalism, scripturalism, spiritual egalitarianism, the extension of full participation in the sacred community not one, or some, but to all, and the rational systematization of social life – Islam is, of the three great Western monotheisms, the one closest to modernity”. So we can assume that Buddhism will continue to flourish in Sri Lanka, probably under forms that we cannot envisage at present.

But I wonder whether the problem posed by the BBS and other extremist groups can be understood in terms of religion. Of the four great world religions, it is really only Christianity that had been intolerant through the centuries, while Buddhism has been much reputed for its wide ecumenical tolerance. What the BBS and other extremist groups are objecting to is not Islam but Muslims. In the case of the new Christian sects, what they are objecting to are not the new versions of the Christian belief-system, but unethical methods of conversion that can lead as in South Korea to a serious weakening of Buddhism and Buddhists in this country. In the case of Islam, they allege that there is a threat to Buddhism from Islamic fundamentalists, from the population growth rate of the Sri Lankan Muslims, and so on. These are essentially secular matters which have little or nothing to do with the religion of Islam.

I believe that the BBS and other extremist groups can best be understood in terms of a paradigm of racism. Since the military victory of 2009, a mood of Sinhala Buddhist triumphalism has taken over an important segment of the Buddhists, together with a fierce hierarchical drive to assert Sinhala Buddhist supremacy over all the others. The Tamils have been defeated though not yet subjugated, and now it is necessary to show the Muslims that they shouldn’t become uppity. As I have pointed out above, they have been an abjectly submissive minority, so that there has been no need at all to subjugate them. but the times they are a-changing. Three prominent Muslim politicians, namely Rauf Hakeem, Azad Sally, and Rishad Bathiudeen have been admirably outspoken on the subject of the BBS, which would have been unthinkable some time ago. The Sinhalese racists would regard their behavior as amounting to intolerable uppitiness, and many Muslims as amounting to dangerous foolhardiness.

But their behavior should be seen as symptomatic of the profound socio-economic changes that have been taking place in the Muslim community, catalyzed by their taking to mass secular education in a big way after the Second World War. The Muslim children of the great C.W.W. Kannangara have been coming of age. What I once wrote of as an “invisible minority” has been becoming visible and even audible. The crux of the problem is this: The Muslims who were once competitive only in trade have become competitive in practically every other field, and as they are a very substantial minority they have to be pushed down and kept down. That has to be expected in terms of the racist paradigm, and that is the profound meaning of the sudden eruption of the BBS and other extremist groups.

Making Sense Of Bodu Bala Sena–Part II

By Izeth Hussain -

In my article of April 26 I wrote that that article was meant to be no more than notes towards making sense of the Bodu Bala Sena, a large and complex subject requiring in-depth treatment. In the present article I am continuing those notes because the BBS problem seems to have moved to the forefront of our political consciousness, replacing the position earlier held by what many Sri Lankans believed to be UNHRC diabolism. I believe that the reason why the BBS is moving to the forefront is that many Sri Lankans could be becoming aware of the possible sinister significance of the BBS’ external dimension.

The main reason why I have decided to continue these notes is the feedback I have had from a Sinhalese lady who spent decades in journalism, and though in retirement continues to have an informed interest in Sri Lankan politics. From what she wrote I gathered that she had been aware of the BBS’ Norwegian connection – to which I referred in my last article – but that had apparently been relegated to the background of her consciousness because she had come to assume that the main force behind the BBS was the Tamil diaspora. In other words, the main force behind the BBS consisted of those who are not reconciled to the unity of Sri Lanka. I am sure that that notion must be at least fairly widespread among the Sinhalese, but they dare not speak out. The BBS has blatant State backing and, far more important than that fact, it is above the rule of law. That certainly means that there are mighty forces behind the BBS, which makes it understandable that the mass of the Sinhalese dare not speak out even in favour of the unity of Sri Lanka if it means pointing the finger at the BBS. Sri Lankan politics of today are largely the politics of blue funk

In my last article I gave the broad reasons why the anti-Muslim campaign of the BBS and other extremist groups can be seen as resounding advertisement for Eelam or a confederal political solution, which would come close to the setting up of a separate state: the Muslims have been an abjectly submissive minority, they have wholeheartedly backed the Sinhalese in every bit of egregious ethnolunacy against the Tamils, and they contributed significantly to the war on the Sinhalese side. If such a minority can be treated with such utter contempt by the extremist Sinhala Buddhists and the Government, can anyone in his right mind really believe that the racist Sinhalese power elite will ever give fair and equal treatment to the Tamils? That question leads ineluctably to the conclusion that the Tamils should be given Eelam or a confederal solution. That conclusion will be drawn, not by an insignificant person such as myself, but by the international community a component of which can deploy redoubtable destructive power against Sri Lanka.

The time has come for counter-action against the forces that are working, consciously or otherwise, for the disintegration of Sri Lanka. There are factors, apart from the ones mentioned in the preceding paragraph, which could lead to disintegration. It is many years since I first spoke at a meeting at the N.M.Perera Centre about the possible imposition of a Cyprus-style solution in Sri Lanka. I could see that my speech made no impact at all on the audience, who very probably thought that I was being highly fanciful. Later I wrote two articles on the subject, which apparently also made no impact at all. Subsequently, the late H.L.de Silva declared in an article that he had thought that my views were fanciful, but some statement by the Indian authorities made him change his mind. Probably most readers thought that he too was being fanciful. The situation has changed radically since then. The shadow BJP Foreign Minister declared in the course of his election campaign that Eelam is a distinct possibility, and there were very threatening noises from Tamil Nadu. Very probably the BJP Government will initially be moderate and responsible towards Sri Lanka, but we can’t be sure about what may happen later. Since then the specter of Ukraine is stalking the world, making us think of eerie parallels. The idea of a Cyprus-style solution is no longer fanciful.

I would give importance to Minister Wimal Weerawansa’s recent charge that there is a foreign conspiracy to alienate the Sinhalese and the Muslims so that the latter will turn to the Tamils and their fellow Muslims, with all of whom they share the commonality of being Tamil-speaking – a point to which our Tamils have given much importance over many decades. The idea of such a conspiracy may seem fanciful, but as I have shown above what seems fanciful today can turn out to be very realistic tomorrow. I don’t see any reason to preclude such a conspiracy. Anyway, I am deeply concerned about another possibility: there may be no conspiracy, but a July ’83 can take place against the Muslims.

I don’t think that our Government and the people as a whole, just like the peoples of the third world unlike the Westerners, really understand all that is entailed in racism. What is relevant to my present purpose is that it entails, among other things, a total annihilating hatred of the Other. The Sinhalese racist would believe that it is not only some Tamils who want Eelam but all of them without exception, some openly and the others secretly. The Tamil racist would believe that the Mahawamsa mentality, which precludes fair and equal treatment of the minorities, imbues every single Sinhalese without exception. And so on. It is an outlook that could lead to genocidal attacks on the minorities, because all their members, without exception, are regarded as guilty. Up to now the protracted anti-Muslim hate campaign of the BBS and other extremist groups has failed to ignite Sinhalese mass action against the Muslims. But it could happen due to an unforeseeable concatenation of circumstances. All human beings subjected to lethal attacks will either fight back or run. The Muslims can run, not to the Arab world or Indonesia, but only to the North East. That will have fateful consequences, including a coming together of Sri Lanka’s Tamil-speaking peoples. Conspiracies to promote that outcome – to which Minister Weerawamsa is pointing – cannot be ruled out.

It is time, surely, for counter-action against the forces that could lead to the disintegration of Sri Lanka. What should be done? I do not believe that the BBS and other extremist groups should be banned because that could well lead to an aggravation of the extremism. Rather, they should be countered within a democratic framework. In regard to the BBS, I believe that two-fold action is required. Firstly, there should be a thorough investigation of its foreign links. At this point I must make a crucial clarification. I don’t believe for an instant that the BBS leaders will lend themselves to an anti-national program. The point is that they could be used for such a program, without their being aware of it, by sinister foreign forces.

Secondly, the rule of law must be made to prevail over the BBS. Most countries produce their extremists – usually called “the lunatic fringe” – but a peculiarity of Sri Lankan politics is that the Buddhist extremists have been close to the center ever since 1956. The situation today is in reality worse: the State is seen as actually backing the BBS extremists. This situation surely needs correction, if only for the reason that UNHRC action is impending on the treatment of our Muslim and Christian minorities. The Government should therefore take immediate action to distance itself from the BBS. I believe that the best way of doing this would be, not through rhetorical duck-like quacking, but to assert the rule of law over the BBS monks. Since the Government could be wary about taking such action, I suggest that the President proceed to Kandy on a well-publicized visit to seek the guidance of the Mahanayakes on whether or not Buddhist monks should be subject to the rule of law. I cannot doubt the reply. My understanding of Buddhism is that it places the Dharma over the Gods, and from that central doctrinal fact some principles about the rule of law can be derived.

Sri Lankan Muslims At The Cross-Roads – Part 1

By Izeth Hussain -

My last two articles in the Island were under the title Making sense of the Bodu Bala Sena, focusing in both of them on the anti-Muslim campaign of the BBS. There is now a view, still at the incipient stage but which can soon gain wide currency, that the BBS is on the way out. The argument is that extremist movements such as the BBS have no staying power in Sri Lanka, and that the forces of Buddhist moderation are now working to bring about the quick demise of the BBS and related extremist groups. But I began the first of my last two articles by pointing out that the conventional wisdom for well over a year – shared by the President himself – had it that if the BBS were ignored it would evaporate after some time. It did not, and in recent times it showed a renewed virulence.

It is possible that now the BBS – as expected by some analysts – will go into a period of hibernation, for which there could be several reasons. The Government has to prepare its counter-thrust to the UNHRC Resolution, which focuses among other things on the maltreatment of the religious minorities including the Muslims. There cannot be the least doubt that the international community as a whole – with the possible singular exception of Myanmar whose anti-Muslim racism has been absolutely revolting – has utter contempt for our Government over the maltreatment of Muslims. The Muslim Governments may vote for us at the UNHRC, but that is only because they share with our Government a despotic disregard for human rights. What they really think was indicated some weeks ago by that Arab Princess – the Foreign Minister of one of the Gulf States – who asked our President in public a deliberately embarrassing question about the maltreatment of Muslims. The crucial point, of course, is the self-incriminating latitude allowed to the BBS and other extremist groups to break the law with near-total impunity. In addition to that external dimension there is also the internal one: the Government probably asks itself whether it is wise electoral strategy to alienate the Muslims and all the other ethnic and religious minorities to the extent that it has done.

So, it is possible that the BBS may fade away, as some expect, or it may be a temporary demise, a period of tactical hibernation for the reasons that I have given above. In either case I expect the Muslim problem to continue because there are reasons of a structural order behind it. First of all we must note that the Muslim problem did not arise because the BBS suddenly erupted. There were anti-Muslim ructions practically every year from 1976 to around 2002. Later there were the rousing anti-Muslim tirades of the late Rev. Soma Thera on State-owned television. That was stopped by the Government, but after that he availed of a Sunday weekly column in a leading newspaper. Over the last two years we have had the anti-Muslim action of the BBS and other extremist groups. In addition, there have been over the decades several irritants spoiling Sinhalese-Muslim relations: the mosque calls to prayer over loud-speakers, the proliferation of mosques, cattle-slaughter, and so on.

The striking thing about the negative developments that I have outlined in the preceding paragraph is that successive Governments did little or nothing by way of corrective or deterrent action. There was a failure, or rather a refusal, to take such action. I will not go into details about that refusal as it will take too much space, and instead I will put forward the possible reason for it. The reason is that there has been no serious attempt at nation-building in Sri Lanka, no attempt at all to establish stable ethnic harmony, apart of course from hollow verbiage about it, and the reason for that is that the nation is conceived of, particularly by the Sinhalese power elite, as already existing. This has been the land of the Sinhalese people from ancient times, with a special position for the Buddhists because they are the guardians of Buddhism in all its pristine purity. The minorities are no more than “visitors” to this island who should not make “undue demands”, in the felicitous phraseology of Sarath Fonseka. There was no punitive action of a deterrent order taken against anti-Muslim violence from 1976 to 2002, nor an assertion of the rule of law over the BBS monks, probably because all that serves to show to the Muslims who’s boss in this island.

The fact that there is no drive, and there never has been a drive, to build a multi-ethnic nation in Sri Lanka is the fundamental reason why we can expect the Muslim problem to continue: as long as there no such drive there will be a resistance on the part of the Sinhalese power elite to give fair and equal treatment to the minorities, including the Muslims. We must also take into account the fact that the Sinhalese power elite has shown a fierce hierarchical drive – for cultural reasons that cannot be explored here – which leads to a resistance to giving fair and equal treatment even to the Sinhalese. It is not accidental that for the greater part of the period since 1977 Sri Lankan democracy has been deeply flawed, unlike in India where democracy broke down only for a brief period after Indira’s Emergency. Nor is it accidental that in recent years the Government has clearly shown a racist and neo-Fascist drive, which some think could lead to an anti-democratic Buddhist theocracy.

We have to face up to the fact that the BBS may go away but the Muslim problem won’t. The Muslims have now to think of what they should do to secure and promote their best interests. Before proceeding further I want to refer to the two concluding paragraphs of my article Making sense of Bodu Bala Sena in the Island of April 26. I noted that three prominent Muslim politicians, Rauf Hakeem, Azath Salley, and Rishad Bathiudin had become admirably outspoken on the BBS, which would have been unthinkable some time ago. I took that as symptomatic of the profound socio-economic changes that have been taking place in the Muslim community, catalyzed by their taking to mass secular education in a big way after the Second World War. The result is that whereas they were traditionally competitive only in the field of trade, they have become competitive in other fields as well. Kumar David has pointed out to me, quite correctly, that their knowledge of English confers a very special advantage over the other ethnic groups. Therefore, in terms of the racist paradigm to which I referred in that article, they have to be pushed down and kept down, and that is the profound meaning of the sudden eruption of the BBS and other extremist groups.

What should the Muslims do to secure and promote their legitimate interests? It is not difficult to work out the answer to that question. Obviously all the irritants that have been bedeviling Sinhalese-Muslim relations for decades should be addressed by both sides and removed as far as might be possible. But if that is obvious, why on earth has that not been done over several decades? Part of the answer has been suggested earlier in this article. The Sinhalese power elite has never been interested in forging a multi-ethnic nation with a deep sense of unity, and therefore it has had no interest in establishing  harmonious Sinhalese-Muslim relations. Besides, anti-Muslim violence and the anti-Muslim campaign of Buddhist extremists serve to show the Muslims who’s boss in this island.

But why is it that the Muslims have not been agitating over all these decades for effective action to remove those irritants? After all it is they, not the Sinhalese, who have been the victims. There are several reasons for their adopting what might be called a strategy of political quietism. First of all there is a continuing fear psychosis that was initially set off by the anti-Muslim riots of 1915, and there is a sense of deep vulnerability because they know that they cannot depend on the support of the Opposition or the civil society should the Muslims challenge the powers-that-be. They believe that challenging the Government of the day over Muslim interests would only make their plight worse. But their keeping quiet about anti-Muslim violence over a quarter century has led to the State-backed anti-Muslim extremism of the last two years. The strategy of political quietism has proved to be a total failure and it is time to jettison it. That is why the speaking out by Rauf Hakeem and others is to be welcomed.

To be Continued…

Sri Lankan Muslims At The Cross-Roads – Part II

I concluded the first part of this article by stating that the Muslim strategy of political quietism had several reasons behind it, one of which was the fear psychosis set off initially by the anti-Muslim riots of 1915. I had intended to begin this part of my article by going into the other reasons, but I have since then come across excellent material to substantiate my point about the Muslim fear psychosis. M.S.M.Fouzer, writing in the web site Halal SL, states that there are disturbing signs at present that theanti-Muslim campaign is catching on with the Buddhist masses. He gives importance as a causative factor to the spread of a video which had been shown by the BBS to the heads of the Sangha in Kandy. He pointed to the destruction of a shop in Aluthgama and other ominous incidents, and advocated, among other things, that Muslims should avoid clothing that identifies them as Muslims while mingling with the Vesak crowds.

Are people like Fouzer being alarmist? I think they are being courageous in being outspoken in spite of a pervasive climate of fear in Sri Lanka, which – with good reason – afflicts our Muslims in particular. Fouzer is also being realistic: I myself will eschew ethnic markers declaring myself a Muslim if I go into a Vesak crowd. I think we need some clarity about Muslim fears on what could happen to them as a result of the State-backed anti-Muslim campaign. The very fact that it is indisputably State-backed justifies some amount of a fear psychosis. It seems to be now generally believed that the Government will not allow a July ’83 against the Muslims, not because of moral scruples but because of the probable adverse international repercussions. But much that is horrible can be perpetrated against the Muslims short of a July ’83. For instance the torching of a Muslim shop in Aluthgama a few days ago, under the most absurd of pretexts, has not apparently so far led to any police action to apprehend the culprits – see the excellent and outspoken article by Hameed Karim in the Colombo Telegraph of May 14. It is the sort of thing that can multiply until the Muslims are degraded to the status of a lesser breed that is not entitled to any protection under the rule of law. The State racists may be able to bring that off without provoking international punitive action.

The traditional fear psychosis of the Muslims is today enhanced by the obvious external dimension of the BBS. It appears that it really got going consequent to a visit of its leaders to Norway, after which hitherto unheard of monks suddenly shot to national prominence with their anti-Muslim campaign. The political analyst Chandraprema, who has been emphasizing these facts, believes that the BBS is part of a program aimed at destroying Buddhism and Buddhists in Sri Lanka. I myself thought that Norwegian Islamophobes may have wanted to encourage Islamophobia in the Buddhist world, and hence the nexus established between the BBS and anti-Muslim Buddhist extremists in Myanmar. Later, it seemed to me that the BBS’ anti-Muslim campaign amounted to an advertisement for Eelam, for reasons that I don’t want to repeat here. In the absence of hard evidence, I would emphasize just two points that we should bear in mind. One is that while the Islamic fundamentalists are nutty, the Islamophobes are equally nutty, and any kind of lunacy can be expected of both of them. The second is that sinister foreign forces could be working towards the destabilization of Sri Lanka.

It is in the context of the external dimension of the BBS that I would view the video that is said to contain material that is outrageous to Buddhists, so outrageous that it could easily ignite anti-Muslim violence on a nation-wide scale if the State racists organize it. Before dealing with that video, I must make some clarifications about the story that has apparently gained wide currency that Wahabi Muslims have been attacking Buddhism. As I have stated above, I regard Islamic fundamentalists as essentially nutty and therefore I thought it just possible, not probable but just possible, that some Wahabis made irate by the ignorant denigration of Islam have retaliated on some occasions with ignorant denigration of Buddhism. But I am assured by knowledgeable Muslim contacts that the story is utterly false and that not a single Sri Lankan Wahabi has ever attacked Buddhism in public. There is a Sinhalese convert to Islam who has attacked Buddhism, but his behavior is atypical of the SL Muslims and is typical of converts who tend to become ultra. The story of SL Wahabis attacking Buddhism does not accord with the deep fear psychosis that is built into the SL Muslim psyche.

I come now to the video which I have not seen, and therefore depend on the account given about it in the Hemantha Warnakulasuriya Island column of May 13. I quote: “A person called Razeek Rafideen, alias Abdul Razeek, Secretary of a Muslim religious organization was addressing a crowd in very fine Sinhala. His objective was to commit the worst kind of blasphemy by castigating the image of Buddha and Buddhism. He said that the Buddhists were worshipping and praying and asking for protection from the ‘Triple Gem’ (theruwan) which were three gems. Therefore they prayed to three stones and that was nothing but a false  belief.Can stones help you in difficulties?”Then he went on to say that ‘in the Majima Nikaya Buddha refers to a person who is unborn (nupan) and that person is none other than Allah.; The he referred to a book written by Ven. Kiribathgoda Gnanananda, claiming that according to it and the sutras, he claimed that Buddhism encouraged Cannibalism,”

HW also wrote: “Up to the time of writing this letter, not a single Muslim organization or the Moslem Council of Ulamas (All Ceylon Jamiyyathul Ulama) and Minister and other persons of importance had not condemned that blasphemous and sacrilegious statement.” He is clearly faulting Muslim institutions and individuals in important positions for not speaking out against those sacrilegious statements. Some would draw the conclusion that the Muslims as a whole either approve of those statements or attach no importance to them.

Let me try to explain what I would regard as the Muslim position on this matter. First of all there is the Muslim fear psychosis which dictates a strategy of political quietism. Most Muslims if confronted with the shocking statements attributed to a possibly non-existent Rafideen would want to keep quiet about it and hope that the problem will simply go away. That, in fact, seems to be the position of the President himself in regard to the Muslim problem. Secondly most Muslims, including the ones in important positions, may not even have heard of those sacrilegious statements. I myself, as well as some of my well-informed Muslim contacts, have come to hear of the famous video only very recently. So, the question of a self-incriminating silence on the part of Muslim notables does not arise. Thirdly, most Muslims viewing the video would almost certainly regard it as no more than anti-Muslim propagandist garbage.  They would find it impossible to believe that any Muslim who is not a certifiable lunatic would make that statement about Buddhism encouraging cannibalism. A significant fact about the video is that it has been in circulation since June 2013, almost a year, and thousands have seen it, but it seems to have caused a stir only very recently. The probable reason is that most Sinhalese viewers have also regarded it as not much more than propagandist garbage.

But unfortunately the matter cannot be allowed to rest at that.  Mr. Warnakulasuriya  is a successful lawyer with much experience behind him – whose column I usually read with much interest. He has shown in his article that he is by no means anti-Muslim by several statements against the BBS and other extremist groups. He has been clearly outraged by the video, and his Buddhist sentiments have to be respected. Furthermore, the video has reportedly been shown to the Maha Sangha by the BBS to show that it has come into action only because the Government has been failing to protect Buddhist interests. These facts point to one conclusion: the Government must hold an inquiry into the authenticity or otherwise of the video. This is desirable also for the reason – as I have argued above – that there could be sinister foreign forces working towards the destabilization of Sri Lanka. If proved authentic, punitive action must be taken against the culprit, and nothing should be held against the totality of the Muslims who will most certainly unanimously support such punitive action. Alternatively, the BBS must show that it was not complicit in the production of anti-Muslim propagandist garbage.

In my present series of articles on Muslims at the cross-roads, I will be emphasizing two points for positive action. One is that the rule of law must be relentlessly applied. Our Government seems to be bent on showing that our Muslims will be treated as one of the lesser breeds who are not entitled to the protection of the rule of law as a matter of course. The other is that problems that have been bedeviling Sinhalese-Muslim relations, sometimes for decades, must all be addressed and solved. In my view there is none that is really intractable. Successive Governments have failed, or rather refused to do this, and that is why in addition to the horrendous Tamil ethnic problem we now have a Muslim ethnic problem that can also become horrendous.

Sri Lankan Muslims At The Cross-Roads – Part III

Izeth Hussain

In the second part of this series of articles on SL Muslims at the cross-roads I dealt with the bizarre case of a Muslim who reportedly made outrageous statements against Buddhism at a public meeting. He had reportedly stated that in worshipping the Triple Gem the Buddhists are worshipping stones, that Buddhism encourages cannibalism, that the Buddha himself had once eaten human flesh, and that the Buddha had spoken about Allah. His statements were reportedly recorded in a video which has been in circulation since June 2013. My initial reaction, as well as those of my Muslim contacts, was one of total incredulity because it seemed to us impossible that any Muslim in his right mind would have made such statements. It seemed to us further that the video was probably inauthentic, just a piece of anti-Muslim propagandist garbage.

But it turns out to be authentic, and had been put across on MTV about a couple of weeks earlier. According to my informants, the person who made those statements was the President of a group that calls itself the Tawheed Jamaat, about which I must make a very important clarification. It is quite unlike the Tawheed Jamaat of South India which is very powerful with a huge membership, and boasts in Zainul-Abdeen a theologian of high caliber, according to a friend who is capable of making informed judgments on Islamic theology. The local Tawheed Jamaat, on the other hand, is small and relatively insignificant. It cannot be regarded as representative of mainstream Sunni Islam in Sri Lanka, nor for that matter of Wahabi Islam. Undue importance should not therefore be given to the utterances of its leader.

It appears that the members of the Tawheed Jamaat had been irked, just like many other Muslims, by the ignorant denigration of Islam that has been going on in Sri Lanka, inspired partly by the Islamophobic idiocies of the West. That had led to the issue of a challenge to the BBS for a public debate on religion – there is an authentic video on that challenge also. It was in that context that the Tawheed Jamaat representative had made absurd observations on Buddhism based on wrong interpretations of obscure Buddhist texts – or so I am told. The upshot was that he was arrested, brought to trial, apologized, and released. Evidently the apology meant that he repudiated his absurd charges against Buddhism.

What importance should be given to this episode? I think none whatever because it is just too ridiculous to be taken seriously. As I have pointed out above the Tawheed Jamaat has no representative capacity worth speaking about. How many of the more than one and a half million SL Muslims share the views about Buddhism expressed by the TJ representative – that Buddhism encourages cannibalism, that the Buddha ate human flesh and so on? I believe that none, none whatever, share those views because the TJ representative himself, by his apology, repudiated those views. It would therefore be totally absurd for anyone to draw any conclusions from those statements about Muslim extremists and Islamic fundamentalism. I am making this point because there seems to be something sinister about the revival of that offensive video. It was originally issued in June 2013, it was seen by thousands, but it evidently failed to make much of an impact. It is possible that it has been revived – shown on MTV and so on – with the objective of rousing mass anti-Muslim hatred.

One point about this episode cannot be ignored. Those absurdly offensive statements hurt the Buddhists, and therefore it was meet and proper that the perpetrator was subjected to action under the law. But what about all the offensive statements about Islam that hurt the Muslims deeply? Why were the perpetrators not subjected to action under the law? I refer to the most outrageous of all the insults to Islam in Sri Lanka: the demonstration in which Allah was imaged as a pig and burnt in effigy. The police performed their accustomed role of passive spectators. I believe they did a little more than that by restraining horrified Muslims who could have got out of hand – and perhaps that was wise. But why was there no legal action thereafter?

That leads to a crucially important question: what really is the strategy of the Sinhalese Buddhist State towards the SL Muslims? It was earlier expected that the anti-Muslim campaign would culminate in another gory July ’83 holocaust, this time against the Muslims. That is not the general expectation today, not because it is thought that the Government has developed moral scruples but because it fears the possible international repercussions. But other horrors can be perpetrated against the Muslims that are just as horrible as July ’83, possibly in the long run even more horrible. I have in mind the fact that the Sinhalese State seems to be in the grip of a fierce hierarchical drive aimed at establishing the Sinhalese Buddhists firmly and securely at the apex and relegating the Muslims to the position of outcastes. That seems to be the significance of the double standards to which I pointed above: punitive legal action against the Muslim but none against the Sinhalese. It is true that the culture of impunity applies to the Sinhalese as well, but not so consistently as against the Muslims, as shown during the anti-Muslim campaign of the last two years.

It should be beyond dispute that the Muslim strategy of political quietism has proved to be utterly disastrous: polishing the boot of Sinhala power has only earned good hard kicks on the backside. Just as well maybe, because the strategy of political quietism was essentially self-seeking, not aimed at the national good inclusive of the good of the Muslims. I have advocated a two-pronged strategy: struggle for the impartial application of the rule of law to all, and dialogue on the issues that have been bedeviling Sinhalese-Muslim relations for decades. The first, the struggle for the rule of law has a very particular importance. It has been a besetting vice of Muslims in the decadent phases of Islamic civilization to withdraw into themselves, to go into a self-imposed ghetto and limit their interaction with the others to the bare minimum. That goes against the greatest Sri Lankan need of the present hour: the need for national integration. In struggling for the rule of law our Muslims will be making common cause with the Sinhalese and the Tamils in a common struggle for the national good.

There is one point in particular that our Muslims must bear in mind. Under the brutal and stupid rule of the 1977 Jay Gang the SL civil society was practically dead, not much more animate than a door-mat. In recent years it has been becoming vibrant in unexpected ways. It is not so vibrant, not so vital, as in India and the West but it certainly counts in the affairs of the nation. The SL Muslims can therefore make their struggle to live in peace and dignity part of the national struggle for a better Sri Lanka. I have in mind the splendid statement of the Bar Association of Sri Lanka against the BBS and in support of the Muslims (Island of May 22). Let the Muslims invoke the blessings of Allah on the heads of the BASL members, and let their names be inscribed in gold in the memories of the Muslims.

 

Special Media Statement

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Special media statement

Naturally, fresh and optimistic expectations started to sprout in the minds of every peace-loving Sri Lankan after the end of the long war that lasted over three decades. Every one of us firmly believed and hoped that we would be able to eliminate mutual mistrust, hatred and other downbeat feelings that have rooted in our hearts for so long and that we would be able to heal deep wounds that maimed our hearts. We also hoped that we would be able, as a nation, to join hands to create a social setting that would never let such unpleasant things to happen again.

Unfortunately, what we witness here today is a totally contrast and volatile social atmosphere in which several extremists flaming religious movements lob insults and spiteful statements at each other.

We, at ACJU felt that it is our paramount responsibility as the apex religious organization of the Lankan Muslims to provide guidance on how to act in this turbulent situation.

On careful observation, ACJU identified several reasons that have helped ignite the present flame. The first one of them is forcing a faith to others. Islam rejects this notion altogether. The Holy Qur’an says as following;

‘There is no compulsion in the religion’
(2:256)

Accordingly, Islam totally shuns insulting or criticizing other faiths or religious personalities of other faiths. If any one acts in this deplorable way, he defies teachings of Islam and acts on his own audacious volition. Thus the ACJU strongly condemns such actions.

We also beseech the respected religious leaders of Lankan Buddhists, Hindus and Christians not to assume these imprudent acts of a handful as attested by Islam or approved by the Muslim masses of this country. While expressing our deepest regrets for such actions, we urge the relevant authorities to take necessary actions against those impulsive offenders who defy the command of Allah:

‘Insult not those whom they (disbelievers) worship besides Allah’
6:108

The other matter that seriously affects conciliation as we believe is the incapacity to tolerate other religions and cultures. This narrow mentality entices one to reject the globally accepted reality of multi ethnicity. Islam totally rejects this phobia and concedes the universal reality of multi ethnicity and accepts the fact that various religious would continue to exist in this world. This is asserted by several verses in the Holy Qur’an such as the two given below:

‘The truth is from your Lord. Then whosoever wills, let him believe, and whosoever wills, let him disbelieve’
(18:29)

 

‘O mankind! We have created you from a male and a female, and made you into nations and tribes, that you may know one another’
(49:13)

We would like to urge Muslims of this country to abide by the guidance provided by our organization and treat all the fellow Lankan’s with brotherhood and warmth regardless of their religious orientations or ethnic identities and contribute to recreate conciliation and harmony in our beloved Motherland. Also we once again request the masses of other faiths and ethnicities not to look upon the imprudent actions of few misguided Muslims as the approved ideal of the entire Muslim community living in this country. Finally, we request those astride responsible seats to see that the law of this country is fairly implemented to every one regardless of their religious or ethnic distinctiveness.

Let us unite and contribute to create a social environment where we can live with peace and happiness through a just and impartial way while discarding hatred and mistrust. Let us join hands as the children of Mother Lanka and resolve to unravel any and every dispute come our way via dialog and discussion. Let us contribute to create a prosperous Sri Lanka and save her for she is the only Motherland we Lankan’s have gotten.

Ash Sheikh Fazil Farook
Media Secretary
ACJU

http://www.acju.lk/press-release/special-media-statement/

 

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How I Consistently Wake Up (By Allah’s Permission) 45 Minutes Before Fajr Adhan

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How I Consistently Wake Up (By Allah's Permission) 45 Minutes Before Fajr Adhan - Productive Muslim

One of the challenges that a Muslim faces when trying to wake up for Fajr everyday is the constant shifting of the Fajr prayer. Depending on the season you’re in, it constantly shifts either few minutes forward each day or few minutes back each day. Thus, it can be difficult to keep up with a varied Fajr schedule throughout the year.

 

This varied schedule poses three challenges for a productive Muslim:

  1. It’s difficult to “train” your brain to wake up at a certain time each day. When you read productivity books, their advice is to always wake up early around the same time each day, e.g. 5am. This helps train your brain to wake you up early regardless of how late you slept the night before. However, for a Muslim, this is not realistic, especially with the shifting time for Fajr prayer, which can start as early as 1am or 2am or as late as 7am, depending on the season and which part of the world you’re in.
  2. It’s difficult to maintain a regular “night” prayer routine. If you want to benefit from the last third of the night and get up and pray, you cannot have a consistent schedule. In some seasons, this will require you to wake up as early as 1am or 2am and in some seasons, you’ll need to wake up at 5am or 6am. Again, it can be difficult for you to stay consistent.
  3. You cannot maintain a consistent schedule or morning routine. Since your morning keeps expanding and contracting depending on what time you have to wake up for Fajr prayer, having a consistent morning routine can be quite challenging.

So How Do You Overcome This Challenge?

The solution is in a new routine I’ve developed recently. By Allah’s sub?anahu wa ta'ala (glorified and exalted be He) permission and tawfeeq, I have been able to consistently wake up 45 minutes before Fajr adhan, regardless of the season and time of year I’m in.

This has helped me train my brain to wake up in sync with Fajr prayer adhan, as well as in sync with the seasons. It has also helped me maintain a regular night prayer + witr routine, since I now have a 45-minute window before the Fajr adhan.

So here’s my solution: This is a 3-step process that has worked for me and I hope and pray that it works with you.

Step 1 Get the Right Alarm

How I Consistently Wake Up (By Allah's Permission) 45 Minutes Before Fajr Adhan - Productive MuslimPhoto by: alfajr[dot]com/en/ct-01.html

I got myself a desk Fajr clock. The clock has  a unique feature i.e. it has an alarm that goes off in sync with the Fajr adhan and you can set it to wake you up at least 10 minutes before Fajr, everyday. Therefore, regardless of the time of Fajr adhan, it’ll go off exactly 10 minutes before Fajr.

Step 2 Develop Your Alarm Habit

Every person has a unique “alarm habit” whether you’re consciously aware of it or not. For some, it’s the classic ‘ hit the snooze button and sleep until it’s too late for you to hit the snooze button again’ habit. For others, it’s to simply shut the alarm and sleep for another 20-30 minutes before waking up scared that they’ll miss their morning commute.

I used to have quite a funny alarm habit myself. My alarm clock (the Fajr clock I mentioned above) was placed at the other end of my room. When it went off, I got up, walked across the room, turned it off and then walked straight back to bed for a snooze before my phone’s alarm woke me up. Normally, it worked for me. But, sometimes it didn’t and that bothered me.

Thinking about that routine, I realize it didn’t make sense. “Why am I heading back to my bed after waking up and walking across the room?!”. So I decided to change my routine to change my habit.

I simply changed the direction of my walk after I turned off the alarm. Instead of walking back to bed, I walked straight to the bathroom to get ready for salah. Initially, making that conscious shift of walking to the bathroom instead of the bed was quite challenging because I was trying to overcome an old habit. However, after a few days, this habit has become ingrained in me. Now, I find it much easier to get up at any time the adhan clock goes off and walk straight to the bathroom and get ready for salah.

Step 3 Tweak and Re-arrange

When I first changed my alarm habit, I used to have the Fajr alarm set at least 5 minutes before Fajr adhan. Of course, this gave me no time to pray tahajjud or witr on time. So what I wanted to do was gradually train my mind to wake up earlier and earlier each day. I knew that if I “jerk” my brain to wake up half an hour before the time it’s used to wake up, I might be tempted to go back to my old routine and walk straight into bed for a snooze.

To make this transition smooth, I followed a simple procedure. Each week, I set my alarm to go off 5 minutes earlier than the previous week. This small tweak of the alarm each week allowed me to gradually train my mind to consistently wake up 45 minutes before Fajr each day. This helped me overcome two of the challenges I mentioned earlier:

  1. Training my brain to wake up at “same time” each day.
  2. Staying consistent with night prayer.

What about the third challenge i.e. maintaining a consistent morning routine? To overcome this challenge, I would review my morning routine every three months. Normally, three months is enough time for Fajr prayer to have moved significantly to require me to tweak my morning routine. The way I tweak my morning routine is by either adding or removing “optional” morning activities to/from my “core” morning activities to have an optimal morning routine, depending on the season.

What are My Core/Optional Morning Activities? (Optional Activities Marked with *)

  • 4-6 raka’ah tahajjud*
  • 2 raka’ah tahajjud
  • Witr prayer
  • Istighfar
  • Repeat after the Fajr adhan with the nearby mosque mu’addhin
  • Fajr sunnah
  • Fajr prayer
  • Remembrance after salah
  • Morning remembrance
  • Qur’an recitation
  • Writing* – Brainstorming*
  • Reading*
  • Gym (swimming, weights, running)*
  • 7-30 minutes of home exercise
  • Breakfast

An Advance Tip

I want to go a level deeper with you and give you a really pro tip.This is for the productivity professionals out there.

You can play with the above system so you reduce the variance between your earliest summer wake-up time and earliest winter wake-up time. This way, you don’t go through massive swings during the year. For example, if Fajr gets as early as 3am and as late as 7am in your area (depending on the season), following my 45-minute routine before Fajr tip, the earliest you’ll wake up in the summer is 2.30am and the earliest you’ll wake up in the winter is 6.30am. However, that’s a 4 hour swing/variance in one year, which can be quite hard to adapt to.

What if during winter, instead of waking up at 6.30am, you wake up at 4.30am and give yourself a longer period to pray tahajjud. This way, the gap between your earliest winter wake-up time and summer wake-up time is 2 hours, which won’t be as difficult to adjust to, In sha Allah.

I hope the above has helped you in some way to develop a powerful wake-up routine that not only allows you to never miss Fajr, but also keep up with the Fajr timings throughout the year and get a chance to keep up with your night prayer each night. Of course, I must mention that waking up early for Fajr and tahajjud is a blessing from Allah sub?anahu wa ta'ala (glorified and exalted be He) and can only happen by His permission.

Hence whenever applying the above techniques, remember you’re simply taking the means, but your heart and hopes should be connected to Allah sub?anahu wa ta'ala (glorified and exalted be He) in Whose Hands is your ability to wake up. Pray that you wake up early and worship Him and remember: “You Alone we worship and You Alone we ask for help”.

Try out the 3-step routine and share your experience in the Comments section below.

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Do NOT Be Afraid— To Fear ALLAH (SWT) !

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inspirationareyoufearing

Do you actually fear disappointing the One you so dearly love? Have you in some way gone past the stage of fearing Him from your heart?
Let’s explore why fearing Allah ‘azza wa jall in a balanced way is crucial for your eternal success.
In this week’s central ayah Allah the Majestic gives you a weighty instruction in order to succeed in life: O you who have believed, fear Allah as He should be feared and do not die except as Muslims [in submission to Him] [Quran, 3:102]Flee to Allah
Imagine that you die before taking even one moment to turn to Allah ‘azza wa jall and seek His forgiveness for all the times you wronged others and yourself. Your heart is losing its softness, not living up to your repentance— death is overtaking you while you are indulging in your desires. Are these actually part of the things you fear?
Fear of Allah ‘azza wa jall is a beautiful, blessed, and unique type of fear, as it makes you flee to the One you fear, as He says: So flee to Allah. Verily, I (Muhammad) am a plain warner to you from Him [Quran,51:50] This beautiful ayah combines the meaning of both the fear and hope you should have: fear of Allah and turning to Him, for there is no refuge from Him except in Him. No one offers refuge from Him except Him; doesn’t this show you He is more Merciful than anyone else?
Words for Fear in the Quran
There are more than ten words for fear mentioned in the Quran, the most common being khawf (خَوف). Khawf is the type of fear you feel when you actually see the upcoming danger and in turn you are afraid of what is coming. For example when there is a severe weather warning, you see the signs and should prepare. So see the signs Allah ‘azza wa jall laid out for you in this life and prepare for the next!
Khashiyah (اَلْخَشِيَه) means you fear the direct harm of something, like fear of a dog or snake, fearing they bite you. Allah ‘azza wa jall constantly warns you in the Quran about things and people before you did wrong and their punishments, so you can choose not to go down that road and it can add to your khashiyah of the dangers of certain deeds.
Khushoo (اَلْخُشُوْع) is normally mentioned related to prayer and feeling humility and having concentration in prayer, but it also has an aspect of fear build in it. The type of fear you feel in your heart and then affects your limbs and your muscles. Keep making dua’ that the speech of Allah reaches your heart and even causes an effect on your body.
Taqwa (تقوى) means that you protect yourself, or take precaution out of a certain fear or concern. An example is when you lock up your house as a precaution measure for burglars. And this is exactly how you should be as a believer, active and alert at all times in this world and take precaution by your actions and deeds in order to protect yourself from bad consequences in this life and the next.

7 Ways to Increase Your Fear of Allah

1. Don’t forget yourself.
Sometimes you are so worried about and focused on others, you forget about yourself and you no longer have fears for yourself. You lose the connection with yourself and find yourself not getting emotional when you hear the Quran or when you make dua’. Reconnect with yourself, look in the mirror and recognize your weaknesses in your relationship with Allah ‘azza wa jall.
2. Be careful with exposing yourself.
Be careful with exposing yourself to scary movies, graphic video games etc. This overstimulation might harden your heart, so when you read about the scenes Allah ‘azza wa jall describes in the Hellfire for example, it hardly affects your heart anymore, as it is so hardened by the things you have been showing yourself. This is very important in your children’s upbringing, too!
3. Realize that fear is a blessing.
Allah ‘azza wa jall says: But for he who has feared the position of his Lord are two gardens. So which of the favors of your Lord would you deny? [Quran, 55:46-47] If you feel fear for standing in front of Him and mind your actions, this genuine fear actually qualifies you for Paradise; your fear is a blessing in disguise!
4. Reflect on the fear of the creation.
Did you know the Day of Judgement will be on a Friday? The Prophet salallahu ‘alayhi wa sallam said: There is no angel, sky, earth, wind, mountain, or river that does not fear Friday [ Ibn Maajah] With knowledge of this narration, remind yourself of the Day of Judgement on Friday– and every other day— and let it motivate you to fill your days with good deeds.
5. Be inspired by the fear of Jibreel.
Jibreel ‘alayhi wa sallam came to the Prophet salallahu ‘alayhi wa sallam and was crying. So the Prophet asked him, ‘What makes you cry?’ He said, “My eyes have not been dry since Allah created Jahannam, out of fear that I would disobey Him and He would throw me in it. [al-Bayhaqee] Have you ever cried just thinking about the Hellfire?
6. Think of the fear of the Companions.
Think of the amazing deeds they did, yet they felt so much fear. Whenever you do a deed, have both hope that Allah ‘azza wa jall will record it for you as fear it might not be accepted so you remain motivated to keep doing good deeds and aim higher and higher!
7. Advise yourself and others.
Make it a habit to talk to yourself and tell yourself out loud: Fear Allah! Also gently advise others out of love for them and their success in this life and the next byreminding them to fear Allah ‘azza wa jall, saying: اتقواالله‎, fear or be aware of Allah.
May Allah ‘azza wa jall adorn us with genuine, balanced fear of Him and assist us in acting upon the fear in this life, so we can be safe in the next, ameen!
Praying you will benefit,

Khawlah bint Yahya ~ United Kingdom
THE AYAH JOURNAL is dedicated to inspiring you to open the Quran every day, pick one ayah, and apply it to your own life by making acting on that ayah your mission for the day. Let’s bring back the message of the Quran to our daily lives! Check www.ayahjournal.com or www.facebook.com/ayahjournal for examples.
 

ACJU - Special Media Release

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All Ceylon Jamiyathul Ulama conveys its sincere thanks to the Sri Lankan Muslim community for abiding by the guidance provided by our organizing in the past period when various adversities were lobbed at them. We also congratulate the Lankan Muslims for acting in the most pleasant and judicious manner with forbearance thus contributing to preserve peace and harmony in our Motherland.

ACJU once again reminds our people that we should always turn towards the teachings of the Holy Qur’an and exemplary ways of our beloved Prophet (Sal) and his Companions for solutions for any and every crisis that come our way.

Sri Lanka Muslims have a historic reputation as an uncomplicated ethnic group that exists congenially with all the communities that live in this country and as an affable religious minority that always gives prominence for national welfare, unity and harmony. ACJU asserts the importance of steadfastly maintaining that good repute, especially in these turbulence times when we have become a chosen target for provocation.

Muslims are pointedly proscribed from insulting other faiths and the Holy Qur’an enjoins as follows in this regard:

‘And insult not those whom they (disbelievers) worship besides Allah, lest they insult Allah wrongfully without knowledge’
-Sura Al An Aam 108

However, Muslims have become more hurt by the latest stunt of the Bodu Bala Sena organization, in which it has started to make horrendous remarks against the Holy Qur’an by misinterpreting its commands and spitefully commenting on its verses out of context.

Along with other false allegations that could be disproved in no time, the BBS propagates that there is a concept in Islam called ‘Thaqiya’ as facilitated by the Holy Qur’an which allows Muslims to defraud people of other faiths and that makes lawful for Muslims to acquire properties and wealth of non Muslims by cheating them. This incredulous allegation have deeply disturbed the local Muslims and it might agitate global Muslims as well which is not going to profit our country in anyway. Especially in these times when the entire world is scrutinizing us.

We are hoping to soon secure an audience with His Excellency Mahinda Rajapaksa as well as one with Ven. Chief Prelate of the Asgiri Chapter to make an appeal in this regard with the ultimate hope that necessary steps would be taken to put an end to these atrocities that clearly have surpassed all the limits.

In the meantime, we call our community to continue to be patient and prudent in these chaotic times as certain evil elements eagerly watch for a single slip from our side to ignite nationwide mayhem. We also request Muslims to make additional supplication to Almighty Allah, soon after the forthcoming Jumu’a Prayer to bring about lasting peace and unity to our country.

Ash Sheikh M. M. A. Mubarak
General Secretary, All Ceylon Jamiyyathul Ulama

http://www.acju.lk/press-release/co-existence/

 

ACJU Special media statement

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Naturally, fresh and optimistic expectations started to sprout in the minds of every peace-loving Sri Lankan after the end of the long war that lasted over three decades. Every one of us firmly believed and hoped that we would be able to eliminate mutual mistrust, hatred and other downbeat feelings that have rooted in our hearts for so long and that we would be able to heal deep wounds that maimed our hearts. We also hoped that we would be able, as a nation, to join hands to create a social setting that would never let such unpleasant things to happen again.

Unfortunately, what we witness here today is a totally contrast and volatile social atmosphere in which several extremists flaming religious movements lob insults and spiteful statements at each other.

We, at ACJU felt that it is our paramount responsibility as the apex religious organization of the Lankan Muslims to provide guidance on how to act in this turbulent situation.

On careful observation, ACJU identified several reasons that have helped ignite the present flame. The first one of them is forcing a faith to others. Islam rejects this notion altogether. The Holy Qur’an says as following;

‘There is no compulsion in the religion’
(2:256)

Accordingly, Islam totally shuns insulting or criticizing other faiths or religious personalities of other faiths. If any one acts in this deplorable way, he defies teachings of Islam and acts on his own audacious volition. Thus the ACJU strongly condemns such actions.

We also beseech the respected religious leaders of Lankan Buddhists, Hindus and Christians not to assume these imprudent acts of a handful as attested by Islam or approved by the Muslim masses of this country. While expressing our deepest regrets for such actions, we urge the relevant authorities to take necessary actions against those impulsive offenders who defy the command of Allah:

‘Insult not those whom they (disbelievers) worship besides Allah’
6:108

The other matter that seriously affects conciliation as we believe is the incapacity to tolerate other religions and cultures. This narrow mentality entices one to reject the globally accepted reality of multi ethnicity. Islam totally rejects this phobia and concedes the universal reality of multi ethnicity and accepts the fact that various religious would continue to exist in this world. This is asserted by several verses in the Holy Qur’an such as the two given below:

‘The truth is from your Lord. Then whosoever wills, let him believe, and whosoever wills, let him disbelieve’
(18:29)

 

‘O mankind! We have created you from a male and a female, and made you into nations and tribes, that you may know one another’
(49:13)

We would like to urge Muslims of this country to abide by the guidance provided by our organization and treat all the fellow Lankan’s with brotherhood and warmth regardless of their religious orientations or ethnic identities and contribute to recreate conciliation and harmony in our beloved Motherland. Also we once again request the masses of other faiths and ethnicities not to look upon the imprudent actions of few misguided Muslims as the approved ideal of the entire Muslim community living in this country. Finally, we request those astride responsible seats to see that the law of this country is fairly implemented to every one regardless of their religious or ethnic distinctiveness.

Let us unite and contribute to create a social environment where we can live with peace and happiness through a just and impartial way while discarding hatred and mistrust. Let us join hands as the children of Mother Lanka and resolve to unravel any and every dispute come our way via dialog and discussion. Let us contribute to create a prosperous Sri Lanka and save her for she is the only Motherland we Lankan’s have gotten.

Ash Sheikh Fazil Farook
Media Secretary
ACJU

http://www.acju.lk/press-release/special-media-statement/

   

Living A Lie: Rape And The Burning Muslim Shops

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May 14, 2014 |

Hameed Abdul Karim

Hameed Abdul Karim

The other day I came across an article that appeared in The Island titled ‘Buddha Sasana Ministry Invasion is a Rehearsal for Regime Change’ and was horrified to find the writer had casually justified the arson attack on a shop in Aluthgama owned by Muslims by claiming that this had happened because a young Sinhala Buddhist boy had been raped by the owner inside the shop.

The writer had gone to extents to twist the facts of the case to suit his ‘theory of justification’ blindly ignoring all the facts that were out there in the open days before the incident took place. The police had taken the shop owner into custody and kept him in the cop shop for one and a half days after which they were compelled to release him because there was no evidence at all to press charges.

To add insult to injury the writer states quite categorically that the boy, allegedly raped, was hospitalised. This is an absolute fabrication on his part. If this was the case, as he claims, then it would be only proper for him to check the hospital records.

Inside the Fashion Bug

Inside the Fashion Bug

According to media reports this boy in question had gone to the shop with his mother and it was at this point that the alleged incident had taken place. If the shop owner had actually raped the boy or abused him in any way then common sense suggests that quite a length of time would have passed for the act to take place. What was the mother doing while the boy was absent? Mothers usually don’t lose sight of their children when on an outing like going out shopping. Clearly this is a set up.

Another thing that your readers must consider that anybody trader of any faith will never commit such a vile crime in the place where he derives his income from fearing, what we might call, a divine backlash.

The writer then abrasively claims that in any such incident the shop would have been burned even if the culprit happened to be a Sinhala Buddhist! This is about the most ridiculous statement I have read in a long time. The media often reports cases of Sinhala Buddhist fathers raping their daughters and even grandfathers raping their grand children, but there have been no reports of their livelihoods been destroyed. Child abuse is happening as we speak and if we were to go by the twisted logic of the writer we must read of vindictive arson attacks quite often.

Moreover, in this case the CCTV footage vindicates the shop owner. If there was even a shred of evidence against him the police would never have let him go. What must be borne in mind is that the pretext for this attack is identical to the attack on the Muslim owned shopFashion Bug at Pilyandala.

Take the reverse argument for a moment. Supposing a Sinhala Buddhist had raped a Muslim boy and a mob of Muslims had done the same thing that the mob of Sinhala Buddhists did to the Muslim owned shop in Aluthgama, would the writer or Sinhala Buddhists applaud and justify the crime? Why, there would be hell to pay if this ever happened.

Right thinking people who read this article in The Island would be angered by the casual manner in which the writer justifies and dismisses the burning of the Muslim owned shop, never mind to which faith or race they belong to. There is no doubt that this dastardly act was one based on unbridled racism.

All this brings in the role of the police. What were they doing all the while when they knew they had a situation on their hands? A situation that would cause a breach of the peace? Why did they give permission to carry out a protest march against the shop like as if it was a political rally? Or was this job consigned to the newly formed Religious Police? If so where were they?

In my stupidity I still believe there is a rule of law in this country. And in that frame of mind I think the law should have taken its course. If the Muslim trader had indeed raped the Sinhala Buddhist boy or any other boy he should have been taken into custody and dealt with, with the full force of the law.

As a civilised society (a claim that politicians often utter) we should be talking of apprehending the arsonists and about compensating the shop owner, but up until now nobody has been taken to task and the shop owner is left destitute. No police teams have been appointed to inquire into the matter even as a ploy to allay the fears of Muslims. Neither has any politician of the area ‘looked into the matter’ and promised to compensate the shop owner who probably voted for ‘his’ man or woman at the previous election. And the OIC of the police station in the area sits smugly in his seat oblivious to the crime that had been committed under his nose. Sri Lanka is certainly a ‘land like no other’.

 

The Roots of Communal Politics

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The emergence of the Bodu Bala Sena and its continuing militant, anti-Muslim political activism has irritated many liberally-minded people. Some of those who are agitated have responded by proposing simplistic solutions to contain the movement such as banning it. Like many other such groups, BBS also did not emerge from nowhere; it has its social and political roots. It is necessary to understand these roots to find a satisfactory resolution of the deeper issues involved.

As is well known, in spite of the efforts of the leftist and liberally-oriented parties to promote class or citizenship-based politics in the country even before the country gained political independence from the British, communal politics emerged as the dominant form of politics in post-independent Sri Lanka.

As many analysts including the present writer have pointed out on many occasions, the result was that the post-colonial public policies with respect to language, education, land settlement and employment have further reinforced rather than marginalized communal politics in the country. The ethnic and religious conflicts that emerged after independence further solidified ethnic consciousness and ethnic divisions. Consequently, competition for resources in a context of rapid population growth and rising aspirations of the masses for a higher standard of living was perceived by many as a zero sum game involving ethno-religious communities. This competition became even more intense after economic liberalization. This became evident during the 1983 ethnic riots, when racist groups openly participated in the violent campaign.


The thirty-year war that devastated the country and a large section of the population does not seem to have taught the leaders of the country a lesson



Increasing economic pressure after economic liberalization compelled most people to look for more lucrative income opportunities through a highly competitive process. In spite of the adoption of market friendly, liberal economic policies and the rise of the market forces, the post-1977 Sri Lankan state continued to play a dominant role in land alienation, resettlement, provision of education, employment of educated youth and infrastructure development. Leading ruling party politicians continued to allocate public resources largely on the basis of political loyalty and personal connections. Given the dominance of the majority ethnic community in government, the general perception was that much of the resources flowed into the hands of this ethnic group, though minority community members of the government could also follow the same practice to favour their own communities.

Persisting communal politics coupled with the continued reinforcement of the ethnic consciousness of the wider population, including many members of the elites, by educational institutions and the mass media led to a widely held public perception that it is ethnic groups that compete with each other for life chances, not individual citizens on the basis of their personal attributes and their relative social class position.

As I have pointed out in a number of articles in this column, ethno-linguistic segregation of the education system over many decades, even in so-called elite government schools in Colombo and other major towns have continued to facilitate the formation of exclusive, ethno-religious identities even among upwardly mobile members of ethnic groups. So, it is not just the underprivileged, monolingual members of ethnic groups who are sympathetic to ethno-religious extremism but also the more privileged people who have had their education in segregated schools where they had no opportunity to interact with children from other ethnic and religious communities and get acquainted with their cultures and social practices.

The prevailing cultural differences and the social distance between ethno-religious groups often facilitate the formation of settlements segregated on the basis of ethnicity and religion. So, even in the ethnically mixed regions of the country, we have exclusive Sinhala, Tamil and Muslim villages and there are not many villages where people belonging to different ethno-religious groups share the same space. Such a settlement pattern, though it does not necessarily lead to conflict, does not facilitate social interaction across communities. Community based organizations functioning at a village level also often remain confined to their respective villages without having many opportunities to work together and transcend long established boundaries.

So, in an increasingly competitive socio-economic environment, segregated ethno-religious groups tend to perceive one another as being engaged in a zero sum game when it comes to securing resources such as land, employment and business opportunities. Recent controversies at a national level over admissions to the law college, settlement of people in the Wilpattu national forest reserve in the North-West, Halal certification of manufactured food, etc. clearly point to this perception. Then, there are literally thousands of such disputes at a local level in almost all parts of the country. The latter often do not come to the attention of the national media.
Allocation of public resources and resolution of disputes between contending groups cannot be done in an amicable manner in a country where the state and the public institutions appear to fail to treat citizens equally on the basis of their inalienable rights. Rational public policies and independent state institutions are critically important here. When the allocation of public resources does not appear to be guided by rational public policies and handled by independent institutions and public officials, and when it is increasingly perceived by people as a process which is micro-managed by numerous, sectarian politicians at all levels, extremist groups can easily arouse communal sentiments among ethnically conscious people across communities. This is what is happening today with the BBS.


The prevailing cultural differences and the social distance between ethno-religious groups often facilitate the formation of settlements segregated on the basis of ethnicity and religion


This is not the first time that communal politics derailed rational public policies and undermined public institutions. Well-conceived Kannangara-education reforms were subverted by communalists in the recent past with disastrous results. The monolingual, segregated education system that came into being as a result has continued to divide the younger generations into rival ethnic camps engaged in violent communal campaigns themselves, to divide up not just public resources but the country itself. The thirty-year war that devastated the country and a large section of the population does not seem to have taught the leaders of the country a lesson. If so, they would strive to move away from communal politics and take steps to adopt rational public policies and empower public institutions to ensure that public servants manage public institutions in keeping with the rules, regulations and state policies rather than take a backseat, virtually allowing politicians to take their place. Given the long established tradition of patron-client politics, deep ethnic divisions and widespread political corruption, most politicians will not be considered by the general public as impartial actors in the public domain. The situation appears to have got worse in recent years when national politics became more communal and sectarian, not less.

So, in conclusion, what is argued here is that there are no short cuts to resolving inter-community disputes when social and cultural institutions like education and the media continue to reinforce ethno-religious divisions in society and promote the public perception that it is ethno-religious groups that compete with each other for life chances, not individual citizens and classes on the basis of merit, need and socio-economic standing.

Then, we are asking for politicians to move into a new kind of politics, either of a social democratic or at least of a liberal variety.
http://www.dailymirror.lk/opinion/172-opinion/46690-the-roots-of-communal-politics-.html
   

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