By Alavi Sheriffdeen –
I was disturbed by a phone call today. Someone called me in the morning and was talking about the Sri Lankan situation with lots of concern. I was very sympathetic and was appreciating his concern about our country of origin. However, while he was talking to me he mentioned the term “your people…” I stopped him and sought explanation as to what he meant by that. He told me “Muslim people”.
I told him the following in very clear and simple language:
My friend, listen very carefully to what I’m going to say to you. I’m a person who believes in the multiple identities of any modern man. I am a human universally, multilingual, religiously Muslim, ethnically south Asian and onwards. My identity may not be static and it could be volatile as days pass by. Please do not judge me from what you see externally as I may have possess something else within my mind.
I categorise people in Sri Lanka Into three categories: 1) those who are peace loving people who want to do their daily routines in their lives and who want to continue to live in their peaceful country. 2) those who want to create violence by creating suspicions and planting conspiracy theories in the heart of innocent young generations about other religious communities. 3) those opportunists who want to use current situations to manipulate and to gain short term benefit them.
My friend, listen carefully… I continued further.
You will find all these types of people from all communities including Buddhists, Hindus, Muslims and Christians. So, my friend, wrong doers do not just belong to one race or religion. Out of the above three categories there, two groups are formed: Peace lovers and Trouble makers. None of the religions preaches terror, violence or hatred. If anyone does this, they cannot be religious people as most of the religions attempt to solve the problems humans face on earth, not the opposite. The problem we find is there are people who misinterpret religious text or act contrary to the teaching of their own religion. This is exactly what is happening in Sri Lanka. In the past few days we have seen some young people involved with violent riots and hate campaigns.
It is unfortunate there were a few racist Buddhist monks among those people who were damaging the properties of innocent civilians, attacking Muslim places of worship, and harming Muslim civilians for no reason other than the fact that they are followers of the Islamic faith. This is nothing other than pure racism. He cannot claim to be a Buddhist while he is committing these crimes against other human being. That was not what Buddha taught. If a Muslim does the same I would say the same thing as he is a racist and he cannot be a Muslim while he is doing it.
So, my friend, accept my statement in very clear language. I as a human, do care about the well-being and security of each and every human being on earth I do not care what religion or race they come from. They could be rich or poor, they could be from a village or from a big city. My concern is that every human being has dignity which must be respected by everyone. His honour, wealth and family must be valued and protected from any harm. No one has the right over anybody to harm them by any means.
So, out of these two categories of people, I would call those people causing trouble, inciting violence and hatred the terrorists of 2018. These evils do not belong to any religion other than the religion of evilness and terrorism, they must be wiped out from the earth so the world can live peacefully for the next generations. Please do not tell me “your people”.
My people are not terrorists as I have many of my people in the name of Dharmapala, Rajmohan, Muhammad and David’s name. They are religious and peace-loving people who will NOT terrorise any fellow human being. Those who are terrorising others by any names, whatever the religion they claim to be, are nothing other than from the religion of terror and hate.
As someone said if your religion requires you to hate someone, you need a new religion.
Are you one of them or one of us? There was no response.
*Dr Seyed Sheriffdeen teachers VCE subjects Religion and Society and Text and traditions in Australia.