By Muhammed Fazl –
Be they political leaders or men in robes, if a non-believer understands it as a concept of terror, then it would only expose their ignorance and fear of the fastest growing religion in the world. Considering the recent events, my attitude arising from my steadfastness in my Islamic faith would be far more harmless compared to the lethal tactics of the ruling class and their politicized armed forces using monks in suppressing my right to practice my faith in this isle where I was born!
To begin with, it was NEVER an issue of a clash of religions in this country. In the past, losing Buddhist adherents to other faiths never created any problems to any community nor did Lord Buddha prohibit his disciples from believing in another scripture in any of his teachings. And it makes me wonder why the present day ‘flag bearers’ of Buddhism force the noble teachings on people and admonish them when they become non-believers. With no spiritual or divine figure to hold its adherents accountable for their actions, I question the authority of existing high priests and the validity of their judgments when they themselves are held hostage by a gang of thieving and a murderous kind. My observation originates from the deafening silence of the Maha Sangha on the present state of affairs of this country when it is seen as all but right even by a blind man.
While it is no secret that high priests do enjoy a cushy and luxurious lifestyle, the blind followers need to do a lot of soul searching when the ‘most venerable’ of Buddhism are allowed to act on the contrary to the basic teachings of Lord Buddha. In this context, one should be able to question the decisions of misguided Buddhist monks seeking leadership positions amongst the ignorant faithful. Failure to do so would erode centuries old noble practices and possibly the faith itself may face a gradual extinction as well.
Taking into account the current murder rates, rape cases, hatred levels, extortion, theft, alcoholism, lawlessness and intolerance among others, bitter pill it may be to some, but the failure of Buddhism as a state religion in this country can no longer be ignored. And so an irony it becomes when men in saffron-colored robes interfere with the teaching of other faiths and its followers, especially that of Islam and Muslims.
Being a Muslim and living in a country where a state religion exists only by name, I seriously question the compromising attitudes of leaders of minority religions when they try appeasing ‘suited-for-times sentiments’ of the majority community. Also when worship of idols, trees and ritualistic/pagan practices are construed as religiousness as against following and living by the beautiful teachings of Lord Buddha, one need not be surprised with the turn of events in the last century in the history of Sri Lanka.
Considering the present mentality and the ignorance of the majority community, it is my firm belief that Muslims in Sri Lanka should not deviate from their centuries-old practice and beliefs and should stay steadfast so as to be exemplary to the misguided lot. Hence, the call for every Muslims to take up the cause of a jihadi. As for the definition of the Arabic word, it can be interpreted as an exertion of our best efforts in our inner struggle for what is right and to fight evil and injustice. Talking of injustice and living under a despotic political culture, the Sinhalese Buddhist majority embracing the Jihadi concept might also just be the need of the hour!
*The writer is an independent social/political activist and can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org