By Nishthar Idroos –
Response to – Fundamentalism Creeps Into Muslim International Schools– Part I
Fundamentalist Islam creeping in a leading Muslim School in Colombo shrieked a recent caption in one of the Colombo based news portals. School in question Ilma International Girls School located in Colombo. A leading and established private Muslim Girls’ School in the country. Motto of Ilma International Girls’ School reads thus in the school’s website “Qul, Rabbi Zidni Ilma” which is an excerpt from the Noble Quran .i.e. “Say! O My Lord, Advance me in knowledge” (Chapter 20: Verse 114)
Fear sells and peddling fear vis a vis Muslims and Islam is a lucrative industry. Donald Trump, Ben Carson, Sam Harris, Bill Maher. Daniel Pipes some names in the international platform that come to my mind presently raking-in big. Some have called it the Islamophobia Industry. The tide of Islamophobia that is sweeping through Europe and the United States noticeably lacks spontaneity raising suspicion of shadow designers working overtime. Coterie of well-educated, well paid right-wing cadre of intellectual hucksters, bloggers, politicians, pundits, religious leaders and over-zealous scribes are having a rocking time. In some countries Muslims postulating a deviant persuasion vis a vis worship (Sufi order grave worshippers, saint worshippers) have joined the bandwagon too. They inject their own venom to enhance credibility. The strategy seems to be working.
It’s indeed a major challenge today to portray the real truth of Islam over widespread media speculation and disinformation. Complicating matters are the actions of a negligible few who draw inspiration from Islamic sources all for the wrong reasons. The ISIS crisis is good example regardless who created and funded the organization. In this media saturated century with rampant ignorance of the subject things are going haywire and getting out of control. It seems everyone is in to settle a score with Islam and Muslims.
Muslims the world over are going through a period of testing which is commonly known as fitnah in Arabic (trials and tribulations). Life rushes ahead beckoning us into the unknown but in a strange sort of way it has all been done before. This is not the first time in history that Muslims have suffered from the consequences of lies and misrepresentations. However, when lies and misunderstandings are piled high the truth seekers of this world have a way of finding the gold buried beneath the dirt. Islam is like that gold, it can lie quietly, and it loses none of its beauty by doing so. As a matter of fact when extracted from the dirt the impact is even sweeter on the soul.
Twisted and debased theology of extremists cannot remove or dent firm faith inscribed in hearts of billions of Muslims. Nor will neo-cons with their well-motivated agents win by hurling demonic propaganda. The world knows Islam, its universality proven by its effectiveness. Islam ruled a good portion of the world for a very long time. Spain was with the Muslims for almost 800 years. Its political, economic and social structures very much intact. Its civilization a solid bridge for other civilizations to flourish. Islam imposes no difficulties on its adherents. Everything Islam enjoins is meant to preserve faith, life, intellect and posterity.
How can a few thousands derail the strong convictions of billions? William Montgomery Watt a Scottish historian, an Emeritus Professor in Arabic and Islamic studies at the University of Edinburgh said “Islam is not a private matter for individuals touching only the periphery of their lives, but something which is both private and public, something that permeates the whole fabric of society in a way of which men are conscious”
The “Wahhabi” threat, “Salafi” threat, “Creeping Shariah” “ United States of Islamica,” “Eurabia,” “Londonistan,” “Terror babies” “Islamofascism” are commonly seen captions today. It’s just beginning in Sri Lanka. Strange appellatives manufactured with alacrity in the posh linguistic factories of the west all year round and reaching global destinations faster than light. For a fairly long time they’ve indefatigably labored behind scenes to convince their compatriots that Muslims are the enemy, exhuming ghosts of 9/11 and dangling portraits of Usama bin Laden before the eyes of horrified populations to control and capitulate Muslims.
Readers, I have to deal with some of these issues and outrageous allegations with facts and references from the Quran and authentic Sunnah, do bear with me. As rightly stated in the motto of Ilma International Girls School the concept of knowledge occupies an important position in Islam. In Islam knowledge is all-encompassing the opposite of which is ignorance which is reprehensible. “Fundamental” to this knowledge is the knowledge of the Creator of the seven heavens and earths and all within it – Allah. In this science obsessed world secular knowledge commands greater respect than religious knowledge. Accordingly emphasis on Science, Mathematics and personalities associated them namely Albert Einstein, Stephen Hawking command a high following.
Though Islam encourages the pursuit of worldly knowledge it has certain built-in priorities. Knowledge of Allah, Muhammad (may Allah exalt his mention) and Islam takes precedence. “O mankind, worship your Lord, who created you and those before you, that you may become righteous – [He] who made for you the earth a bed [spread out] and the sky a ceiling and sent down from the sky, rain and brought forth thereby fruits as provision for you. So do not attribute to Allah equals while you know [that there is nothing similar to Him] (Chapter 2: Verse 21,22) This is the first command in the Quran promulgated to all mankind. I wish to draw the reader’s attention to the very first verse of this particular chapter. Who is Allah addressing in this particular verse? Is He addressing Muslims, Christians, Jews, Buddhists, Hindus, Sikhs? The verse says O mankind? A serious point to ponder, every soul living today that is a part of this huge family called mankind must reflect on this verse. And who else can say “And I did not create the jinn and mankind except for My worship” (Chapter 51: Verse 56) Allah also emphatically states in the last testament revealed to all mankind just before the hour “So know (O Muhammad) none has the right to be worshipped but Allah), and ask forgiveness for your sins” ( Verse 47: Chapter19).
The “fundamental” creed of Islam is “La Mabood bi Haqin illallah” – .i.e. there is none worthy of worship in truth except Allah. Acknowledging this testimony brings one to the fold of Islam rejecting it takes him out. It’s indeed gratifying to note that Muslims of Sri Lanka have a truly blessed Institution in Ilma international Girls School. An institution committed to clarifying the fundamental faith related issues. It also teaches all the various secular modules to thousands of students at any given time. My two elder daughters too studied in this school and are thriving. As a father I am more than pleased at both of their academic and Islamic achievements. I unreservedly encourage any parent to admit their child to this great institution.
The particular news on the news portal went on to elaborate a supposed “Salafist- Wahhabist” teachings had concerned parents remove children from the school. An inference that the school in question is teaching a kind of pure ultraconservative, fundamentalist Islamic ideology to its children. Moreover, it added that the teachings represent a marked deviation from traditional Sri Lankan and South East Asian Muslims.
What a load of unalloyed poppycock! Sounds like a far worse leather hunt than George Walker Bush’s well-articulated yet deception laced WMD’s in Iraq. This is nothing but a fatally misunderstood creed and methodology that has got hit from the very inception by way of outlandish appellatives and other methods from those bereft of sound Islamic knowledge. Joining the partnership have been the world’s right wing who are hell-bent on demonizing Islam and the Sufi Tareeqa’s. It’s an ongoing thing frequently picked up by the media to spice things up, you know what I mean – a recourse to sensationalism. I don’t blame the media but wish to impress upon the Muslims to get serious with their religion. They must go to the authentic sources and eschew all forms of ignorance.
The spillover is now reaching the public domain in Sri Lanka, albeit with rage and silly polemics emanating routinely. This is not just a local phenomenon. Ignorance has rendered a heightened contamination. Today we find Muslim professionals, namely, doctors, lawyers, diplomats, journalists, politicians, businessman all taking misinformed, unintelligent jabs at issues they know very little about. They speak with apparent revulsion about Wahhabism, when questioned about its historical importance and etymology, actual political underpinnings for the phenomenon or the pseudo religious interrelation they either throw a blank face or deliver a diatribe against the Saud family.
Prevalent prejudices, stereotypes, mindsets and antipathies has coalesced to the creation of a non-existent monster. A monster who had earned perpetual culpability. A monster that needs to be under constant surveillance as he or she could prove dangerous. All and sundry are incessantly cautioned against these individuals. The gun tooting, bomb making, women oppressing Wahhabi maniacs are here. They’re getting ready for a Clint Eastwood kind of operation.
A word of caution to non-muslims especially those in the political and editorial recliner, do not confuse orthodoxy with extremism. The difference is like chalk and cheese. The definition for “orthodoxy” in Islam is adhering to authentic sources and sticking to it tenaciously. The terms “Salafist-Wahhabist” due to it’s prolong assailment by both the west, orientalists and innovators running down for centuries have acquired a goni billa connotation. The strategy seemed to have worked, it’s quite ingenious in fact. The best way to keep Muslims and general folk far away from the truth of Islam is to expose them to an imaginative yet hideous behemoth beast with the name Wahhabi.
Does anyone recall the days when the world media associated Islam with the face of Usama bin Laden? This is after using the bloke to the tilt for all of the dirty work of Uncle Sam. Recently I watched a YouTube clip of a supposed terrorism expert. He was representing a major and reputed think-tank in the US. When he said that Usama bin Laden was a Wahhabi I flipped. If in fact Usama Bin Laden was a Wahhabi one third of America would have been Muslims by today including the Bush family. This is because Wahhabism is orthodoxy and exudes teachings that’s wholesome sustenance to the heart, soul and the intellect. Americans are an intelligent people presently ripped off intellectually by oligarchs and putrid demagogues. Sri Lankans have a great saying for this in Sinhala – “Gonata Andanawa”
The term Wahhabism is western construct. The Brits were the first to use it against Indian Muslims. Its implied idiom takes root in the 18th century reform and revivalist movement of the Mujaddith scholar Muhammad Ibn Abdul Wahhab Ibn Suleiman in the backdrop of rampant Polytheism that had crept to the Arabian Peninsula in gross opposition to the fundamental tenets of Islam .i.e Tawheed – Absolute Monotheism. As you can see his name was Muhammad hence his actions should have been termed as Muhammadi then why was it called Wahhabi? They knew what would happen if the noble revivalist movement was termed Muhammadi. The nefarious political motives made clear here. Extending great support for this were the Sufi Muslims as seen today all over the world.
No scribe should plunge to the deep-end of this political maneuverings and seemingly internecine squabble sans full cognizance of the facts and issues at hand. The matter at hand is complex, complicated and all-consuming. It’s an exhaustive labyrinth. Clarifications will essentially demand extended sittings with people blessed with true knowledge not half-baked experts donning designer raiment’s and cheap Made in China “Donald Trump” necktie like our US expert cited above. This writer devoted the last twenty years to learn this religion. I beg of you not to unintelligently hurl a missile and get crucified. Muslims are gradually getting educated on this matter and are keeping abreast with true authentic knowledge Alhamdulillah.
Reading between the lines of the said article it was pretty evident to the discerning reader as to the motives and supposed collaborators of this Colombo Muslim school hullabaloo. I humbly request for sanity and enlightened minds to deliberate. This is a great Muslim institution and please don’t destroy it.
I have planned a part 2 for this article. I will Insha Allah deal with each of the allegations as enumerated below and extracted from the article. Accordingly I will deal with the following
Fundamentalist Islamic ideology
Deviating from traditional Sri Lankan and South East Asian Muslims.
Extremist movements and the sociologists who confer confirmation.
Black face veil as a symbol of radicalism
Sri Lankan Muslims joining ISIS
Lankan Muslims wearing saree and salwar Kameez
Celebration of the Prophet’s (may Allah exalt his mention) birthday
Resisting perceived western domination
Muslims celebrating feasts (Kanduri)
Radical and moderate Muslims.
The interesting video and the person in it.
*Writer is a Canadian citizen of Sri Lankan descent. He is a freelance journalist with a keen interest in PRIME – Politics, Religion, Islam, Marketing and Economics/Entrepreneurship. He is a Graduate of the Chartered Institute of Marketing UK. Also holds a MBA from Vinayaka Missions Foundation University India.