By Muhammed Fazl –
“Do not try to demolish a false set of beliefs except after building a correct set of beliefs [in the populace] – Imam Hassan Al-Banna
Quick to distance from, does the four letters ‘ISIS’ really spell danger for the Muslims or for them to be apologists and be all defensive just at the mere mention of it? While I am yet to understand the now-fashionable practice of Muslims being answerable to or compromising their faith and religious practices to suit misguided adherents of different faiths, instead of contributing towards an unjust society of immorality and lawlessness, I believe it is time the followers of Islam stood their ground and for the rest of the world to start learning that which was revealed over 14 centuries ago.
Unlike most philosophies and rituals-only beliefs in present times, Islam being a complete source of guidance and teaching a comprehensive set of laws, little wonder that it has become the fastest growing and the most popular religion in the world. One may mythicize the sheer number as a result of ‘conversion by the sword’, but would it be remotely possible for a religion of peace to be spread by the sword?
History has taught us that non-Muslims living under Islamic rule were always treated with respect. When Muslims ruled Spain for over 800 years, the non-Muslims living there flourished. When India was under Muslim rule for about a thousand years, had it been ruled by the sword, there wouldn’t be 85% non-Muslim population today either. No Muslim army has ever invaded Indonesia (where it now has the largest Muslim population in the world) or the Muslim majority Malaysia. Likewise, no Muslim army was ever sent to the East Coast of Africa either.
In reality, the religion of peace spread much faster during periods of peace than during times of wars. An article which appeared in Reader’s Digest Yearbook of 1986 gives the statistics of the increase of the percentage of the major religions which indicated the Muslim population increasing by 235% while Christianity increased by 47% during a ‘no Islamic conquest’ period between 1934 and 1984. Even though Islam continued to spread when Muslims were not prevailing economically, socially or politically, it is an irrefutable fact that it was the force of truth, reason and logic that was responsible for the rise as seen today. While there is an indication of certain periods where Muslim rulers have been intolerant of other faiths and its adherents, it was indeed due to a deviation from Islamic principles rather than being in conformity with the edicts of Holy Quran or the traditions of the Prophet of Islam.
Ranked 9th among the top ten countries in the world for the highest cases of rape, ranked 4th highest for cases of suicides, ranked as the 4th biggest boozing nation in the world and the intended casino paradise and that which comes along the side industry of prostitution, would this be the trend in store for the future generation of this country?
Falsely portrayed as secular to the unsuspecting, successive governments have all played the Sinhala Buddhist card all along to stay in power, sometimes resulting in devastating consequences especially for the minorities. Having learned a little late to be safe than sorry, recent communal/racist attacks seems to have taught minority communities not to be reliant on the Sinhalese dominated security forces for protection. Deep-rooted racist mentalities of the legislators in the parliament seems to be of no consolation either for the minorities, either due to absence of equal opportunities or due to failures on the part of the state to re-distribute wealth equally.
While the Mahanayakes of the four Chapters seems to be dozing off in their luxurious enclaves when the country situation is in tatters, the Catholic high priests seems to be excited only with the arrival of the Pope while paying scant regard to the ploy of President Rajapaksa (MR) who shortened the campaign period of the opposition parties and for using the Pope’s visit as an excuse. The ‘pedophiles-shielding’ pseudo men of faith they are, they should have postponed the visit knowing very well the harm that could befall the country if MR is allowed another term.
The Tamil National Alliance (TNA) or the Hindu clergy seems to be doing no favors to the country either with their activities restricted to matters concerning only their community and or the Northern Peninsula. The opportunists they are, leadership of the Sri Lanka Muslim Congress (SLMC), All Ceylon Muslim Congress (ACMC) and the ‘Muslim’ members of parliament representing the Rajapaksa government are performing no better either and it seems they are interested only in personal financial gains and plump positions, thus playing in to the hands of MR by dividing the Muslim community and their voter base.
In a country where its own adherent pay lip service to its teachings or donate only loose change to their places of worship for its upkeep, I question the wisdom behind governments giving a ‘foremost’ position to Buddhism. Recently Mr. Gotabaya Rajapaksa claimed to have donated 30 million of public money for making cosmetic changes to a temple belonging to a politically allied monk. That is well and fine. But as a Muslim, my point of contention here is, WHY SHOULD Muslims contribute towards extravagant tamashas associated with a different religion? If maintaining places of worship is the responsibility of the state, I believe funds should be allocated proportionately taking in to account the population percentage of all communities. Believing tax collected by the state should be spent accordingly, would it also be wise to pay corporate and personal taxes knowing well that it would be used to fund a lavish lifestyle of a corrupt few? In this scenario and with prevalent marginalization of minorities, would the lower-end segment of the minority communities receive their fair share of state benefits as well?
When politicians are being traded regularly between political parties for selfish gains and or with minimum educational qualifications or integrity, would it also be sensible for the self-respecting kind or the victimized to seek fairness or justice from the existing system when one’s rights are infringed upon? Corrupt to the core, public money being swindled, the judiciary made insignificant and lawlessness reigning, does it not arise the need for the country to adopt an alternative source of governance?
Serendipity In Serendib
Stressing once again my belief that Democracy in Sri Lanka has been a failure, and where popularity reigns over competence and where might is right, it has become imperative for rules to be changed since ‘demography’ too seems to have changed. Having been inspired by the great thinker Seyyed Qutb who once said “It is impossible for life to not affect faith, or for faith to have a separate existence away from life”, I believe all Muslims (Moor, Malays, Bohras, Memons) living in Sri Lanka should come under one Imam (Caliph to be precise) towards fulfilling their purpose of creation and for establishing social justice within the community if not in the country.
Likewise, I believe the Buddhist, Hindu and the Christian communities too should come under one priest or leader, guiding their faithful and creating a sense of unity at least within their communities. Should there be a conflict between communities of different faiths, there should be an environment where respected and learned leaders of respective communities coming together and resolving matters in a peaceful and an amicable manner. It is said that all religions teaches us good things in life and the fact that there is always a solution for every man-made complication. So why not appoint ONE respected spiritual/religious leader to represent each religious community?
Representing the Islamic faith and community in Sri Lanka, I believe Muslims should be taught, guided and ruled by (where it is possible) Islamic teachings and laws. While there is no need for no alarm bells to ring in the minds of the non-Muslim population, the Islamic system should be aggressively pursued as the best alternative in creating a society with good moral values, honest business practices and an impartial justice system among others. To set the ball rolling, I sincerely hope the following will get the attention of religious leaders in the Muslim community,
1. Family disputes, marital discord etc. to be taken to a local Muslim Qazi (judge) and for it to be resolved based on the teachings of Islam, either voluntarily or when reported by a 3rd party.
2. Vigilante squads to be set up to monitor clothing attire and crackdown on indecent and revealing clothes worn in public by Muslims.
3. If Halal certifications cannot be enforced publicly, all food products manufactures/importers should give assurances to a Muslim Halal regulatory body (in private at least) of adhering to Halal requirements and give access to verify the process when required.
4. Irrespective of what school they attend, private or otherwise, Muslim, Buddhist or Christian, making sure that every Muslim girl who attains the age of puberty is allowed to wear clothes in conformance to the teachings of Islam.
5. Financial disputes to be settled first in the presence of a Muslim Qazi, thus safeguarding the respect of all parties concerned. The present Roman Dutch law system usually takes years for any kind of justice to be meted out and it will also be a burden if every dispute is to be addressed in the present day over-crowded courts of law.
6. Apart from the regular corporate/personal taxes paid to the government, all Zakath money (obligatory annual charity tax of 2.5% of all income/assets) to be pooled in to one fund and distributed to a list of deserving poor recipients. While each donor can nominate names of recipients, the Zakath Committee should have the final say in the redistribution of wealth.
7. Law enforcement units or civil defense forces within the community to be created in each town in partnership with the state law-enforcement authorities. While this may reduce the burden on the country’s Police Department, in the event of clashes, the Muslim community will be in a better position to maintain peace and since they are usually the ‘lamb to the slaughter’.
8. To establish enforcement teams to assure that every child receives education up to a secondary level and that no child from no community is employed in any sector if they are under the age of 16.
9. Religious education should be made compulsory for all Muslim children, be it at a secular school or afterwards in a seminary/mosque/institute.
10. Establish a monitoring committee to prevent fanaticism or violent radicalism taking roots in the minds of the Muslim youths.
While the list is too long to be written here, it must be mentioned that terrorists and criminals are created and never born. While it is no secret that certain violent Sinhalese Buddhist movements like the Bodu Bala Sena (BBS) have aligned themselves with the regime of President Rajapaksa and is fuelling an inevitable human disaster, as a counter measure, the rise of a violent Islamic movement and in the lines of the ISIS of Babylonia cannot be discounted in the event President Rajapaksa is allowed another term. On the other hand, the ‘unknown angels’ they are, Mr. Maithripala Sirisena and Mr. Ranil Wickremesinghe seems to have impeccable credentials and honesty in their respective political careers and I believe minorities, especially the Muslims and Tamils should reject the ‘known devil (MR) for good.
January 08, 2015, just maybe the day that determines the country heralding a prosperous and a just society or the day the country reverts to an anarchist and a lawless one. Either case, the call for the establishment of a borderless Islamic State for the Muslims seems to be louder than ever now, and believing it would be in the best interests of detractors, especially the pseudo ‘Muslim’ politicians to stay out of the way when establishing divine laws of God, the following verse just happened to cross my thoughts,
“Permission [to fight] has been given to those who are being fought, because they were wronged. And indeed, Allah is competent to give them victory” – 22:39 Al-Quran.
*The writer is an independent social/political activist and can be contacted on firstname.lastname@example.org and through FB (Fazl Muhammed Nizar)