31 October, 2020

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Kandyan Kings, Unani Medicine And Buddhist Extremists

By Rifai Naleemi –

Dr. Rifai Naleemi

Patriotism, loyalty and allegiance of Muslim to Mother Lanka in Sri Lanka Part: 3

There is no doubt that Muslims have been loyal citizens of Sri Lanka throughout Sri Lankan history. They fought with Sinhalese to protect the Island from the onslaught of colonial powers. Dewaraja notes that “when the Portuguese first appeared off the shoes of Sri Lanka, the Muslims warned the kings, sangha, nobles and the people of the potential threat to the country’s sovereignty. When the Portuguese tried to gain a foothold in Colombo, the Muslims provided firearms, fought side by side with the Sinhalese and even used their influences with South Indian powers to get military assistance to Sinhalese rulers. Through the intervention of the Muslims, the Zamorin of Calicut sent three distinguished Moors of Cochin with forces to help Mayadunne” (P. 50). This illustrates Muslim people’s loyalty to this nation and they defended this land with their lives against any foreign invasions. Muslim people did their best to get all help and support from Muslim world to protect this nation from colonial powers.

During the 15th and 16th centuries Ottomans Empire was one of the mightiest dynasties in the world and they ruled over the most of Middle Eastern countries and some Asian countries. Sometimes Non-Muslim nations in Asian regions sought the military help of Ottoman Empire to defeat the Portuguese invasion. Bernard Lewis notes that “1563 the Muslim ruler of Atjeh in Sumatra sent an embassy to Istanbul requesting for the military assistance against the Portuguese, as an inducement, several of the Non-Muslim rulers of the region had agreed to become Muslim if the Ottomans would come to their aid. Yet, Ottomans were unable to come in support of these nations because they were busy with more urgent matters-in the siege of Malta and of Szigetvar in Hungary, the death of Sultan Suleyman the Magnificent ” (Barnard Lewis: P. 15). Ceylon Muslims would have sought Ottoman support to defend this Island had there been any urgent need for such help.

Muslims and Sinhalese kings

Kamalika Pieris is narrating one of fascinating stories (if it is a true story) that might reveal some new information about Muslim and Sinhalese relationship in this country and yet, this story was not really studied well by the historians: It is a timely needed story to be examined with some historical evidence. This story was reported some historians as well. “There is also a report in the history of Sri Lanka of a Muslim Ruler, Vathimi Raja, who reigned at Kurunegala (North Central Province) in the 14th century. This factor cannot be found in the history books due to their omission, for reasons unknown, by modern authors. Vathimi Raja was the son of Kings Bhuvaneka Bahu, by a Muslim spouse, the daughter of one of the chiefs. The Sinhalese son of King Bhuvaneka Bahu I, Parakrma Bahu III, the real heir to the throne was crowned at Dambadeniya under the name of Pandita Parakrama Bahu III. In order to be rid of his step bother Vathimi Raja, he ordered that his eyes be gouged out. It is held that the author of the (Mahavansa: ancient history of Ceylon) had suppressed the recording of this disgraceful incident. The British translator, Mudaliyar Wejesinghese states that original Ola (Leaf script) was bodily removed from the writings and fiction inserted instead. The blinded Vathimi Raj (BhuvanekaBahu II or al-Konar, abbreviated from Al-langar_Konar, meaning Chief for Lankan of Alakeshwara) was seen by the Arab traveller Ibn Batuta during his visit to the Island in 1344. His son named Parakrama Bahu II (Alkeshwara II was a Muslim. The lineage of Alkeshwara kings of (Muslim origin) ended in 1410. Although all the kings during this reign may not have been Muslims, the absence of the prefix-Shri Sangha Bodi-( pertaining to the disciples of he Buddha) to the name of these kings on the rock inscriptions during this hundred years period may be considered as an indicator that they were not Buddhists”( Kamilika Pieris. P.9).

ACS Hameed

What a fascinating story that tells us the true intimate nature of Muslim and Sinhalese relationship from 13th, 14th and 15th centuries onward. If this was a true story this should shed more light on Muslim and Sinhalese relationship: It is not a mystery that Muslims in Sri Lanka married Sinhalese people in the past and those marrying more than one wife may have been normal traditions of kings. It is pity that Historians have not made any constructive research on this fascinating story that tells us a true nature of Muslim and Sinhalese relationship in Sri Lanka: This would have been possible because of the fact that during this period in history Muslims were influential trading force in Asia. India was Under Muslim rule as well. Moreover, Muslim influence and particularly Ottoman Influence was apparently noticeable during the time on sea and costal areas. It was during this time that the King in Maldives Island embraced Islam and inhabitants of all tiny Islands become Muslims: In this sense, this story would have been true and unfortunately, the entire family trees of these Muslim rulers were deleted and omitted from Mahavamsa and Sinhalese chronicle. It would not be wrong to trace ancestry history of some Muslims from this historical account and yet, Muslim did not maintain the traditional methods of tracing family trees in Sri Lanka. It may be for some religious and legal reasons. Historians have already vividly recorded Ibn Batuta’s visits to Ceylon and he himself recorded his visits to Ceylon in his travelogue in Arabic. There must be some truth in historical accounts of Ceylon history: It is the time now that Muslim and Sinhalese historians should shed some light on these types of historical facts and stories that enhance Muslim and Sinhalese relationship. Reading the original works of Ibn Batuta in Arabic should reveal more information about the true nature of Muslim and Sinhalese relationship. It was improbable that Ibn Batuta would have ventured out into this Island had there been any hostile situation in Ceylon then during his time. His visit itself testifies good and amicable communal relationship prevailed during his time.

Muslims in Kandian Kingdom

Sri Lankan history tells that Muslims were more trusted and more integrated in Kandyan kingdom. It was Kandyan Kings who protected Muslims during the Portuguese attacks on Muslims in the western province: Portuguese wanted to obliterate Muslims from western province for two reasons: because of their religious hatred towards Muslims and of trade domination: History tells us that during this epoch in Muslim history in Ceylon thousands of Muslims were killed and chased out by Portuguese from Colombo and its suburbs. Had not such exodus of Muslims population taken place in Ceylon history Muslims would have been clear majority in Colombo today and Muslim demography would have been different: It could be assumed that had this Portuguese aggression taken place Muslim population would have been more than 20% today. I would argue that such historical assumption would have been possible given nature of Muslim influence in Indian sub-continent during this time in history. Moreover, more and more Indian Muslim would have been migrated to Ceylon those days had Portuguese aggression on Muslim not taken place during this period in history.
It is high time now that Muslim academics and historians do some research on Ceylon Muslim holocaust in 5005 by Portuguese: Same like Nazi holocaust Jews in Germany Muslims in Ceylon were persecuted in a large numbers and yet, this atrocity was not exposed to the international community. This was one of the blood bath in Ceylon history and unfortunately this historical horrific incident was not yet examined or scrutinised by historians in Sri Lanka in our modern times: It is high time now that Muslim people do some historical research on this subject and reveal some of the atrocities committed on innocent Ceylonese Muslims in 1505 by Portuguese. It was Kandyan kings who provided shelter and refuge for these persecuted Muslims. It was Kandyan Kings with their compassion and kindness extended their moral and material support for Muslims on those difficult days: It is duty of each and every Muslim in Sir Lanka to be grateful to Sinhalese people from this historical perspective and it is religious duty of Muslims to be loyal to Sri Lanka at all time: because they have been supported by Sinhalese kings many times in history:

Kandyan Kings entrusted Muslims with some duties and responsibilities in his administration. They were entrusted with many internal and external duties: they were made a part of Madige Badda or transport department. They were allowed to trade in aeronaut, which was a royal monopoly that time. The Muslim from Ova, had to bring salt as part of their obligatory service (Dewaraja.P. 100). In addition to this, some selected Muslim were involved in the Maligawa rituals and were given Maligagam lands. It was reported that Muslims were involved in administrative and ritual aspect of Dalada maligawa at least at some minimal levels ( DewaRaja. P.107.)

Muslim physicians in Royal courts

Historically speaking Muslims were famous for Unani medicine in Sri Lanka. Muslims when they migrated into Ceylon from various part of world such as Arabia, Muslim Spain and Indian sub-continent they introduced Muslim traditional medicine. Even today Muslims are famous for some herbal and village medicine. Still some families are called as Vedemahathiya/ Vederala family. These prefixes in names indicate their traditional professions.

It is generally believed that Muslim people practiced Unani Medicine in many parts of Island. It was reported that A Muslim physician named Sulaiman Kuttiya who was practicing in Galle was invited to Kandyan Court, taken into royal service and given land near Gampola. His descendants who lived till 1874 carried prefix “Galle Vederala” (Dewaraja. P.91.) The most renowned of these Muslim physicians were the Gopala Moors of Gataberiya in the Kegalle Distrct. The family traces its pedigree to Physicians from Islamic Spain, whose descendants migrated to the Sind in Northern India, from where they were ordered before come to Sri Lanka to attend on King Parakrambahu II of Dambadeniya. 1236-1270. The Gopala descendants continued to function as physicians to the Kings, during the reigns of Rajadirajasiinghahe 1782-1798 and Srivickrama Rajasinghe 1798-1815.( Dewaraja.Pp.128-133.).

I still remember when my grandfather was called Vederala and he had been treating people for snake bite, small pox, paralysis, and ladies for during the post-natal times. A lot of Sinhalese used to come to our house to treatment from neighbouring villages and our house was called Aziz Vedarla house. It has been a tradition that these Vedetalas normally did not take money from patients but they were offered Bulath leaves sometimes with gift of fruits: still Muslims are doing this type of social services and a lot of Sinhalese are visiting Muslim house for treatments. This tradition is dying out with the introduction of modern medicine. Yet, it shows how closely these communities interacted between themselves.

These types of Sri Lankan Muslim loyalty and patriotism have been forgotten in this modern epoch of Sri Lankan history. It is the time now to remind the new generations of dedication and sacrifices that Muslim people made to the mother Lanka. It is pathetic Sri Lankan Muslim history has not yet been fully recognised in this country and rarely Muslim contributions have been recognised in this county. Muslim people have been ambassadors of peace and tranquility in Sri Lanka. They have been protecting the nation ever since they settle down and indeed, they were welcomed by Sinhalese kings, local and nobles to as a blessing and beneficial people: They have been demonstrating this sense of loyalty and devotion ever since they have been living there: yet some Muslim people have wrongly identified now as disloyal people to this nation and this wrong perception has to be rectified.

The former Foreign and education minster ACS Hameed in his forward note to Dewaraja’s book notes that “ Historians have traditionally been attracted by wars and rebellions whereas the peaceful co-existence of groups of people over long periods tends to be overlooked” It is peaceful co-existence and communal harmony between Muslim and Sinhalese should be subject of studies and research: I think that no any other country in the word had long communal harmony as we do have between Muslim and Sinhalese people in Sri Lanka: We live side by side in village and help each other in times of hardship and difficulties in history: Rarely Muslims had problems with Sinhalese people except a few occasions like that of 1915. This aspect of Muslim history in Sri Lanka was not yet really securitised in proper professional and academic methods: Of course, there are some books and research papers in these aspects and yet, not comprehensive and scientific researches have been made on these subjects.

Only Almighty Allah knows that ACS Hameed envisaged the danger that surrounds Muslims from these so called Buddhist extremists. It may be that after witnessing what happened to Tamil in 1983, he realised that Muslims history should be written highlighting all the contributions we made in Ceylon in the past and present time. That is why he made such a prediction in his forward. ACS Hammed was loved by both Muslims and Sinhalese people for his dedicated service for this nation. He rightly encouraged historians to write about this peaceful social harmony between communities. He would be dismayed and shocked to see what is going on in Sir Lanka had he been alive today with us.

To be continued next week.

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Latest comments

  • 1
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    It is time for muslim scholars such as Dr Rifai Naleemi to undertake the task of researching and documenting the history of muslims in Sri Lanka. In the absence of documented history muslims are being subjected to various abuse and treated as second class citizens of the country.

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    While appreciating the loyal roles played by Muslims in Sri Lanka’s history, what has been a sad outcome of persecution of Muslims in the Mid East by Israel, US/UK for expropriating oil, and after 9-11 the persecution of Muslims in US/UK/EU on the farcical “War on Terror” have resulted in Muslims in Islamic countries wanting to assert their identity strongly, as a counter to the machinations of Zionist ideologues in Washington and London.

    With trans-continental travel becoming easy, and communication technologies making the radicalisation of Islamic practice easily accessible, the Sri Lankan Muslims, hitherto living in harmony with Tamil and Sinhala, started asserting themselves in the manner of the European and American Muslims.

    This evolution, though mostly benign, became fodder for bigoted opportunists in SL who cleverly manipulated ignorant masses into victimising this minority as a stepping stone or diversion. Such is the tragedy of man’s inhumanity to man…

  • 0
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    It is my view that the Sinhalase Kings gave ALL the facilities to the Muslim before and after the Western powers came to Sri lanka. They came to SL empty handed.. atha wana wana.. and they did not even bring the women with them.They not only married them but have them converted. The Tamils and Sinhalse just ignored these one track mind hypocrazy.. try marry a Muslim women by a non Muslim, you will lose your neck !! That is their sort of justice. Hence why go on this aspect.Yes, it is time some one researched corectly how and what the Muslims did for Sri lankas benefit.In my view it will be very little.They are used to take it all… what is yours is mine but what is mine is NOT yours. Just see their dress, just few decades ago the men wore the srong and the coat and the Thambige thoppiysa ( the fez cap) Today it is the beard and the middle east garb, the womnen then wore the saree and coverd their head with the saree pota, today they have the black muusala, muspenthu black tent.This is NOT Sri lankan at all, it is Wahaabi dress code, why do they wish to respect the Wahabi dress code and NOT the Sri Lankan dress code. Are they so anti Sri Lankan? Then they have five wives, the others one only.. they were allowed to learn in English ( and/or Tamil/Sinhala ) too as the first laguage ( thanks to MKrs B and Badudeen Mohamaed ) but otheres only Sinhla or Tamil.Why this favour. The result it is the Muslims who are the english news papaer reporters, editiors etc etc not Sinhala or tamil citizens !!!!! Why do they use loud speakers at Mosques, during the time of Mohamed, the rapist, this was NOT there. They need separate burial grounds, why are the natives of Sri lanka too insignifiant for them????.If they wish to isolate them selves and accept Arab traditibnos why not they pack off to Arab lands from where they came ? it is as simple as that..

    As for their so called help to the Sinhalse kings, they asure played the snake under the grass role, they made sure that the latter rulers of Kandy, who were Malabers, and who by and large did NOT trust the Kandyans or any Sinhalse, and took full advantage and grabed the power from the kings and their confidence , and under cut the Sinhalse Nobility. THey alsio saw to it that the Nobility was eliminated d one by oen .. ange edan anga kana policy….. This is sure in our records, hence worth a full investigation. As for the 1915 riots it is well recored, and one Muslaiim writer Lateef Farook ( Pligiht of the Muslims in SL.. my foot what plight ????)is even accusing some one of printing this book and recirculating it.But try find one, you cannot!!!!!.Possibly the Muslims have destroyed all of it ????? I feel the BBS should print this book and both in English and Sinhala and have this circulated for the whole nation to read.It is well worth the effort to incicate how the Muslims connive with the powers to be in order they get the best our o f the situation.It was how they got rich and powerful then and how they act and grow today.Wasi Atata Hooyiya….

    Cheers RdeS

    • 0
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      Iran….Hezbollah!!!people of imam Magdy!!!u low class aryan from West Bengal jungle! Wait till 2040 we make it 35 percent of population!! So Buddhist 35 percent Muslims 35 percent Tamil and Christians 30!!!!! Boom boom ur Buddhist!!! Not any more!!! And 2060? Ask ur bitch daughter from ur grave!!!!!c say dada here Taliban and hizbulla government with Islamic nuclear bombs from Pakistan, Iran,turkey, Saudi,Egypt!!! Allahu Akbar!!! Wake up moda sinhalaya we are not like stupid Tamils who is only 8 cro in this world we are 150 cro!!! Check out CIA world fact book, global fire power web site!!! No1 turkey!2. Iran3.pakistan4. Saudi 5.egypt6. Syria7.indonesia8.algeria9. Malaysia10.yaman…….200……gay buddah poor jungle Napoli buddah!!! Hey today I’m doing Gigi Gigi in London with a nice Sinhala girl from moratuwa!!! Next week same girl with me in Canada!! May be in June another fresh in Bentota hotel…and hikkaduwa hotel!!! Where is ur Buddhism mai!!? Monks go behinds politician so they can go to USA holiday!!! We kill buddhisM!!! Don’t 4 get….banian..Bangladesh..Indonesia!!malayai..etc…finally type ” black flag from khorosan”

    • 0
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      WHOLE LOT OF POPPYCOCK BY PORTUGESE SILVA

      LET ME TELL YOU AND OTHERS IN THE FORUM,THAT MUSLIMS HAVE MAINTAINED
      THE DECENCY AND DECORUM OF DEBATE. WE HAVE NEVER INSULTED LORD BUDDHA
      OR BUDDHISM.

      BUT MANY BUDDHISTS HAVE DESCENDED TO THE LOWEST LEVELS AND DENIGRATED
      THE PROPHET OF ISLAM. I WILL STILL STICK TO WHAT WE HAVE BEEN ORDERED BY ALLAH, NOT TO INSULT THE GODS OF OTHERS.

      RANJIT SILVA,YOU HAVE SHOWN YOUR PEDIGREE.YOU ARE A P——H .
      WE DONT REAR DOGS AND WHEN A DOG BITES, WE DO NOT BITE THE DOG.

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    Even though there is a very convincing role played in history by the Muslims of Sri Lanka the situation today is not very good. Muslim workers working in the Saudi Kingdom have been exposed to the Wahabi sect of Islam. This has created a more radical form of Islam taking root in Sri Lanka. The radical Islamist does not follow a peace full and tolerant religion. BBS will only fan the flames of this radical brand instead of marginalizing it and ensuring that it is kept at bay. The Kingdom are also generous donors of money to the establishment and propagation of this brand of Islam. Therefore, our morons are indeed treading on very dangerous grounds.

    • 0
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      MARK!!!
      THERE ARE LOTS OF NON MUSLIM IDIOTS “PARROTING” THE WORD WAHABI SECT.

      COULD ONE OF YOU EXPLAIN WHAT THIS SECT IS.

      IF YOU WISH TO, YOU CAN GET HELP FROM “MATHEW, LUKE OR JOHN OR BARNABAS”

  • 0
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    Any small issue can be marginalized or demonized, it is in the hands of the media and those groups who propagate this to suit their ultimate goal. However, the best bet for our small but beautiful nation is peaceful coexistence respecting each others faith. If we could do that for centuries why not now. My sincere appeal to all communities to give some serious thought to Dr. Martin Luther King’s quote; ‘I have decided to stick to love….Hate is too great a burden to bear….Hate cannot drive hate but love can do that’. Long live peaceful Sri Lanka!

  • 0
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    Hats off to Mr Ranjith de Silva for highlighting the real facts on Muslim Extremism when Mr. Refai has totally forgotten to metion in his article.

    Thanks to British Rulers Tamil Congress was created way back in history after independence. The results were evident and all citizens felt. Mr.Ashraff created a Muslim Congress few decades ago and the results are very evident and we are feeling now.

    It’s very strange if extremism from majority race does not rise up to counteract the said extremism. We salute those neutral Muslims and Tamils in general and especially those in major political streams.

    For coexistence there shall be one and only one Law in a country. But in Sri Lanka remnants of Sharia Law or Quassy Law is imminent, it’s a question to answer.

    Muslims in SL are well aware that they prosper and thrive mainly on the profits they gain by trading to majority Sinhalese and also Tamils
    there by they must refrain from hurting the feelings of their customers.

    Can any body as a minority being a citizen or otherwise dictate terms while living in Arab world, America, Europe or Australia it is only a dream. But in Asian countries like Sri Lanka it is quite possible but not in Japan.

    • 0
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      NISSANKA,

      A WHOLE LOAD OF HOGWASH.SARONGS UP FOR RANJIT!!!!!

      THERE IS ONLY ONE LAW IN SRI LANKA- ROMAN DUTCH.

      WHEN IT COMES TO PERSONAL LAW- EACH COMMUNITY HAS ITS OWN LAWS FROM
      COLONIAL TIMES.

      MUSLIMS ARE THRIVING IN BUSINESS, NOT ROBBING THE OTHERS.
      THE PROBLEM WITH THE SINHALESE IS THAT THEY ARE LAZY LOUTS AND JEALOUS
      OF THE TAMILS AND MUSLIMS.

      THERE SHOULD BE NO COMMUNAL PARTIES-MUSLIM, SINHALA OR TAMIL

  • 0
    0

    Hats off to Mr Ranjith de Silva for highlighting the real facts on Muslim Extremism when Mr. Refai has totally forgotten to metion in his article.

    Thanks to British Rulers Tamil Congress was created way back in history after independence. The results were evident and all citizens felt. Mr.Ashraff created a Muslim Congress few decades ago and the results are very evident and we are feeling now.

    It’s very strange if extremism from majority race does not rise up to counteract the said extremism. We salute those neutral Muslims and Tamils in general and especially those in major political streams.

    For coexistence there shall be one and only one Law in a country. But in Sri Lanka remnants of Sharia Law or Quassy Law is imminent, it’s a question to answer.

    Muslims in SL are well aware that they prosper and thrive mainly on the profits they gain by trading to majority Sinhalese and also Tamils
    there by they must refrain from hurting the feelings of their customers.

    Can any body as a minority being a citizen or otherwise dictate terms while living in Arab world, America, Europe or Australia? But in Asian countries like Sri Lanka it is quite possible except in Japan.

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