14 November, 2019

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MMDA, Niqab, ACJU & A Monk

By Ameer Ali

Dr. Ameer Ali

MMDA saga continues without an end. After nine years of gestation, the Justice Saleem Marsoof (JSM) Committee which, for the first time in Sri Lankan Muslim history, lent an ear to the voice of Muslim women on a matter that affect their lives directly, produced a report recommending a few progressive reforms to do justice to Muslim women’s grievances. No sooner that report was released, saboteurs, led shamelessly by the All Ceylon Jamiyyatul Ulema (ACJU), which should be more appropriately called All Ceylon Jamiyyathul Mullahs (ACJM), started all tricks in their trade to undo some of the progressive recommendations, which, frankly speaking, were in no way radical. ACJU/M engineered a mini-revolt in that committee and submitted a counter report to minister Thalatha Athukorale.  

The minister, being a non-Muslim, obviously could not count the relative political cost of accepting either of the two, and quite adroitly passed the buck to Muslim politicians in her government. These politicians, led by Sri Lanka Muslim Congress (SLMC), in turn counted their own political costs of accepting either the JSM recommendations in full or the counter report backed by ACJU/M. Behind the two sets of recommendations was the crucial decider, Muslim vote bank.  Finally, after several revisions and re-revisions, amendments and counter amendments a compromised or rather sanitised version of JSM recommendations was accepted by the minister and is now waiting to be legislated. The term of the present government is fast running out and election fever has infected all parliamentarians. In all probability therefore, no legislation on MMDA can be expected to appear this year. 

In the meantime, Rev. Athuraliye Rathana Thera, a Buddhist supremacist representing JHU in the parliament and who went on a highly dramatized hunger strike in the precincts of the Maligawa demanding the removal of one Muslim minister and two Muslim Governors from their positions, has taken the opportunity to put another spoke in MMDA wheel by introducing a private bill in the parliament for one common law to govern all marriages in the country. This is a deliberate strategy to sabotage MMDA in the name of legislative uniformity. It appears that his bill will come up for debate sooner than expected. It is a strange irony that a Buddhist monk, who has vowed to remain celibate to reach enlightenment, has taken the issue of marriage, divorce and conjugal relations to advance his political career.

Be that as it may, the monk’s private bill is a new and more menacing headache to Muslims to deal with. Although he has been talking about one-country-one-law since last June, ACJU/M and its political backers, by their deliberate delaying tactics and continued aversion towards advancing the cause of Muslim women, have given this supremacist an opportunity to pick the right moment to sabotage even the little that the women hoped to achieve through the impending reforms. Although marriage is a social institution there are certain peculiarities in every culture that need to be respected and recognised by laws that govern that institution. Variety and diversity is socially enriching and beautiful, whereas uniformity impoverishes and is monotonous. However, within the diverse cultural norms all laws governing marriage and divorce must treat man and women equally. Unfortunately, this is not the case with the current MMDA. This is why Muslim women are fighting and there is justice in their fight. The battle for Muslim women is therefore not over yet.   

If the monk succeeds in his attempt to get his bill legislated, it will be entirely because of ACJU/M’s obstinacy or tardiness to allow progressive changes, and Muslim politicians’ obsequiousness to that body. In fact, JSM must have foreseen this obstacle, which prompted it to include a provision that if its recommendations were to be rejected, as a last resort, an option be given to Muslim women to marry under the General Marriage Ordinance. This may have pre-empted the monk to make his move. 

Similarly, the niqab and burqa issue is also hanging in the air without proper guidance from ACJU/M and political leaders. ACJU/M conceded to the ban under the emergency, and now that emergency has been lifted ACJU/M wants to uphold its previous stand on the issue, that it is a woman’s inalienable human right to wear whatever she wants, while advising her at the same time to “exercise caution” when wearing it in public places. How meaningless this advice is clear when one realises that niqab and burqa are worn only when women go out in public and facial covering is not necessary when they are at home, unless a stranger to the family enters the house. Muslim politicians also concur with ACJU/M’s position. Yet, this dress still remains banned in Uva Province.

As journalist Ranga Jayasuriya rightly argued on 24 September 2019, Muslim leaders are “mishandling” the problem. Niqab and burqa are not a human right issue but an issue concerning social cohesion and public peace. Therefore, the right questions to be asked are, (a) whether veiling the face increases or decreases social cohesion and public peace, (b) whether uncovering the face reduces the religious purity of a Muslim female, and (c) whether uncovering the face contravenes the Quranic requirement of modesty. 

There are two principles that govern the appropriateness of a norm or rule in Islamic jurisprudence, namely maslaha (public interest) and darura (necessity). Social cohesion and public peace fall under maslaha and the need to guard religious purity falls under darura. Niqab and burqa, by reducing social cohesion and disturbing public peace go against the principle of maslaha. Uncovering the face does not in any way reduce the religious purity of a Muslim female and does not contravene the Quranic request for modesty in dressing. Therefore under the criteria of darura, niqab and burqa are not necessary.

Above all this, one must not forget that the attire of a human is conditioned primarily by climatic and geographical factors and only secondarily by one’s culture. These two pieces of dress, mostly appearing in black colour, are inappropriate to a hot and humid Sri Lanka, and they belong to a different culture alien to this country.  

The problems that this dress have created could have been nipped in the bud had ACJU/M hierocracy noticed quite early in late 1980s the slow penetration of a new wave of Arab dress code, introduced by returnees from the Gulf and popularised by Muslim businessmen. There were already some muted rumblings at that time from the public. All that required was to inform and educate the females of the unsuitability of that dress in a multicultural society in which the majority consider it confronting. ACJU/M’s irrational orthodoxy blinded it from seeing the long term consequences of a changing Muslim identity through attire and appearance. Those rumblings were unmuted after the Easter Sunday carnage, and niqab and burqa came to be viewed as part of a terrorist outfit. Government was compelled to intervened and ban that dress under emergency regulation. At least after that incident one would have thought that ACJU/M would realise the gravity of the situation and educate its womenfolk accordingly. On the contrary, it is still showing no signs of change. Unfortunately, the community has to suffer because of short sighted leadership.  

For centuries, Muslim women in this country wore colourful sarees with a head piece or the salwar with shawl without any qualm. In fact, even non-Muslim women wore that dress and there was increased social contact and friendliness among different communities. Today, dressing in the name of religious and cultural identity and purity has widened social cleavages and even encouraging isolation. The close neighbourliness that prevailed in the past between Muslims and the rest has received a setback in the face of non-indigenous cultural trappings.     

There is also an element of hypocrisy among those who advance the human right argument. If it is a human right to wear niqab and burqa then it is also a human right not to wear them. There are hundreds of thousands Muslim girls and women in the Gulf countries and Afghanistan in particular, who want to get out of this dress, but authorities there won’t let them. Will ACJU/M and its foot soldiers demonstrate in front of those embassies and demand freedom to those women in the name of human right? 

The Muslim community is going through a turbulent period and there are far more important and challenging issues than niqab and burqa that have to be tackled and won.  For example, the rising wave of Buddhist supremacy, which is a political movement that contravenes all principles of Buddhism, and which is vowing to deny the minorities any rights in this country, is an immediate and existential threat. How are the Muslims going to confront this menace without the support of fellow Sri Lankans? ACJU/M and other Muslim leaders should at least avoid providing ammunitions to the supremacists by fighting over frivolous issues like a piece of dress. GET RID of niqab and burqa and move on, before anything untoward happens.   

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Latest comments

  • 7
    1

    Religion is something we should ride on. NOT carry on.

    • 9
      1

      Dr. Ameer Ali,

      Thanks for a succinct summary of the issues involved with the MMDA and the machinations used by the ACJU/ACJM to derail the reforms.

      Do the ACJU/ACJM understand Islam?

      Now a Buddhist Monk, who understands Islam better, Ratmalana Thero had to step forward to safeguard the Muslim women, as the ACJU/ACJM and the Muslim politicians and the non-Muslim politicians will not.

      Can the Monk come up with a bill for ordination of females as Bikkuhinis and banning caste discrimination in the Govigama Asgiriya and Siam Nikayas as well?

      • 3
        0

        @Amarasiri- Govigama caste war- excellent point…. @ Ameer Ali: I think the first line of counter attack to the GOVIGAMA ELITES backed attack on the MUSLIMS by JHU/ Rathana (Hero of fallopian tube channel) is to BLOCK THE MUSLIM MONEY pouring into the Sinhala Racist Govt., of Sri Lanka, the part of which is funded by the GOVIGAMA Ruling Elite Mafia to FIGHT ISLAM. Its a GLOBAL ZIONIST Agenda to which the the entire GOVI Elite families are subscribed to. So, you need to talk to all the Muslim countries and its Islamic Cultural Ministries to explicitly showing them the sacrilege attack the Rajapakses and Sirisena with the approval of Ranil Wickremasinghe playing a GONA PART while facilitating the SINHALA RACIST outfits launched to fight Islam grossly violating the CONSTITUTION, decency, Social responsibility, the norms of the world and mostly disregarding the HELP the World Muslim population who are rendering immensely to the benefit of the entirety of the SL population by providing funds, jobs and importing the products of the Sinhala Racists who are backing the Rajapakse’s in everything they stand for. Then the Muslims will have a LEVEL PLAYING field to fight the GOVIGAMA backed War on Islam. Afterwards, you all can fight RATHANA and his “Fellow-Peon Tubes” hanging around him.

      • 2
        1

        You see, there is a stark truth got exposed by accident, something which that many of us don’t realize until its been enlightened in a forum like this… We all know that the entire political power is run by a FEW that they have branded as GOVIGAMA ELITE FAMILIES ( Senanayakes, Bandaranayakes, Jayawardenes, Wijewardenes, Ratwattes, Rajapakses, Sirisenas, Gamini/Dissanayakes..etc,etc). They began controlling the system ever since the Satanic Theosophical:New Age proponent Anagarika Dharmapala had his hand on shaping the future of the ‘would be’ Sinhala rule, one day to go under Zionist project influence. Thus, he started the Asia’s (if not the world’s) OLDEST Islamophobia campaign in the early 1900’s. Today what we are seeing in the Rajapakse-Gota-Weerawangse/ JHU-Champika-Rathana/BBS-Gnaney-Sirisena are backing the attack on Islam in its totality is that 100 years old project.
        During these 100 years of world’s OLDEST RACIST project (Sinhala Buddhist Supremacy) have anybody seen a GOVIGAMA ELITE family member Killing or putting behind jail another Govi member for the crimes they have committed right throughout???? NONE… that’s the one that should be focussed first.

  • 9
    2

    Ameer Ali, an excellent summary of our problems.

    • 4
      1

      Bawa,
      Wrong; it is a poor analysis. The way I see it, the essay is a mediocre exercise of politics, not a scholarly product. For example, a scholar should be able recognize the phenomena of S/B supremacy as part of much larger general phenomena of majority race treating minorities as subordinates. Every time majority race feels minorities exceeding the traditionally accepted but unwritten boundaries, conflicts of some sort have been the result. In modern world, this has become an easy political tool.

      The current S/B Muslim conflict is a same as S/B Tamil conflict; only difference is replacement of Tamils by Muslim after 2009. As CV Wigneshvran has correctly pointed out S/B was unhappy about disproportionately large Tamil representation in the bureaucracy. Now both Tamils & S/B are becoming suspicious of the rise of Muslim economic & political power. It was in this rising tension Jihadist sacrificed their own Muslim race to S/B supremacist & political opportunists on a silver platter on Easter Sunday. A Rathana is only an opportunist took the advantage of the sacrifice but Medagoda Abhayatissa was already leading the movement on behalf of supremacy based politics.

      In any case, I agree with AA’s final para. The head cover, which may have been invented for a practical reason of protection in desert living, is no longer needed to kept as a cultural taboo symbolizing women’s subordinate place. This is no difference from Tamil’s taboos related to their land. In SL, what LITTE did to Tamils (by destroying) has done to Muslim by Jihadists. It may even have paved the way for S/B supremacist to grab the political power as well thereby putting the safety of all minorities in danger. The lesson: use only democratic means; never resort to direct confrontations! Power is not eternal.

  • 14
    2

    Religion is used as a tool by politicians, monks, and clergy, in many countries. Most of them hypocrites, who go against the teachings of their own religion, to inflict pain and suffering on the minorities. We have in our country many thugs wearing the saffron robe, aided and abetted by politicians, pretending to protect the country from other religions, yet cause chaos and fear in the country, by rabble rousing, spreading falsehoods, teaching hate, and turning citizen against citizen, which has resulted in violence, destruction of property, and even the massacre of innocent people. These undesirables will go against the peaceful teachings of their leader to kill harmless human beings, because of the hatred and envy they harbor against the minority.
    Thugs monks like Athureliye Rathana are not followers of Lord Buddha, just like the BBS terrorists, they are a curse to our small country, most probably in league with certain politicians, who use them for their own evil agenda. Unfortunately, our politicians do not have the guts to confront them, bar them from politics, or ask the
    temples to kick them out of the temples, because they do not want to lose the Buddhist vote. Nations that are multi religious and are united, have peace within, and have progressed impressively, while we take one step forward, and four steps back, because of ethnic strife. We will never change our ways.

  • 10
    1

    Who invented this concept “Buddhist Supremacy” in SL society?

    • 3
      3

      Real Revolutionist,

      Who invented “Buddhist Supremacy”?

      The Para-Sinhala Para-“Buddhist” Monks, who brainwashed and trained the imbecilic Para-Sinhala masses, mean IQ 79, to treat them as the third Gem of the triple Gem, to prostrate to the imbecile Monks, who were recruited as children with lost parental love and lost childhoods, and in addition to prostrate to statues, trees and cannine tooth.

      They also reserved the Monk-hoods to the Para -Govigama caste.

      • 1
        2

        Amarasiri

        (probably IQ maniac);

        Hurt?

        “Buddhist supremacy” is non-existing entity in SL or anywhere in the world.

        The purpose of the idea seems to have been created to fraudulently substantiate a non-existing inhuman treatment upon minority communities by the majority.

        It’s good for anybody to understand the difference between perfect religious society & religion inspired cultural society.

  • 18
    5

    The burqa and niqab needs to be banned in all non-muslim nations. This is not even about religion. Nobody should be allowed to walk around in public with their face totally covered. It is not only very anti-social it is also a serious security threat. There should not even be a debate on this. If you want to dress like a ninja, go and do it in Saudi Arabia.

    • 7
      4

      Jegan,

      “There should not even be a debate on this”

      I fully agree on that. Even if you take that within Muslim families, it is hard among relatives who don’t cover faces to mingle with those covered relatives. Think about the children who grow up covering the faces; they have no exposure to the real world. This is few extremist fathers who put the burden on other men who are going to get married to their daughters who knows nothing about the real world and expect their husbands to do everything. Even for an emergency of their children these face covering women don’t attend or have the ability.

      Next these international schools run by Muslims for pure purpose of making money popping up every corner is aiding these culture. They should be regulated if not closed. These Muslim international schools are anti-social too.

    • 2
      2

      Jegan ,

      “The burqa and niqab needs to be banned in all non-muslim nations”

      The burqa and niqab needs to be banned in all Muslim nations as well. That is what the founder of modern Turkey, 99 % Muslim, Mustapha Kamel Ataturk did. They still go to Heaven, unlike the Ulama who follow the Wahhabi Satan, Iblis, Devil, per the prescient Hadith of Najd.

      https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Hadith_of_Najd

      “O Allaah bestow your blessings on our Shaam. O Allaah bestow your blessings on our Yemen.” The people said, “O Messenger of Allaah, and our Najd.” I think the third time the Prophet, sallallaahu alayhi wa sallam, said, “There (in Najd) will occur earthquakes, trials and tribulations, and from there appears the Horn of Satan.”

    • 1
      0

      Dear Jegan,
      .
      You are going even further than Dr Ameer Ali! He has said, and I quote:
      .
      “There are hundreds of thousands of Muslim girls and women in the Gulf countries and Afghanistan in particular, who want to get out of this dress, but authorities there won’t let them.”
      .
      And so he jestingly asks:
      .
      ” Will ACJU/M and its foot soldiers demonstrate in front of those embassies and demand freedom to those women in the name of human rights?”
      .
      Please don’t turn that quote against decent Dr Ali. Let us be thankful that there are sane and eloquent people like him around.
      .
      On no account should we allow crafty monks like supposedly celibate Rathana to dictate what is allowed for Muslim women. I’ve been making many comments on this issue, telling myself that we non-Muslims must be careful never to take the lead in these matters, but to consistently support reform from without.
      .
      Over-all, I agree, that we should send all the ACJU/M initially to India, since that country is sending people to the moon. But one way trip to the moon only for the ACJU men. Let all other Muslims remain here.

  • 6
    2

    This is a confusion in understanding of Islamic law and it’s APPLICATION in an non Muslim contexts .
    Mullah want it’s 100% application and yet; they do not have regard to our country; it’s context; it’s nature ;and it’s customes.
    We must be thankful to Sri Lanka government and its constitution and it’s people for giving us freedom and liberty to apply our personal law and for Tamils to apply their personal law in marriage and customs..
    These mullaha and some monks like mullah want to have 100 application of their ideas .
    It’s not not possible to do..
    There must be some comparamise in selecting most viable legal opinions to us and our contexts.
    This not Saudi or Iran to chop hands or cut heads .

    • 0
      0

      Please hold a Referendum on the issue of whether there should be a single civil law for all or perpetuate the present separate personal laws- giving the vote only to the Muslims themselves to decide.

  • 9
    8

    Dr . Ameer Ali
    You write about ‘buddhist supremacy’ . However, considering all the special privileges afforded to them – too many to mention, one might say that it is the Islamic community that act as if they are superior to everyone else.

    • 12
      1

      “However, considering all the special privileges afforded to them”

      Yes, Muslims go around setting others shops on fire, and walk scot free. A Muslim Lebbe aggressively shout at a Tamil government servant calling him “dog” or “Kerry Balla” in front of police who can’t even arrest him. Muslims go on ransacking non-Muslim villages while the law & order personnel look on the other side. Muslims went to cremate heir religious leader’s body in the premises of a Hindu kovil against the court and the authorities could do nothing. Muslims attacked non-Muslims during emergency regulations was in effect while the authorities could not catch them. And the list can go on.

      So you’re right, Muslims enjoy special privileges, LOL.

  • 9
    3

    Amir Ali

    If anybody enjoys his/her wisdom without interruption from mythical beliefs, it’s a kind of supremacy.

    If you call it Buddhist or any kind of supremacy in that sense, wise will accept it.

    Don’t be jealous, get rid of mythical beliefs (burden on your head to pray many times a day) & enjoy supremacy. (need not be Buddhist supremacy)

    • 3
      2

      “If anybody enjoys his/her wisdom without interruption from mythical beliefs”

      Mr. Rear Revaluer,

      You you mean to say is, in a country where even the election dates are determined as per president’s, if not influential candidates lucky dates, the burning of shops, villages and all other destruction by human against fellow human don’t happen with approval from astrologers or by lucky dates?

  • 6
    7

    As Christian I can say that Buddhists are very tolerant and the word “supremacy” should not come into question. Most of my friends are Buddhists.
    I think extremism from “other groups” has compelled a minority of Buddhists to actively protect their place.

    • 7
      1

      Mr. Ameer Ali should go into Muslim dominated areas or streets and see the tiny supremacy with supremacists acting as if they are living in Saudi or Afghanistan.
      Bloody, these 2-legged animals will give an angry look at you, if you drive your vehicle on those public roads disturbing them chatting in the middle of the roads.
      :
      This doesn’t happen with Sinhalese who are decent enough to differentiate a public place vs private place or their houses. Fkgn Islamic religious or other organizations have to come forward to teach these people some decency and public behavior.

      • 0
        0

        True comment but dont we have a national Police. Why dont they enforce the same law in the Eastern Province area. such as Sainthamaruthu or Kalmunai

    • 1
      2

      Chris,

      Where do Buddhists, Christians, Muslims, Hindus , Agnostics, Jews and others go after they are dead? What does evolution say? What does the biology and biochemistry say and the data say?

      All the data says that while they are living, brainwash them, and they will act like programmed biological robots, who need the feeding of carbohydrates, fats, proteins and other nutrients to power them, until they die of wear and tear, aging.

  • 7
    1

    Ratna thera went on with hunger strike demanding Hisbulla’s removal from the post because he is an extremists as per thera. Now both are in the same camp supporting Gota.

    • 1
      1

      Mohd,

      Most of the Para-Sinhala Para-“Buddhist” supremists and racists are gravitating towards Gota, as the Yahspalanaya was a mess. Furthermore, economically the county is in a mess too.

      Gor’d past is haunting him, but the low IQ imbeciles , IQ 79, cannot comprehend it. They have short memories.

  • 2
    0

    Profiling is done by many humans and some animals/birds. If I could use profiling to survive another day, I would sort out where I live, whom I associate, and what I do with others. Looking at most recent genocides (since 21st century), I see a pattern. Most terrorists are Muslims. Muslims don’t tolerate other religions, don’t like to give equal opportunity in education or employment to women. Muslim countries enforce brutal laws to punish excessively. Shall we get intelligent Muslims to make an about turn to reform their religious culture? Christianity went through Reformation in Europe and the grip of pope was weakened. As a result industrial revolution got a head start. Muslims turn now. Reform or be the bad ones in a peace loving world. Free your women to the world; Don’t imprison them. They are smart and compassionate. After all we all had a loving mother.

    • 1
      0

      Enforce the same criminal law and same civil personal laws of the British. Abolish the separate personal laws for Muslims and Tamils and apply the same British inherited law to them.
      RMB Senanayake Retd CCS

  • 1
    0

    Mr Ali

    Please read the article written by Ravi nagahawatte on daily mirror ‘When religious euphoria blurs legal judgement:

  • 4
    1

    One country, one law for all. Tamil Muslims are descendants of refugees came here from south India. No rights to ask special law or laws for them.

    • 3
      1

      Adivasia,

      All are Paradeshis, Paras, in the Land of Native Beddah Aethho. That include Para-Sinhala, Para-Tamils, Para-Muslims, Para-Buddhists, Para-Hindus, Para-Christians and other Paras.

      • 1
        1

        Paraya Amarasiri

        Can you tell me sinhalese oroginal country ??? All others have their own lands like Tamilnadu for Tamils & Tamil Muslims .

        • 1
          0

          Adivasia,

          South India and East India with a sprinkling from other parts of India. Check the mitochondrial DNA of the Para- Sinhala and Para-Tamils and compare that to the my-DNA of Native Veddah Aethho. The molecular genetics is clear Sinhala and Tamils along with the other Paras are Paras .

          Does the Sun go around the Earth? What does the data say?

  • 0
    0

    Variety and diversity is beautiful and enriching . Uniformity is monotonous and impoverishing..
    Ven Rathane , please but out..
    Although sanitized we must adopt JSM recommendations.
    It will arrest our declining births rate too..

  • 1
    0

    Mr Ameer Ali is not an Islamic Scholar and he should openly acknowledge this and stick to issues he is good at. This is sincere advice for him.

    • 0
      0

      Abu

      How can there be Islamic scholars when Islam is only to be believed?

      As a matter of fact, there’re believers & unbelievers & practically only the unbelievers are believed to be scholars.

    • 1
      0

      He is Dr. Ameer Ali Not Mr. Ameer Ali,

      He is really doing what “he is good at” which is “Showing Off”. What is the easiest way to Show Off and get publicity in non-Muslim countries other than by ridiculing Islam and Muslims?

      His home town, Kattankudy produced Zahran and the likes of Hisbullah who have caused, and are causing, enough and more damage to Muslims in this country. But, he has NOTHING to say about them but keeps on attacking the ACJU and other Muslims living outside his Kattankudy. Has he done anything to change the thinking and life style of the people of his little Kattankudy with a population of under 50,000 which is a tiny fraction of the Lankan Muslim population of over 2 million? No, No, No. But he wants to change Lanka’s Muslim population of over 2 million according to his WARPED thinking!

      This Show Off is simply after cheap publicity.

  • 3
    0

    The solution is very simple as it is “One Country, One Law” and it is going to be very soon.

    There will be no democracy that you can do whatever you like any where in the world as some commentators mentioned.

    In a country, it is always majority language, religion, traditions, culture, practises prevails anywhere in the world and Sri Lanka is no exception.

    In the context of Sri Lanka, all the other practises survived long years because of majority religion is Buddhism.

  • 1
    0

    Why Ameer Ali complong about supremacist sinhala buddhists and every one else. Why Ameer ali can not understand what ever it is happening to muslims is because of All the almighty creator. It looks Ameer ali is not a islamic devotee. Why do not you accept it is the Almighty creator who is responsible for every thing ?

  • 0
    0

    Some muslims who believe that Almighty Lord Buddha is the one and only creator think, that every thing is human mind. Therefore, no point of blaming every one else instead of blaming and correcting they themselves.

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