18 April, 2024


Moderate Muslims Must Make Moral Intervention & Push For Reforms Against Radicalization

By Rasika Jayakody

Rasika Jayakody

The Muslim community of Sri Lanka, unintended victims of the Easter Sunday explosions, is currently facing steep challenges on many fronts.

Almost every Muslim household in Sri Lanka has come under scrutiny by security forces that are tasked with stamping out nascent Islamist terrorism in Sri Lanka. Reports of swords, machetes and other suspicious items being recovered from some Muslim places of worships and households have further complicated the situation and drawn the ire of other communities — particularly the majority Sinhalese.

There is also a vibrant and well-organized social media campaign currently underway calling for the boycott of Muslim-owned businesses in Sri Lanka. Many sources confirmed that a number of Muslim businesses in predominantly Sinhala areas are experiencing a dismaying drop in sales. This is a cause for concern not just for the Muslims who own the businesses but those from other ethnicities who work for them.

The racial violence that broke out in many parts of the country targeting Muslims has damaged hundreds of homes and businesses. While some of these attacks appear to be politically orchestrated and conducted by organized mobs, most were carried out by incensed village youth, driven by long-harboured hatred for Muslims. These sentiments are fueled by extreme right-wing populism and the constant vilification of Muslims by ultra-nationalist Sinhala-Buddhist organizations. Although the situation has returned to normalcy, for now, the country is resting on the crest of a volcano.

Aside from the hatred and mob violence, there is a strong mistrust between the Muslim community and other communities in Sri Lanka.  Corrupt and power-hungry Muslim political leaders—most of whom are affiliated with the government—have not demonstrated a genuine will to bridge the trust gap between these communities.

Some Muslim political leaders including All Ceylon Makhal Congress (ACMC) Leader Rishard Bathiudeen and Eastern Province Governor M. L. A. M. Hizbullah have already come under fire for maintaining close links with extremist militants. Mounting calls for investigations into their involvement with the extremist militants have fallen on deaf ears. And even though Army Commander Lt. General Mahesh Senanayake went on public record saying that Bathiudeen spoke to him thrice about a suspect arrested in Dehiwala, no action has thus far been taken against the Minister.

While the Muslim political leadership has let its own people down, religious leaders too have failed to act as a unifying factor within the community against the growing wave of extremism. The All Ceylon Jamiyyathul Ulama (ACJU) made certain interventions to diffuse tensions in the immediate aftermath of the Easter Sunday explosions, but other communities are reluctant to accept the ACJU as the unequivocal voice against extremism.

What the Muslim community requires at this point is strong community leadership that can drive internal reforms, bridging the trust gap between Muslims and other communities. The community leadership must transcend political and other internal divisions while driving important reforms that will deter radicalization.

It is against this backdrop that four Muslim representatives—namely Imthiaz Bakeer Markar, Ferial Ashraff, President’s Counsel Ali Sabry and Minister Kabir Hashim—came forward last week to conduct a press conference on solutions to the current situation in the country. At the well-attended presser, the four representatives made it clear that the Muslim community must look inwards to seek sustainable solutions without pursuing mere cosmetic changes.

The speakers expressed progressive views on regulating madrasas and doing away with cultural practices that alienate Muslims from other communities. They also reminded those present of the marked difference between the large majority of Sri Lankan Muslims and a handful of extremist militants who have espoused violence.

The press conference was widely appreciated by moderate Muslims who feel the intervention is timely. It has also demonstrated a semblance of the leadership from the Muslim community, sorely needed to navigate current tensions. The initiative now requires the wider support of Muslim business leaders and other sensible voices in the community.

A press conference alone will not bring about solutions to the issue of radicalization the Muslims in Sri Lanka are now grappling with. The community leadership must steer its people in the direction of making decisions they’ve hesitated to make before. They must engage with their own community—in the strongest of terms—and communicate the importance of making themselves acceptable to an angry majority community.

This initiative by four Muslim civil society representatives, however, presents an opportunity to lay the foundation for a larger movement that will make a much-needed moral intervention to resolve the issues within the Muslim community, particularly that of radicalization. The onus is on the Muslim civil society to ensure that this significant movement does not die a premature death.

Print Friendly, PDF & Email

Latest comments

  • 8

    Response. Moderate Sri Lankans. If you just identify only Muslims then what about other religions? There are no other extremists who are non Muslim? This is our country. Everyone should have a responsibility.

    Who should speak on extremist Buddhist Monks? I remember in 2014, a monk said the the quran says Muslims should spit in non Muslims drinks. These are the people you should look at.

    • 3

      @Stangstar SL only muslims are identified because their ideology is the most dangerous. The learned monk may have read the wrong parts but can you or other moderate muslims please explain this part of your ideology
      “When you meet your enemies, who are polytheists (which includes Christians), invite them to three courses of action. If they respond to any one of these, you also accept it and withhold yourself from doing them any harm. Invite them to (accept) Islam; if they respond to you, accept it from them and desist from fighting against them … If they refuse to accept Islam, demand from them the Jizya. If they agree to pay, accept it from them and hold off your hands. If they refuse to pay the tax, seek Allah’s help and fight them” (Sahih Muslim, 19:4294).
      As a layman i have no intention of paying the Jizya, so please explain what i’m supposed to do about this dangerous ideology.
      Should the normal people of this country unleash Gota to control the crazy ideology and the threat it poses to our way of life?

    • 3

      I have no idea about you guys, but I have to tell you also with Rhizana ‘s beheading and the similar issues, muslim political leadership was not serious enough. That Pissuballa style – Dilan Perera just enjoyed his DUBAI trip, though painting the picture that he made every effort to save that poor girl whose real age was revealed later to be underage. That alone could have been used to save her, but they di dnot, even if political leadership of muslim community were then very pal with those men under Rajaakshe authoritarian govt.
      I think except few muslim men, such as Asath Salley, all others stayed mum, even Asath too is caught by abusive political enviorenement today, to be able to respect even that BBS lead – the most abusive pseudo monk of lanken history.
      President the penisless and spineless man would do anything to release that RABID dog for his vote gain gimmicks, but that would not heal the muslim wounds.
      All in all, all these would bury under ashes so that a 83 style war could come up for sure.
      Lanken so called leaders should leave their differences and join hand to stand any form of extremists.
      I believe, if lankens will join hand … getting tamed Wimal Buruwanse or the like DOGs , things will work for peace in this country. As a mad dog would have been taken away, Wimal Buruwasne or the like politicians should be locked up and be subjected to Rehablitation.

    • 5

      No matter, the nail may have been damaged considering the weight, but Ghanasara should be hung by his balls to give us all permement peace – is my thought, please add your thoughts on this.
      We dont want Minority folks be discriminated the way the BPs and WPs have along been over the recent years.
      If Ghansara cant control his TESTERSTERONE mirror, joker, Sirisena so called president should get him married for our good.
      Today Samanaeras and buddhists Nuns are reported to be abused by senior monks in almost every temple with the direct approval of former president PRETENTOUS buddhist Mahinda Persy Jarapakshe.

  • 4

    This article lacks both nuance and depth. There is an abundance of evidence that many citizens (most of whom happened to be Muslim) informed the politico/administrative apparatuses of the state of the activities of NTJ many many years ago, but that no action was taken. The failure is therefore not on the part of the Muslim communities of Sri Lanka, but of the Sinhala Buddhist dominated political elite who chose not to act on the information received. We may surmise as to why, but taking into account the way in which power is deployed in Sri Lanka, political patronage and the need to ensure the continued support of the Muslim political elites, may have played a pivotal role.

    Resurgent anti-Muslim sentiment was visible for at least a decade as political monks like Gnanasssara rose to prominence through the criticism of the Muslim other after the Tamils were no longer available for that purpose. Political elites failed to equally enforce the law, with the monk being incarcerated for a different offense altogether.

    The rise of Wahabism and Salafism has been a concern to Sri Lankan Muslims who have historically been influenced by other traditions. As a consequencce they have seen a radical change in how Islam is practiced. In that respect, they are not unlike other ethno/nationalist formations in Sri Lanka who have also experienced similar change. The swords found in a handful of mosques may be symptomatic of that fact, but fades in comparison to one floating armoury with much more powerful weapons owned by a different ethnic group about which no action has been taken.

  • 2

    All very nice points by the writer, but here is the conundrum: Is there any such thing as moderate within the Mohommedan Cult? If this grouping/cult doesn’t allow criticism/introspection how can there be moderation?
    All these Sabby PCs, Ferials crawled out of the woodwork and held press conferences recently but where were they when the crazy Mohommedans were infecting the Island with their Jihadism? For the last twenty years barely a peep could be heard from these so called moderate Mohommedans.
    All of a sudden Jungi Ulemas (ACJU) is asking mosques to quieten down the early morning screaming but for the last 10 years we had to put up with this incessant shouting, where was the respect for other religions then? Can a stone age cult change it’s spots all of a sudden?

  • 4

    Rasika J

    Any thoughts on curbing the radicalisation of the Buddhists which currently is a main platform for Muslim radicalisation

    Has anybody done an investigation on who is behind the Buddhist radicalisation, what is happening in the temples, why the Buddhist monks are leading these groups, what is their objective, why are they systemically trying to destroy the muslim business and properties? why doesn’t the governments do anything to eliminate this rising tide Buddhist extremism for the last 5 years? why is the media playing a big role in fueling buddhist extremism ?

    I am sure you will agree that if concrete steps are taken to eliminate the Buddhists extremism, 95% of the problem with the Islamic radicalisation and other issues facing the minorities can be solved.

  • 2

    This article does not highlight the causes. Every politician including Muslim politicians are corrupt.

    The planed bomb blast was clearly within the purview of state institutions and its being deliberately let it to happened and those politicians media create gaps between Muslim and others willfully.

    When armless and state supportless Muslims and Muslim politicians to change when the Sinhalese arms community together with state security support attacks asking to change from Muslims and Muslim politicians is illogical connections.

    Yes there are infect of globalization in everything including culture within Muslim cummuinties. It’s is equally true with bhudhist communities too.

    De-radicalization should happen more in bhudhist communities and state administration equally if not more than that of Muslim and Tamil community.

    This article is just focus on the victim and blaming for them for being victim infront of oppression.

  • 6

    Read headline only.
    I must run to Police Station to make sure that action is taken on horrible ISIS video.
    So few willing to do anything. I, in old age, can afford to take risks.
    “The best lack all conviction, the worst are full of passionate intensity,” said W.B. Yeats.
    Good Muslims like Imtiaz Bakeer Markar and Kabir Hasheem please step forward in this hour of need for civilised life to continue in this land of ours.

    • 3

      We know you (MR SINHALA MAN) the like retired professionals always set an example to the passive average in the society. But the problem has been, as I notice it me being out of the country, not many would get up from their long slumber.They just stay criticising only. That is a part and parcel of OUR people culture.

      -. Retired teachers could do lot more in the education of the people in every village. I think they do have the kind of various kind of regular සමිති where almost many of them would come and sit down to listen. If retired teachers could focus on the kind of committees, it will be easy you to pass the message to them. They should be fed with facts about all the known political parties (SLFP, UNP, JVP etc) and what they have achieved sofar even if they repeatedly promised in election campaigns. The motives of the meetings should be aimed at changing their thinking patterns.
      But Mr Sinhala man, please always take care of your health.

      They the barbarians would never consider and respect anyone today but their vicious politicians (Rajakashes led groups).

      My trip planned to SL is nearing. I will try my best to come and see you if you WOULD have time. I will let you know two wks before my trip per Email.
      Lack of time reasons, I have to plan my course of event for each day because it will not be even 2 wks this time.

      All the very best for you !
      Greetings from Cloudy Switzerland

  • 0

    What’s radicalization? When someone takes an extreme stance when it comes to social and political issues.
    Why radicalization? For groups to gain on political or social movements.
    How do you radicalize? Find emotionally unstable people and feed them with half truths designed to reach a communal goal.
    All religions have radical communities. Then why we speak so much about Muslims.
    Muslim culture restricts people from asking questions when Quaran dictates the opposite.
    Some of the self proclaimed servants of Allah, use this towards their advantage with the help of the western politicians.
    Please kindly don’t be a moderate Muslim, but instead be a proper one.
    stand against violence and start representing peace again and crush the people who is using the Quaran out of context

  • 1

    The title of this article assumes that there is radicalisation in the Muslim community.
    Where is this radicalisation? What is the evidence? Muslims have always been a peaceful community and have lived with harmony with the rest of the Sri Lankans.
    Burqa is not radicalisation just as much as a full face helmet is not radicalisation. How many crimes have been committed using the Burqa?
    Why is Halal bad? Halal and Kosher are acknowledged and accepted in every part of the world except in Sri Lanka (because of a rowdy priest).
    Sharia is Islamic law. What is wrong with Sharia? Madrasas are religious schools just like Dhamma schools. Muslim children and religious leaders are trained in them. They are taught good things.
    All this rhetoric comes about just because a few Muslim(?) youth had been indoctrinated by a foreign force to commit a Major crime. Less than 10 were involved and about 100 have been arrested on suspicion. Lets deal with that problem. We had enough warnings both from the intelligence and even before by the traditional Muslims. Our leaders have been sleeping. Lets all get together and get rid of them.
    Why paint all Muslims as radicals and call for introspection. Muslims do not need to be insulted this way.

  • 6

    @sufi women
    You sound like a kharijite women, a sufi will.never refer to a Christian as a polytheist .
    Jews and Christians are Monotheistic believers , dont get your wires crossed .Trinity does not mean polytheism.
    People like you half baked muslims who are the cause for so much misunderstanding and hate.
    You call yourself a Sufi Women, you know nothing about Sufism
    Sufism is not a branch of any religion and its a community that embraces all and everyone .

  • 5

    @Sinhala man,
    I assure you not to worry ,I am sure your Video is already is in the hands of our Intelligence, they have the right for access of any Social media which shares anything connected to Terrorism, Planned mob violence and Hate speech in video , Audio or print form.

    So dont panic , our intelligence are today extremely broad , it has a large number of Muslim Civilians working tirelessly to crush the ISIS .

    Next time pls dont open any videos or anything you receive from third parties , if on top it says forwarded , even if it is sent by known ppl just delete it ,The ISIS is now very actice on Cyber attack.
    Peace be to you

  • 4

    Except Jesus Christ (pbuh) who was given special preference and the right to bring back the dead to life and more ,reasons only known to God alone and we as Muslims dont question God’s decision in such appointments, if we do, we become akin to Lucifer? He questioned ABOUT Adam and became a unbeliever.

    The rest Abraham, Moses ,Muhammad(Pbu -Them all) all started as Sufis (truth searching and seeking Mystics) before receiving revelations , they were in.deep meditation ,very much like The Noble Buddha who received his enlightenment.
    Most of the terms polytheism, idol worship , paganism were in.reference to the early time of Islam and towards some of the Arabs.
    One must understand not all.Arabs were then known as Polytheist or pagans .

    There were arab Christians ,Arab Sabeans , Jews and People of Abraham. They all fell under the honoured title of people of the books and monotheism but differentiated by each according to their fraternity.

    But at the end when The whole of Arabia fell under Muhammad(Pbuh) the final commandment was sent to him,
    Say ,to you be your religion and ways and to me be mine .

    So you can not brand anyone as polytheist or pagans ,that is not Islam.

    Just because some ignorant among other communities humiliate us calling us with derogatory names, as Muslims after the final verse in the Quran,We can only refer to them by the name of the religious name they have identified them with and honour them and respect their beliefs.
    We have no Athority to judge .
    Only God can
    Quran has terms connected to the past which has no connection with times we live in and there are verses that concerns today and future.
    As for Jiza it is not applicable today ad universal Taxation has replaced it.
    Pure logic

  • 3

    @sufi _women.
    You are quoting traditions, Quran is above traditions ,and any tradition that is not in harmony with the Quran and is harmful to humanity can be rejected .

    Btw you seem a ISIS proxy (paid )atheist or from another religion or a direct karijit women .(100% not a Sufi)

    Trying hard to get the civil war started, some people are upset the plan did not go as to what was expected , this time the security & the christians acted very wisely, no wonder you are trying so hard to rouse the emotions of the Christians and turn them.against the ordinary muslim. So 2 birds with one stone , the way all civil.wars are started.

    A certain Media is also trying hard by their repeat telecast.
    God is able of all things

    One-day soon whoever were promoted this heart breaking ruthless carnage for personal benefits will pay bitterly.

    May God protect Sri Lanka and and its people from Lucifer’s advocates like you (.wolves in.sheep clothing )

  • 0

    Rasika Jayakody will no doubt agree that two hands are needed for a handshake.
    The minds behind the hands must really be sincere and honest.
    With one hand armed with a hatchet, a tree can be chopped. Hence the term ‘hatchet-person.
    In the ‘tragedy’ that was 2019 Lankan Easter Sunday, Lankan Muslim have openly accepted the role of radicalised Lankan Muslims.
    The role of Bodu Bala Sena (BBS) in accelerating the radicalisation of the radicals is an open book.
    Is BBS a terrorist organisation? If not, why?

    We hear you Rasika Jayakody, {“Moderate Muslims Must Make Moral Intervention & Push For Reforms Against Radicalization”}.
    Lankan Elites must search their hearts when rubbing shoulders and patronising BBS.

  • 3

    More than ninety percent of Muslim youth returning from Saudi employments
    say , Saudis are not serious about Islam ! Muslims have a habit of talking
    religion whenever they meet each other . When I was at my family home on a
    visit , I had some distant relatives who came to give me a visit and among them
    were a couple of young educated Abhaya wearing girls , no face covered . At
    some point I lost my temper at girl’s mother saying the word “with the help of
    Allah” over and over again and again and I said ” leave Allah alone”. The girls
    got annoyed and started to talk about religion and Saudi piety came up as a
    result and Saudi Islam came under attack ! I had only one question to them
    which had the answer itself from me ! I asked them if Saudi is where Islam was
    born and bred and central to Islam ? Answer was yes , And if Saudi Arabs don’t
    care , why the hell do you ? On a personal level , men like me do our job to get
    people on the right track but the million dollar question is , is it Muslim’s
    religion and culture the problem for the rest in the country ? Did Muslims ever
    ask why Sinhalese girls are wearing leggings , short and tight skirts and
    revealing tops that their mothers or grand mothers never wore ? Are they not
    from another culture ? How come you can import from another culture and
    another community can not , their fashion ? Does anyone guarantee peace
    when Madrasas regulated and Burka banned ? Why the cap and beard and
    some men’s white long robes not targeted ? Another circus as usual ! Address
    the real issue ! Go after the real TROUBLE MAKERS without pushing the
    weak community to the wall . Be real men and do the right politics . Sinhalese
    know that you are a circus group .

  • 2

    If the Moderate Sinhalese had controlled over the extremists in themselves, our country would not have faced racial or religious issues. It’s unfortunate that Sinhala Politicians made use of their majority to suppress the Tamils first and then now Muslims. The Sinhalese made use of Muslims to target the Tamils and now they reap the ‘benefits’ !
    If the Sinhalese had been fair from the time we got independence, we would have been a rich and safe country without the need to get IMF or Chinese loans.

  • 3

    @pseudo Sufi_Women

    The likes of you have only one agenda in mind about Gota becoming President ,your only evil.desire is he will do what Hitler did to the Jews to the Muslims .

    People like you do not have an atom.of love to the Country, you and your likes dont expect him to clean and develop the country but want to see the Muslims exterminated.
    Time will tell.

  • 1

    @Fahim Knight
    Don’t worry we are terming Gota as the “party of peace” (just as certain cults call themselves the cult of peace).
    Once Gota comes it will be the opportune moment to ban the following stone age Arab/pagan rituals and practices. Also the reverend Galagoda Aththe apey Hamuduruwa will be pardoned in order to give his advice for clean up operations. The venerable monk warned us about the dangers posed by Mohommedanism years ago. Not listening to him caused the loss of 250 innocent lives
    -Ban dual law and Mohommedan marriage and divorce act
    -Ban polygamy and Mohommedan child marriage
    -Ban Mohommedan Hijab
    -Ban Halal slaughter. (Just as eating outside in Ramazan is banned in Mohommedan countries Halal slaughter can be banned in Sinhala buddhist country)
    -Ban Mohommedan mosques in Holy City of Kandy (Just as Kafirs are banned in Mohommedan holy cities)
    -Ban circumcision of little sri lankan male children
    -Ban genital mutilation of little sri lankan female children
    -Ban screaming/loudspeakers of Mohommedan mosques (people of sri lanka deserve a peaceful sleep without crazy lunatics going Allah Allah at dawn)
    -Ban Madrasas/Sharia Unis
    -Ban all arab preachers
    -Ban Mohommedan only schools like Zahira and so called Mohommedan international schools
    -Continous monitoring of Mohommedan mosques and weekly checking to see about grass cutting equipment
    -In line with teachings of the leader of Mohommedanism, 2 votes of Mohommedan females will be equal to 1 vote (not considered discriminatory as afterall we are applying the teachings of the holiest of holies)
    -In line with fatwa of @fahim knight “any hadith tradition that is not in harmony with the Quran and is harmful to humanity can be rejected”. This means all hadith related rituals to be banned as all these are stone age teachings harmful to humans, females and children.

    • 1

      Lol..you are hopelessly pathetic and yes hilarious too.

      Keep living in your hallucination

    • 1

      Very strange you sound so, so , Kharjit aka ISIS .same ideology ban all.hadees anti Prophet ,kill.all those who send solutations to all Prophets ,and brand those muslims as Mohamedans .

  • 2

    You are pathetic and do ignorant
    You may have to.check.with Bhiddists living in Bangladesh,Malaysia ,Indonesia ,Brunei and also those working enjoying full freedom. In dubai .

  • 1

    Dear Sinhala Man.,
    Dont waste your precious bandwidth and time in those who say to themselves the tragic self endorsement ‘MY MIND IS MADE UP’

    Be free to write your mindout , never let anyone enslave your mind , you are a very sincere humanbeing I been with CT for a very long time , I always read your comments with utmost respect.
    Please do continue your contribution its valued and dont explain yourself to anyone .

    • 2

      Thanks, Fahim Knight,
      Yes, I know that we have great mutual respect for each other. Very sincere friends have advised. We are making real progress.
      However, give me a few days to report on what’s happening. Examining my phone more carefully, the contents that had already come into that WhatsApp Group are explosive and consistent in their orientation.

      Action tomorrow afternoon; I’m likely to get down to Maharagama in a night bus, but then there are some family things to attend to. For now, it’s best that I reveal no more.

  • 1

    Sometimes Knicks in comment forums also gives a hint of the one commenting .

    What does one accept grom a creature that crawls ? Creepy right O?

  • 0

    I would be more nervous of the new development in Persian gulf .

    A slight spark on Iran and most of the world can be in a mess.
    Sri lanka will be effected directly .

  • 0

    Any war on Iran , will.drag all the gulf Countries in , Russia in a large Scale, who knows may be China too.

    Millions of foreign workers may lose jobs in middle east and may even be from Japan and KOREA TOO.(they have strong Business commitments with Iran) ,Japan is the biggest Iran oil buyer ,so is China.
    It also may mean except the Ijaz region ,the rest of new KSA cpyld be history never to be repeated again.

  • 1

    @ dear Sinhala Man
    Take it straight to.The CID(Col 1 ), they will then direct you to a special cyber unit .

    In future pls dont mention such incidents on.public forums, the world has changed a lot, money is the only thing that matters for most people.

    Always get a trusted relative or friend to make a backup.before you hand over the materials to the respective unit (am sure CID will direct you ) for any future reference .

    We will.overcome
    Tc my friend .

  • 1

    I believe the real name for ISIS should be KIL ..(Kharjites of Iraq by calling them.ISIS the media is giviig them boost for their fake and ruthless ideology .
    They should be renamed as KIL

    Please read online ;

    The Real Name for ISIS Should Be KIL: “The Kharijites of Iraq and the Levant”Posted by Hesham


    Thus, rather than calling them ISIS, I will call them KIL.


    The barbarians of KIL are exactly as Caliph Ali described:

    Their flags are black.They will be ruthless, with hearts like “fragments of iron.”They will claim a state.They will will have long hair

Leave A Comment

Comments should not exceed 200 words. Embedding external links and writing in capital letters are discouraged. Commenting is automatically disabled after 5 days and approval may take up to 24 hours. Please read our Comments Policy for further details. Your email address will not be published.