17 April, 2024


On Becoming Muslim Buddha’s (Enlightened, Knowers) 

By Soraya M. Deen –

Soraya M. Deen

One of the greatest challenges facing Sri Lankans today is how to manage and curb the increased hostilities between Muslims and the majority Buddhists. While tensions between the two communities has been a perennial issue facing the country, it is now rising in epic proportions. Since the Easter attacks of April 23rd, 2019, this tension has widened and deepened, and now at a grave threshold of being manipulated as a political tool. 

It is going to be a difficult but a necessary and crucial task to take deliberate steps to build trust, strengthen understanding and sustain solidarity. The collaborative work done so far by the majority in the two communities must be escalated and be highlighted. Moderate, progressive, secular Sri Lankan Muslims have a crucial role to play in facing this problem head on while promoting a real and honest dialogue—free of political correctness and comforting lies—about the true nature of Radical Islamism.

Marwaan Macan Markar in the Asian Review of April 24th states that, “Sri Lanka’s radicalized Muslims have long ties to the Islamic State and early signs were that Sri Lankan Muslims were being recruited into IS since 2014. According to reports at least 32 Sri Lankan Muslims have joined IS.

It’s real, let’s wake up….

In the past two years I spent months working and travelling across the Island. I met women from across the country. Of grave concern to me was the lack of heart centered communication, connection, and collaboration among majority Buddhists and the minority Muslims. It was at an all-time low. The Muslim communities were recovering from a series of racist and religious attacks that targeted them whilst some of the majority Buddhists were seeking to establish power. 

What was evident was that some Sinhala Buddhist nationalists were exploiting global trends in blaming and shaming Muslims for all terror. Today sadly they will find legitimacy in their claims. A small fraction of relatively uneducated, zealous religionists Muslims, were retreating into shells of social isolation. They were choosing religious identity over national identity, and found partial solace in the task of purifying Islam. This small group of Islamists reflected the splintering of the Muslim community. It was becoming clear that we were slowly becoming our own enemies.

My family was one of the first causalities. We had conversations we never had growing up. We engaged in severe debate and dispute over the practice of Islam, and the need to revive Islam and its glorious past. A majority of my cousins were now wearing the burqa and hijab and wanted me to do so as well. On many occasions they would carry a shawl in their hand bags in case I changed my mind. Often they questioned my allegiance to the faith and traditions.

Sri Lankan Muslims and moderate Muslims all over the world are experiencing a crisis in faith. There are no counter-Islamism movements focusing on the threat of the puritan version of Islam. I questioned the rapid disintegration of the Muslim communities, particularly the Muslim women from the mainstream in Sri Lanka, and the enforcement of the veil, niqab and the burqa. The Hijab I felt was becoming a symbol of Islam. I paid a heavy price for speaking out. Photo shopped photographs of me and my 15 year old daughter in sleeveless attire were circulated through WhatsApp. My brother forwarded posts that referred to me as an infidel and Zionist American. They claimed a severe punishment awaits me. I thought that the tentacles of Islamism and Islamists seemed to have a well secured home in Sri Lanka.  

IS links to the mass scale tragedy that took the lives of over 260 people on Easter Sunday is now confirmed. The fact that all the suicide bombers were Muslims, opens a whole new can of worms, new levels of accountability, new levels of retrospection for the now fractured Muslim communities in Sri Lanka as well as Muslims globally.

Let’s make no mistake that the new threat of terrorism in Lanka stems from Islamism and Islamists who want to promote a political ideology. They truly believe that Islam should govern the whole world. They believe and borrow verses from the scripture and the Hadiths of the prophet, and reinterpret them to gain legitimacy for their political goals and those of salvation. Even though there is no consensus between the Islamic texts, the scholars and the practices, a dangerous trend has emerged to solve all social, political and economic issues with Sunnah, Sharia and the scripture.

Which end of the triangle are you?

A triangle is a polygon with three edges and three vertices. It is one of the basic shapes in geometry. Triangles play a very important role in the areas of mathematics.

An Egyptian Muslim scholar talking about extremism likened the Muslim communities predicament to a Triangle

“One edge of the triangle he says is the Muslims glorious past.

Muslims claim this path to be one of perfection and absolute bliss.

Yes, the path was good but it had its fair share of positives and negatives.

The second edge of the triangle he says is the belief held by most Muslims, that the glorious past must be restored. The golden age, when people walked like the prophet in long beards with winged angels. Most, a vast majority of Muslims belong here. Even my dear cousins, totally nonviolent, but who have started to wear the burka fall into this category. 

The third edge of the that black triangle he explains is the belief held by some Muslims, that this past must be restored even if it requires the use of violence, coercion, cruelty, brutality, bombs or  swords. 

We Muslims can get rid of this triangle only when we accept that there is no need to restore that past. It is gone. We must live our lives in our times and in our world, according to our renewed understanding of religion.

He concludes by saying, – ISIS and Al Qaeda will never go.”

Robin Simcox, a Margaret Thatcher Fellow specializing in terrorism and national security analysis, in his article on IS- “The Threat of Islamist Terrorism in Europe” observes as follows – “The potency of these groups is enhanced by their ongoing ability to inspire small cells of radicalized supporters living in the West to carry out attacks on their behalf. The vast majority of plots in the West emanate from such supporters, who have claimed affiliation with a terrorist group without ever having traveled to popular safe havens.”

Emergency first aid ….

Even though no studies have been done vis-a-vis about how Sri Lankans view the Sri Lankan Muslims before and after the tragic event of Easter Sunday, a compelling research shows how American view American Muslims after 9/11. A study done by the Pew Research Center on Muslims and Islam found that 49 percent of Americans find U.S. Muslims anti-American. About a quarter say there is a fair amount of support (24 percent) for extremism among U.S. Muslims; and 11 percent say there is a great deal of support.

In the aftermath of the Easter Sunday tragedy, I connected with over 25 of my non-Muslim friends. I asked them, “What can we Muslims do to account for this tragedy?” Every person I called acknowledged my concern. The majority said, the face cover and black Abaya was a huge divider. And that it must not be allowed. They said, “There must be one law for all. If no one is permitted to conceal their identity, the Muslims must also comply with the law.” Second they said, “Muslims must stop teaching the youth that infidels must be killed and that there is reward in heaven.”

Islam desperately needs a revaluation and Sri Lankan Muslims must lead the way in openly calling for reform that is social and religious. We must candidly and honestly admit and acknowledge that some challenging verses in our scripture have given doctrinal legitimacy to violent extremism and our failure to recognize this fact and educate the community on the contextual realities has legitimized the violence. We are sadly at the very edge of a serious dilemma – reform or face rejection.

Our continued refusal and unwillingness to acknowledge this phenomenon has frozen much of our faith to a 7th century dogma. Our rush to blame, shame and obstruct the very few who call for reform and change undermines well established rules of Fiqh and Ijithihad, wherein every we recognize  is the human attempt to understand divine law which can be fallible and changeable. We must win the ideological battle of ideas against this movement because this is more important than military victories on the battlefield. Failure will stifle the voices of a vast majority of Muslims everywhere who genuinely support reform and acknowledge the dangers of political Islam.

Let’s mobilize …

Sri Lankan Muslims must take an inventory of failures so we can prepare for success.  We must agitate one another. Our better might not be our best. We don’t have the luxury of compromises and sensitivities. Stand up and call out Imams who preach hate and exclusivity. If we want Islam to be treated with respect and equality, we must acknowledge that we do not have a monopoly over Gods word. All theology is contextual. We don’t ride camels and encounter sand dunes in Sri Lanka. We ride cars and buses and reach out to our Buddhist, Tamil or Christian neighbors in times of need.

Throughout history we know fully well that inaction, indifference and the silence of those of us who should have acted and not acted, makes it impossible for good to triumph.

All religions are a set of ideas and must be open for critique. Sadly, in the Muslim world we believe that Islam is above and beyond critique — that Islam, and only a group of Muslims, have everything to teach the world but nothing to learn from it. This is quite contrary to the great mosque at Cordoba, in A.D. 785, a thriving cultural and intellectual center. It was a center for learning that attracted Jewish scholars, philosophers, poets and scientists. Non-Muslims played an important part in the intellectual life of Cordoba. True and lasting commitments to preserve intellect through and across lines of faith took root here. In a globally connected pluralistic world we Muslims have an obligation and duty to lead that charge. 

We must carefully, candidly, and collaboratively address the causes of radical Islam. And we must share some responsibility for the global trends in all terror committed by Islamists. Crucial to reform is the need to engage and empower Muslim women in religious leadership while promoting gender equality in our mosques. We must teach our youth a new brand of Islam, one that is compatible to Sri Lankan values and culture and not that of the Middle East.

Bawa Muhaydeen a Sri Lankan Sufi mystic who migrated to Philadelphia once said, “Muslim are in a state of ignorance. That is why they give so much sorrow to the world.”

Only free speech and an open and honest discussion on campus, in the media, and in our daily lives as citizens about the threat posed by Islamic radicalism will allow moderate voices to come to the forefront to expose and drown out radicals.

Soraya Deen is a lawyer, community organizer and an award winning international activist. She focuses on countering violent extremism by educating and empowering women to action. She is the founder of the Muslim Women Speakers Movement and the President and co-founder of the Interfaith Solidarity Network, one of the largest interfaith organizations in Los Angeles.

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Latest comments

  • 11

    She speaks sense. Most Non Muslims will agree with her, but most Muslims wont.
    Religion is not essential to exist and serve fellow humans.
    Religion binds one to one set of rules & this is dangerous.
    Every religion is a code of behaviour.
    All rational men & women know the difference between good and evil, yet bound by tradition & religion they ignore reality.

    • 2

      Religion is not necessary to Exist- true. But man is necessary for religion to exist. Without man religion will exit the world.

      • 2


        Man , with 46 achromosomes created God and religion.

        Other primates with 48 chromosomes do not have religion. They have Evolution.

  • 2

    Suddenly all these so called ‘moderate’ and ‘traditional’, Muslims have found their voice. They are trying to reassert that, they are right and seek validation for the ignorance and lack of respect for the established religious practices.

    • 3

      Dear Shifan, are you saying the “established religious practices” that has spawned the acts of 23rd are ok?? things have not been ok for almost 20+ years within the local islamic community, something foreign and rotton had been allowed to grow,,,,by ignorance or wilful participation by a segment of the muslim community…which justified fundamentalism as something pious and normal…what everyone forgets is that it does not end there… that is the root and beginning of extremism….

      • 2

        Dear Dinesh, the author “dispute over the practice of Islam, and the need to revive Islam and its glorious past. A majority of my cousins were now wearing the burqa and hijab and wanted me to do so as well. On many occasions they would carry a shawl in their hand bags in case I changed my mind.”. These practices what I was referring to, what people want to wear, is the matter of their choice. What these moderate ‘Muslims’ is trying to seek validity for their lack of respect for Hijaab and suddenly trying to justify everything happened due to ‘Arabisation’. When 1915 riots happened against Muslims, was there any arabisation??? BDW who allowed to grow extremism, the Muslim community, informed the Police and other authorities time to time and there is clear evidence for it.

  • 14

    One should never confuse with the Malays of Sri Lanka and the Wahabi Muslims. It’s like mistaking blockchain with bitcoins.

    Malays are lovely people. Awesome women. Good boozers and real party folks. The best minority in SL.

    Where as the Muslims are entirely different lot. If you see someone on the road with a mean and murderous look in his face, demonstrates uncivilized habits such as spitting on the road or cleaning his nose onto the drain, then there you have it. That’s the latter.

    That’s the creature that will someday destroy this beautiful planet. And don’t be fooled. It’s not Sasquatch either. Sasquatch will live in perfect harmony with nature. Not this one.

    • 1

      ‘If you see someone on the road with a mean and murderous look in his face, demonstrates uncivilized habits such as spitting on the road or cleaning his nose onto the drain, then there you have it.’

      Your imagination running riot! Where did you get this nonsense?

      • 3


        That’s how most Muslims look like. They used to be clean shaven in years gone by when they were good friends of ours.

        But the Saudis ruined the SL Muslims. Now they grow beards and looks like common criminals. Do not think it’s Sasquatch. It’s not.

        The women. They wear this Black Bedspread on their bodies. Smells like chopped Garlic and a noxious bunch.

        Haven’t you seen on the roads or are you blind?

    • 0

      Rtrd _Salim

      Let us see what the Malay Community have to say about it.
      If what you have mentioned is true, some will endorse it by commenting or keeping silent .
      Its their right let them speak about it .
      As far as I know there are simple good Moderate muslims among Malays (they have always been) one need not be a party goer or booze to be a good human being or for that matter, even be over religous , there are atheists who engage in humanity today than anyone else.
      There are enough people who are much sober among Buddhists, Hindus and Christians.
      Ignorance is never a bliss it consumes everything ,everyone and finally the ignorant .
      Lot of people living overseas are screaming patriotism when they have even given up their birth right for personal gains.
      People in Sri.Lanka should be careful not get swayed by working towards peace and saving our nation.
      Some of them could be paid agents to destroy us.
      Let us stand together and first save the nation.

  • 4

    In 1979 Castro forced out 30,0000 undesirable to Florida, which is 30 miles off Cuba. Tamil Nadu is also about 30’s off northern Sri Lanka. Time to employ the same strategy to get rid of 500,000 Tamil speaking Muslims into Tamil Nadu Refugee camps. There are 1.6 billion Muslims in the world, the 2.2 million in Lanka are expendable. Not needed nor wanted. There zero contribution to the country from them. Buddhists’ are the the biggest tax payers, we fund the system that the Muslims live in. My EPF and ETF is over Rs 600,000 and all of it will go to the nation since I don’t plan on coming back to shithole Lanka to collect it.
    There has to be a law that all people with non-sinhala names needed to pass a test in sinhala before getting their ID. Like they have in the USA. This test should mean every one can speak and write in Sinhala, know Pali, the Dahammapada, Dipawamsna, Culawamsa, Mahavamsa and the Rajavaliya.

    • 7


      My advice is go to SL and collect your ETF and EPF, bring it to whereever you live and invest in something. Even an ETF that generates 10-15% means over 5-7 years you will double your money. Don’t let it go.

      I very much agree with you. While our focus is on the Muslim scoundrel that massacred our people on the 21st of April, don’t ever lose focus on the Tamil scoundrel.

      While our focus is away, they will be up to something.

      The security forces haven’t lost focus, while they are raiding Muslim establishments they are keeping a close eye on the Tamils as well. Ask your relatives in SL to watch their neighbors and report immediately.

    • 13


      About 2500 years ago the king of Sinhapura expelled 700 thugs from his own kingdom including his son who landed on our ancestral land. You ought to check your DNA to confirm your origin. Perhaps thug Vijaya could be one of your ancestors and the thug Gnanasara could be your distant cousin.

      • 4


        Tests revealed niro is connected to Kuveni’s dog!

      • 2

        Native Vedda, you have misinterpreted our history. Vijaya landed at Thambapani in the northern coast in Sri Lanka,which is in the present day Mannar region. Your ancestral land is further north across the sea known Tamil Nadu. That is why you are so different from the real Sri Lankans in looks and the language.

    • 2

      niro ,

      According to a Hindu report , there are about 1.3 million Sinhalese
      who can not write or read any Sinhala , where do you want to pack
      them off to ? Many of them are living in the slums in and around
      Colombo district , Moneragala , Ampara , Mahiyangana and
      Anuradapura . Could you explain to me what your ancestors had
      been wearing before Muslims brought in textiles to the country ?
      Ven Gnanasara says , 80.000 Sinhalese Buddhist who went to Arab
      countries returned as Muslims ! Any idea how ? And also , include
      to your ID test , My3 – valiya , Rajapaksha-valiya , Gemban-valiya ,
      Wansa-valiya etc .

    • 2

      What a load of garbage. They also need to do a mental test on someone like you applying for an ID.

    • 2

      Sri Lanka has become a ‘ shithole Lanka’ because of ‘ shitholes’ like you who are still living here.

    • 0

      This test should mean every one can speak and write in Sinhala, know Pali, the Dahammapada, Dipawamsna, Culawamsa, Mahavamsa and the Rajavaliya.

      This will disqualify 90% of the Sinhala Buddhists!

  • 0

    In September 2006, Pope Benedict XVI provoked outrage in the Muslim world with a speech given at the University of Regensburg in Germany.
    During his address, Pope Benedict quoted a 14th Century Christian emperor: “Show me just what Muhammad brought that was new and there you will find things only evil and inhuman, such as his command to spread by the sword the faith he preached.”

  • 4

    I think this Lady is totally confused. This is not Muslims against Sinhla Buddhists.
    Neither the Islamist Terrorist are from poor families.

    There has been no stoush between Muslims and Sinhala Buddhists since 1915.
    That was organized by the then ruling Elite , to protect their Turf from Sinhala Buddists.

    Then came the second stoush in Aluthgama before the Yahapalana Election.
    Again it was organized by the UNP , to break the back of the Sinhala Buddhist influence in the Country, after the Government then was able to eliminate the 30 years of terrorism and bring some prosperity to the nation.

    But the Easter 2019 is different.
    Islamists who attacked did not target the Sinhala Buddhists, which would have been much easier targets to cause a lot more damage .

    During the 30 year Tamil Terrorism, it was the Sinhala Buddhists and the poor Muslims in Batti and Jaffna who copped the worst.
    In fact LTTE Terrorists cleared all Muslims from the North with in 24 hours.
    They killed 300 worshipers in one hit in Batti.

    It is the Muslims who helped the Sinhala Buddhists to eliminate the LTTE.
    So there was no reasons for Muslims to fight Sinhala Buddhists.

    What caused the 2019 Easter disaster?..
    I do not think we will ever find out what really caused it,
    Because both main political parties are now subservient to the Muslim Politicians who have the first hand knowledge of how the Islamist Terrorism started and and how the Catholic community and their holy paces were blasted.

  • 1

    The civilizational responsibility of unbelievers, non believers and other non Muslims on whom the Muslims hang like parasites for their existence is to phase out Islam with minimal physical harm to the brainwashed. This latter requirement is a serious constraint that will prolong the operation into a couple of centuries. However it is imperative that non Islamic ethical standards are maintained in this long drawn out process. Therefore the brainwashed should not be hated but looked upon with empathy, while of course safeguarding your life and limb.

  • 0

    Your religion will soon be taken over by a stronger and purer one. It’s like the Aztec culture, where human sacrifices were rampant. Those offered up for sacrifice went willingly to their death with great honor and a view of the a blissful afterlife, when their their hearts were ripped out of their bodies, and their blood offered to the gods. What a relief it was for them when the Spanish religion, Christianity, took over. One visititation from heaven and
    all of Mexico became Catholic after the appararition of Our Lady of Guadalupe.

    I predict there will be another heavenly apparition soon for the Muslims.

  • 0

    If it looks like a duck, swims like a duck, and quacks like a duck, then only it is a duck. Muslims are on the process of becoming Arabians. But can ugly duckling (South Asian) become swan (true Arabian) too?
    Ranil ordered all boards not carrying only Sinhala, Tamil and English must be removed. So, sans international language English, he has prevented all other foreign norice boards, with special mention of Arabic.
    Though language was the fuse Don Stephen concentrated to set fire, but now it is Religion that is blowing up. In 1915 when the riots started it was between Buddhism and Muslims. When a Muslim rep was proposed for Legislative council, Tamils leaders said that any one from Hindu, Muslim or Catholic Tamil can become a Tamil leader, so there was no need for religious division among Tamils. Hindus kept that promise by making Catholic SJV as the unchallenged leader. But noticing the Tamils’ unity, after freedom, Don Stephen worked on that. He was the first one injected Arabization hormone MMDA to race change the Muslim. It was painful on women, but paid off well for Muslim men until 2009. Muslim spies gained extraordinary recognition by their ability to intermix with Tamils and repaint that experience in Sinhala & English for the Rapist Army’s need. Many fast moving Muslims proposed Muslims to stop speaking Tamil and start to speak Sinhala (Mubarak even wants to study Urudu). If the Islam is about Earn, Eat, Enjoy and die, then that was not bad idea. But Islam is about Koran. So the dis-attachment Don Stephen successfully induced in Muslims from Tamils by the MMDA to make them become Sinhalese, now has made them to dream becoming Arabs by studying Arabic. If life is only about wealth accumulation, Tamil Muslims’ decision change that they become Arabians instead becoming Sinhalese makes sense. Muslim thought of changing as Sinhalese and being employed in government service will make them equal to Sinhalese.

  • 1

    But, as they have become the richest Community, studying Sinhalese and becoming Sinhalese will only lower their status with Sinhalese. It is through Arab connections they become to this new status. Their improved learning facilities came by the Middle East donations. Their strong hold on the Muslim-Sinhala Aanduwa is because of the Arab lands’ powerful backup. Their decreased unemployment situation came from Arab lands employments. Today, Mangala reminded Sinhala Buddhist 8th grade parliamentarians to think of the Lankawe women employed in Middle East being send back home, before they mess around with Rishard by the passing NCM on him. Sinhala Monkey failed to build its nest for 70 years until the Rain started. Now hoping to equalize with Muslim Weaver by destroying it’s nest in the ME jobs. Mangala knows about the Exchange they bring in for the Biriyani.
    Arabizations of Tamil Muslims is a multi-dimensional jobs for a community which was just until few years ago conducting the wedding in Tamils custom, wearing the dress in Tamil custom, making the food in Tamils custom. This week a Muslim street vendor was attacked in south by mobs, though he was selling Tamil Vada. This is still not about “Dosa Vada Appida Eppa” but about “Halal or Falafel Appe Ganna Nai”
    Muslims are changing their life as Arabians. Tamil Muslims are now walking like Arabians. Muslims are now swimming like Arabs. But they don’t quack like Arabians. Muslim wants now speak in Arabic.
    They are studying in Arabian syllabus. They are self-imposing sharia on women by whipping at mosque for sexual misbehaviors. MMDA is fully enforced. Women wear only what men order to wear. They don’t plant Lankawe Shade tree in roads, but plant Dates to make neighborhood to looks like Arabian deserts. But Ranil thinks by removing the Arabic bill boards he can convince Muslims to become Sinhalese once more. A cocoon may not reverse as a caterpillar, if prevented becoming butterfly by destroying its nest.

  • 2

    Hey Retard Lt Reginal Shamal, all muslims are not wahabi. Ur an clueless imbecile……

  • 1

    Thanks Soraya. There’s a Bangladeshi muslim woman who makes a good case for an enligthened islam – you can check out her Ted Talks.

    As for Sri Lanka, the SL muslims need to cut their financial dependence on Arabs and Turks, and even the Iranis. It is the rich among these peoples who have hijacked islam and radicalized and mutilated the minds of young muslims to suit their global political aspirations.

    God is God, right? Why does one have to be a “muslim” or “christian” or “Jewish” to live by the One God’s teachings? Why not create a new “One God” (Thawheed) religion, that ALL monotheists can partake in?

    As for those of us buddhists who don’t pay much attention to whether there’s only 1 or a billion gods, leave us be. We will work for our own “salvation” – no God needed, thank you very much!

    One thing that the historic Buddha (it is only a title, you know) said is that there are 10000 doorways to nirvana – cessation of life. So, muslims (as well as other faiths) are all buddhists from that perspective. We do not need to go running around the world bribing. coercing or killing others in order to convert them or save their souls.

  • 3

    Aney how sweet, the writer seems to be a 21st century Mohommedan who is not considered to be a Mohommedan by the stone age Mohommedans.
    These so called moderate Mohommedans have totally failed to control the racist crazy Allah Allah Kaboom members of their stone age cult so pointless for them to come and write articles now. Better they teach their lunatic cult members about life in the 21st century. Also the writer should check with her family whether she was genitally mutilated. These Mohommedans have been abusing female children from the time the cult was founded.
    the @Lt General is correct that Malays should not be confused with the crazy racist Mohommedan cult. Awesome women (without any genital mutilation). Let us protect the Malay/Sinhala/Tamil/Burger children from the crazy stone age Mohommedan cult.

  • 1

    Niro the traitor living overseas , hands out instructions how Sri lanka Shpuld be governed and in tue end swallows his own vomit.
    Ends by referring to.Sri Lanka a Shitehole .
    Wa ..

  • 1

    S M D
    This is a very American influenced view of a “confused” person. The recent unfortunate events in SL is ISIS influenced, the root cause of which is the unjust war in Iraq caused the ex-President of the USA, George W Bush and his stooge ex-Prime Minister of G B Tony Blair; the fame of weapons of mass destruction. Unfortunately, the Taliban is still alive and kicking in Afghanistan and ISIS continues to be a threat to stability in many countries globally.

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