By Latheef Farook –
The re-election of Rizvi Moulavi, despite his reputation for frequent controversies and repeated blunders which caused immense damage to the community, as the president of All Ceylon Jamiathul Uema, ACJU, reflects the religious and moral bankruptcy of the Muslim community.
This was expected as the ACJU has been a one man show, ever since Rizvi Mufthi who, kicked out ACJU President Riyal Moulavi under questionable circumstance 20 years ago and grabbed power.
ACJU is an association of those who have gone through Madarasas. ACJU has no mandate to speak or act on behalf of the Muslim community as it was not given this authority by the community.
In Islam there is no priesthood. We only have Islamic scholars. There are many Islamic scholars who are not members of ACJU as they do not have independent voice on crucial religious matters.
During mid-1920s simple and respected religious men who guided the community, formed the All Ceylon Jamiathul Ulema. This continued until Rizvi Moulavi became the ACJU president and began to manipulate to assert himself as the religious and political leader of the community, though he is not. Sorry state of affairs is such that he tries to play the role of medieval Pope who exercised political and religious powers.
Today the ACJU is an organization of yes men. No one dare question the president who has been known for unnecessary controversies even on issues such as Ramadhan and eid moon sightings. He committed blunder after blunder exploited by Sinhala racists to distort Islam and mislead the Sinhalese masses.
ACJU has always dabbled on issues without consulting the community and the most serious was that of the halal issue. Muslims had been in this country for centuries and they had no problems in deciphering what is halal and haram for them particularly when it comes to food habits. ACJU made halal issue purely from the commercial angle and that infuriated the other communities.
Starting from halal certificate issue, women’s face cover which he claimed is compulsory though neither Holy Quran or Hadees, (sayings of holy Prophet Muhammad (PBUH,) speaks about it brought disaster and ridicule the community, failure to reform madrasas to suit the need of the time within the framework of Sharia, blocking of reforms to Muslim Marriage and divorce Act and many such issues.
It is well known that after oil boom US-Israeli controlled Saudi’s spent billions of dollars exporting Wahhabi Islam to counter the rise of Imam Khomeini and to show that Saudi is the leader of Muslims. This even prescribed different dress codes for Muslims to the dislike of other communities, particularly in countries where non-Muslims were in the majority.
He had 20 long years to attend to burning issues. However he miserably failed and wasted time protecting and promoting deviated Tableegh Jamaath, hob knobbing with shady businessmen and politicians, accused of implementing oil rich Gulf countries agendas, frequent travel abroad for reasons only known to him and many more.
Since independent in 1948 successive governments never interfered in the religious affairs of the Muslim community. Instead they respected Muslims’ religious rights. Sinhalese political leaders, civil society and even monks ,except few racist mercenaries, respected religious rights and feelings of Muslims so much that Buddhist monks appealed to President Sirisena to consult Muslims before banning face cover.
However ACJU’s callous negligence to attend to these matters made the government and its mercenaries to interfere in the religious rights of Muslims. For example today madrasas were brought under education ministry, President Sirisena banned face cover and marriagble age for girls fixed at 18 years. Besides ever since Easter Sunday massacre Maithri-Ranil government has unleashed a vicious campaign against Muslims striking at their very survival as a community.
Despite the government’s failure to prevent mob attacks on Muslims in the North East, Kurunegala and Nikaqwaratiya and other areas and the sufferings of Muslims, Rizvi Moulavi attended President Sirisena’s iftar party on 3 June-the day the frightened Muslims in and around Kandy forced to remain closed doors and break Ramadan fast due to growing tension built up by the drama of so-called fast to death undertaken by Authuraliye Rathana Thera who is in the forefront in the hate Muslim campaign.
Muslims throughout the island were furious but were helpless to prevent this humiliation. The list of Rizvi Moulavi’s blunders is long.
Muslims have nothing to do with the Easter Sunday Massacre. However the government and its mercenaries unleashed a campaign of persecution which has caused considerable damage to this peaceful and peace loving community.
It has now become clear that this anti-Muslim campaign is a well-planned conspiracy involving the government and opposition combined, racist monks, racist media, racist bureaucracy, racist businessmen and others hell bent on crushing Muslims.
Vicious and calculated anti-Muslim media campaign since April 21 had done tremendous damage poisoning Sinhalese minds against Muslims. Organized racist thugs were given free hand and this culminated in the violence against Muslims in the North East and Kurunegala district especially Minuwangoda.
Muslim houses, business establishments, hotels and other such places were burnt during curfew hours while an innocent fasting Muslim was chopped to death and another battered Muslim man was dragged in the street to hospital where he died.
According to reports President Sirisena was aware of these attacks, but failed to prevent. Instead he left to china to attend an insignificant conference. Most of the attackers were freed on bail and a notorious thug known for his violence against Muslims in Digana last year was garlanded and taken in procession.
Today the situation is such, as pointed out by a columnist, that “Life has become a nightmare in their ordinary day to day living and virtually changed every aspect of life in the island’s Muslim population. Harassment, discrimination and a well-orchestrated hate campaign has been taking shape in the public domain, demonizing, alienating and foistering a besieged mentality towards Muslims. Racism has found a new meaning in Sri Lanka and everything Muslims are being targeted. There is total harassment of Muslims in public places, buses and trains, taxis and even in work places
Sinhala lawyers refused to appear for Muslims taken into custody, doctors refused to treat Muslim women insisting that they remove their head scarves, Muslim shops were boycotted, a pradeshiya sabah chairman prevented Muslim from trading in the market, some temples began advising Buddhists not to deal with Muslims and this ostracization continues unabated while US-European- Israeli war mongers’ Islamophobia brought to the island pushed Muslims to the wall.
The ongoing campaign is so vicious that a Muslim company which provided daily free meals to around 3000 – breakfast-lunch and dinner – to cancer hospital patients and visitors cancelled this generosity due to adverse comments.
In this tense atmosphere, tearing apart the communities, came the shocking call by Ven. Warakagoda Sri Gnanarathana Thera, the incumbent Mahanayake of the Asgiriya Chapter, for stoning to death of Muslims and urging Sinhala Buddhists to refrain from frequenting Muslim-owned shops and consuming food offered by Muslims.
The community is passing through the worst ever crisis in its more than a thousand year history since the Easter Sunday massacre. Powerful local and international anti-Muslims forces have got together plotting and conspiring against Islam and Muslims.
Under the circumstance the pressing need is to thoroughly overhaul the ACJU with respected scholars who could guide the community in keeping with the teachings of Holy Quran, work for the interest of the community and the country, help bring communities together, win the respect and confidence of the community and others, stop hob knobbing with embassies and implementing their evil designs on the community and use the Friday Juma sermons to educate Muslims on current issues.
In this darkest of dark hour there is a pressing need for the Muslim community, especially the civil society, to do some stock taking, undo past mistakes and reorganize the community to join hands with the Sinhalese and Tamil communities to face the emerging challenges.
Failure to do so means endless disaster as evil forces are fully active.
Racist politicians and their mercenaries may shout from roof top and resort to violence against minorities to retain or grab power. The reality is that Sinhalese, Tamils, Muslims and all other citizens of this country need to live together if we are to progress.