20 June, 2019

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‘Religious Doctrine’ & ‘Religion’: Sharing Some Thoughts

By Charles Ponnuthurai Sarvan

Prof. Charles Sarvan

The following is consequent to reading ‘What the Qur’an Meant and Why It Matters’ by Garry Wills, New York, 2017. (The touch of ambiguity in the title’s anaphoric pronoun is surely deliberate.) Page reference, unless otherwise stated, is to this book. Professor Wills, now retired, once studied for the Roman-Catholic priesthood; later, he taught Greek and History.

Thirty-one percent of the world’s population is Christian; twenty-three is Muslim (p. 4) and growing. The word “Islam” means submission to Allah, and to Muslims Allah’s will is expressed in the Qur’an: Professor Abdel Haleem in his translation of the Qur’an (Oxford University Press) states that the sacred book is the supreme authority in Islam. The Qur’an is essentially an oral text, audibly received; orally transmitted. The revelations to the Prophet were made over several years, and their ordering in the Qur’an is neither chronological nor topical. This means there is no narrative thread for the reader to follow with ease.  Further, “Some things in the book are off-putting – slavery, patriarchal attitudes toward women, religious militarism. But the same can be said of the biblical Torah” (pp. 5-6).

The Qur’an is a fungible and fraternal text, the latter in that it respects earlier prophets. One of the Prophet’s wives, Safiyya bint Huyayy, was a Jew and one of his concubines, Marya al-Qibtiyya, a Christian (p. 127).  The Qur’an explicitly states: “There is no compulsion in religion” (Sura 2:256). At the commencement of any undertaking, Muslims recite: Bismillah rahmani Rahim (In the name of Allah, Most Gracious, Most Merciful), and every chapter of the Qur’an, except the Ninth, commences with this formulaic dedication. Even a cursory reading of the Qur’an will reveal the emphasis laid on the understanding and forgiving nature of Allah. Pope Francis wrote that authentic Islam is opposed to every form of violence (p. 3): the emphasis, I presume, falls on “authentic”. Yet in the minds of many, the Qur’an and Muslims are associated with violence, if not cruelty; with outdated, barbaric, notions and attitudes. People and groups with influence, either through ignorance or malice, distort the religion: the title of Jonathan Brown’s book, Misquoting Muhammad (2014), comes to my mind. Before we make statements about Islam; before we adopt a position, Professor Wills urges that we read the Qur’an and inform ourselves. It’s unjust and foolish to comment on Islam without reading the book which is its foundation. It’s said that seeing is believing but believing can also lead to seeing in the sense that if we have a prejudice about a group – be it on grounds of ‘race’, colour, religion or sex – then we are predisposed to “see” negatives in them. (The ‘Implicit-Association test’ is of relevance here.) Yuri Slezkine in his The Jewish Century notes “the growing Western antipathy” towards Islam and Muslims (Princeton and Oxford, 2004, p. 365).

Among the several misconceptions Wills attempts to correct two are about Shari’ah Law and the wearing of the hijab. The term “Shari’ah” occurs only once in the Qur’an, and there it hasn’t to do with law but means the right path. Subsequently, “the vague and sketchy elements of law in the Qur’an” (p. 147) were clarified and filled out by “sunnah (the Prophet’s reported behaviour), ahadith (the Prophet’s reported sayings), qiyas (analogical extensions), ijma (scholars’ consensus)”. So it is as absurd to call generally for the banning of Shari’ah law as to demand the banning of Christian law (p. 147). Where clothing is concerned, there were so many calling on the Prophet that it was necessary to afford the female members of his household a measure of extra privacy. The intention was to elevate – not to suppress. For an extended treatment, see Professor Leila Ahmed’s A Quiet Revolution, Yale University Press (commented on by me under the title ‘The Islamic hijab and veil’, Colombo Telegraph, 26 March 2017). Words from the Qur’an are taken out of context, leading to gross misrepresentation. For example, “Kill them wherever you encounter them and drive them out” (Sura 2:191) meant: You must not fight on sacred ground but if you are attacked, then retaliate (p. 133). One may add that the word Jihad does not mean war but struggle, and struggle can take many different forms: the Prophet referred to the major Jihad as being the struggle for self-control and moral betterment.

*******

But I wonder whether the equation of the Qur’an and Islam is valid. For example, if we say that Christianity is a gentle, or Buddhism a compassionate, religion what we mean is these faiths as they were taught – not as they are practiced in private and public life. Writing on Graham E. Fuller’s, A World Without Islam (Colombo Telegraph, 27 May 2016), I suggested a distinction between religious doctrine and religion with its rituals, paraphernalia, hierarchy, myths and superstitions. Religious doctrine has a divine or semi-divine origin or is from an exalted, exceptional, individual. Simplifying, one could say: While religious doctrine is ‘divine’; religion is a human construct.  Religion being human helps explain why the same religion in the same country can be gentle and tolerant and, at another time in its history, be vicious and hegemonic. Fuller asks, if there weren’t Islam would there be peace? Is the conflict between Jews and Christians on the one side, and Muslims on the other really based on differing theological beliefs? Islam has nothing whatsoever to do with the creation of the Palestinian problem. “The crime of the Holocaust” lies entirely on European shoulders: Palestinians are paying the price for European sins over the centuries, culminating in the Holocaust (Fuller, p. 303). The so-called “Palestinian problem” is one created for the Palestinians by Israel: the Palestinians are the victims and not the originators of this “problem”.

To engage in ‘counterfactual thinking’ (a counterfactual is a conditional containing an if-clause followed by what is contrary to fact), if Tamils had been Buddhists, would history have been different? Given the affinity between Hinduism and Buddhism; given that elements of Hinduism have been taken over into the Buddhist religion (in blatant contradiction of Buddhist doctrine, that is, of the Buddha’s teaching), is this not evidence that ethnicity is more potent that religion? Durkheim (credited with formally establishing the academic discipline of Sociology and being, together with Marx and Weber, one of the principal architects of the social sciences) argued that finally in religion the object of worship is society itself. Abdullah Ocalan, in his Prison Writings: The Roots of Civilization, argues that religion is identical with the concept of politics. Edward Gibbon in Volume 1 of his classic work, The History of the Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire, comments on the collusion between state and religion. Both religion (not religious doctrine) and politics have to do with power; with power, respect and influence. So if we comment on Islam or on any other religion, we should make clear whether the reference is to religion as actually practised or as originally preached.

We make a distinction, irrespective of religion, between practising and nominal believers. A nominal Muslim may not hold to all the Five Pillars of Islam; a nominal Buddhist, unlike true Buddhists, may not be a vegetarian: since Sri Lanka is largely (and vociferously) Buddhist, one would expect the Island to be largely vegetarian and largely free of alcohol-consumption. A nominal Christian may break one or more of the Ten Commandments; ignore the Beatitudes as listed by Saint Matthew. But what do we mean by “a practising believer”, be she Buddhist, Christian or Muslim? It is not merely someone who attends church, mosque or temple; someone who repeats chants and prayers; bows to monks and priests, and venerates places of worship: As Gandhi said, The essence of religion lies in the practising of morality. (See also the Qur’an, Sura 49:13.) In a message to me dated 29 May 2016, Fuller wrote: “Despite my Christian upbringing, it is ultimately Buddhism which has contributed to my personal, most basic world and spiritual views today (although I don’t claim I am Buddhist as such). I had initially tended to think that Buddhists were of course something of an exception to the bloody links between religion and violence. Yet I discovered in later years that in Sri Lanka, and indeed in Myanmar, that Buddhists too…”

The greatest damage to religious doctrine; to its noble core, is wreaked not by its enemies but by its most fanatical and irrational adherents. Their behaviour in the name of religion can make a mockery of their own religious doctrine. It’s they who turn positive ‘religious-doctrine’ into negative ‘religion’. A state or a government can legitimise what is unlawful but, far more potently, religion can make pious that which is unjust and cruel. As I have written elsewhere: I hate more, and am prepared to be more intolerant and cruel than you in the name of our religion. Therefore, I am the better believer; the more pious follower. Hate, and not love, becomes the measure of religious piety. Zionists claim they have no option but to occupy all the land since it is Jehovah’s wish. Those who protest the relentless dispossession of the unfortunate Palestinians are branded anti-Semites; as racists. (Here, as elsewhere, racists use the octopus-ink of calling their victims “racists”.)

Karl Marx, with reference to a group of French socialists said, if they are Marxists, then I myself am not a Marxist. One can well imagine the Buddha, observing acts of violence, cruelty and domination perpetrated allegedly on his behalf, saying: “Not in my name! If that is what has been made of Buddhism, then I am not a Buddhist”. And “Gentle Jesus” seeing the cruelty of the Crusaders, the Conquistadors in Latin America, the Inquisition, Western imperialism in various parts of the world; seeing what Ulrich Beck in his The Metamorphosis of the World (posthumous publication: 2016) notes as “the alliance between the sword and the cross”, would weep tears of pity and say, “If this is Christianity, then I’m not a Christian.”  (The visiting-card of the vicious Ku Klux Klan is a burning cross: the Cross, symbol of Christ’s loving self-sacrifice, is turned into a sign of terror.)

Often in religion as practised, as “ex-pressed”, the very essence of religious doctrine is lost: what makes Buddhism truly Buddhist; Christianity truly Christian; and Islam truly Islam. Do we evaluate by religious doctrine or by religion; comment by theory or by practice? As my wife wryly observed, “If ‘religious doctrine’ were turned into ‘religion’, this world in which we briefly sojourn would be a far more beautiful place”.  

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Latest comments

  • 11
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    My contention is religion is not necessary for mankind but mankind is necessary for religion. Without religion man can exist but without man religion can’t exist.
    Unfortunately, though religion may teach good things in life many lives have been lost due religious believes. I would suggest that the great Tamil Saint’s dual line verses in his 1330 stanzas in THIRUKURAL teaches many things in life “HOW TO LIVE” without any religious flavour. So may be Buddhism. Unfortunately human beings are essentially escapist . Therefore they hide themselves behind religions and do dirty deeds.( Recently a statue of Thiru Valluvar has been erected in UK, ThiruKural has been translated into over 100 languages I understand.)
    I have heard that many Many men women go to Kathragama to ask Katragama Kanthan(Skantha) to safe guard them from evil/murderers. Like wise Murderers seek the help of the same god to escape from arrest after a murder. Poor Kanthan/ Skantha- all in the name of religion. What can poor Kantha/Skantha do?

    • 0
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      K.Anaga, I understand your question, ‘What can poor Kantha/Skantha do?’, fully well. When Lord Muruga created the contemptible you, He caused your ignorant diatribe on Himself!

      • 3
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        “Contemptible You?”
        Did Man create God or God create man.
        The same old egg& chicken story.
        Oh Muruga?

        • 0
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          In your confused state of mind you are unable to grasp reality. If the Muruga you are talking about is your dog, get yourself engaged in simpler activities. If you could, someday you may get to know who created who. Until then be patient; that is, if you can!

  • 6
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    Prof. Charles Sarvan,

    Thanks for a well-written though provoking article.

    Religion will be there as long as there are people who can be brainwashed and intimidated by those who seek power of hegemony will be there, as they will interpreted to their advantage.

    Karl Mar said it correctly, “Religion is the opium of the masses”, and the religious leaders and politicians know that.This was recognized by Thomas Jefferson, and he kept the religion and state separate.

    Amendment 1, US Constitution.

    Freedom of Religion, Speech, and the Press

    Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion or prohibiting the free exercise thereof, or abridging the freedom of speech or of the press, or the right of the people peaceably to assemble and to petition the government for a redress of grievances.

  • 7
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    Scrupulous writing, excellent.

    ” A fanatic is one who can’t change his mind and won’t change the subject” – Winston Churchill

  • 3
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    Kudos to your Missus…You are a lucky man…..
    If people learn and understand History , they will know how and why all three major Religions came in to being.. And what they intended to do..
    I don’t blame the initial followers , who couldn’t read or write.
    But subsequent Leaders of all Religions did not and still do not want people to read and understand and question what the realty is behind every Religion.
    Because it is bad for Business..

    • 5
      1

      KASmaalam Kalu Albert K A Sumanasekere

      “But subsequent Leaders of all Religions did not and still do not want people to read and understand and question what the realty is behind every Religion.”

      Is that why crooks have decided to hide Buddha Sasana inside Chapter II of the constitution?

      • 2
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        Not only hide Buddha Sasana in Ch II of the Constitution but also at the same time make it Foremost in 1972 to make it good for SB business.
        That is the reality.

  • 3
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    In your discussion you imply that Quran is an extension of the Jewish bible torah. But the christianity and Islam are aberrations of Judaism. It is Moses who took jews from Egypt to Israel to the promised land. Jesus did not do anything like that. Instead he was talking about Roman Kings’ injustice towards poor Romans. No where it says, Jesus took his poor subjects to the promised land. Anyway, Even the christianity believes that their CREATOR is the ultimate super god. They preach it every where. They have a Pyramid of powers which the Creator is the topmost. Creator uses Human subjects and in turn human subjects also use the humans, animals, plants and anything else under them as they wish. further to that, you say that Quran is Oral Tradtion that is confusion from your side. Quran was preached during a period of 23 years and was written on the walls and rocks. Later it was taken to books. Remember Papyrus was invented in Egypt about 5000 years ago. buddhism is the only “religion” that was brought as the Oral tradition and Pali (Maghadhi) was the language. Catholic church also tried that in Latin america by trying to preach in Latin but it did not work as the devotees refused it. I think, now they try to do it in Sri lanka, They also tried to another very dangerous practice that was carried out among rural villages in Phillipines. That is the crucifixtion of youths. Anyway, Multiple wives and abuse of women is common to in some denomination of christianity. Wahabi Islam is a aberration of initial islam which is a peaceful religion and began as opposition to western harasement. Islam when allowed evolved into peaceful religions and never was violent. Initially they had ve the heavy violence because, the quran can be interpreted by the Mullahs, clerics etc., as they wish. Present Wahabism, women covering their whole body are all Saudi arabian Desert Tribal culture. It is the desert tribes whch want more mean than the women for tribal warfare which treat women as thrash and protect male children.

  • 1
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    You say, Imagine what would Buddha say. If you really had read about Buddha’s life, Buddha never left room for imagination or assumption on Buddha or even buddhism. Buddhists and even present monks may have done wrongs. But, never by Buddha not even in Buddha’s imagination or assumption. Buddha could read the past, present and future. So, Buddha balanced everything before claiming it to devotees. Read Buddha’s life and how contemporary intellectuals in India treated Buddha.

  • 1
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    You have written that in Myanmar and Sri lanka Buddhiats are prone to violence because of Buddhism. I say those are Puritanist and Protestant (or Methodist) lies. Remember both christians and Islamists were invading the world for the expansion of their religion. WE know very well, the Myanmar problem is christian media lies. Badgering of Islam is to greater extent is christian lies. Muslims were stupid to get swayed away by christian media propaganda. but Buddhists had not been caught. Remember, buddhism is spreading in the west. that is not forceful conversion and invasion. It is westerners taking buddhism/Mysticism to the west. but, in Sri lanka and Myanmar, Muslims, christians are bidding to build christian Sri lanka and christian Myanmar. that is a long story. Puritanists and protestants are highly active all over the non-christian world and Asia is their goal for the new century. You may know very well how Evangelists are predatory over other chrsitian faiths and catholics.

    • 5
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      Jim softy

      Islam and Christianity spread through invasions….

      Let us not forget that the Great Buddha himself was reported to have visited Sri Lanka, and not as far as I know for beach holiday.

      As far as we know, by the time Mahinda et al arrived, the reprobate tree huggers who had invaded our island, having been kicked out for bad behaviour from dada’s Indian kingdom, were ready for some upliftment.

      We are all in glass houses on this one.

  • 1
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    Prof. Sarvan,

    Excellent writing as usual. But I have to quibble on a lacuna: you have written about religion without even mentioning ‘God’ once. By ignoring the centrality of the concept of God to religions, you are simply focusing on ‘doctrine’ as essentially moral teachings. But that is a critical failure; if God exists then the existence of so many religious beliefs, as well as ‘non-belief’/atheism, is self-contradictory, and therefore God as postulated by religions cannot exist. Which, in turn, makes all religions simply codes of conduct/morality for their own respective societies and times, without a foundation in truth.

    Insofar as modern societies are composed of people who have to co-exist, despite having inherited these contradictory religions, the pursuit of truth demands agnosticism–if not atheism– with a universally accepted and defined moral code. Secularism is a way station toward this goal, but not the goal in itself.

  • 1
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    Reading the Quran interpretation is a difficult task ,but it helps some what. But the translator may mix some of his own culture background into it. the Best is Abullah Yusuf Ali’s yet there are flaws ,like in Sura Nissa ,he translates about stamping the feet by women is to expose their ornaments ,like the the anklets noises to attack men’s attention ,this is completely flawed . it really means not to do a cat walk to reveal the curves of your body And thee other is the word Soul is a Romanised Christian belief ,,The word in Arabic Naffs is definetely not Soul ,but means different levels of consciousness some what like in Buddhism , and the grave experience what is much talked about in traditions again is what the Conscience goes through, a form of evolution of the conscience ( rebirth but not in form of flesh of human or animals returning to earth ,)going through a process until a day proscribed to a final destiny like Nirvana _ ,but according to The Quran no one will know this new creation ,( Quran says: something not known to you ) so quiet close to Buddhist concept and very much in harmony with Science evolution ,not mythology. .
    outer dimension of Islam which are rituals are required to maintain harmony on earth ,while inner dimension ,cleansing the conscience ( way of pure Sufism without superstitions) after the death consciences may have more good thoughts to over come the evil past so you may reach a state of Angle hood or above it. (like Nibana )
    Finally remember Quran is a book for all tines ,and the verses and chapters are to be considered as per the time it was revealed , and always peace making is what is encouraged and fighting is only a self defence and the form of fighting is proscribed to the era ,time it was then revealed .

  • 1
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    Again Ruh from Allah mentioned in the Quran is not the Romanised version of Sprit , but some of the supreme intelligence ( Which the human mind is impossible to conceive the deeper meaning ) parted into the conscience of man by Allah the all pervading ,eternal source of everything in the universe and Allah is not, he or she ,or thing or created , but very thing is from and is of Allah . It is more proper to leave the word Allah as Allah ,Ruh as Ruh and Naffs as Naffs when translating ,theses words can never ever be Romanised . .

  • 1
    0

    Thank you for writing a balance article. Many of the times, the violence in the name of religion is perpetrated for political purposes. Often this behind the scene agenda is kept on the dark side of the media while exposing the bright side of it. I remember reading the following article;

    http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/worldnews/northamerica/usa/6826571/Mumbai-suspect-is-US-double-agent-India-claims.html

    I presume name of Muslims or Muslims were used for a global political and economic agenda. The victims and doers (community) lose, but the planners always wins.

  • 1
    0

    Again the word Hu should not be translated in English as He ,it should be left as Hu, nahn etc, with brackets (Allah) or else again the non native Arabic speaking folks with no knowledge of the language will misunderstand it, as for the Arab he knows and can conceive what it means with no problem.

    And again the meaning for Islam as submission should not be conceived as Human- Slave Master concept , everyone and everything submits to Allah except the arrogant Man because of his free will and when this happens Allah does not punish ,man punishes himself same as The Buddah has advised ,simple don’t swim against the tide . you just can not take any Religious scripture out of context and quote, the entire be book need to contextualized before making a point .

    Example when the Quran states cut the hand of the thief it really does not mean to chop , the same wording you will find in the story of Yusuf ,how the women cut their hands when they saw his beauty ,of cuase the did not chop their hands off ,they ended up with a cut mark on their hands (unlike the Jewish law demands)
    Quran will never demand to uplift the society and the same time add burden to it with handless people who can not fend for their families . it was a form of mark to recognise the thief and to avoid him in jobs that would tempt him to rob ,instead he could still be employed and take care of the family without being a burden to the state or society ,but with advancement of technology we can use biometric to mark it.

    There are many more corrections to be made in all the translations .to clear the misconceptions.

    And It is compulsory and a duty for all Muslim parents to make their children learn fusha arabic ,not just the Thajweed reciting alone.

  • 1
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    Nafsul Ammarah Conscience without remorse which commands a person to sin.

    Nafsul-Lawama conscience of guilt ,also a wakeup call.

    Nafsul-Mutamainnah .The conscious that has battled, accepted the faults , reformed cleansed internally ,in other words emptied the cup .

  • 1
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    The most unfortunate misconception is that lot of people of other beliefs think Quran is a wholesale plagiarism of the bible ,I mean, no offence , but honestly with due respect to Bible , both the books are chalk and cheese .

    If one reads the Quran without prejudice ,will realise right from the first page it is indeed chalk and cheese to compare, while the Quran starts off in a direct dictating maner and the bible is based on Narration ,very ,very similar to the Traditional narrations of the Muslim’s set of books called Hadees, which is also similar to The Jewish Talmud .

    The Quran is often mixed up with the traditional quotes by those of other faiths ,which is why it is always misunderstood to be copied from the bible .
    The traditional books of muslims also begins almost exactly as The Bible ,according to .. as it is a collection of oral narrations.

  • 0
    0

    There has always been a deep struggle by number of Muslims to try and unite the Three main Ibrahim faiths by trying to make it as one . This has in-fact caused more confusion and mistrust..

    while I agree with no doubt that Jews,Christians (of all denominations) and Muslims believe in the same( God ) but the way of belief ,intentions when the word God is mentioned is totally different, while Muslims are not permitted to deviate even an atom from The way Ibrahim (aka Abraham) practiced his faith , The Jews and Christians (of all denominations) intention of faith and practices are totally different ,but yet it is one source they reach for salvation . (There is only one God ,even the Trinitian never say there are three Gods , its a misunderstood concept by people of other faiths , even trinians say there is only one God ,only difference is the way they believe by their dogma .(which is their freedom of belief and must be respected) The Jews are even far different , the Muslims see themselves akin to Jews because past scholars have included a lot of jewish traditions , while some are acceptable and even beneficial ,some are extremely harmful , especially the babylonian Jewish tradition ,like child marriage , indulging in deep superstitions ,black magic ,omens ,Babylonian jewish magic practices are all un Islamic and must be shunned, These practices by some Muslim have given Islam and the Quran a misconception leading to believe Islam is a religion of superstition and Quran is a book of black magic.

  • 1
    0

    There are countless misconceptions that need to be addressed by muslim scholars today than ever before there is an urgent need to rectify all the misinterpretations of The Translations of The Quran and to also take a sincere and deep look into the traditional books and rectify whatever that may need to be rectified .

    Many believe that The Prophet Muhammad ,copied from The Bible and created a new religion ,or he did so through imagination and here-say of stories from The Jews and Christians of his time.

    First and for most the very Arabic word Muslim is misunderstood , it is more correct to say Muslim means a Monethist ( believer in it too) . A Jew, Christians (of all denominations) ,Zorastians , Sheiks ,Unitarians are all Monotheists . The Prophet did not bring a new religion ,he came to reclaim,purify and re-establish the religion of Ibrahim (Abraham) He The Prophet himself is commanded in The Quran to follow Ibrahim’s Religion , it would be more correct to call the “Muslim’s” religion as Milat ul Ibrahim (Islam is the set universal principle and order to be accepted by all monotheists ,irrelevant which religious group they belong to as long as they claim they are monethist. it is how the Universe corresponds with everything and everyone , either you submit to the system willingly or you refuse to and you are forced by natural forces to which you have no choice ,but the repercussion also have to be beared for taking our free will for granted.

    So it is more correct to call The Religion of The Muslims Milat -Ibrahim (The religion of Ibrahim) and the community is in no doubt The fraternity of Prophet Muhammed.

    The main reason for stressing this is to clear the many lies that have been levelled against the Prophet for centuries .

    • 1
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      No religion calls for violence. Simple logic tells me that the anti-Islam gangs especially in the west, and most particularly in the USA says is just a bunch of lies – I have not read the Quran, but it surely could not contain all the stuff anti-islamists say it does, otherwise it would not be a book of religion. They make it sound like the Quran is an instructions book on how to kill and make war. I can understand that this must be truly hurtful for the Muslims. Many people are getting awakened by recent scholarly works debunking the hateful anti-Islam propaganda. Laws must be passed internationally to stop spreading false information about a religion and their holy scriptures in the hateful manner many anti-Islamists have done. I once read a website where they say the most unbelievable crimes the Prophet is supposed to have committed. I got so saddened, because it was very obvious that they were lying and yet a lot of people were reading and getting brainwashed. I never went back to read anything in that site again.

  • 0
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    Tamils will attack anything and everything that they identify with Sinhalese. Even Buddhism is not spared in their hateful cheap tricks. As such Tamils are real con artists. See how Charles Ponnuthurai Sarvan distorted and manipulated what Professor Graham E. Fuller wrote:
    Professor Fuller: In Sri Lanka, the dominant Buddhist Sinhalese, in their struggle against the Hindu Tamil separatists, employed Buddhist monks to strengthen Sinhalese public support for the civil war.
    C.P. Sarvan: “In Sri Lanka, the dominant Sinhalese […] employed Buddhist monks to strengthen Sinhalese public support”
     
    Professor Fuller: While philosophically highly pacifist, even Buddhism, when combined with ethnicity in ethnic struggles such as with the Sinhalese in Sri Lanka against the Hindu Tamils, quickly loses its ethical considerations of pacifism, even on the part of Buddhist monks, when it comes to fighting in the name of the Buddhist Sinhalese community.
    C.P. Sarvan: “Buddhism, when combined with ethnicity […] quickly loses its ethical considerations of pacifism, even on the part of Buddhist monks, when it comes to fighting in the name of the Buddhist Sinhalese community”
    Note how Sarvan has deliberately dropped any reference to the mention of Sinhalese struggle against the Tamils in both instances to construct his hateful anti-Sinhalese propaganda. He has made it look like Professor Fuller is saying that the ethnic conflict in Sri Lanka is because the Sinhalese are fighting on behalf of Buddha! While Professor Fuller’s whole range books and writings are about proving completely the opposite, namely that the conflicts would have been fought regardless of what religion the people followed.
     
    I am sure the part of the sentence from Professor Fuller’s email message which Sarvan has left out contains something which is in disagreement with Sarvan’s hateful anti-Sinhalese propaganda.

  • 0
    0

    As shown above, Mr. Sarvan has totally got everything Professor Fuller has written wrong.
     
    Sarvan is trying to twist and turn the Sinhalese struggle against the Tamils, into a religious issue, where according to Sarvan the Sinhalese are fighting the Tamils on behalf of the Buddha. To stress that factor Sarvan states:
    “One can well imagine the Buddha, observing acts of violence, cruelty and domination perpetrated allegedly on his behalf, saying: “Not in my name! If that is what has been made of Buddhism, then I am not a Buddhist””
    “….. if Tamils had been Buddhists, would history have been different? ”
    This is a most distasteful Tamil propaganda against the Sinhalese and abuse of Buddhism.
     
    What exactly is the Sinhalese struggle against the Tamils and why do the Tamils try to make the Sinhalese struggle against the Tamils look like a religious fight? It is because the Tamils want to negate the legitimacy in the Sinhalese struggle by taking away the attention from the real issue, namely that the Sinhalese mean that the Tamils are invaders from Tamil Nadu who had displaced the Sinhalese and taken possession of the North and East of the Sinhalese island and now claiming unfair priviledges, Eg. that the north and east i.e. 40% of the island be Tamil ruled. Sinhalese would have fought this no matter what religion the Sinhalese were adhering to. This in accordance with the arguments Professor Fuller presents in his books and this is exactly what is happening too.
     
    So who exactly is using religion, in SriLanka? It is the Tamils and Mr. Sarvan has cunningly misused both Buddhism and Professor Fullers writings to promote Sarvan’s anti-Sinhalese hateful propaganda.

  • 0
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    Mr. Sarvan, the question you should be asking is:
    If the Sinhalese were not adhering to a peaceful pacifistic religion like Buddhism, would history have been different?
    Would the Sinhalese have tolerated all the nonsense they have had to tolerate if they were Hindus or Christians or Muslims or a-religious? In my view if the Sinhalese didn’t have the relaxed laid back, partly innocent world view and attitude about most things, which comes from the peaceful Buddhist teachings Tamils would have had a much harder time.
     
    Alternatively you could also ask the question:
    If the Tamils had stayed in Tamil Nadu would history have been different?
    The answer to this is ofcourse quite obviously a simple one – history would have most certainly be different for the Sinhalese and much more peaceful. The Sinhalese capital of Anuradhapura which the Tamils destroyed would still be in use, and Sinhalese would not have been ethnic cleansed from the areas Tamils are inhabiting presently.
     
    P.S. I am aware that much has been written about the socalled Buddhist nationalism in Sri Lanka (Eg. Thambiah, H. L. Seneviratna, Neil DeVotta and host of other authors, and most disgusting hateful writings of A. Velupillai and Peter Schalk which amounts to hate speech) and Professor Graham too has commented on the Sinhalese Buddhist nationalism on the passing, but upto today, after so many socalled scholars writing books after books no one has been able to connect Buddhism or Buddhist teachings to any form of violence. Please understand its just a waste of time to try to connect Buddhism to violence. Also, it is also futile to expect the Sinhalese not to react or protect their country, just because they are Buddhists. After all a country is not a monastery.

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    Religion is nothing but story telling.

    Every religion has a story. Every religion is a divine story. Divinity is unknown (A set of unproven beliefs linked to a supernatural power called God). None of the three Abrahamic religions (Judaism, Christianity and Islam) has a founder or author. There is no established evidence that any of the religious leaders described in the scriptures ever existed as man: they are mere book characters, sort of Harry Potter. In fact, Jesus Christ is still missing for the past 2000 years. Simply put, every religion is pure fiction. The Buddhist doctrine is a human experience (not divine) and is therefore not a religion: it is in fact a teaching.

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