20 October, 2017

Sri Lankan Muslims Are Low Caste Tamil Hindu Converts Not Arab Descendants

By Rifat Halim

The recent execution of Rizana Nafeek in Saudi Arabia  has underlined the bogus claim of Arab ancestry by Sri Lankan Muslims (formerly known as Ceylon Moors). Ms. Nafeek, a domestic worker from a poor family in the East of Sri Lanka, spoke no language but Tamil. She requested a Tamil translator but was provided with a Malayalam-speaking minor employee whose command of the Tamil language was said to be insufficient. The Saudi authorities showed no clemency. Also, they refused to recognize her as a person of Arab descent. Her status was indistinguishable from that of any foreigner in that country.

Ponnanbalam Ramanathan in 1906 with his future wife, Ms. Harrison (right)

A fierce controversy has been raging for many years in the country about the origins of the Tamil-speaking Muslims.  In 1885, Sir Ponnambalam Ramanathan stated in a speech to the Ceylon Legislative Council that the Tamil-speaking Muslims are low caste Hindus who converted to Islam. Ramanathan’s thesis was that the Ceylon Moors, as the Sri Lankan Muslims were then called, were Muslim by religion and Tamil by ethnicity. Therefore, they did not deserve a separate seat in the Legislative Council.

In a paper presented to the Royal Asiatic Society in 1888, Ramanathan said the Tamil-speaking Muslims share more than just a language with the Tamils. He provided clinching evidence of the Tamil cultural features of the Tamil-speaking Muslims in the island.  He pointed to Tamil  customs such as tying the Tali , the eating of Patchoru, and the use of Alatti, that were prevalent among the Tamil-speaking Muslims. Many Sri Lankan Muslim names such as Periya Marikkar and Sinna Lebbe are clearly Tamil. Also, he said that the Tamil Hindus and the Tamil-speaking Muslims were physically indistinguishable.

Ramanathan later became the first elected leader of the country. He defeated Sir Marcus Fernando in the famous battle for the Educated Ceylonese Seat in 1911.

Over 128 years after Ramanathan’s speech, his thesis is intensely relevant. In every part of the Indian subcontinent, the Muslims claim South Asian descent except for the Tamil-speaking Muslims of Sri Lanka. The Tamil-speaking Muslims in India identify themselves as Tamils.  The former President of India Abdul Kalam, a nuclear scientist, unequivocally calls himself a Tamil. AR Rahman, the Grammy award-winning musician states considers himself a Tamil.

Other leaders of Indian subcontinent have similarly embraced their South Asian ancestry. In India, many Muslims identify themselves as Kannadigas, Gujaratis, Kashmiris, Tamils and Malayalees. MA Jinnah, the founder of Pakistan, said he was a Gujarati. ZA Bhutto always said that he was a Sindi. Sheikh Mujibur Rahman stated that he was a Bengali. The vast majority of Bangladeshi say they are Bengalis. The largest ethnic group in Pakistan are the Punjabis. There is even a small Tamil Muslim community in Karachi.

Tamil is the mother tongue of over 99% of the Sri Lankan Muslims. The Islamic sermons are overwhelmingly delivered in Tamil even in the Sinhalese majority districts of Kandy, Matara and Galle. Gujarati Muslims in Sri Lanka like myself cannot follow the Islamic sermons in that inpenetrable Dravidian language.

The Sri Lankan Muslim claim of Arab ancestry is not corroborated by the Arabs themselves. They treat the Sri Lankan Muslims as lowly converts speaking a strange tongue. Many Tamil-speaking Muslims from Sri Lanka have gone to the Middle-East looking for a homecoming. But, the homecoming was not forthcoming, as the cruelty inflicted on Rizana Nafeek shows.

There can be no greater endorsement of Ramanathan’s view than the hysterical response of the Sri Lankan Muslims.  Massive tomes consisting of fake geneology and spurious theories have published to support the Arab origins.  Ramanathan has been angrily vilified well into the 21st century.  Anger often follows an uncomfortable truth.

The angry authors include ILM Abdul Azeez, the President of the Moors Union, who claimed in the Muslim Guardian in 1907 that “Most of the ancestors of the Ceylon Moors were, according to tradition, members of the family of Hashim.” He did not explain how the vast majority of the Ceylon Moors do not speak a single word of Arabic, but overwhelming speak Tamil. Other specious claims have been made by irate academics such as Qadri Ismail and Mirak Raheem. These include the curious claim that the Arab traders spoke Tamil because they married Tamil women.

The anti-Halal campaign of the Bodhu Bala Sena has put the Muslims of Sri Lanka back in the spotlight. Former Ambassador Izeth Hussain has written in the Island recently that the Sri Lankan Muslims are the most servile minority in the country.

Izeth Hussain is  correct. Sri Lankan Muslims have prostrated themselves in front of the communal Sinhalese politicians. Sir Razik Fareed voted for Sinhala to be made the sole official language in 1944 and 1956. In 1948-9, Dr. MCM Kaleel and Dr. TB Jayah, who were both in the Cabinet, supported the disenfranchisement of the Indian community. In August 1983, Dr Kaleel, then President of All Ceylon Muslim League, justified the massacre as a legitimate response to the Tamil demand for separate state. He objected to the walkout in the Indian Parliament by the Indian Muslim League, who were protesting against the anti-Tamil pogrom. Dr. Kaleel was blind to the fact that many Muslims were killed in the 1983 as they were mistaken for Tamils.

The Sri Lankan Muslim are neither fish nor fowl. The Arabs have rejected them. The Sinhala Buddhists and Tamil Hindus are aghast at their specious claims.

Hence, it is high time that the Sri Lankan Muslims embrace their Tamil ethnicity. Tamil is the oldest spoken language in the Indian subcontinent. Islamic Tamil literature has a thousand year heritage. Tamil is the most secular language in this region. There is a vast body of Tamil literature that embraces Hinduism, Buddhism, Christianity, Jainism and Islam.  Ramanathan was an apostle of peace and unity. Following him will bring unity to this island and end the misgivings of this complexed minority.

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Latest comments

  • 6
    13

    We are all descended from Adam and Eve (that is if you believe in God) so ethnicity is irrelevant and there is no nationalism in Islam. What this article illustrates in absolute ignorance and racism to calls people as “low caste.” Low caste might exist in the minds of certain arrogant people like the author of this article but has no place in Islam.

    How scientific to classify a people’s descent by the language they adapt to speak in the area they first settle! There are converts and intermarriage in Sri Lanka within all groups like all around the world. There are lots of Tamil converts to Islam and Sinhala converts too and intermarriage. But this does not change history that a different ethnicity of people settled in the country as reported in your history as facts.

  • 19
    7

    The author of this article is trying to be provocative by using this headline. We can have an honest debate without bringing caste into the debate. All three main ethnic groups in Srilanka have a mixture of genetic and ethnic make up in them. The truth is present day Muslim population in Srilanka has a mixture of Arabic ,Tamil and Sinhalese blood in them.
    Only difference is the percentage of each of these ethnic groups. They are not purely Arabic as such. They are an admixture of Arabs who married the local (Tamil and Sinhalese) women, Muslim converts from south India (from the ancient Thamilakam, present day Tamilnadu and Kerala)Some of these Muslims from south India were mainly Dravidians who converted to Islam with small percentage of Arab descendants.
    Muslims of this country are probably Arabs according their to their paternal line and Tamils according to their maternal line. They have adopted their father’s religion and the mother’s language-(although some of them might have married Sinhalese women).They are neither Tamils nor Arabs, They are historically , ethnically and religiously different from Srilankan Tamils but linguistically related to them. That makes them a different ethnic groups in their own right.

  • 2
    6

    The author of this article is trying to be provocative by using this headline. We can have an honest debate without bringing caste into the debate. All three main ethnic groups in Srilanka have a mixture of genetic and ethnic make up in them. The truth is present day Muslim population in Srilanka has a mixture of Arabic ,Tamil and Sinhalese blood in them.
    Only difference is the percentage of each of these ethnic groups. They are not purely Arabic as such. They are an admixture of Arabs who married the local (Tamil and Sinhalese) women and the Muslim converts from south India (from the ancient Thamilakam, present day Tamil nadu and Kerala)Some of these Muslims from south India were mainly Dravidians who converted to Islam with small percentage who were of Arab descendants.
    They are probably Arabs according their to their paternal line and Tamils according to their maternal line.They have adopted their father’s religion and the mother’s language-(although some of them might have married Sinhalese women).They are neither Tamils nor Arabs,They are historically , ethnically and religiously different from Srilankan Tamils but linguistically related to them.That makes them a different ethnic group in their own right.

  • 9
    1

    First thing that strike reading this article tells me Mr. Ponnambalam Ramanathan is a racist and I don’t know what caste he belong. His name speaks more than anything. Only in India caste system is highlighted to that extent. Someone should have asked this man to enter Agraharam and see what kind of response he would of got. But being Tamil Muslim, I feel very proud of and I believe our DNA speaks more than anything. Need any proof? Call the so claimed highest caste to test our IQ, behaviour etc., with theirs, you’ll know who is higher.

  • 7
    1

    “Lankan Muslims Are Low Caste Tamil Hindu Converts Not Arab Descendants”

    we cannot say all the Muslims are converted from hindu. because I am a muslim and my family name is a Sinhala name. my be you may think I am converted from Buddhist. no its wrong. because ancient king time (around central province of srilanka)some Buddhist women’s are gifted to (as a married)arab peoples due to there medical services to king families. so the family name kept as women’s fathers name.

    so still our srilankan Muslims living around the kandy who having family name in Sinhala. this is ture story of muslim. also some muslim peoples are came from south india, and other converted from tamils & Buddhist.

  • 1
    1

    This comment was never ever don by me, although am also known as Fahim Ben , I go mostly in other nicks.

  • 2
    1

    Just ignore him. That is the most fitting thing we should do.

  • 0
    3

    Well, I found this to be good information regarding the legacy of Ancient Tamils, including the fact finding language to be aboriginal (not Arabic). The question should be how they are treated in Pakistan, Karachi as Hindu speaking Tamils. As Tamil Muslims well that was their choice to trust the prejudice of Islam since we see daily the employee construction of Saudi “sky rise” buildings whose (cheapest pay) includes numerous deaths.

  • 3
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    Tamils are descended from African slaves, brought in by Arab slave traders. That is one of the reasons, most of them look like Africans.

    • 1
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      Then why do you speak slaves language? You are being a mad person to do this dubious claims.Tamils dont have any african feature. They are brown skin, Africans are black skin. Tamils have long face not like Africans who are round face.And Tamil originated in India and the oldest lang even before pislam or Arab slave traders originated.Then how Arab traders would have got African slaved to SL? Think before you speak stupidity.Even “Sinhalese” r dark skinned and most people in Indian subcontinent and India (non-Tamil Indians) too are dark so all of them are Africans?OK Arab trade started in 12th Century but Tamils have been civilizing in Indian subcontinent for at least 5000 years (long before your Religion came into existence),it has been proven that Tamils and the Lang Tamil originated in Indian subcontinent. And there is no African DNA in Indian subcontinent.If they were brought as slaves then there will be Afro DNA. But no. Maybe you are one.

    • 2
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      LOL it is your Moors who are descendants of African slaves. Go google “Moors” and see their origin.The Moorish people are blacks (Africans) who followed Islam. They came from Northern Africa. Arab slave trade started in 12th AD only, but Tamil has a history of civilization of at-least about 4000 years(which is much before Islam came).At that time the Arabs were uncivilized tribes who did not even know what is trading. So you mean Arabs went back in time 4000 years ago in some time machine and brought africans to India? LOL go get educated bro. You guys are still falling prey to the SL majorities who wanted to split you Hindu Tamils and Muslim Tamils on basis of religion. Now you Muslim are suffering from Sinhalese extremists.

  • 0
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    [Edited out]

  • 5
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    Sri lankan muslims generally fair skinned while Indian people are mostly dark skinned which clearly proves sri lankan muslims have no affinty to any dirty indian black people

    • 0
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      ^^ that is the comment every neo-con racist morons are expecting, yes Sri lankan muslims are indeed tamils anyone who argues otherwise is LYING

  • 1
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    Among the Sri Lankan Muslims, there are two groups – South Asian converts (Sinhalese and Tamil converts) and Arab/Persian migrants. Even before the coming of Islam, the cross of Anuradhapura proves the coming of Persian and Arabian Christian traders/merchants and Syrian Christians to the coast of Kerala and Sri lanka for trade. Sri Lanka/Ceylon/Serendim was a major junction/international trading outpost enroute to South East Asia. Celyonese people should be proud of it.

    Some Arabians settled down and intermarried with native women both Sinhalese and Tamils. So in modern day Sri Lanka, it is now accepted the Muslims consist of the descendants of BOTH Arabians and also South Asians. No one is pure blooded any more due to the high level of intermarriage.

    Yemen and Oman’s official history accept the departure of Hadrami Yemeni traders as well as Omani and Bahraini/Qatar/Kuwaiti traders long ago into Indian subcontinent, Celyon Island and South East Asia. Of course, generations down they are no longer considered same as modern day Arabs, as Asiatic-Arabians are a mixed race people.

    Any monkey with a common sense can understand this. Now the question should be, can we get the Tamils to accept their Kenyan African roots ? That is the dilemma facing Sri lankan and Malaysian historians today.

  • 1
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    It is clearly wrong to say that Sri Lankan Moors are purely not of Arab descent. I say this because my ancestry traces back to a Yemeni merchant who had married a Sri Lankan Muslim woman.

  • 0
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    Haplogroup J2a-M410 in India was found to be largely confined to the castes[20] with no occurrence in the tribals, but a new study has found it at higher percentages (10%) among the Tharu indigenous people of Terai, Nepal.[31] In India, the J2 haplogroup is almost absent from tribals. Haplogroup J2b is associated with the Neolithic Greeks that spread agriculture. It has been found in the Dravidian middle classes in high frequencies also in the Northwest of India.The frequency of J2 is higher in South Indian castes (19%) than in North Indian castes (11%) or Pakistan (12%).[20] Haplogroup J was found to be even more common in India’s Shia Muslim community, of which 28.7% belong to haplogroup J, with 13.7% in J2a-M410, 10.6% in J1 and 4.4% in J2b.[32] The high variance of J2b2 in South Asia indicates a probable pre-Neolithic migration.(wikipedia)-

    J2 is widely believed to be associated with the spread of agriculture from Mesopotamia.[1][9]”The main spread of J2 into the Mediterranean area is thought to have coincided with the expansion of agricultural people’s during the Neolithic period.”[2] The age of J2 has been estimated as 18,500 +/- 3,500 years ago.[1] Its distribution, centered in Western Asia and Southeastern Europe, its association with the presence of Neolithic archaeological artifacts, such as figurines and painted pottery,[21] and its association with annual precipitation have been interpreted as evidence that J2, and in particular its J2a-M410 subclade belonged to the agricultural innovators who followed the rainfall.[22] However, Di Giacomo stressed the role of post-Neolithic migratory phenomenon, specifically that of the Ancient Greeks, as also being important in the dispersal of Hg J2.[7] Haplogroup J2b on the other hand is associated with the Neolithic Greeks that spread agriculture. It has been found in the Dravidian middle classes in high frequencies also in the Northwest of India

  • 1
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    Before people migrated from west to India, Dravidians lived in North of India and they were pushed down to South by the migratory people from west. Those Dravidian were black people having African feature and most probably migrated from Africa many, many thousands of years ago. If you go to South India you can see dark people having African feature and people having lighter colour and non-African features. The percentage of these dark people higher in South India than North India. What can you deduce from this? India (including Sri Lanka) is like a curry pot with so many ingredians. No need to be sad about it because Human Beings originated in Africa. I cannot remember the name of a great anthropologist who said ‘there are no pure blooded race anywhere on earth may be except in some very remote places of Africa and China.

  • 2
    2

    I think Muslims do not respect Buddhism. They bulldozered Dighvapi. Also they are against Kandy perahara.

    • 1
      0

      They do not respect anyone who does not follow their religion.

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