Colombo Telegraph

Sri Lankan Muslims At The Cross Roads – XVI – Post-Script And Muslim Population Problem

By Izeth Hussain

Izeth Hussain

I had intended to conclude my observations on ‘Muslim extremism’ with my last article but the feedback I have been getting indicates that there is a need for clarifications before I proceed to another subject, and hence this postscript. I was rather tentative in advancing the thesis that Buddhism virtually disappeared in India, not because of Muslim conquest, but because of absorption into Hinduism. It has since become clear to me that there can be absolutely no doubt about that. The BBS and other groups should henceforth desist from charging that formerly Buddhist countries became Muslim through Muslim conquest. Their continuing to make that charge would be tantamount to culpable hate speech.

The notion that Islam is essentially a violent religion seems to be deeply engrained among non-Muslims. The truth is that mass violence on a horrifying scale has been resorted to by the adherents of all the great world religions. The book Le rendez-vous des civilisations by Youssef Courbage and Emmanuel Todd (a Jew) points out that the American invasion of Iraq shows that the West is not prepared to give up without a struggle its title to be the world champion in all categories of mass massacre, as demonstrated by the Second World War, which included the Holocaust and Hiroshima. The authors add, “All that without the martial and spiritual aid of Mohammed.” They point out also that the 1994 genocide in Rwanda achieved a gigantic scale that recalled earlier massacres in Europe. They wryly add, “But Rwanda is almost entirely Christian and no one attributes, as far as we know, the Rwanda horror to a peculiar essence of Christianity”. The ignorant denigration of Islam as having an essential nexus with violence must stop.

There also seems to be a propensity, something like a compulsory drive in fact, to blur the distinction between ‘Muslim extremism’ and mainstream Islam, and to see the former as the real mainstream. My arguing the opposite case is seen as based on a tendentious selection of data. That counter-argument ignores the fact that all the versions of the world religions, including the orthodox ones, are based on a selection of data. However the facts speak loud and clear because in the greater part of the Islamic world it is orthodox Islam that prevails, not the extremist variants. Has anyone heard about Muslim extremism being a problem in the Muslim Central Asian Republics? In some countries, Algeria being a notable case, Muslim extremism which became very powerful has been decisively defeated. Consider the fact that there are five million Muslims in France, but only about two thousand were wearing the burqa at the time President Sakorzky was moving against it. That fact suggests that the great majority of Muslim migrants to the West abandon the insignia of Wahabism and take to a liberal version of Islam.

The BBS has challenged the ACJU and the National Shoora Council to denounce the Islamic State. The other important Muslim civil society organization, the Muslim Council, has already done so, and I am told so has the NSC President according to a TV channel. The Muslim civil society reaction to the IS has certainly been very disappointing, but that most certainly does not mean that they are sympathetic to the IS or other jihadist movements. The important point is that the Wahabism promoted by our madrasas has up to now been entirely apolitical. It is an important point also that the Wahabism promoted by the Deoband in India is also apolitical. Edward Luce recounts that he raised the question of the destruction of the Bamiyan statues with a Maulana of the Deoband, which the Taliban regards as its spiritual home. The Maulana replied: “These people in the Taliban are Pathans. Pathan culture is much more fierce than Indian culture. You would be wrong to confuse the excesses of Pathan culture with Deoband”. So-called ‘Muslim extremism’ is a complex phenomenon that we must try to understand in all its complexity.

An alleged SL Muslim population explosion is supposed to be the second issue that poses an existential threat to the Sinhalese. I have shown above that the first such issue, so-called Muslim extremism, is nonsensical. The second issue seems to be identical with the first one in that it too is nonsensical. But there is a significant difference between the two in that the demographic threat is far, infinitely far, more nonsensical. I say this because it is just conceivable that Muslim extremism may come to pass in Sri Lanka. Should there be further bouts of violence of the Aluthgama/Beruwela order culminating in an anti-Muslim replication of 1983, it is conceivable that Jihadist groups will emerge and we will have a full-blown ‘Muslim extremism’ problem. On the other hand, it is inconceivable – taking into account the facts revealed in the statistical table given above and taking into account also the well-established facts of demography – that the SL Muslim population will leap forward in such a way as to make Sri Lanka a majority Muslim country by 2050. That is the case made out in anti-Muslim propaganda. It cannot be taken seriously.

I will now proceed firstly to deal with the significance of the facts revealed in the statistical table. Secondly I will deal – in bare outline and very briefly – with Muslim demography on a global scale. Finally I will argue that the expectation that Muslims will outnumber everyone else and dominate the globe is just an expression of Islamophobia, which of course is a form of racism. It reminds me of the “yellow peril”, the expectation that the Chinese would outnumber everyone else and dominate the globe, a notion that obsessed the idiotic racists of the West for several decades.

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