18 August, 2019

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The Choice Is In Our Hands: Life Or Death

By Seyed Alavi Sheriffdeen

Dr. Seyed Alavi Sheriffdeen

Harmony Day is a day initiated towards elimination of Racial Discrimination. Initially this day was proclaimed by the UN General Assembly in 1966 in order to remember victims of the mass shooting on peaceful demonstrators in South Africa on 21 March 1960. I uphold the efforts made by “Sri Lanka Invites” similar to this. These humble efforts made in the far land, Australia in the firm hope that one day Sri Lanka will be free of riots, and violence had consumed the lives and assets of hundreds of thousands of innocent people.

All of us who have gathered here have some sort of connection to Sri Lanka either by birth or by other relationships.

Ceylon has been a colony of many nations for centuries. It became independent 71 years ago and consequently formed into a beautiful country called Sri Lanka. Each act of violence has led to chain reactions of more violence. History of violence against Muslims in particular goes back to 1915 and continues until today. A simple google search on violence or riots in Sri Lanka brings 168 million references. Why should this be the case?

It has been reported over a half a million people have been killed since independence. Why have we lost these valuable lives to hatred and violence. Why do we continually allow such actions to be carried out, even today?

Harmony day organized by “Sri Lanka Invites”

Every community irrespective of race, religion or language has gone through some sort of attacks based on the hatred of others. Places of worships, devotees in communion with God, schools and properties are included in these attacks. We all know the pain and deep wounds it has left. 

Over the years from 1915 onwards many massacres took place in Sri Lanka targeting particular groups of people. These include: 1985 Anuradhapura massacre of civilians, mainly targeting Sinhalese civilians, 1987 Aranthalawa massacre of Buddhist monks,1984 Kokkilai massacres of Tamil civilians, 1987 Kokkadichcholai massacre of Tamil civilians, 1990 Kattankudy Mosque Massacre of Muslims, 1992 Palliyagodella massacre of Muslims, 1995 Navaly Church bombing of Christians, 2019 Easter Sunday bombings of Christians. 

The perpetrators of all this bloodshed could have been anyone, one who may have worn the masks of any race or religion. Yet it remains certain that the victims were unarmed civilians. Sadly, almost all of them did not know why they have been mercilessly killed in cold blood. Still the same question continues to haunt the minds of mothers who have lost their dear sons or daughters, widows or orphans who lost their husbands and dear father. “For what sin should they have been killed in their worshiping places, schools or while they were at work or home?”

Hence their violence and hatred have no limits. Evil intentions of perpetrators carry no value for human lives. They believe in violence and want to achieve their goals only through violence. In their eyes their selfish benefits are much important and valuable than lives of other human being. It is a sad reality. 

No religion preaches violence against innocents. Unfortunately, there are those who claim that their affiliation to religions do harm others forcing their innocent religion to bear its cost. Evil acts of violence have nothing to do with religious teaching but reflections of ugly intentions of those who perpetrate it.

I do not see those murderers who killed people close to me as people who represent any religion or race, but rather evil terrorists. I will continue to stand against any revenge killing for the life of another human being.

Islamic teachings repeatedly remind us not to harm any human being. From the Islamic point of view until the victim forgives the perpetrator God will NOT forgive him. Even someone gossips on another person, God will not forgive him until the victims forgive him or her. 

God has not instructed us to kill a human being with reward of Paradise. On contrary He has stated in the Holy Quran (5:32): “killing of a person for reasons other than legal retaliation or for stopping corruption in the land is as great a sin as murdering all of mankind. However, to save a life would be as great a virtue as to save all of mankind.”

However, those who read religious writing with literalists reading without understanding the contexts in which it was revealed or written and those who cling to out of context quotes of religious writings or those who interpret and learn religion only through Google gurus have led religious teaching to the brink or precipice. In particular Islamic divine text of the holy Quran and sayings of prophet Muhammad have been misinterpreted by these superficial readers who claim to the be preachers or scholars of Islam. Superficial reading of Islamic religious texts is deadly, and it will definitely lead to wrong conclusions. We have witnessed it in recent time. 

Those who dream to gain entry to Paradise by killing innocents are doing nothing but murder which is considered one of seven major sins in Islam. Killing or even harming any innocents will not be tolerated nor accepted in Islam. There are many Islamic texts, fatwas, religious rulings and authoritative statements against terrorism in Islam in the past and present. Even in Sri Lanka, the Muslim theologians and Muslim community even refused to do religious funerals for those who were involved in the Easter bombings. The Muslim community wholeheartedly condemned this barbaric act and continue to stand against hatred teaching. It will continue to condemn such barbaric acts.  It is an undisputed bold stand.

The Messenger of God, Muhammad, peace and blessings be upon him, said: “Take advantage of five before five: your youth before your old age, your health before your illness, your riches before your poverty, your free time before your work, and your life before your death.”

We do not have much time left to bear the cost of hatred any longer. We shouldn’t let these blessings to leave us, only to regret the missed opportunities. The choice is in our hands: the life or death. We can forget, forgive each other and proceed to build harmonious societies by standing against any injustice or to support killings, racial attacks and injustice against fellow human being by remaining silent and watching it like a never-ending horror movie.

If we act later, our options will not bring any positive outcomes to anyone in Sri Lanka or anywhere in the world.  Our time to act is now. Let’s put our efforts together forget, forgive, proceed to build harmonious societies and stand against any injustice committed against any human being. Our actions will add value to this world for a peaceful and harmonious life.

*Dr Seyed Alavi Sheriffdeen is an Australian teacher currently teaching the VCE subject “Religion and Society” in Victoria, Australia. Harmony day organized by “Sri Lanka Invites” was held on Saturday (20 July 2019) in Melbourne, Australia. Many community representatives participated in the event along with many cultural events. The above is the script of the speech delivered by the author.

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Latest comments

  • 2
    1

    Sri Lanka is severely suppressed by so many International community, Western embassies, So many UNITED NATIONS affiliated organizations and UNHCR antiques. Politicians are doing nothing and are just addressing their demands. Easter sunday attack is carried out for NATO requirement. IT is said ATLANTIC TREATY is previously USA and UK treaty. Now, it is a Organization made up of Military officers and Conglomerate or Multinational businesses. They need war, expansion and weapon market. Because of the weapon market, they need religious wars. Muslims were caught in that. But , Buddhist have not been able to do that. So, they try their best to make villains and to infiltrate the system via Buddhist organisations.
    there is another UN charter called ICCPR which is helpful for the west to spread Neo-Liberal Hyper State needs. They have introduced it even in Cambodia like very isolated countries. ICCPR wants the majority culture and habits completely changed and make the culture adoptable even to other religions, in other words that country is living a day to day life and they do not have any discipline or nationalistic fervor.

  • 5
    3

    Don’t try to cover up several mass murders of Tamils by Muslims in eastern province. The worst racists are Muslims who are claiming eastern province as theirs when they went as refugees 400 years ago. The Easter mass murder is the most brutal than any other in the past. You say that killing of a person for legal retaliation is permitted in Islam. On that principle do you say that Catholics who suffered death and injury have the right to kill Muslims as an act of retaliation. First stop injustice that Muslims are doing to Tamils, before preaching about building a harmonious society..

    • 1
      1

      I totally agree with the writer. His article is well balanced and make clarity of the ground reality. We can not allow the country to suffer any longer by racism. We had blood bath for almost 30 years.. we can not afford to face another one. No any religion is teaching hatred. It’s the media which creates such hatred and disunity among the communities. Let us be open minded and work for the betterment of the country rather pointing at one another… otherwise our country soon will be listed as a country of bankruptcy..

    • 2
      2

      Mr Perera
      You are a one of those terrorists who are blood thirsty for more innocent human lives to be killed. If one idiot kills any innocent, law will bring him to justice. If Ahmad kills John, the law should act and punish him accordingly.
      Not by you taking the law and kill many innocent Muslims because Ahmad was a Muslim.
      People like you are evils and worse than terrorists.

    • 1
      2

      Pissu Lanka Perera
      Where do you live? Are you from hell?

  • 4
    0

    Love how this sinhalese looking Muslim states that ” violence against the Muslims since 1915 ” the official report of this incident was written by Sir ponnambalam ramachndran- a Tamil hindu. Moor was a generic term used by the white man for muhamadians or today’s Muslims. They spanned several places from North Africa. Middle East. Turkey to south Asia. There was no note on what a moor looked liked.
    As ponnambalam records there were two mosques in kandy . One was built by people who had been given refuge from Portuguese by king senrat and another built by new arrivals- mostly Afghan money lenders. The afgans prtoested about the perahara conflicting with thier prayers. The Buddhist’s appealed to court and was ordered by the English judge to conduct the ceremony at another time. Which they did. When they did the afgans trew stones and one shopkeeper fired at a youth- killing him. No need to explain how the sinhalese recated to this. Roar Lion, roar !

    • 3
      0

      Worst of all the British thought that that this was another rebellion by the kandyans against their rule. Troops were sent from. Colombo and the ” offenders ” were found and executed. The reason – commting treason against the government of his Majesty.

  • 3
    1

    Irony is that, what you could do in Australia against racial discrimination , by celebrating “harmony day”, you will not be able to do the same in your own country without the interference from Ganasara, BBS and Ranjith (who dosent think there is any such discrimination or abuse of rights). Is it a surprise we Lankas continue to have riots, the recent one being post Easter. There are more expected until elections.

  • 0
    1

    I totally agree with the writer. His article is well balanced and make clarity of the ground reality. We can not allow the country to suffer any longer by racism. We had blood bath for almost 30 years.. we can not afford to face another one. No any religion is teaching hatred. It’s the media which creates such hatred and disunity among the communities. Let us be open minded and work for the betterment of the country rather pointing at one another… otherwise our country soon will be listed as a country of bankruptcy..

  • 3
    2

    “History of violence against Muslims in particular goes back to 1915 and continues until today. A simple google search on violence or riots in Sri Lanka brings 168 million references. Why should this be the case?”

    —-
    See how these bloody crooks twist things to blame Sinhalayo. Dumbo, 1915 riot was started by Muslims with the backing of British bastards. If you do not know the history keep your mouth shut.

    Violence in Sinhale were started in 3rd century BC by ‘Para Demala’ invaders from Hindusthan. In 1505 Portuguese terrorists came followed by Dutch and British terrorists and massacred Sinhalayo. After British left, ‘Para Demalu’ who are the descendants of slaves brought from Malabar by Portuguese, Dutch and British bastards started massacring Sinhalayo. After Demala violence was stopped by the Sri Lankan Armed Forces, Muslims have started violence against Native Sinhalayo. Sinhalayo made a blunder by accommodating ‘Para Demalu’ and ‘Para Muslims’ in the land of Native Sinhalayo and Vedda Eththo.

  • 4
    1

    “Islamic teachings repeatedly remind us not to harm any human being.”

    Problem is Muslims do not follow Islamic teachings. Same goes for Chritianity. If one look at the history, it is Muslims and Christians who have committed grave crimes against humanity. Followers of both these religions massacred millions of people to spread their religions. Buddhists never used violence to spread their religion. Now there is a concerted effort by Evangelists to depict Sinhala Buddhists as a violent group and they are racists, fascists and bigots. That is why Native (Kala) Vedda who is probably working for Evangelists keep on chanting the Mantra ‘Yellow Clad Thugs’, Sinhala Buddhist Racists’, Sinhala Buddhists Fascists’, Sinhala Buddhist Bigots’.

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