By Mass L. Usuf –
Why am I addressing the Sinhalese people? Firstly, because they are the majority community in this country. Secondly, the group of hooligans who caused the several acts of terror and mayhem were Sinhalese. Thirdly, it is the majority of the Sinhalese people who follow Buddhism. Fourthly, the Sinhala race like any other is unique.
Before anyone’s imagination begins to run riot, let me explain why is a Muslim worried about the Sinhala race. Especially, at a time when the Sri Lankan Muslims hold the World Record for the discovery of the ‘Wanda Pethi’, the alleged sterilisation pill in food. (Please see my article ‘Wanda Pethi’ My Foot!’ in Colombo Telegraph of 02 March 2018).
In the study of Islamic sociology, races constitute a vital component that go to strengthen the social structure. Therefore, there is no issue for a Muslim to accept, without prejudice, the existence of racial heterogeneity. Islam makes no distinction between black, white, yellow or brown coloured persons. Moreover, stratification of humans into castes, as lower or higher, is alien to Islamic sociology.
The fundamental tenet of monotheistic belief propagates the notion of a Creator. A Creator who is responsible for the creation of man and everything else. This concept of God as the Creator and that all humans are His creation naturally, establishes a sense of equity amongst mankind. In the clear absence of discrimination logically, a Muslim cannot be a racist. For the Muslims, the Sinhala race is just another of God’s creation which as Muslims we do not have an issue in acknowledging, accommodating and understanding. Quite beside theological expositions, from the viewpoint of a civilised and democratic perspective too, we all are equal citizens of this country – Sinhalese, Muslims, Tamils, Malays, Burghers etc. Historically, one way or the other the Muslims, like the other communities, are a commixture of this Sinhala race.
From Pearl To Pariah
The ruffians who committed acts of terror and destruction in Digana and other areas in the name of protecting the so called ‘Sinhala Buddhist nation’ need to be stopped. And, if you, the Sinhalese people do not step up to this act, it will be immoral to consider yourself as belonging to the Sinhala race. It will be unethical to claim that you are a follower of Buddha’s teachings. You will be unpatriotic to this soil. Your inaction today, will result in your children suffering. Your silent sanctioning of violence against the minorities will further degrade what is left of this country. What the world used to call, ‘as the pearl of the Indian ocean’ will turn to be a pariah nation internationally.
An analysis of the hate campaign, taking advantage of the free social media, clearly indicates certain qualitative characteristics in these extremists. They are exceedingly narrow minded, blindly racist and stupefyingly ignorant deluded by the fantasy of protecting the Sinhala race and Buddhism. That an organised team is directing operations is self-evident. The constant and repeated emphasis on racial contempt and hatred, against the Muslims is obviously premeditated. This, along the way, efficaciously appeals to the lowest and most primitive of human motives and that is one of survival. For the discerning, the pattern of psychological manipulation of the minds of the youth should be disconcerting. The youth are plainly being misled. These are the assets of our country. They are our human capital. These are the youth who are going to run this country tomorrow.
Can the Sinhala race be protected by burning houses, shops and places of religious worship? Can the Sinhala race be protected by looting the goods in the business premises and in the houses? Can the Sinhala race be protected by stopping public transport vehicles and grievously assaulting unarmed innocent Muslims? Can the Sinhala race be protected by terrorising men, women and children? How can such violence ensure the protection of a race?
The Threat To Buddhism
These marauders responsible for the rampage came on vehicles where it was written ‘budu saranai’ (seeking refuge in buddha). Buddha was a Reformer who was famous for his universal inspiration of non-violence (ahimsa). The tragicomedy is that they come under Buddha’s protection to cause death and destruction. Is this ignorance, blind prejudice or the consequences of being brainwashed? Apparently, burdened by the delusion that ‘budu saranai’ is only for the Sinhalese, rest of humanity is fair game. Is it reasonable to question if Buddha is the personal god or teacher of the Sinhalese only? No ‘budu saranai’ for the Muslims in this case. Or, like the infamous monk Gnanasara, more a disciple of the terrorist monk Wirathu, than of Buddha, saying ‘aba saranai’ for the Muslims prior to the Aluthgama pogrom. At the time Buddha was walking in the Ganges plain was there anything resembling ‘Sinhala Bauddhaya’? Should not the educated and the intellects check if this is an aberration of the socio-religious institutions? Are not the elders amongst the Buddhist clergy responsible to redirect the trajectory towards the path of the true teachings? Is silence or inaction a choice for the Elder Clergy on the face of a threat to Buddhism and the sasana from within? Seriously, think from where the threat to Buddhism is arising, is it from the Buddhists themselves or from the Muslims.
Who Is Protecting What?
By this, are these thugs protecting Buddhism and the buddha sasana? These criminals are not only from among the lay Buddhists. There were also monks in robes engaged in acts of violence and mayhem. Screens of televisions worldwide splashed the face of Buddhist atrocities. Are these monks who call themselves the true protectors of Buddhism or do they consider themselves the sincere followers of buddha? This is a complex situation and should be of great concern since it puts this nation to shame. It is a matter of conjecture if these elements are using the teachings of the great sage only to protect their survival. Is it not the time to think about this?
In conclusion, it is established that the miscreants are mostly youth. There lies a huge responsibility on the Elder Clergy in all the temples to direct them towards Loving-kindness (metta); Compassion (karuna); Sympathetic Joy (mudita); Equanimity (upekkha). The Mahanayakes must get their act together to discipline the youth monks and bring them within the fold of the true teachings. It is the responsibility of the parents and elders of the community to guide and counsel them and wean the youth away from ill-conceived prejudice and spreading of hate. This country cannot afford to lose its youth population.