12 December, 2017

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Unconditional Muslim Support: Facilitated Island’s Independence

By Latheef Farook

Latheef Farook

Crucial Muslim support facilitated the process of Sri Lanka  gaining  independence from British in 1948 and help end almost four and half centuries of European colonial rule in the island.

Many still remember the leading role played by Muslims leaders such as Dr T.B.Jayah, Sir Razik Fareed, Dr M.C.M.Kaleel and Dr Badiduddin Mahmud in the constitutional reforms of this country and their enthusiastic support for the demand of the Dominion Status and   independence. They never obstructed the political progress of the country.

For example when the demand for independence began gathering momentum World War 11 broke out in Europe. The British government urged all its colonies to support them assuring that they would be given independence after the war.

In the aftermath of the World War 11, agitation for political reforms and independence began to gather momentum. However the British government insisted that three quarters of the population should support the demand for independence to ensure the rights of minorities were protected. With the Sinhalese community as a whole constituting less than three quarters of the population this was an impossible demand to fulfill unless the minorities supported.

Tamil Congress leader G.G.Ponnambalam demanded equal representation, better known as fifty –fifty. However the Muslims stood fully behind the majority community and help to meet the British demand for the support of two third of the population despite past sufferings and disadvantages.

Addressing a gathering at Zahra College grounds under the chairmanship of Sir Mohamed Macan Markar to protest against the inadequate representation of Muslims in the Legislative Council Dr. Badiduddin Mahmoud, the Secretary of the All Ceylon Muslim Political Conference said on 5 March 1939;

“Let me assure my Sinhalese countrymen that I am one among them in demanding complete freedom for our country. They can count on me as one of the most ardent admirers of their legitimate national and cultural aspirations. In me and in my community, let them know that they find the most trusted friends and kind neighbors in this island. They would never find wanting in me or in my community that unflinching loyalty and patriotism that this little island would demand one day from its sons and daughters to carve out a niche of fame for itself as a self- respecting unit in a world federation. Let me also assure my Sinhalese friends that the brave community to which I belong shall never consider any sacrifice too great to make Lanka a happy, prosperous and glorious country in the world where not one section of its population but every son and daughter of her soil shall legitimately take pride in her glorious destiny”.

In keeping with this policy the three Muslim representatives in the State Council extended their whole- hearted support for the “Dominion Status Bill” – a Sri Lankan bill sponsored by the late Mr.S.W.R.D.Bandaranaike when it came for the vote on 9 November 1945.  T.B.Jayah and Dr M.C.M Kaleel spoke in favour of the bill while Sir Razik Fareed and Dr Kaleel voted in favour as Jayah was not present during the time of voting.

During his speech Razik Fareed said” “the All Ceylon Moors Association   pledge their support to the resolution of the Hon Leader under discussion today. Nothing  else would at the moment give me great pleasure to do so, and to express my whole hearted support to the Hon leader’s proposal. As my community and I have always stood by them, I must say that in the hour of his triumph we join hands with him in the forward march to the goal of the proposal to which he aspires”…

Supporting the Sri Lankan Bill despite its disadvantages to Muslims and defining the attitude of Muslims towards the bill Mr.T.B. Jayah said:” I am glad, Sir, that it has been stated that this is not the moment for jubilation or exultation or even for mutual recrimination. I certainly think that this is not the occasion to speak of the discomfiture of the minority communities’ or of the victory of the majority community”.

“As far as I am concerned, I speak with the full support of members of the Muslim community. I saw to it that the Ceylon Muslim League, representing the Muslim community of Ceylon, consulted Muslim representatives   in different parts of the country on the important issues before the house and I am in a position to say that the Muslim members of this Council have the fullest backing of the Muslim community in this island”.

“When the Muslims of the Council decided to take a definite stand at the time the Sri Lanka –Bill was introduced, they did so for one and one reason only. The reason was that where the political freedom of this country was involved, they were prepared to go to any length, even to the point of sacrificing advantages and benefit as a result of such action”. As far as I am concerned, Sir, I do not consider any right greater than the right of political freedom and therefore, although I am fully conscious of those disadvantages of the Bill, looking at it from a narrow point of view, yet I am prepared to support this Bill”.

Expressing his gratitude to the Muslim members on behalf of the Sinhalese community, S.W.R.D. Bandaranaike assured that he would consider any reasonable request by the Muslim community. Bandaranaike said:” I say that if any member has brought closer the achievement of agreement among the various sections of the people of the country by an attitude of generosity where even those with whom he is concerned to differ, I say the fullest credit must go more than anyone else among us to the Honorable nominated Member, Mr. T.B. Jayah. He has made a speech today that will have a great effect in bringing unity among the people of this country in bringing some sense of reality to this struggle, however it may shape, that we are going to undertake to obtain a satisfactory measure of freedom”..

“ What have the three members,T.B.Jayah,Dr M.C.M.Kaleel and Razik Fareed, have done? There is provided in the Bill a Scheme of Representation under which the Muslim community in this country might suffer in the form in which it appears, but yet, he himself so sincerely determined to work for the main idea of freedom that he was prepared to vote for the principle embodied in the Bill”.

“But I can give the Hon Nominated member, Mr. T.B.Jayah, this assurance on behalf of, I think, the vast majority, at least the Community that I represent, that in the struggle for freedom whatever may or may not be the recommendation of the Soulbury Commission on our representation, he may be rest assured that we will be quite prepared to consider any reasonable point of view that, might be put forward.

Thus the Muslim support provided the required support of two third majority of the population paving the way for the island’s independence on 4 February 1948 when Mr. D.S.Senanayake lowered the British flag and hoisted the Sri Lankan National Flag and declared the island’s independence.

Muslims have lived in harmony and peace with the Sinhalese and Tamils for centuries and they wanted to continue to do so. As stated by former Chief Justice Sarath N. Silva rightly that “Muslims have been a peaceful ethnic group interacting with other religious and ethnic groups, cordially interlinking those cultures with their own culture. They never organized themselves for armed insurrection or destruction”.

They were not party to the ethnic conflict. However their sufferings were immense.

What many conveniently forget is the crucial role played by the Muslims even in preserving the territorial integrity of the island. For example, during the early days, Tamil militants’ call for a separate state had the full backing of India and the island’s armed forces were not equipped or trained, as they are today, to deal with them.

From the very inception, Muslims throughout the country vehemently opposed calls for the division of the country and firmly stood for territorial integrity and unity. Nevertheless, they were entangled into this unfortunate and unwanted ethnic conflict only to face death, devastation, loss of properties and livelihood and displacement with no appreciation. Around 130,000 Muslims driven out from Jaffna have been still languishing in refugee camps in appalling conditions and their plight is nobody’s business for more than 20 years.

Had the Muslims joined the Tamil militancy during its early stage the island’s fate would have been sealed and the history would have projected a new political landscape. It is unfortunate that these sufferings and sacrifices have never been highlighted in its proper perspective. I am sure the Muslim community is prepared to take ten steps if the authorities take one-step to take them into confidence to pave the way for cordiality and communal harmony.

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Latest comments

  • 4
    0

    Get over yourselves. Muslims today is not the same Muslims who were back then.

    • 2
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      Latheef Farook types:

      “Unconditional Muslim Support: Facilitated Island’s Independence”

      The fate of this island was sealed when Britain decided to grand independence to India.

      The contributions of DS, Chelva, .B.Jayah,Dr M.C.M.Kaleel,Razik Fareed Ponna, Banda, Ramanathan, …… to the independent struggle were incidental.

      The Tamils, Sinhalese and Muslims should get over their false pride.

      • 0
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        Native Vedda

        “The Tamils, Sinhalese and Muslims should get over their false pride”

        Yes, but they all are resisting being called, Paras. Paradeshis. Foreigners, in the Land of Native Veddah Aethho, despite overwhelming evidence.

        Is it their pride or their stupidity, given Average IQ is 79.

  • 0
    4

    What ever muslim support is, I have heard Sinhala leaders trusted Bathiuddin Mahamud a lot. the Result was Sinhale education was ruined.

    Do you think some of these elite people talked in political meetings that is why British gave us Independance. On the other hand, How much blood had to be shed by Indians in order to gain their independance.
    Sri lanka was given the independance Because, British did not have anything else to loot from or suck from Sri lanka. It was economically a failure if they were stay more.

    As I heard, Ranil is a lawyer and he does not know why a culture is important to the country. the last time, he wanted to celebrate portugeuse invasion of Sri lanka and how portugeuse raped Sinhale women, and how they salughtered Sinhale people and how they looted the country.

    So, this Time, Instead if celebrating the war victory, Ranil wanted to celebrate the Independance which was actucally handed down and and not anything earned by Sinhale people.

    Muslims were never part of a struggle if it needed blood shed. One time, muslims had helped the Tamil king in Kandy against the Sinhala dissaves because King was more powerful. In 1915, Muslims did not want Kandy perahera of the tooth Relic to stop the drum beating.

    Now, Muslims want to rewrite the history in a different way.

    The way the muslims are islamizing the country, do you think muslims feel home in Sri lanka ? You know that is not the muslim way.

  • 2
    1

    We members of minorities need to be cautious and sensitive about the kind of independence we obtained and the deplorable role many of our leaders played, and the price we are paying for it today. This role could only be described as treachery towards another minority, the Indian or Hill-Country Tamils, whom the Soulbury Commission in deference to the Sinhalese leaders had placed on the block. Rewards for this treachery were shortlived, and several of our leaders, whom we still laud as able and wise, were part of it. They are not candidates for admiration, but rather an object lesson to our continuing folly.

    Two exceptional leaders of that era were Chelvanayakam and Jayah. Chelvanayakam later succumbed to bitterness. Jayah was a doughty defender of the rights of Indian Tamils. I think he, in the mid-1940s, succumbed to pressure from fellow Muslim leaders who wanted a deal on representation for a dispersed Muslim community, who were at a disadvantage under the electoral system. The lives of both Chelvanayakam and Jayah were tragedies. Scholars who are bent on writing encomiums would miss out on the deeper elements of the tragedy; which would be more interesting and useful for those of us ready to learn from the past. Need we continue to be prisoners of that barren era?

    • 0
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      Rajan Hoole

      Scholars who are bent on writing encomiums would miss out on the deeper elements of the tragedy; which would be more interesting and useful for those of us ready to learn from the past. Need we continue to be prisoners of that barren era?

      That is why Post independance education which involved Bathiuddin mahamud too is a failure. YOu can see how academics of tht era write articles here in CT.

      Sri lankan education did not teach how these people and way those people got independance. Instead, it explained and celebrated how english governors built the country

      Those Mudliers who were bending to English governors becazme the founders and pioneers of modern Sri lanka. sinhale is now a forbidden word. Sinhala should look for another country, As Sri lanka is multilinguistic. this did not happen even to countries USA, Australia or New Zealand which are made up of immigrents. Those countries are all english.

    • 0
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      Rajan H:
      “Two exceptional leaders of that era were Chelvanayakam and Jayah. Chelvanayakam later succumbed to bitterness. Jayah was a doughty defender of the rights of Indian Tamils.”

      We are getting sold on personalities. It was class interest first, all along, including the transfer of power by the British to the more loyal DSS).
      As for minorities, it was the Tamil elite interests and Muslim business community interests that mattered (until more recently when Eastern Muslims became more assertive).

      During talks with SWRDB, SJVC & Co yielded without contest on the citizenship question. They were pleased with the offer of district councils and concessions on language. The core issue of the founding of the FP was dropped like a hot brick.
      Thus one is reasonably inclined to believe, despite denials by devotees of SJVC, that there could be substance to GGP’s claim that SJVC fell out because DSS would not offer him a post as minister.
      The man had lame excuses for not moving his wealth to the region where he wanted the Tamil federal state. The party supporter was blinded by the language issue.

      After 1952, when the citizenship issue failed to bring in the votes, the FP was only interested in issues which roused emotion and brought in the votes.The FP owed its success to SWRDB.

      When SWRDB tried to correct his blunder and needed support against the extreme elements who opposed the B-C pact, the FP failed him. Later class interests pushed the FP towards a more cruelly communal UNP.

      • 0
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        Sekara,
        I do not wish to get involved in an argument about whether or not class is the primary determinant of historical processes. Historians face enormous difficulties in explaining the French and Russian Revolutions as played out by class conflict.

        But on the B-C Pact, to say that ‘SJVC yielded without contest on the citizenship question’ appears wrong.

        The link http://tamilnation.co/conflictresolution/tamileelam/57bandachelvapact.htm :gives the demands put forward by the FP:

        1. Federal Constitution
        2. Parity of Status for Tamil and Sinhala languages;
        3. Repeal of citizenship laws which had discriminated against Tamils of Indian descent;
        4. Immediate halt to the colonisation of the Tamil homeland.

        This link says what was agreed to
        http://peacemaker.un.org/sites/peacemaker.un.org/files/LK_570726_Bandranayaki%20Chelvanayakam%20Pact.pdf

        “Regarding the question of Ceylon citizenship for the people of Indian descent and the Citizenship Act, the representatives of the Federal Party forwarded their views to the Prime Minister and pressed for an early settlement.

        “The Prime Minister indicated that this problem would receive early consideration.

        “In view of these conclusions the Federal Party stated that they were withdrawing their proposed satyagraha.”

        Without going into great lengths about the practicalities of reaching a workable agreement without undue delay, that does not seem unreasonable.

        • 0
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          Dear Rajan Hoole
          Thanks for the civilized response.
          I remember Zhou Enlai’s interesting answer to a question on the impact of the French Revolution: “It is far too early to tell.”
          But there are many aspects that every political historian and activist (including Zhou) comments on from his/her standpoint.
          So, I made my point about the conduct of the FP in 1952-57. I appreciate your attempt to convince me. But I have pressing evidence to the contrary. Let us agree to disagree.

          The four-point programme of the FP is well known. But what they did with it is my question.
          In my view, their raising the issue with SWRDB was just ritual.
          Once SWRDB suggested postponement, they happily retreated from their heroic stand of 1949. What is it in effect, if not yielding?

          To me the text read rather like: “That is a good point. You think about it and we will think about….Then let us all forgot about it.”

          I do not challenge your factual data, but in your interpretation you are giving too much credit to the FP and its leader, who ditched the citizenship issue after 1957.
          I have spoken to several FP politicians on that subject (one of my pet topics at the time as an ardent FP supporter) since then until the disaster that was Satyagraha and after. They dodged the issue rather cynically by hinting that it is best left to Thondaman & Co.

  • 0
    4

    T.B. Jaya was Malay descendant, he was definitely not a radical Islamist terrorist shylockian Marakkala Muslim menace. There is a big difference between Marrakkala Muslims and Malay Muslims.

    IDP in Willpattuwa is all hoax. The corrupt politician is building a caliphat pigsty in the jungle. The houses which sheikh have built are in bad quality, nobody lives in those houses. We all know well that those filthy rich sheikhs spend their money on building skyscrapers, their lavish lifestyles, funding terrorists and Muslimising non-Muslim countries. Right now world’s poorest and stupidest people are Muslims, the pigish sheikh should spend on them. The other thing is how much money the local politician received ? were they declared ? and where did the money go?

  • 2
    0

    Latheef Farook

    RE:Unconditional Muslim Support: Facilitated Island’s Independence

    “Crucial Muslim support facilitated the process of Sri Lanka gaining independence from British in 1948 and help end almost four and half centuries of European colonial rule in the island.”

    “Many still remember the leading role played by Muslims leaders such as Dr T.B.Jayah, Sir Razik Fareed, Dr M.C.M.Kaleel and Dr Badiduddin Mahmud in the constitutional reforms of this country and their enthusiastic support for the demand of the Dominion Status and independence. They never obstructed the political progress of the country.”

    Yes. Everybody was relived finally to be free from European Colonialism starting with the Portugese, The Dutch and the English, and finally free.

    The the hegemony of the Para-Sinhala “Buddhists” started, and the other Paras, Para-Tamils, Para-Muslims,Para-Portugesee, Para- Dutch, Para-Malaya, Para-English and other Paras were subjugated to this hegemony, including the Native Veddah Aethho, in the Land of Native Veddah Aethho.

    It is time, that the Paras, get their act together and treat each other as Respectable Paras with Equal Rights, in the and of Native Veddah Aethho, despite their beliefs in the various Myths, of lion race, tiger race and religions.

    “Had the Muslims joined the Tamil militancy during its early stage the island’s fate would have been sealed and the history would have projected a new political landscape.”

    The Muslims wanted a united Land, and joining the LTTE was out of the question. There were even many Tamils, who did not want to join the LTTE, but they wanted to live as respectable citizens safely with dignity, which the Para-Sinhala did not provide. Is this about to change?

  • 1
    2

    Around 130,000 Muslims driven out from Jaffna have been still languishing in refugee camps in appalling conditions and their plight is nobody’s business for more than 20 years.” A real liar.

    Another time Latheef wrote Muslims fought along with Sinhalese against foreigners. It is the Arabian Muslims brought Portuguese to Ceylon. Sinhalese handed over Kandy and Kote to foreigners. Jaffna was captured with 6000 Sinhala Mercenary army by Portugese. Mappila Muslims- (the Tamil Nadu and Keralites) fought in Kotte and Sitawaka as they claimed they had ownership of those Kingdoms. It is not fighting along with Sinhalese.

    In general Latheef is explaining how Muslims have got passed MMDA in the parliament. Then, in the next article he is going to change the side of the hat and going issue threats to Sinhala governments.

    As at now, Tamils will prefer Britannians coming back. Last year Many Tamils participated when the Sinhala Song’s translation was sung in Tamil. This year many Tamils carried Black flag.

  • 2
    2

    Thank you for not claiming local Muslims also co-wrote the Mahawamsa, Chulawansa and also helped King Theva Nambiya Theesan a.k.a. Devanam Piyatissa to bring Buddhism to Sri Lanka. The fact that they came in
    sizeable numbers only about 200 years ago is immaterial when we are
    dealing with the manufacture of instant history. Keep up the good work.

    Dravidian

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