By Rifai Naleemi –
In this part of our series we shall try to expose some aspects of religious jealousy of Bodu Bala Sena. It is against the very teaching of Lord Buddha to show resentment and envy to the people of any other faith. This is one of basic teaching of Buddhism. In sharp contrast to this principle BBS and its cohorts express openly communal and religious jealousy. Lord Buddha felt happiness when he saw the progress and development of other faiths. Indeed, he accommodated all other religious faiths and practices. I shall argue that BBS acts contrary to this very teaching of Buddhism. It exposes jealousy and resentment when they see Muslims are getting more religious and more spiritually advanced. They expose this bitterness when they Christian churches work within Sinhalese community for fear of conversion.
It is generally accepted fact that the religion of Islam is fast growing in many parts of world. Against all odds, more and more people are embracing Islam today than ever before. It is reported that since 9/11 more people are turning to Islam. They turn to Islam to know about Islamic faith and Muslim way of life. It is reported that more copies of Holy Quran were sold soon after 9/11 than any periods of time in American history. It is reported that Islam is the fast growing religion in Europe toady than any other single faith. It is reported that more European girls are turning to Islam today than ever before.
Why famous and high profile people are embracing Islam in Europe? Recently Lauren Booth, Tony Blair’s sister-in Law, Yvonne Ridley embraced Islam in Britain. InSouth India, one of famous Professors Periyardasan embraced Islam. Why is it that despite deliberate distortion about Islam and Muslims more and more people are turning to Islam? Annually thousands of people are turning to Islam in all part of the world despite all military and media onslaught against Islam and Muslims.
Hundreds of churches and pubs have been converted into mosques and Islamic centres in Europe. The last Friday (17/5/13) The Time News paper published a research finding on the decline of Christianity in theUK. It is reported that Christianity is in gradually declining with each generation (The Times/UK 17-5-13). While church going people are decreasing in many parts of world the amount of people going to mosques are rapidly increasing in every part of world. This is a universal phenomenon.
Within international Muslim community too many dramatic changes have been taking place. More and more Muslims become religious today than precious decades. An Islamic awakening has been taking place in many parts of world in recent time. Despite so called war on terror an Islamic awakening has been taking place steadily across the globe. Some people feel religiously jealousy of this social phenomenon taking place across the globe in Muslim world and as well as in non-Muslim countries.
In Sri Lanka too this Islamic awakening has been taking place. Unlike in the past more and more people are turning to Islam to secure peace and tranquillity. More youth are following Islamic way of life today than ever before. Mosques are filled with people praying five times prayers. Muslim girls are increasingly wearing Islamic dress codes. Muslims are observing religious rites regularly in all aspects of life. Muslims are waking up early mornings prayers. During the Ramadan charitable and religious activities are double and the mosques are full of people. Recently, Buddhist people are being invited to participate in breakfasting ceremonies.
BBS and its cohorts express utter bitterness when they saw these occurrences. Even they argued that Buddhists monks should not sit down with Muslim clerics. What type of racism is this? Did Lord Buddha teach this kind of discrimination? Isn’t it Hitler type mentality of BBS? When do these Singhalese Nazis learn from history?
Unlike in the past, recent times more and more Singhalese people interact with Muslims and come to know about Islam and Islamic way of life. Each week on Fridays, the entire Muslims villagers are gathering for Friday prayers and religious sermons. These sermons are designed to cultivate piety, spirituality and good manners in human minds. What more is that during the Hajj seasons more and more Sri Lanka Muslims go on spiritual journey to Mecca?
BBS and its cohorts feel jealousy of these religious awakening that takes place in the front of their eyes. Unlike in the past today, religious activities of Muslims are live in TV and websites. In a nutshell, Muslim’s life evolves around the religious teaching of Islam from birth to death 24 hours a day. Muslims wake up in the morning in the name of Allah and go to bed in the name of Allah. Thus, Islamic way of life is a dynamic and practical way of life unlike other religious practices.
Please do not take me wrong but make a comparison between day to day functions of mosques and other religious places such as Churches and Buddhist/HinduTemples. Consider for instance, in any Muslim village the entire Muslim villagers wake up early morning and go to mosque each day. Muslims ought to go to mosques not occasionally, not once in month or once year rather every day five times. Each day mosques are filled with people five times a day.
Whereas, people of other religions do not have such close attachment to their places of worship. They do not have such mechanism to visit their place of worship daily as Muslims do. They may visit temples or churches in religious festivals and ceremonies but not obliged to go five times as Muslim do. That is why Muslims spend more money in building mosques. When BBS and its cohorts see illuminating tall mosques in each and every township of Sri Lanka rather than they appreciate Muslim devotion in their religion, they become jealous of dynamism in religious activities of Muslims.
Moreover, when they see Muslim girls wearing Islamic dress codes they feel jealous of this religious observation. When they see thousands of Muslims go on Hajj pilgrimage in two pieces of white cloths they feel a bit of religious jealousy. When they see some Muslims have big families they feel a bit of religious and communal jealousy. When they hear that some Sinhalese girls or boys are willingly embrace faith of Islam they feel a bit of religious jealousy.
Today, in our modern world inter-cultural fertilization and interaction is unavoidable. Because of modern technological advancement most of Non-Muslim people come to know about Islam and Muslims through website and internets. Whether we like it or not today, most of Sinhalese and Tamil youths are familiar with Islam and Muslims. This awareness increases through their personal interaction with Muslims. Moreover modern telecommunication networks facilitate this inter-cultural knowledge increase. Some of youths are beings inspired and influenced by these modern websites and internet propagation.
Today more than 1.8 millions Sri- Lankans work in the Middle countries. Most of them are Sinhalese. Some of them have been living for more than two decades in the Middle East countries and they become more familiar with Muslim culture and religions than Sinhalese if they live these long periods of time in those countries. They might have been influenced and inspired with Arabic language, Muslim traditions, Muslim food and Muslim way of life. Particularly people from Hindu community with the case discrimination might have greatly influence with Muslim tradition of eating all together in one plate or one place without any discrimination.
It may be true that some of our housemaids may have been ill-treated in the Middle East and yet, those are isolated incidents. There are millions of people working in the Middle East and they have been well paid and well treated otherwise, they would have been returned to their native countries. Inter-cultural fertilization takes place with such long interaction with Muslim environment in Muslim countries. I have read the stories of many English people who converted to Islam through their interaction and long stay in Muslims countries. It is a natural sociological and human phenomenon. This is what exactly what happened to some Sinhalese/ Tamil house maids in the Middle East. Most of them go to Middle East from poor family background and when they see a true equal treatment at by some of religious Arab Muslims in the Middle East it is natural their hearts incline and lean towards Islam.
This is what exactly happening to Sinhalese when they come back to Sri Lanka after long stays in Muslims countries. Some of them marry Muslim boys in the Middle countries and stay there permanently. Rather than examining these sociological changes there is no point in blaming Sri Lankan Muslims for the conversation of Singhalese people into Islam. It is one basic teachings of Islam to proclaim that there is no compulsion in Islam. No one could force any one to embrace Islam. It is a personal freedom of each person to choose their faith and way of life. BBS should not be jealous of these sociological changes rather they should take some necessary steps to stop sending Sri-Lankan housemaids to the Muslim countries. Can they do that? Do they have political and economical power to do so? I challenge BBS that if they could let them stop sending housemaid into Middle East countries. That is one of the viable ways to stop inter-cultural fertilization and conversion.
There are so many issues related to Sinhalese extremism. There is a genuine fear among some Sinhalese people that Buddhism and Sinhalese culture are in decline. It could be for many reasons. It could be because of western influence. It could be failure of Buddhist religious leadership to provide proper spiritual training and education for children from early age. It could be because some do not have faith in Buddhism at all. It could be that we live in a secular and materialistic world that is different from Lord Buddha’s times. It could be that with advancement in technology people learn more about faith.
It could be because more than 1.7 million Sinhala people work in Middle East and Webern counties and they become friendly with Muslims and Christians and end up as Muslims or Christians or it could be indoctrination of some people as Christian missionary do in Sri Lanka: almost 1.2 millions Christians we have in Sri Lanka most of them previously Sinhalese Buddhists or Tamil Hindus. All of these people converted for good jobs and education: this did not happen in Muslim community.
Now BBS have jealousy of Muslims for their devotion in faith. BBS may constitute only 5% of Sinhalese population in Sri Lanka and the rest of 95% Sinhalese do not have any ill feeling of Muslims. . It is the failure of government and law enforcement made this matter to go out of control. I could argue that BBS and its cohorts are directly and indirectly educating Sinhalese public about Islam and Muslims. Their relentless campaign on Halal food logo made a great awareness about Islam among Sinhalese people.
I think that BBS is taking Islam into each and every Sinhalese house through their negative propagation machineries. Let them do the job for Muslims and Islam. Every action has its reaction. The actions and activities of BBS will certainly backfire and we have seen that the backfiring has as already begun.
To be continued next week