Sri Lanka: It Is Time To Change Course

Why should our fellow countryman fear Muslims now? 

by Mass L. Usuf

It was indeed disheartening to hear on the television, from the lips of the president, about the various forces in the works sweating to trigger a communal riot. They may be the racist extremists or political parties both in the government and the opposition. A riot which will put the majority Sinhalese community against the beleaguered Muslim minority who still are trying to come to terms with the horrific incident of 21/4. I wish to reiterate here in clear words that the Muslim community has nothing to do with these bombers. We even have prohibited the bodies of these terrorist from being buried in our cemeteries. This indicates the extent to which the Muslim community abhors these degenerates who had hijacked the name of Islam.

To allay the suspicion of some of the Sinhalese people who wrongfully imagine that the Muslims within themselves like it, I wish to state do not entertain such unhealthy thoughts. We do not condone it even within the depth of our hidden inner feelings. This is against the religion of Islam and no Muslim in his proper senses can even remotely endorse this atrocity. Some have asked me if I would be happy if the attack was against Sinhala Buddhists. I responded saying that the same principles will apply. Islam does not permit the taking of innocent lives or desecration of places of worship or the wanton destruction of people’s properties. The justice system of Islam is against persecution and oppression.

Let me borrow a paragraph from the book Islamic Jurisprudence by the late Justice C.G. Weeramantry, “Individual dignity ranks high in Islamic law and the concept of human rights fit naturally within this framework. The Quran warns repeatedly against persecution, denounces aggression, warns against violation of human dignity and reminds believers of the need to observe justice in all their dealings. The warning against persecution occurs 299 times in the Quran” (Page 114).

Janatha Vimukthi Peramuna

Unfortunately, there was also no scarcity for the theatrics of irrational theories babbled by some of the politicians both in the government and the opposition, after 21/4. As always, the public were also dished out the rudderless semantics and dialectics of some monks. They are a lot who are well known for their racial prejudices, empty threats and contentious speeches which, if heard without seeing the venerated robe, would hardly be acknowledged as that of a monk.

The content of the verbosities most of the time clearly revealed a strain of opportunism and sometimes blissful ignorance. In this context, admiration to the Leader of the Janatha Vimukthi Peramuna, Anura Kumara Dissanayake for his pre and post situational analysis. Speaking in parliament, the other day, he placed the blame for the dastardly attack, on the government and the Muslim representatives. The JVP leader however, stopped short of wanting the Muslim representatives out of the august assembly. Benevolence one may call it towards a fellow member, the reason however, has a deeper ramification. His argument was that if there was no Muslim representation in parliament, then there is the potential for any undesirable entity to fill the gap of being the spokesman for the Muslims. He cited the experience of the Tamil people whose spokesman became the LTTE.

Do Not Fear The Muslims

My dear Sinhalese brothers and Sisters, we intend no harm to you. Let us unite to eliminate the curse of terrorism from society. If your little finger is cancerous, you will have to remove it. This cannot be done with emotions of hate, vengeance or retribution; That is not the path to tread. The way forward is by rationalising the issue and taking appropriate measures. The Muslims have throughout the centuries been a peaceful community. Everyone knows about this. They had never resorted to taking up of arms against the government nor against any other co-communities.

Why should our fellow countryman fear Muslims now? This fear was systematically indoctrinated by some of the media during these few weeks which only caused the distancing of the Muslims from the other communities. The fear that has been driven into the psyche of the people is such that parents are not sending their children to schools. Did not our children attend school during the 30-year war?

Diseased Minds

As alleged by some of the Islamophobics, if the Muslims had expansionist plans, they should have implemented it by now. The Muslims, after all, had been living in this island for more than a thousand years. Or, as these sickos allege that Islam teaches to kill the disbelievers, by now there should not be any disbelievers in this island. Take the so-called boycott of Muslim businesses. Do not they understand that these businesses too contribute to the economy of this country? Do they not know how many Sinhalese people earn their livelihood working in Muslim establishments? Can these diseased brains be called patriots or, those protecting the Sinhala race? Member of Parliament Mr. JayampathyWickremaratne at a media conference (13.05.2019) expressed his surprise at even professionals subscribing to these attitudes. It is time to correct course.

Let those sinister media outlets know that the direct and indirect loss it has caused to this nation by its irresponsible reporting is incalculable. The people of this country are suffering not so much because of the attack but because of the fear psychosis that was gradually fed into the hearts and minds of the innocent masses. In addition, those racist extremists prostituting in the social media cannot under any circumstances be identified with those who love this country or their race.

Na hi verenaverani

Take a lesson from the KalayakkhiniVatthu of the Dhammapada. This refers to the story of a man who had two wives and the past rivalries of these two women. The Buddha told them about their past feuds as rival wives and made them to see that hatred could only cause more hatred, and that it could only cease through friendship, understanding and goodwill.

Dhammapada Verse 5
Na hi verenaverani
averena ca sammanti

“Hatred is, indeed, never appeased by hatred in this world. It is appeased only by loving-kindness. This is an ancient law.”

It is time for people to sit and reflect for a moment on this unwholesome volcanic eruption within themselves more fully, seen in the social media. The depth of enslavement is overwhelming for some people where seemingly hate and prejudice have diseased their right-thinking mind. We must remind ourselves that we are living in a society where there is something called civilised conduct, law and order, democratic principles and so on. We are different from the animal world because we are endowed with faculty.

In this context, of the Noble Eightfold Path, the one that stands out is Sammavaca (Right speech). This is further classified as musavadaveramani (abstaining from false speech), pisunayavacayaveramani (abstaining from slanderous speech), pharusayavacayaveramani (abstaining from harsh speech) and samphappalapaveramani (abstaining from idle chatter). Sadly, those shackled by evils thoughts hardly practise veramani (abstention).

In his exposition of the contemplation of the state of mind, the Buddha mentions, by reference to cetasikas, (mental factors) sixteen kinds of citta (consciousness or a state of mind). See, The Way to the End of Suffering by Bhikkhu Bodhi. Of the sixteen, the following states of the mind are clearly visible amongst those who harbour hate. The mind with lust, the mind with aversion, the mind with delusion, the cramped mind, the scattered mind, the unfreed mind.

Entertaining negative thoughts of hate, animosity, revenge, suspicion and cynicism does no good for that person as an individual and for the country as a whole.

Cruel Realisation

As a community, the Muslims have awakened to the cruel realisation that the recent terrorist attack underscores the need for vigilance amongst our community. As patriotic citizens of this country, the Muslims have voluntarily taken it upon ourselves to be on the alert to identify any untoward behaviour or occurrences among the Muslim people. Without doubt, there is no Sinhalese or Tamil person who would like this fledgling nation after a three-decade war, to return to the path of violence and mayhem. It has to be emphatically stated that the Muslim community as a whole never desire our country to be embroiled in another conflict.

At testing times like this, we have to remain united as one nation and one people. This was the message His Eminence Cardinal Malcolm Ranjith repeatedly gave to his people and to the Sri Lankan citizens. This same message was reiterated by Lieutenant General Mahesh Senanayake, the Commander of the Sri Lanka Army. It is high time that those harbouring views of narrow racialism, hatred, suspicion and majoritarian perception rid themselves of these meaningless trivialities.

It is only a united people that can stand as an insurmountable force not only against any potential terrorists but, also, to face whichever countries aiming to destabilise our motherland.



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