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  • A country obsessed with racial and religious conflicts
    Sri Lanka, as a nation has been wasting time debating sensitive racial and religious issues for the past several years, without gaining anything. Only thing the country has been witnessing as a result is communities distancing themselves from each other, while portraying a false unity among them. 
    The situation seems to have come to a head with people of various communities being emotionally charged over these issues subsequent to the attacks on three Christian churches and three major tourist hotels by the Islamic terrorists on April 21, 2019, which was also the Easter Sunday.
    The terrorist attacks which caught the nation off-guard demanded united action by all communities and political parties to handle the immediate situation and to prevent future recurrence of...
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  • Burqa ban: Security, human rights and male chauvinism
    A few years ago, on a Turkish beach exclusively for women, a bikini-clad woman offered her prayers. The video clip of the woman going through the postures of the Muslim prayer went viral and created a major debate among the Muslims.  Some censured her for not adhering to the dress code for prayers, but others said what mattered was her piety and not the dress.
    Following the release of the Easter Sunday terror attack commission report, Sri Lanka is mulling whether to ban burqa – the Muslim dress that covers a female body from head to toe – and niqab, which only shows the eyes of the wearer, but the issue needs to be looked at from human rights, security and spiritual angles to come to a right decision.
    If at the one end of the spectrum is public nudity, burqa will...
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  • South African Muslim bodies seek intervention over burqa ban in Sri Lanka Foreign Minister of South Africa urged to intervene
    South African Muslim organisations have called on the country’s foreign minister to intervene in the proposed Sri Lankan ban on the burqa and closure of hundreds of Islamic schools. This followed the announcement by Sri Lanka''s minister for public security, Sarath Weerasekera, during the weekend that his country would ban the traditional full-face covering worn by some Muslim women because it posed a threat to national security. This was quickly followed by a statement from the Sri Lankan foreign ministry, which said a decision would only be taken on the proposal after consultations and further discussion. The United Ulama Council of South Africa (UUCSA) has now asked South Africa’s Minister of International Relations and Co-operation Naledi Pandor to intervene in the matter. UUCSA had earlier also called for such intervention when...
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  • Banning Burqas and Madrasas illegal: Fmr MP
    Former MP M.M .Zuhair said yesterday it would be unlawful to ban Burqas and Madrasas. Issuing a statement, he said some observations and recommendations of the Commission on Easter Sunday attacks are invasive of the absolute protection given to every person under Article 10 of the Sri Lanka Constitution. He said the Commission’s report though good in parts, can be seen as an attempted assault on Islam for the heinous crimes of a dozen suicide bombers. The right to the freedom stated in Article 10 is ‘assured to all religions’ under Article 9. No one, not even Presidential Commissions can invite or promote the State or any limb of the Executive or Judiciary to violate the freedom guaranteed under Article 10.This protection is guaranteed notwithstanding any national security concerns, as the law stands today. In this constitutionally...
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  • Pakistan says likely ban on Niqab in SL to serve as injury on Muslims
    The Ambassador of Pakistan to Sri Lanka, Saad Khattak today said the likely ban on Niqab in Sri Lanka will only serve as an injury to the feelings of ordinary Sri Lankan Muslims and Muslims across the globe. In a tweet, the Ambassador said that at today’s economically difficult time due to COVID-19 pandemic and other image related challenges faced by the country at the international fora, such divisive steps in the name of security, besides accentuating economic difficulties, will only serve as fillip to further strengthen wider apprehensions about fundamental human rights of minorities in the country. Minister of Public Security Rear Admiral (Retd.) Dr. Sarath Weerasekera said today that in addition to banning the burqa, the cabinet proposal would also include banning the niqab which covers the face of the wearer except the eyes. The...
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  • යුරෝපයේ රටවල් 8 කින් හිස්බුල්ලාට සහාය
    මානව හිමිකම් වෙනුවෙන් පෙනී සිටින ප්‍රමුඛ නීතිඥවරයකු වන හිජාස් හිස්බුල්ලා මහතා වැනි මානව හිමිකම් ආරක්ෂා කරන්නන්ට ගරු කරන ලෙස ශ්‍රී ලංකා රජයෙන් ඉල්ලා සිටිමින් යුරෝපීය රටවල් අටක මානව හිමිකම් තානාපතිවරුන් ඒකාබද්ධ නිවේදනයක් නිකුත් කර තිබේ. නෙදර්ලන්තය, ජර්මනිය, එංගලන්තය ස්වීඩනය, එස්ටෝනියාව, ලිතුවේනියාව, ලක්සම්බර්ග් සහ ෆින්ලන්තය...
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  • Eight EU HR Ambassadors raise concern over Hejaaz Hizbullah
    In a statement issued today, Eight Human Rights  Ambassadors of Europe including the United Kingdom, Germany and Sweden called on the Sri Lankan government to " respect human rights defenders such as Hizbullah". The statement issued by the Ambassadors of the United Kingsdom, Germany, Sweden, Finland, Lithuania, Estonia and the Netherlands said that after ten months of Detention, Hejaaz Hizbullah was being accused of speech related offences. Prominent Attorney-at-Law Hejaaz Hizbullah was arrested by the Criminal Investigations Department on the 14th of April 2020. He was thereafter accused in the media of various activities related to terrorism. He was thereafter produced on the 18th of February 2021 where the Attorney General informed court that the entire case against Hizbullah was to be based on purported statements made by children. Hizbullah...
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  • Circular on burial of COVID-19 victims issued
    The circular containing the guidelines with regard to the burial of COVID-19 victims has been issued, the Health Ministry said. Some key guidelines are as follows, The relatives of the deceased should inform the Director/ Head of the health care institution (Where the death has occurred) of their desire to bury the corpse without delay. The Director of the hospital/ Head of the health care institution should obtain a written request from relatives for burial. The relatives need to provide a coffin in advance. It is the duty of the director/ Head of health care institution to transport the corpse in a coffin provided by the relatives to a designated location in Colombo Institute of Forensic Medicine and Toxicology (office of JMO) / BH Welikanda where the corpse will be received by the designated officer. The vehicle transporting the...
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  • Muslims to raise concerns over Iranaithivu burial with global bodies
    A leading Muslim organisation in Sri Lanka will this week send an official letter of concern to the global Organization of Islamic Cooperation and the World Muslim Congress, seeking their intervention to urge the Sri Lankan government to allocate a decent land for the burial of Muslim COVID-19 victims. The Daily Mirror learns that the Sri Lanka Islamic Centre, which is a member of the World Muslim Congress will raise serious concerns with the global bodies and will also send a letter to the World Muslim Congress office in Geneva urging for immediate intervention after the government announced that burials of the COVID-19 dead would take place on the Iranaithivu Island, in the Gulf of Mannar. Senior Muslim officials said they were disappointed at the government’s decision to allocate the Iranaithivu Isle for the burials and instead urged...
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  • Hizbullah and Madrasa School Principal further remanded
    Attorney-at-Law Hejaaz Hizbullah and Principal of Madrasa School Mohammed Shakeel were further remanded till March 18 by the Fort Magistrate’s Court today. They were earlier remanded under section 2 (1) (h) of the PTA and section 3(1) of the ICCPR Act.   http://www.dailymirror.lk/breaking_news/Hizbullah-and-Madrasa-School-Principal-further-remanded/108-206945 Please enable JavaScript to view the comments powered by Disqus.
    Read More...
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Beyond Dambulla Mosque Attack - Part 1

by Dr Sulaiman Rifai, Naleemi (London)

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By Dr. Sulaiman Rifai, Naleemi (London)

In this series of articles I will Insha Allah try to gauge the communal relationship between Muslim and Non-Muslim communities in Srilanka in recent times.  The primary objective of this article is not to make division between communities rather to   bridge the gap in deteriorating communal relationship between different communities. A multicultural nation like Srilanka should maintain a strong sense of social interactions between communities in the greater interest of country and each community.  Srilankan Muslim community as a matter of priority of Islamic obligations should play a vital role in this nation building process. Away from all dogmatic and sectarian differences, the entire Srilankan Muslim community should work hand in hand to enhance communal harmony and peace in this country.

What are the Islamic principles and ethics of communal relationship as enshrined in the Holy Islamic texts and historical precedents? I shall discuss some of the barriers that hinder communal harmony and I shall also propose some practical steps to build up a strong a sense of co-existence and communal harmony.  I personally propose that some Muslim intellectuals should do some field surveys among Non-Muslim Srilankan community with some basic questionnaires about Islam. This will help us to collect perceptions of Non-Muslim people on Islam & Muslims in Srilanka. Unfortunately, Non-Muslim people still have some wrong perception and misunderstanding about Islam and Muslims. Sometimes Islamic teachings and rituals are wrongly understood and interpreted Insha Allah I shall produce some sample questions in this regards so that we could understand mindset and attitudes of Non-Muslim community about us. Accordingly, Muslim community could take necessary steps to improve our communal relationship and sometimes amend our shortcomings in this respect.

Much has been said and written about attacks on Dambulla mosque. No doubt this attack is a wake up call for a dormant Srilankan Muslim community in its religious responsibilities towards our brethren in humanity in Srilanka. Though we have been living in Srilanka for many centuries, we have greatly failed to reach out to wider Srilankan Non-Muslim communities with the message of Islam. Rather than reaching out with the universal message of this beautiful religion to the wider Srilankan Non-Muslim communities we have been fighting among ourselves for some dogmatic and juristic differences in some trivial religious matters. For the last few decades, our time, energy and human resources have been mainly dedicated to Islamic dawa works among Muslim community alone and less  than 10%  of our resources have been used to reach out with Islamic message to the wider Non-Muslim community in Srilanka. Consider for instance the pathetic situation of Srilankan Muslim community today.

Our community is divided between Salafis and khalafis, Shias and Sunnis, Thabligh, Jamathees, and Wahabis, Jamathe Islamis and Ikhwanis, Sufis and Non Sufis and many more groups. We have been inappropriately using our time, energy, wealth and human resources between us in some trivial religious debates and issue that benefit neither Muslim community nor our Dawa works towards Non-Muslims brothers in humanity in Srilanka.  Truth of matter is that our internal disputes and clashes between different Islamic groups have done greater damage or curtailed our efforts to reach out to Non-Muslim brethren in Srilanka. It is high time now that We Muslim community in Srilanka comes to term with these methodological differences between Islamic groups and reconciles these differences sooner than later in greater interest of Islamic works in our country. Moreover, Muslim community should have some clear cut strategies in reaching out with Islamic message to Non-Muslim communities in Srilanka:

Ironically there is no fundamental difference between these groups in matters of basic theology, Islamic law and rituals and for that matter even in their ultimate goal in their life: That is to please Almighty Allah and secure a place in Paradise. Of course, there is a slight difference between these groups in their understanding of religious matters and in their approach to Islamic dawa works.  Such slight differences will continue until the Day of Judgment as human beings are bound to differ in their understanding according to different level of intellects and social circumstances.   What striking most is that we look at what divide between us but we often forget to look at what unite us in matters of religion and faiths? Muslims have been reminded of repeatedly to be united as one regiment but yet methodological differences between these groups towards Islamic dawa work shatters the fundamental principle of Islamic unity.

Each group claims that it is in a right path and other groups are in not in a right path. Each group tries to indoctrinate or proselytize ordinary innocent Muslim people into their groups sometimes without properly understanding the basic principles and teachings of these groups. All these are taking place at the expense of our collective obligations. Muslims are minority in Srilanka and they constitutes less than 8% of the entire population in the country and we have a moral duty upon our shoulders to explain the meaning and message of Islam for other Non-Muslim communities not to proselytise them into our religion but to clarify them of all sorts of misunderstanding about religion. Rather than engaging in this primary duty of representing Islam and reaching out with its message we have been fighting among us.  Internal disputes between Islamic groups in recent times have increased dramatically. Recent killing in a Mosque in Beruwala testified this.

Priorities of Muslim community locally and internationally change countries to countries, and age to age in some of our obligations according to the general philosophy of Islamic law. Priorities of Muslim minorities who live under Non-Muslim political authority may slightly differ from that of Muslim community in Islamic countries. Of course, Muslim Ummah is an international community that shares same identical ideals wherever Muslims live.  Islamic fundamentals and theological dogmas are universal and Islamic teachings should be strictly followed any where Muslims live. Yet minority Muslim community have extra-moral and religious responsibilities towards Non Muslim brothers in their countries.  Today, one third of global Muslim community lives as a minority all over the world and the priority of these Muslim minorities should be that of reaching out to non-Muslim communities with the compassionate message of Islam.

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