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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.
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Ramadan: A time for introspection

RAMADAN RELATED

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The month of fasting is a place of exile from illusion and fashion and a pilgrimage deep into one’s self.

By Tariq Ramadan

The month of Ramadan is at hand and with it, Muslims will be entering into one of the finest and most beautiful schools of life. The fasting month is a school of faith, spirituality, awareness, giving, solidarity, justice, dignity and unity. Nothing less. It is the month when introspection among Muslims should be deepest; the month of their greatest contribution to humanity. The month of Ramadan is the world’s most widespread fast and yet its teachings are minimised, neglected and even betrayed (through literal application of rules that overlooks their ultimate objective).

 

Small wonder then that we should return to the subject and as the fasting month returns each year, we too must repeat, rehearse and deepen further our understanding of what Ramadan teaches us, of this school of divine nearness, of humanity and dignity. The fast is each individual’s quest for the divine; it asks of each of us to look beyond self. Ramadan is, in its essence, a month of humanist spirituality.

 

During the fasting days, we are called upon to abstain from eating, drinking and responding to our instincts, to help us turn inward, to our heart and the meaning of our lives. To fast means to experience sincerity, to observe our shortcomings, contradictions and failings; no longer to attempt to hide or to lie and instead to focus our efforts on the search for ourselves and for the meaning and priorities of our lives. Beyond food, fasting requires us to examine ourselves, to recognise our limits humbly and to reform ourselves ambitiously. It is a month of renewal, of critically summing up our lives, our needs, our forgetfulness and our hopes. We must take time for ourselves, to look after ourselves, to meditate, to contemplate, simply to reflect and to love.


Seen in this light, the month of Ramadan is the best possible expression of anti-consumerism: To be and not to have, to free ourselves of the dependencies that our consumption-based societies not only stimulate but magnify. In calling upon us to master our instincts, the fast calls into question the modern notion of freedom. What does it mean to be free? How are we to find our way to a deeper freedom and move beyond what we crave? The true fast is at odds with appearances.


The tradition of fasting was prescribed, the Quran tells us, for all religious traditions before Islam. It is a practice we share with all spiritualities and religions and as such it bears the mark of the human family, the human fraternity. To fast is to participate in the history of these religions, a history that possesses a meaning that has its own demands upon us and that is shaped by destinies and by ultimate goals. A unity of spiritual descent, of transcending everything that is strictly human, that unites all belief systems, all faiths. Islam places it in the meaning of tawhid, the recognised and acknowledged ‘Oneness of God’ that opens onto human diversity by virtue of how it is experienced and lived. The same holds true among Muslims. The time frame and the rhythm of those who fast are similar; the cultures of fast ending, of meals and of the night are diverse. In other words, there is unity in meaning, diversity in practice. The month of Ramadan carries with it this fundamental teaching and reminds Muslims, whether Sunni or Shiite, irrespective of which school they follow, that they share the same religion and that they must learn to know — and to respect — one another.


The coming month is one of dignity, for ‘Revelation’ reminds us that a human being is a creature of nobility and dignity. “We have bestowed dignity of the children of Adam [all humankind]”. Only for them, in full conscience, is fasting prescribed; only they are called upon to rise to its lofty goal. Human beings must undertake the fast in a spirit of seeking nearness to the unique; in a spirit of equality and nobility among their fellows, women and men alike, and in solidarity with the downtrodden. The core of life thus rediscovered is this: To return to our hearts, to reform ourselves in the light of what is essential and to celebrate life in solidarity; to experience deprivation as desired; to reject poverty as imposed and degrading. Our task is one of self-mastery; we must lift ourselves up, sever our ties, become free and independent, above superficial needs, and concern ourselves with the true, down-to-earth needs of the poor and the needy. The month of Ramadan is thus a place of exile from illusion and fashion and a pilgrimage deep into one’s self, into meaning, into others. To be free of ourselves and at the same time to serve all those imprisoned by poverty, injustice or ignorance.


Muslims spend 30 days in the company of this month of light. If only they could open even wider their eyes, their hearts and their being to receive the light and offer it in the form of the greatest gift of their spiritual tradition to their sisters and brothers. They are called to exercise self-control and to give, to meditate and to weep, to pray and to love. Truly to fast is to pray; to pray is to love.


Tariq Ramadan is professor of Contemporary Islamic Studies in the Faculty of Oriental Studies at Oxford University and a visiting professor at the Faculty of Islamic Studies in Qatar. He is the author of Islam and the Arab Awakening.


Courtesy: Gulf News

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