Muslim Extremism and Building Mosques in Sri Lanka
Posted on December 30th, 2012
Dear Aniz Moulana,
ƒÆ’-¡ I noticed your remarks with regards to communal relationship in Sri Lanka. I do agree that recent times our people have built mosques in very nook and corner of Sri Lanka without properly thinking about the social, communal and environmental implications of such buildings. Of course building mosques is a rewarding act in Islam if there is a need for it, and yet, what has really happened is totally different: it has become a competition between some Islamic groups to compete in building mosques. With pitiful dogmatic differences in Islamic legal discourses some extremist groups broke away from the mainstream Muslim community in Sri Lanka and I do not need tell you about them. As you are one of our community you may have come to know them.ƒÆ’-¡
ƒÆ’-¡ With oil money pouring in from Saudi Arabia these people have built mosques in very corner of the Muslim areas, sometimes without any demanding need for such mosques. It is money that speaks not Islamic ethics or Islamic mode of conduct. Who is responsible for tarnishing the good name of Islam and Muslims in this island?ƒÆ’-¡ I know well that some of these mosques have rarely been used for prayers; some of them have not been used at all. For instance, some Takiyyaz never have been used for prayers five times a day.
ƒÆ’-¡ We live in a non-Muslim country. Why do not we have a sense of humour and respect for others? We behave with a mentality of being a majority even though we are the second minority in Sri Lanka without any geopolitical influence or without any influence at all. I agree that the president rightly said that we have more than two mosques in one street within a short distance. Who is responsible for a such competition in mosque building without any need for such mosques? Bring the culprit into book. Is it the Saudi government that is responsible for this mess or our so called self-proclaimed Islamic groups? Will the Saudi Arabian government come to our support in a time of danger for us in Sri Lanka? I honestly think that some of these radicals among us need to learn how to live in non-Muslim country. I think ƒÆ’-¡ that some of these anti-Muslim trends have increased in Sri Lanka because of our failure to live in accordance with Islamic teachings of co-existence and communal harmonyƒÆ’-¡
ƒÆ’-¡ I think that the ƒÆ’-¡ behaviour of some of these radical groups have given a bad name to Islam and Muslims in Sri Lanka. We did not have any problems in the past in building mosques when the need and demand arose but now because of the stupidity of some of our brothers, the entire Muslim community has to suffer. I assume that Sri Lanka might put limits in the foreseeable future on building mosques or curtail building mosques in some areas. I think we should blame ourselves for our failure to understand the sensitive religious matters ofƒÆ’-¡ otherƒÆ’-¡ communities;ƒÆ’-¡ some of us have been jolly riding with the freedom and respect that we have had in the past in Sri Lanka and consequently some elements among the majority people have waken up to realise this growing trend among Muslims.
ƒÆ’-¡ I do not deny the fact that there has been some anti-minority elements among Sinhalese people since the time of Anatharika Darmapala. Yet, in recent times we have helped these extreme people to build up their arguments. Our behaviours and communal interactions have been at a low ebb. We have failed to treat them well in all social occasions and we have failed to give them this beautiful message of Islam or make them understand it so that at least they would be sympathisers of the Muslim community; I could write volumes on this but this forum does not give the leverage to do that here.
ƒÆ’-¡ Of course, we should not be prey to this extreme groups rather we should reevaluate our social contact with the Sinhalese community once again. We should once again rethink about behaviours towards humanity in Sri Lanka and educate our masses through Friday sermons and bayans on this issue. Our religious and political leaders have a moral and religious duty to act quickly in this situation. I hope and pray that we would inshallah find some viable means to address this problem at all levels.
ƒÆ’-¡ Dr Rifai