I am a Sri Lankan Muslim Pragmatist
Posted on May 7th, 2014

Bisthan Batcha

May 2014

Many articles and papers have been written over the past year or so by various Commentators attempting to offer an analysis of the sudden emergence of stridently anti-Muslim Groups in Sri Lanka. The conceptual framework which underlies most of these analyses is based on the postulate that the Cause of the ‘Muslim Problems’ is the emergence of these Groups. This amounts to a convenient externalization of the solution to the Muslim problem, which simply put would then be to ‘Ban the Racist Buddhist Groups’. But silencing the voice of Racist Groups through legal procedures does not mean that the various allegations made by such groups against the Muslim Community have been proved to be null and void. If these allegations are not addressed effectively, they will continue to fester, to grow in intensity and extent and will almost certainly surface again in a far more violent form some time in the future.

 
I am of the view that, far from being the Cause of the Muslim Problems, the emergence of anti-Muslim Groups is actually a Symptom (or Effect) of the Problem. To identify the possible Causes of the Muslim Problems, the minority Muslim Community must start looking within themselves, conduct an ‘Introspective Analysis’ of their Islamic Way-of-Living in the context of a Non-Muslim Majority Nation.
 
The big question then is : Did the Muslim Community, by their words & deeds, create the space necessary for the emergence of the various anti-Muslim Groups over the past few years ? For instance, it is alleged by the anti-Muslim Groups that Muslim Extremists are rapidly gaining a foot-hold in Sri Lanka. Who is responsible for the creation of this perception among the Non-Muslims ? Could the fact that, of the 4 major Religious Groups in Sri Lanka, intra-religious violence has erupted ONLY within the Muslim Community have contributed towards the shaping of this particular view-point ? Have there been any ‘Buddhist versus Buddhist’, ‘Christian versus Christian’ or ‘Hindu versus Hindu’ violence of a similar intensity during the past 30 ” 40 years ?  Some Muslims are disdainful of such perceptions, but one should bear in mind that Perceptions are more important than Reality in moulding public opinion.
 
We are Sri Lankan Muslims ” a unique ethnic group found only on this Island. Our lives and life-styles are inextricably linked to that of the other 90% of Sri Lankans. We cannot expect to live in harmony with other Communities if we choose to build ‘walls’ around our Community. Over the centuries we have evolved a somewhat liberal outlook, but have not strayed away from the basic tenets of Islam. Our life-styles have emerged as being compatible with the more secular lifestyles of Muslim Countries such as Turkey and Malaysia / Indonesia rather than that of the rigid, spiritual life-style of Saudi Arabia. Let us  try to keep it that way. Let us ensure that our way of living, while adhering broadly to the rules of Islam,  empowers our young men and especially our young women to face the future with confidence and courage. We owe them that much.
 
We should  therefore  perceive the recent upsurge in anti-Muslim rhetoric as a timely warning –  a wake-up call – that everything is not quite hunky-dory with regard to our standing among the other ethnic groups ” specifically the majority Buddhists. We have to ask ourselves as to what exactly it is about our way of living that is causing concern, apprehension, anger and even fear among our Buddhist brothers and sisters. We have to accept the fact that we may not like the answers to such questions, but should not shy away from asking such questions for this reason.
 
Some of the key issues that have emerged to date as causing great concern to the Non-Muslim Community are the Halal issue, the Black Abhaya issue, the External Loudspeaker issue, the Mosque-building issue and the Population issue. The only way to disperse effectively the heat generated by each of  these issues is to destroy the embers that kindle the fires that give such issues life. Simply dousing the flames will not ensure that the embers are extirpated.
 
In their approach towards the resolution of the Muslim Issues, the  Muslim Community has to adopt a strategy of ‘Proactive Empathy’ by taking the steps necessary to identify, negate and neutralize the concerns of the Buddhists before it becomes a serious issue like the Halaal problem. We need to voluntarily examine the issues critically and dispassionately and ask ourselves such questions as “Why are we continuing with a ritual that causes the Non-Muslims to curse our religion 5 times a day ?” (in the case of the External Loudspeaker issue). With regard to the Population issue, I have been able to allay the atavistic fears of many Buddhists that they will be reduced to a minority in Sri Lanka by the Muslims, using a simple non-mathematical explanation of census population data trends.
 
Addressing the above and other related issues voluntarily will only help our Community to be perceived as being sensitive to the concerns and apprehensions of the Majority Community and importantly, are willing to Walk-the-Talk. This will moreover empower the non-racist members of the Buddhist Community to speak-up on behalf of the Muslims if required.
 
The implementation of the proposed strategy of ‘Proactive Empathy’ requires persons with strong leadership skills and who are ready, willing  and able to think out-of-the-box. We need a Leadership,  consisting not of Politicians or of the Ulemas, but of respected Members of Muslim Civil Society who are capable of winning the trust of the Ummah because of their standing in the Community. We need a Leadership that can persuade the Ummah to look not just at the ‘dots’, but rather at the Big Picture obtained by connecting the dots.
 
Are the Muslims of Sri Lanka able to put aside their differences and to focus on the urgent need to introduce measures to ensure the physical and mental well-being of the members of their Community in the years ahead ?  Are the Muslims able to empathize with their Buddhist Brothers and Sisters to the extent that they of their own volition change patterns of their behavior which cause concern and apprehension to the Majority Community ? Or do the Muslims feel that they alone are entitled to the right of being angry and offended ? We should bear in mind at all times that the Tolerance of the Buddhists should not be misconstrued as Acquiescence on their part.
 

The Less-tolerant among us are going to resist any move on the part of the more secular Muslims to address the concerns of the Majority Community Buddhists. However, we should bear in mind that the future of our children and their children depends on what we do now to ensure that the members of our Community can continue to live in our Motherland with self-respect and dignity without fear of physical harm or mental trauma by virtue of being followers of Islam. And we must do it now.

19 Responses to “I am a Sri Lankan Muslim Pragmatist”

  1. Lorenzo Says:

    BB seems to be a reasonable man BUT this is NOT true.

    “With regard to the Population issue, I have been able to allay the atavistic fears of many Buddhists that they will be reduced to a minority in Sri Lanka by the Muslims, using a simple non-mathematical explanation of census population data trends.”

    I have PROVEN Muslims will be the majority in SL UNLESS something is done to STOP their population growth.

    In 1981 Muslims were – 7%
    In 2012 Muslims were – 9.2%
    Increase – 2.2%
    Increase percentage – 2.2% / 7% = 31% !!! MASSIVE!!

    If this damned increase continues Muslim percentage will be

    2042 – 12%
    2072 – 16%
    2102 – 21%
    2132 – 27%
    2162 – 36%
    2192 – 47%
    2222 – 62%

    We CANNOT allow this to happen. SL must NOT become a Muslim majority country. EVERY option is on the table to STOP this happening. If Muslims want peace, REDUCE your population growth SIGNIFICANTLY so that Muslim percentage remains at 9.2%.

  2. Nanda Says:

    “Our life-styles have emerged as being compatible with the more secular lifestyles of Muslim Countries such as Turkey and Malaysia / Indonesia rather than that of the rigid, spiritual life-style of Saudi Arabia.”

    Very true. But you must have mentioned the dreaded Gonibilla dress too !

    Until lately we Sinhalese have never seen a Gonibilla dress. Where did it come from ?

    Dear Batcha,

    In our ancestral home my grandfather had a Muslim friend named “Batcha” visiting from India few ties a year to do some medical treatment for patients. He was a Ayurveda doctor. They used to live together under one roof.
    Is it possible now ?
    Why need of a Gonibilla dress which is a completely foreign borrowed nonsense ?

    Similar to 13A , Muslims now cannot reverse it because middle east syndrome has created an economy making some Muslims rich and creating a livelihood for a lot of them. without this money, they cannot enjoy

  3. Nanda Says:

    “The Less-tolerant among us are going to resist any move on the part of the more secular Muslims to address the concerns of the Majority Community Buddhists. However, we should bear in mind that the future of our children and their children depends on what we do now to ensure that the members of our Community can continue to live in our Motherland with self-respect and dignity without fear of physical harm or mental trauma by virtue of being followers of Islam. And we must do it now.”

    A golden statement ! Ban the stupid black GONIBILLA dress NOW without the government involvement. Do it discussing among your community.

  4. Mr. Bernard Wijeyasingha Says:

    Sri Lanka should take a lesson from another Buddhist nation. A nation known across the world for its high civilization, first world standards and the 3rd largest economy in the world. I am writing of Japan where Zen Buddhism from India blossomed in Japan and then influenced the Western world. Her Shinto faith along with the Samurai code combined with Buddhism has created a sublime culture admired the world over. This is how Japan handles Islam: The following is dated from the year 2000:

    Did you know this about Japan..

    Have you ever read in the newspaper that a political leader or a Prime Minister from an Islam Nation has visited Japan?

    Have you ever come across news that the King of Iran or a Saudi Arabia prince has visited Japan?

    ‘Japan, a Country keeping Islam at bay. Japan has put strict restrictions on Islam and all Muslims.
    The reasons are:

    a) ‘Japan is the only Nation that does not give Citizenship to Muslims.

    b) In Japan permanent residency is not given to Muslims.

    c) There is a strong ban on the propagation of Islam in Japan.

    d) In the University of Japan, Arabic or any Islamic language is not taught.

    e) One cannot import the Koran published in Arabic language.

    f) According to data published by Japanese government, it has given temporary residency to only 2 lakhs
    Muslims, who need to follow the Japanese Law of the Land. These Muslims should speak Japanese
    and carry their religious rituals in their homes.

    g) Japan is the only Country in the World that has a negligible number of embassies of Islamic Countries.

    h) Japanese people are not attracted to Islam at all.

    i) Muslims residing in Japan are the employees of foreign companies.

    j) Even today visas are not granted to Muslim doctors, engineers or managers sent by foreign companies.

    k) In the majority of companies, it is stated in their regulations that no Muslims should apply for a job.

    l) The Japanese government is of the opinion that Muslims are fundamentalist and even in the era of globalization, they are not willing to change their Muslim laws.

    m) Muslims cannot even think about getting a rented house in Japan.

    n) If anyone comes to know that his neighbor is a Muslim then the whole neighborhood stays alert.

    o) No one can start an Islamic cell or Arabic Madrasa in Japan.

    p) There is no personal (Sharia) law in Japan.

    q) If a Japanese woman marries a Muslim then she is considered an outcast forever.

    r) According to Mr. Komico Yagi (Head of Department, Tokyo University ) There is a mind frame in Japan
    that Islam is a very narrow minded religion and one should stay away from it.

    s) Freelance journalist Mohammed Juber toured many Islamic Countries after 9/11 including Japan . He found
    that the Japanese were confident that extremists could do harm

    Japan is a nation of 125 million people. It has hardly any natural resources and yet she has the 3rd largest economy in the world Her culture is emulated by the West since the 19th century. If Japan can do this without any UN criticism then why can’t Sri Lanka the oldest Buddhist nation in the world?

  5. Lorenzo Says:

    BW,

    AND Japan imports all OIL from Iran and Saudi. Very bold move by Japan a great country for the Japanese.

    SL has to copy Japan.

  6. Vijendra Says:

    BB has stated one thing right. Muslims in SL must change to win the confidence of the majority non-muslims. However, this is much more easily said than done.

    Look at the history of SL. How did the muslims come to SL? They came as traders, enjoyed the hospitality of Sri Lankans and stayed back. Have the muslims done anything to win the confidence of the non-muslim majority. I am not aware. Were there any patriotic muslims in SL? I do not know of any. The only impression the muslims have given to others is that they want to be different from the rest, wear different, think different and have many wives to reproduce like rats to increase the muslim population.

    Look at the recent obvious transformations in the muslim community. The ulemas, mullas and the wahabis have demanded that all muslim women wear black so that they could show the others that they are a group different and be identified easily. Recently they have also dropped the normal clothes they were wearing and started to wear the non-Sri Lankan, Medieval time clothes like burkas, niqabs and other head and body cover, which is like what is worn in Saudi Arabia and the rest of the still uncivilized world. It is obvious that they identify themselves with these countries more than with SL where they are citizens.

    These clothes, though not suitable for a country like SL, are worn only as a means to self-identify themselves as muslims, a group distinct and different from other Sri Lankans. This itself leads to self-isolation and is anti-social behavior.
    So, if the muslims want to live in peace with the non-muslim majority, there is a lot that not only needs to be done but also should be visibly appearing to be doing to others.

    In my opinion, first and foremost, they must stop their self-isolation and start integrating with the rest. Muslims must remember that they are not only a minority, but that they are a parasitic group that planted themselves in SL, a few at a time, and living in SL without contributing anything by way of a patriotic contribution or behavior over the years for the betterment of SL.

    Just for example, look at the recent war SL fought against the LTTE terrorists. How many muslims died trying to save the country from the LTTE menace? Can anyone talk of a contribution from the muslims? I do not think so.

    So, if muslims are really serious in their wish to be a community recognized as being a socially acceptable group of good standing citizens, they should start by integrating themselves into the SL society and stop isolating themselves from the society with obvious and subtle barriers. Remember you depend on the majority non-muslim population for your livelihood in SL!

  7. Ananda-USA Says:

    Vijendra,

    You make a good point.

    In fact, the French have passed laws that PROHIBIT covering one’s face as the Muslims do, not only in the courts, but also everywhere in public.

    By these laws, the French have asserted that “When in France …you must do as the French do” .

    Now, Muslims must go about in public, attend schools, go to work, etc without the Muslim headgear and all-enveloping dresses.

  8. Lorenzo Says:

    “How many muslims died trying to save the country from the LTTE menace? Can anyone talk of a contribution from the muslims? I do not think so.”

    I DISAGREE with this. We must speak the truth no matter what.

    A number of Muslims died for SL in the war.

    1. Muthalif (HEAD of DMI – Special Ops at one point)
    2. Laphir (HEAD of SF-1 at one point. PVV – HIGHEST award of honor)
    3. Nazim (HEAD of DPU at one point)

    And many more. The above 3 are some of the MOST VALUEABLE we EVER had. MANY DPU/LRRP operatives were Muslims from Jaffna because of their northern ACCENT. Their brave acts will NEVER come out (HOPEFULLY).

    In 1990 we armed Muslim groups to fight LTTE. SOME did fight but others ran awy with the FREE AK-47 we gave them.

  9. Nanda Says:

    “How many muslims died trying to save the country from the LTTE menace? Can anyone talk of a contribution from the muslims? I do not think so.”

    – WRONG ! many very important roles played by Muslim members of SDF.

  10. Ancient Sinhalaya Says:

    Mossies will say whatever they feel like to hoodwink the Sinhalese, while doing everything
    to propagate the menace. That’s what these crafty xxxx doing everywhere in the world.
    Nigeria, syria, afganisthan, pakisthan, iraq etc. etc always on the news for not good reasons.
    This religion teaches the followers to kill non-believers. So undermine non-believers is more than
    alright. Nobody else with an iota of brain will see this is madness. But not these crafty mossies.
    You are let in to somebody else’s country knowing you have to kill or whatever to destroy those
    very people let you living in their country. Make any sense? Where is your conscience? No they never heard
    that word.
    I read yesterday rishad saying he told lies to get Wilpaththu land for mossies claiming they been
    living there for 100s of years. The reason? It is my voter base. So I have to get land for them.
    Later on I saw the same xxx sueing BBS for 3 milllion dollars of damage for defamation of his name.
    Couldn’t believe my eyes. He is admitting it one article and in another denying it and claiming damages.
    Typical mossie xxx.
    Our issue is stop multiplying. We’ve had enough of you xxxx. Or go back to where you came from and
    breed like hell. We don’t care. But SL is our country. Don’t breed here!!!
    You will breed and breed and start killing each other. That is what you do. Everywhere you go
    you create hell by breeding too much.

  11. Lorenzo Says:

    Mossies, Don’t breed here!!!

    I agree. That is the biggest problem of these people. Uncontrolled breeding like stone age people.

  12. AnuD Says:

    At least there is one muslim who tries to understand the problem from the Sinhala buddhist side. Most muslims who write to different web sites are very dishonest, extremely selfish and they talk for themselves. they want to win at the expense of others. that is what is they are doing all over the world and most societies are against it.

  13. SA Kumar Says:

    Thank god We Tamil are out now !
    We can live in NP happy forever !

  14. jayasiri Says:

    Some idiot just BLOCKED my writing. NO PLOITICAL leader ever tried to SOLVE issues re: illegals from India & Muslim countries coming to a samll country like ours. THEY NEVER go back once they arrive, and continue to SAP the lives of other communities.

    Call this RACIST, But I do not agree. beacuse BRITAIN said in the past few years, THAT THEY cto annot allow so many immgrants CLAIM RESIDENT status & citizenship.. because IF they alllow this BRITAIN will be a colony without ENGLISH people.

    Oother countries do have laws to STOP this type immigration & WE SHOULD LEARN from them. As some of writers to lankaweb POINTED out JAPAN is a fine example. We should have laws similar to Japan & yet trade with USA & EUROPE as if our internal problems are NONE of their issue. WE ARE A TRADING NATION, and thats all that matters.

    OFCOURSE politicians NEVER touch these issues, beacsue the VOTES of , MUSLIM or TAMIL count. We will argue here in this forum BUT will anyone ever take action, Not in our lifetime…….Keep Sri Lanka Sinhalese Buddhist. BUT allow other immgrants ONLY on quota basis…………J

  15. Mr. Bernard Wijeyasingha Says:

    Lorenzo: Thank you. Sri Lanka may not be able to adopt everything that Japan has regarding Muslims but at least the most important issues such as conversion, teaching Islam, and deporting those Muslims who are in Sri Lanka illegally. I agree with Bisthan Batha that if something is not done to arrest the Muslim take over of Sri Lanka then down the road the nationalist back lash against Islam will be terrible.

    That is why I am constantly pushing for a Buddhist Theocracy with Democratic values for Sri Lanka. The Buddhist Sanga should be given the age old power they retained before the arrival of the Europeans. For eons Sri Lanka flourished under Buddhist patronage. It suffered the most under Western and alien doctrines. The reason why Islam has grown by 300% is because of these beliefs.

    The concept of a free Democracy, pluralistic ideations and a Secular society has collapsed from the very grounds they were born, Europe. Europe has a Muslim population where Islam is the fastest growing faith in that Christian continent. Great Britain is now home to one thousand five hundred Mosques, and her immigrants are converting to Islam. Islam is the fastest growing faith in Great Britain.

    What I do not agree with Bisthan Batha is that Malaysia and Indonesia do not allow others to convert Muslims to other faiths. He does not mention that Hindu Tamils in Malaysia live a life of a second hand citizen. Indonesia and Malaysia are now adopting the theocratic systems prevalent in 52 odd Muslim nations.

    One of the main reasons for Indonesia’s “tolerance” is that she is a collection of islands. her geography allows tolerance (which is now eroding). That is why Bali an island surrounded by ocean remains Hindu. Same can be said of her Buddhist and Christian populations. Islands surrounded by ocean allows for the degree of tolerance Indonesia has had…till now. Sri Lanka is not a collection of islands but one single island and cannot afford the rapid growth of Abrahamic faiths like Christianity and Islam to go unchecked.

  16. Mr. Bernard Wijeyasingha Says:

    Lorenzo: One more thing. You addressed that in spite of these regulations Japan imports her oil from the Middle East. That is a very pertinent point. Japan is a economic power house and a strong ally of the US. To what degree the US plays in keeping Middle Eastern oil flowing to Japan is a question.

    Sri Lanka does not have the US BUT she does have Russia. Russia is the world’s largest producer of oil and Sri Lanka can wean herself from “Muslim oil” and buy Russian oil instead. The more independent Sri Lanka is of the Middle East the greater the chance for her to make up her own decisions regarding the spread of Islam or Christianity within her society.

  17. SA Kumar Says:

    Muslim Bro / sis

    Please settle in EP & live happy for ever.

    United Provincial Council of Sri Lanka !!!
    Lasting solution fully Implement 13A & 6A .

  18. Amarasiri Says:

    Lanka, the Land of the native Vedda, was populated illegally by the Foreigners.

    The Native Vedda walked when the sea levels were low, as low as 120 meters, 25,000 years ago, and lank is their land.

    Everybody ELSE ia foreigner, a Paradeshi, a Para, who came from south India and India. So, all the Para should leave for India, and levee Lanka and Native Vedda .

  19. R.M.W Says:

    There is one and only one policy to follow: One child per family should be made a law. For at the rate the advents of religion of peace are breeding using their production machines: soon is no land no water and soon there would no clean air to breath.
    A strict policy must be affected, before the expected conflict blossoms an implode the nation.
    And the intelligent Muslims too will also agree: if to avoid conflicts and blood baths of the future.
    After all today’s Buddhist are not as the tolerant types who were living along the Silk Road. There is no more Buddhist along the Silk Road anymore. A heavy pricy to play for tolerance!
    Indeed whereas once there was 100% Buddhist along the Silk Road now there is 0% as they had been massacred by the adherents of the religion of peace and dispatched them to hell!
    Buddhist of Sri Lanka did three vitally correct things in the past, in order to maintain their superior life, which has not been duplicated anywhere else.
    a.) They held a congress around 330 B.C and put the Pali script in writing so as to prevent corruptions appearing in it.
    b.)They looked after their ecology with loving kindness.
    C.) They built a system of Tanks to conserve the water.
    Strange thing is how did Buddha know 2600 years ago that his knowledge will be preserved in this small island long before it was colonized by the Sinhalese, whereas in India itself Buddhism almost vanished!
    Anuradhapura civilization was the greatest culture known to man, why. There was food, water, tolerance to do their thing and believe what one wishes to believe. Indeed all other civilization had slaves working for them even including the Roman one, but Anuradhapura civilization was the exception.
    Jaffna Tamils had lost out naturally they will never get the peal of the Indian Ocean now. Muslims may think that through procreation they can they can grab this country, In which case there are in for big fact surprise!

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