MUSLIM MADRASAS – implications for Sri Lanka
Posted on May 10th, 2019

Dr. Daya Hewapathirane Advisor to the President of Sri Lanka March 2009

The following is an article I wrote ten years ago, in March 2009, and published in the Lankaweb in the same year, warning the then government to take necessary action immediately on the establishment of Muslim Madrasas, so that possible problems in the future, can be avoided. I also presented this matter as one of my observations’ in a  Cabinet Memorandum in 2009 regarding the NGO Al Haj Adul Jawad Alim Valiyullah Trust. The highly harmful consequences of inaction in this regard, on the part of the then government, is well evident today.   

MUSLIM MADRASAS – implications for Sri Lanka

The recent trend in Sri Lanka has been the establishment of Muslim Madrasas in various names – a major Madrasas that has been proposed to be established is in the form of an  NGO  called Al Haj Adul Jawad Alim Valiyullah Trust.

Muslim Madrasas in several countries have been identified today, to be education and training centres of Muslim fundamentalism, extremism and violence, especially those in Muslim dominated countries such as Pakistan, Afghanistan and Iran. Pakistan alone has more than 13,000 mandasas of which many are said to be promoting Muslim fundamentalism and extremism.  It is noteworthy that Madrasas have been banned in several non-Muslim countries. It is widely reported that some Taliban and Al Qaeda leaders have obtained radical political views at Madrasas.

Some allege that Madrasas provide Islamic extremism and militancy and are a recruiting ground for terrorism. Some Mandasa are well recorded to be promoting a militant form of Islam and teach and train Muslim students to fight non-believers and stand against the moral standards of the western society. Some who have investigated the functioning of certain Madrasas  say that they are wholly concerned with teaching violence. The suicide bombers involved in the July 2005 London terror attack are said to have spent time in Pakistani Madrasas.

Details of the curriculum and training activities of Muslim Madrasas, already started in Sri Lanka and especially of those proposed to be established in Sri Lanka should necessarily be known in full in order to avoid possible socio-religious problems in the future.  This trend should receive cautious attention by all Sri Lankans, including members of the Muslim community, some of whom may not be fully aware of this trend and more, about the possible negative impacts of this trend. 

It is necessary that we take necessary action to avoid possible problems in the future that can have serious direct and indirect negative social-religious-political implications for the nation as a whole. It is important that authorities, especially religious leaders in our country take serious note of this trend. There need to be an open dialogue and polite interaction between the Muslim leaders and other religious communities in the country, in order to have an in-depth understanding of the specific mission and specific objectives of establishing Madrasas in this country.   

In some countries such as India, Pakistan, Afganistan and Bangladesh, Muslims are among the most deprived communities in terms of education and therefore establishment of certain type of Madrasas for basic educational purposes has become necessary and most people find them to be affordable as compared to other educational institutions in these countries. This is definitely not the case with Sri Lanka where there is no Muslim educational deprivation or backwardness as far as the Muslims are concerned. In fact, our school system is open to all Muslims if they wish to attend them, and there are many Muslim students attending regular schools in Sri Lanka. Also, there are exclusively Muslim national schools in Sri Lanka and importantly, most international schools in the country are owned and operated by Muslims where Muslim students predominate.

Madrasas as educational institutions are said to offer instructions in Islamic subjects including but not limited to the Quoran. It also includes Jurisprudence or “figh” and Muslim law or Sharia Law and the teaching and practice of “sufi” which encompasses Islamic mysticism. These teachings and practices should be investigated and known in sufficient detail in order to understand their impact on social harmony and national unity and solidarity in Sri Lanka.

If Muslim Sharia law is given official recognition by means of registering Madrasas as NGOs, it can result in serious legal problems in the future. There can be only one law in our country and that is a secular law which is applicable to all citizens irrespective of their ethnicity or religious affiliations. There is no need to introduce any other law, especially religious law such as Muslim Sharia Law, and cause problems in our country. 

It is known that Muslim Madrasas work in collaboration with other foreign Muslim organizations and Madrasas in providing vocational training for Muslim youth. This again should be of concern to Sri Lanka.    

In the light of the increased interest in the country for consolidation of national unity, divisive tendencies of any nature should not be encouraged under any circumstances.  With our massive success in containing LTTE terrorism and our determined efforts to bring the various communities together as One Nation, it is important that divisive tendencies in our society be eliminated. This is especially necessary in the light of a national resurgence that is clearly noticeable in the country at the present time and increased interest in fully restoring democratic principles of social organization. It is  important that we try to prevent polarization of our communities by all means available. 

Dr. Daya Hewapathirane

Advisor to the President of Sri Lanka

March 2009

One Response to “MUSLIM MADRASAS – implications for Sri Lanka”

  1. Dilrook Says:

    Thank you Daya.

    As happens always our presidents don’t act on advice and intel endangering the lives of people.

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