Tuesday, 28 May 2013

Killing with kindness: Burma's religious battleground - and the monks at the heart of it Six years ago, the world cheered the monks behind Burma’s Saffron Revolution. Now, a horrific new eruption of religious slaughter is being blamed on a ‘Buddhist Bin Laden’. So what happened to the mantra of non-violence?

Less than six years ago, the West watched amazed and awed as hundreds of thousands of Burmese
Buddhist monks seized the city streets in defiance of the military junta, walking through the monsoon rain in their robes, chanting the sutra of loving kindness. Undercover video-journalists filmed it all, and when the riot police and the army went in to club and shoot the monks, the same brave cameramen recorded every blow and every drop of sanctified blood that was spilt.
For Westerners sympathetic to Buddhism such as myself, there was an extra reason to be impressed, even gratified, by the monks' courage. Other religions might carry out Crusades and holy wars, glorify murderous martyrdom, debate which wars were good and which less good, call down blessings on soldiers going into battle. This, by contrast, was the religion of the Dalai Lama, who said, with reference to the Chinese who had invaded his homeland, "Your enemy can be your best teacher"; the religion whose first precept was not to kill anything; whose monks had tried to bring peace in Vietnam. The religion whose methods for calming the mind and cultivating equanimity have been refined over millennia, and which, on that account, has gained tens of thousands of adherents in the West. I reported the monks' revolt for this newspaper from southern Burma. An aged monk there gave me a string of beads which I still wear.
Less than six years later, it's hard to recapture the mood of those days. It's hard to recapture one's own lost innocence. Today, the undercover video-journalists in Burma are working for the world's Islamic media, and the footage that finds its way on to YouTube is more hideous and disturbing than anything filmed in 2007: murdered babies, blackened corpses laid out neatly on the ground, a terrified figure fleeing then clobbered and felled by a fierce blow, surrounded by men baying with bloodlust, doused in petrol and set alight; still twitching and squirming as he dies.
This is the legacy of the eruptions of the past year: of June and October in Arakan, in the far west, then in March in Meiktila, in the centre of the country, repeated during the following weeks in towns and villages further south. No one knows whether this fire has burnt out or whether there is more to come. As I write, Burma's president, Thein Sein, a Buddhist like more than 90 per cent of his countrymen, is reported telling the nation that the Muslim minority must be protected. Yet there is no confidence that this will happen. While I was in Rangoon in the far south of the country last month, a fire broke out in a madrassa in the city centre, killing 13 boys. The authorities insisted it was caused by an exploding transformer, and arrested Muslims at the scene. Spokesmen for Muslims in the city who I spoke to insisted it was arson. No one can be sure that these events have run their course.
Nor is this some eruption of racial fury from which the Buddhist monks can stand piously apart. On the contrary, they are widely seen as bearing responsibility for the carnage. Some are even accused of taking part in the mayhem.
One of the most revered Buddhist teachers in the country, Sitagu Sayadaw, wrote in Burma's most widely read newspapers that he "deeply denounced these racial… conflicts without exceptions… Lord Buddha teaches non-violence." The nation's 500,000 monks, he went on, "should deploy the weapon of loving-kindness… to dismantle the ugly unrest". But while this is a tone we might expect to hear from a Buddhist master – even if the comparison of loving-kindness to a weapon was unfortunate – his message was drowned out by the rants of younger, strident teachers with very different ideas in mind.
The monk who has recently become internationally famous thanks to his grotesque moniker of "the Buddhist Bin Laden" is tiny, no more than 5ft tall, delicately made, with prim cupid's bow lips in his pale and unmarked face. His single name is Wirathu. I meet him in his leafy monastery in the south of Mandalay, a monastery, the New Ma Soe Yein, previously of inspirational importance during the Saffron Revolution – the 2007 anti-government protests. A turbulent, frame-shaking, game-changing place, despite its peace and tranquillity.
We sit in the sunshine and I ask him the obvious questions. Wirathu tells me he does not condone violence against Muslims, let alone advocate it. What he does advocate is shunning them: encouraging Buddhist shops and taxis and other businesses to identify themselves as Buddhist, and encouraging the Buddhist public to patronise those businesses and not those belonging to the other community.
That is a long way from dousing individuals in petrol and watching them die. But it is not totally unconnected. Both actions – the passive shunning, the active slaughter – can be placed on a spectrum of responses to the message: that community is alien, and it menaces your safety and prosperity and the very future of your race and your religion.
"Our goal is a strategic one," Wirathu tells me. "We represent Burma's 135 ethnic groups. We are urging members of those ethnic groups not to follow the Muslim religion and not to sell anything to Muslims, and that includes paddy fields and houses. The reason is that we have to protect our religion. If we trade with the Muslims, they become rich: many Muslims have grown rich and have built big houses for themselves, and mosques, and slaughterhouses, which are a problem for Buddhism. Muslims are now dominating the Burmese economy." By urging Buddhists to put stickers in their windows to identify themselves, Wirathu and his fellow zealots hope to reverse the tide.
The paranoia seems laughable: no census has been carried out in Burma for decades, but it is believed that Muslims account for no more than 5 or 6 per cent of the population. While Muslims have been coming to Burma for centuries as traders, it was with the arrival of the British in 1824 that they first settled in the southern part of the country in large numbers. In Rangoon, the former capital which is still the commercial hub, they are just one community alongside Hindus, Chinese and Indian Christians in a rich and usually stable ethnic mix. What on earth do the Buddhists have to fear?
Yet if you travel to Arakan state, in the far west of the country, the source of these apprehensions becomes apparent. The majority of the community here is Buddhist, but they regard themselves not as Burmans, the nation's dominant ethnic group, but as Arakanese, a different race, conquered by the Burmans in the 19th century and forced to bow down to the Burman king.
While Burma as a whole fought for its independence from the British, the Arakanese fought a separate struggle – post-independence – for liberation from the Burmans. And with the partial return of democracy, they are making strides: in the 2010 general elections, the Arakan nationalists gained a majority in the state assembly. But freedom from the Burmans is only one of their demands; the other is freedom from what they regard as the menace of Islam.
Arakan has a long land border with Bangladesh. Additionally, its coastal district of Maungdaw runs parallel with Bangladesh's long, narrow Sabrang peninsula, only one hour away by sea, and the population of Maungdaw is now said to be 97 per cent Muslim.
A Muslim community called the Rohingyas is recorded as living in Arakan state since at least the 18th century, but its population has grown exponentially in recent decades. The Arakanese nationalists are riding high in Burma's fragile new democracy because they appeal to the twin fears of the local people: Burmanisation on the one hand, and Islamisation on the other.
It was in Arakan, nearly a year ago, that the latest incident of 50 years of communal violence began, after a Buddhist woman was raped and killed by three Muslims. The second bout, in October, which led to as many as 125,000 people – the great majority Muslim – being housed in camps, was also in Arakan.
A general explanation for Arakan's hostility to Islam is not hard to find. The border here is one of the world's civilisational fault lines: like the India-Pakistan frontier through the Punjab, the line between Serbia and Bosnia in the former Yugoslavia or the line between north and south Nigeria, it is one of what the influential American political scientist Samuel Huntington called "Islam's bloody borders".
Muslims and Christians have been at each other's throats for 1,300 years, but there is no love lost between Muslims and Buddhists either. No religion is more prolific in its imagery than Buddhism; none more iconoclastic, more image-hating than Islam. When the Taliban blew up the ancient Buddhas of Bamiyan in Afghanistan, we in the West denounced it as an act of heritage vandalism, but many Buddhists took it far more personally: as a declaration of intent. It reminded them that Buddhism was a great and flourishing religion in India until the invasion of Mahmud of Ghazni in the 10th century. Within a century or so, with the destruction of Nalanda University and thousands of temples, it was a fading memory, preserved mostly in Tibet.
While Buddhism may profess values such as loving-kindness and selflessness – and therefore be all the more culpably exposed when it betrays them – Islam presents itself to the Buddhists as a rigid and hermetic sect. Where the West, the "human-rights imperialists", see poverty-stricken Muslim fishermen squatting in squalid refugee camps after the Buddhists burnt down their houses, Burma's Buddhists see the thin end of an Islamic wedge which, if not halted, would expand to include Sharia law and all of Islam's other dictates.
Buddhism has a gentle, sagacious face, and as long as a Westerner takes off his shoes and socks and pays the entrance fee, he is welcome to wander around any Buddhist monument in Burma. Islam offers a sterner countenance, especially these days – and especially here on this bloody border, with militant Islamism enjoying such a boom inside Bangladesh that tens of thousands of bearded demonstrators took over the streets in recent weeks, demanding the nation become a hardcore Islamic state.
When they look not merely at what happened in India 1,000 years ago but at Islamic insurgencies in southern Thailand and the southern Philippines and at the increasingly hardline Islam of their regional neighbours, majority-Muslim Malaysia and Indonesia, not to mention Bangladesh, the Buddhists in Burma may have a point. Perhaps we owe it to them to be less patronisingly dismissive of their apprehensions. That, of course, does not mean condoning any of the hideous crimes committed in their country over the past 12 months.
The other big question these terrible events prompt regards not them, but us. All right, not us but me. Was I just terribly suckered by all this Dharma stuff, those calm smiles, the Dalai Lama's effulgent humanity, the great tide of saffron washing through the streets of Mandalay?
Maung Zarni, a veteran Burmese democracy activist and a visiting fellow at the London School of Economics, says yes. Writing in Tricycle, an American Buddhist magazine, he blamed the West for what he called "a rose-tinted Orientalist take on Buddhism", "an age-old Orientalist, de-contextualized view of what Buddhists are like: lovable, smiley, hospitable people who lead their lives mindfully and have much to offer the non-Buddhist world in the ways of fostering peace". Instead, he takes us back to the first decades of the 20th century, when Buddhism became the rallying cry of Burmese nationalists campaigning against the British Raj.
All the early rebels against British rule were monks: the root of their anger was that the British had destroyed the monarchy which held the country together. Before the British arrived, the Burmese king and the monks had a symbiotic relationship: as Ingrid Jordt, a professor of anthropology at the University of Wisconsin in Milwaukee, who spent years as a Buddhist nun in a Burmese convent, puts it: "The monks' role was to admonish the king, and the king's role was to purify the sangha [the community of monks]." With the king gone, exiled by the British, the keystone of that arch was removed, and the society fell apart.
Aung San, the father of Aung San Suu Kyi and the man who engineered Burma's independence, was free of such religious motivation, but what Maung Zarni calls "ethno-religious nationalism" was revived after independence, as the frail democracy sought ways to appear legitimate in the eyes of the people. And today, says Zarni, "the same ethno-religious nationalism that once served the Burmese independence movement has provided an environment in which… racism can flourish". k
Professor Jordt explains that the psychological background is that Theravada Buddhism – found in Burma and Sri Lanka, and regarded by its followers as "the pure teachings" of Buddha, as opposed to the supposedly impure developments in the Mahayana branches found in Japan, Korea, Tibet and Vietnam – is thought to be in peril. The Buddha supposedly predicted that his teachings, the Dharma, would remain in human memory for 5,000 years. Burmese Buddhists, says Jordt, "feel their religion is in decline in cosmological terms, and historically under threat. They are preoccupied with the fact that it is already past the 2,500-year midway mark."
In this context, she goes on, "the opening of the country to the outside world has always been viewed with dread as the moment for further decline of the religion. I have heard monks talk about military rule and how dictatorship is actually good for the religion. Under military rule, people spend their time doing only religious works and spend their holidays on picnics at [Burma's most famous pagoda] Shwedagon rather than watching movies or shopping or other modern capitalist activities. Part of the shared collective idea between military and monks is the notion that preserving the religion is of paramount concern for the people.
"One of the main ways the military has historically kept up tensions, and kept attention off their activities, has been to drum up fears about how the religion is being threatened from outside – promoting xenophobia towards the West, and targeting Muslims as the biggest threat of all to Buddhism. The cautionary tales, often told by monks, about how Muslims eradicated Buddhism in India, and the historic accounts of how monasteries and Buddhist texts were burnt and statues defiled – this is rich lore that is regularly exploited in the collective psyche."
In Jordt's view, both the recent atrocities and 2007's Saffron Revolution were motivated by the same urge: to protect Buddhism from abuse and attack. The marching monks wanted to save it from abuse by the army; the zealot Wirathu wants to save it from Islam. The monks' first protest in 2007 was a small demonstration against a steep rise in petrol prices, but their movement only began to grow after they were beaten by police and the authorities refused to apologise. "This was a protest about protecting the religion," says Jordt, "not about human-rights violations or freeing Aung San Suu Kyi. There was a component of that, but that is not what the monks were protesting en masse. They were protesting the treatment of monks and the threat to the religion. That they would now be supporting the racist policies of the government is not a surprise because it is still about the same issue – protecting the religion."
With protection of religion as their prime concern, the location of the perceived threat has shifted from the military – whom we in the West also loved to hate – to the Muslims, who are largely defenceless, and about whom our feelings are often much more complicated. But the military has not disappeared from the picture: they are now in the background, and in all probability pulling the monks' strings.
And this may well be the single most significant, and ominous, factor in these attacks. When President Thein Sein set off down the path of reform two years ago, he alienated many of the powerful generals from whose ranks he came. Most of them no longer hold office, some have retired from the army, but they are still wealthy and powerful, and deeply concerned about the rising tide of democratisation, which, if things go on as they are going now, may well lead to the election of Burma's first genuinely democratic government – perhaps headed by Aung San Suu Kyi – in 2015.
This is a matter of grave anxiety for these old men. Theirs is not the sort of cosmological angst which preoccupies the monks: we are talking wealth, property, cronies, the whole panoply of temporal power and prestige that cemented them at the top of the system for 50 years.
What would it take to bring Thein Sein's reform process grinding to a halt? If Burma were to descend into chaos – if the vicious attacks in Arakan and Meiktila were to be repeated with serious loss of life in Rangoon, and if the government were to appear helpless to stop it – these shadowy, powerful military figures could claim the perfect justification for another coup d'état, bringing reform and democracy grinding to a halt. This is the fear that haunts Burma today.
A recent investigation by Human Rights Watch revealed that the attacks on Muslim communities in Arakan last October were tightly co-ordinated, with nine being attacked on the same day. To many observers, this strongly suggests the involvement of military planners in the background. When I was in Rangoon in the weeks after Meiktila, the sense of apprehension about what might yet be to come was intense.
And Buddhism, the wisdom of the ages, the fast track to attaining mindfulness and, indeed, enlightenment, like the Buddha himself: have the events of the past year tainted it fatally?
I humbly accept that I, like many others in the West, might have been guilty of nourishing what Maung Zarni calls a decontextualised, Orientalist conception of the religion. Does it follow, though, that Buddhism can be of no use to us here, that it is futile to imagine it could sink roots and be of real benefit to people? The case is not proven. As one Western Buddhist wrote in response to Maung Zarni's article in Tricycle, "You assume that a Buddhist is a Buddha, but this is not the case. Even according to Buddhist scripture, those on the path who have not yet achieved enlightenment still have defilements." With your consent, I will continue to fold my legs.

Sunday, 26 May 2013

Two-child limit in two Rohingya towns

Authorities in Myanmar’s western Rakhine State have introduced a two-child limit for Muslim
Rohingya families after a spate of deadly violence between Muslims and Buddhists, an official said on Saturday.
Local officials said the new measure — part of a policy that will also ban polygamy — will be applied to two Rakhine townships that border Bangladesh and have the highest Muslim populations in the State. The townships, Buthidaung and Maungdaw, are about 95 per cent Muslim.
The measure was enacted a week ago after a government-appointed commission investigating the violence issued proposals to ease tensions, which included family planning programmes to stem population growth among minority Muslims, said Rakhine State spokesman Win Myaing.
The commission also recommended doubling the number of security forces in the volatile region.
“The population growth of Rohingya Muslims is 10 times higher than that of the Rakhine [Buddhists],” Mr. Win Myaing said. “Overpopulation is one of the causes of tension.”
Sectarian violence in Myanmar first flared nearly a year ago in Rakhine state with mobs of Buddhists armed with machetes razing thousands of Muslim homes, leaving hundreds of people dead and forcing 125,000 to flee, mostly Muslims.
Mr. Win Myaing said authorities had not yet determined how the measures would be enforced but the two-child policy would be mandatory in Buthidaung and Maungdaw. The policy will not apply yet to other parts of Rakhine State, which have smaller Muslim populations.
Predominantly Buddhist Myanmar does not include the Rohingya as one of its 135 recognised ethnicities. It considers them to be illegal immigrants from Bangladesh and denies them citizenship. Bangladesh says the Rohingya have been living in Myanmar for centuries and should be recognised there as citizens.
Muslims account for about four per cent of Myanmar’s roughly 60 million people.

Friday, 24 May 2013

UWT Cries of the Ummah | Mufti Ismail Menk | FULL LECTURE ᴴᴰ

Mufti Menk on the Boston Bombing suspect - Interview

Walking in the Light of the Quran - Mufti Menk

WHAT IS MANHAJ | Imaam Abuz Zubair | ᴴᴰ

Worries Of Bodu Bala Sena: Religious Jealousy Of BBS

By Rifai Naleemi -
Dr. Rifai Naleemi
In this part of our series we shall try to expose some aspects of religious jealousy of Bodu Bala Sena. It is against the very teaching of Lord Buddha to show resentment and envy to the people of any other faith. This is one of basic teaching of Buddhism.   In sharp contrast to this principle BBS and its cohorts express openly communal and religious jealousy.  Lord Buddha felt happiness when he saw the progress and development of other faiths.  Indeed, he accommodated all other religious faiths and practices. I shall argue that BBS acts contrary to this very teaching of Buddhism. It exposes jealousy and resentment when they see Muslims are getting more religious and more spiritually advanced. They expose this bitterness when they Christian churches work within Sinhalese community for fear of conversion. 
It is generally accepted fact that the religion of Islam is fast growing in many parts of world. Against all odds, more and more people are embracing Islam today than ever before.  It is reported that since 9/11 more people are turning to Islam. They turn to Islam to know about Islamic faith and Muslim way of life. It is reported that more copies of Holy Quran were sold soon after 9/11 than any periods of time in American history. It is reported that Islam is the fast growing religion in Europe toady than any other single faith. It is reported that more European girls are turning to Islam today than ever before.
Why famous and high profile people are embracing Islam in Europe? Recently Lauren Booth, Tony Blair’s sister-in Law, Yvonne Ridley embraced Islam in Britain. InSouth India, one of famous Professors Periyardasan embraced Islam. Why is it that despite deliberate distortion about Islam and Muslims more and more people are turning to Islam?  Annually thousands of people are turning to Islam in all part of the world despite all military and media onslaught against Islam and Muslims.
Hundreds of churches and pubs have been converted into mosques and Islamic centres in Europe. The last Friday (17/5/13) The Time News paper published a research finding on the decline of Christianity in theUK.  It is reported that Christianity is in gradually declining with each generation (The Times/UK 17-5-13). While church going people are decreasing in many parts of world the amount of people going to mosques are rapidly increasing in every part of world. This is a universal phenomenon.
Within international Muslim community too many dramatic changes have been taking place. More and more Muslims become religious today than precious decades.   An Islamic awakening has been taking place in many parts of world in recent time.  Despite so called war on terror an Islamic awakening has been taking place steadily across the globe. Some people feel religiously jealousy of this social phenomenon taking place across the globe in Muslim world and as well as in non-Muslim countries.
In Sri Lanka too this Islamic awakening has been taking place. Unlike in the past more and more people are turning to Islam to secure peace and tranquillity. More youth are following Islamic way of life today than ever before.  Mosques are filled with people praying five times prayers. Muslim girls are increasingly wearing Islamic dress codes.  Muslims are observing religious rites regularly in all aspects of life.  Muslims are waking up early mornings prayers. During the Ramadan charitable and religious activities are double and the mosques are full of people. Recently, Buddhist people are being invited to participate in breakfasting ceremonies.
BBS and its cohorts express utter bitterness when they saw these occurrences. Even they argued that Buddhists monks should not sit down with Muslim clerics. What type of racism is this? Did Lord Buddha teach this kind of discrimination? Isn’t it Hitler type mentality of BBS? When do these Singhalese Nazis learn from history?
Unlike in the past, recent times more and more Singhalese people interact with Muslims and come to know about Islam and Islamic way of life.   Each week on Fridays, the entire Muslims villagers are gathering for Friday prayers and religious sermons. These sermons are designed to cultivate piety, spirituality and good manners in human minds.  What more is that during the Hajj seasons more and more Sri Lanka Muslims go on spiritual journey to Mecca?
BBS and its cohorts feel jealousy of these religious awakening that takes place in the front of their eyes. Unlike in the past today, religious activities of Muslims are live in TV and websites. In a nutshell, Muslim’s life evolves around the religious teaching of Islam from birth to death 24 hours a day. Muslims wake up in the morning in the name of Allah and go to bed in the name of Allah.   Thus, Islamic way of life is a dynamic and practical way of life unlike other religious practices.
Please do not take me wrong but make a comparison between day to day functions of mosques and other religious places such as Churches and Buddhist/HinduTemples. Consider for instance, in any Muslim village the entire Muslim villagers wake up early morning and go to mosque each day. Muslims ought to go to mosques not occasionally, not once in month or once year rather every day five times.  Each day mosques are filled with people five times a day.
Whereas, people of other religions do not have such close attachment to their places of worship. They do not have such mechanism to visit their place of worship daily as Muslims do.  They may visit temples or churches in religious festivals and ceremonies but not obliged to go five times as Muslim do. That is why Muslims spend more money in building mosques. When BBS and its cohorts see illuminating tall mosques in each and every township of Sri Lanka rather than they appreciate Muslim devotion in their religion, they become jealous of dynamism in religious activities of Muslims.
Moreover, when they see Muslim girls wearing Islamic dress codes they feel jealous of this religious observation. When they see thousands of Muslims go on Hajj pilgrimage in two pieces of white cloths they feel a bit of religious jealousy. When they see some Muslims have big families they feel a bit of religious and communal jealousy. When they hear that some Sinhalese girls or boys are willingly embrace faith of Islam they feel a bit of religious jealousy.
Today, in our modern world inter-cultural fertilization and interaction is unavoidable.  Because of modern technological advancement most of Non-Muslim people come to know about Islam and Muslims through website and internets. Whether we like it or not today, most of Sinhalese and Tamil youths are familiar with Islam and Muslims. This awareness increases through their personal interaction with Muslims. Moreover modern telecommunication networks facilitate this inter-cultural knowledge increase. Some of youths are beings inspired and influenced by these modern websites and internet propagation.
Today more than 1.8 millions Sri- Lankans work in the Middle countries. Most of them are Sinhalese. Some of them have been living for more than two decades in the Middle East countries and they become more familiar with Muslim culture and religions than Sinhalese if they live these long periods of time in those countries. They might have been influenced and inspired with Arabic language, Muslim traditions, Muslim food and Muslim way of life. Particularly people from Hindu community with the case discrimination might have greatly influence with Muslim tradition of eating all together in one plate or one place without any discrimination.
It may be true that some of our housemaids may have been ill-treated in the Middle East and yet, those are isolated incidents. There are millions of people working in the Middle East and they have been well paid and well treated otherwise, they would have been returned to their native countries. Inter-cultural fertilization takes place with such long interaction with Muslim environment in Muslim countries.  I have read the stories of many English people who converted to Islam through their interaction and long stay in Muslims countries. It is a natural sociological and human phenomenon.   This is what exactly what happened to some Sinhalese/ Tamil house maids in the Middle East. Most of them go to Middle East from poor family background and when they see a true equal treatment at by some of religious Arab Muslims in the Middle East it is natural their hearts incline and lean towards Islam.
This is what exactly happening to Sinhalese when they come back to Sri Lanka after long stays in Muslims countries.  Some of them marry Muslim boys in the Middle countries and stay there permanently. Rather than examining these sociological changes there is no point in blaming Sri Lankan Muslims for the conversation of Singhalese people into Islam.  It is one basic teachings of Islam to proclaim that there is no compulsion in Islam. No one could force any one to embrace Islam. It is a personal freedom of each person to choose their faith and way of life. BBS should not be jealous of these sociological changes rather they should take some necessary steps to stop sending Sri-Lankan housemaids to the Muslim countries. Can they do that? Do they have political and economical power to do so? I challenge BBS that if they could let them stop sending housemaid into Middle East countries. That is one of the viable ways to stop inter-cultural fertilization and conversion.
There are so many issues related to Sinhalese extremism. There is a genuine fear among some Sinhalese people that Buddhism and Sinhalese culture are in decline. It could be for many reasons. It could be because of western influence. It could be failure of Buddhist religious leadership to provide proper spiritual training and education for children from early age. It could be because some do not have faith in Buddhism at all. It could be that we live in a secular and materialistic world that is different from Lord Buddha’s times. It could be that with advancement in technology people learn more about faith.
It could be because more than 1.7 million Sinhala people work in Middle East and Webern counties and they become friendly with Muslims and Christians and end up as Muslims or Christians or it could be indoctrination of some people as Christian missionary do in Sri Lanka: almost 1.2 millions Christians we have in Sri Lanka most of them previously Sinhalese Buddhists or Tamil Hindus.  All of these people converted for good jobs and education: this did not happen in Muslim community.
Now BBS have jealousy of Muslims for their devotion in faith.  BBS may constitute only 5% of Sinhalese population in Sri Lanka and the rest of   95% Sinhalese do not have any ill feeling of Muslims. . It is the failure of government and law enforcement made this matter to go out of control. I could argue that BBS and its cohorts are directly and indirectly educating Sinhalese public about Islam and Muslims. Their relentless campaign on Halal food logo made a great awareness about Islam among Sinhalese people.
I think that BBS is taking Islam into each and every Sinhalese house through their negative propagation machineries.  Let them do the job for Muslims and Islam. Every action has its reaction. The actions and activities of BBS will certainly backfire and we have seen that the backfiring has as already begun.
To be continued next week

Wednesday, 22 May 2013

Allah’s Promises of Rizq

First off all let’s agree on the meaning of Rizq by the help of what Shaykh Zulfiqar Ahmed (damat barkatuhum) mentioned in one of his lectures:
“All aspects of a person’s subsistence and livelihood fall under the definition of rizq, including but not restricted to wealth, status, business and children.”
We see in this capitalist scoiety, everyone will do anything that is possible to gain their Rizq. People think they are expanding their rizq by doing haram, opening liquor shops, but they aren’t. Islam tells us the rizq is assigned at our birth and on top of that Allah Subhanahu Wa Ta’ala made five promises of Rizq. Exactly on these I’ll try to shed some light on in this topic.
“And whoever fears Allah, for him Allah brings forth a way out, and gives him provision (rizq) from where he does not even imagine…” (Surah At-Talaq: 2/3)
In reference to this Ayaat-i-Karima Mufti Muhammad Shafi’ Sahab (nawarallahu marqadahu) writes in his Tafsir Ma’ariful Qur’an the following explanation of Taqwa: 
“The word taqwa primarily and literally means ‘to guard’ or ‘to refrain’. In Islamic terminology it signifies ‘to guard against sins’. When the word is related to Allah, it is translated as ‘to fear Allah’ and implies ‘to avoid disobedience of Allah and guard against sins’.”
Once, Saiyyidina Umar ibn al-Khattab (radhiallahu anho) asked Saiyyidina Ka’ab Ahbaar (radhiallahu anho): “What is the reality of Taqwa?”
Ka’ab (radhiallahu anho) said: “Have you ever passed a thorny tree?”
Umar (radhiallahu anho) answered: “Yes.”
Ka’ab (radhiallahu anho) asked: “How did you pass?”
Umar (radhiallahu anho) answered: “I passed with such care that I ensured that no thorn got caught into my hem.”
Ka’ab (radhiallahu anho) then elaborated: “In the very same way, the reality of Taqwa is for one to save himself from the thorns of sins and negligence.”
So, this is the first thing with which Allah Ta’ala promised the righteous believers, that He will ease every difficulty of theirs and provide for them all their needs from resources they never expected or thought about.
Listen to this Jumu’ah Bayan by Hahdrat Maulana Yunus Patel Sahib from South Africa on the topic of “Promise of Rizq from unknown sources upon Taqwa”.
Everyone who ever spend time in Jama’at should know that through the daily five prayers Allah Ta’ala makes the rizq easy – if you don’t then you should definitely spend time in the way of Allah. Anyone for 4 months? Anyway…
A hadith states: “Salaah is the cause of Allah’s pleasure: It is a beloved act of the Malaikah (angels), a sunnah of the Ambiyaa (alayhimus salam), the nur (light) of ma’rifah is achieved by it, du’aas are accepted, and barakah in rizq is attained.”
Once a Sahabi (radhiallahu anho) said: “When the household of Sayyidina Rasulullah (Sallallahu Alayhi Wasallam) experienced difficulty in their expenses he commanded the performing of salaah, and recited this aayah:
“And enjoin upon thy people worship, and be constant therein. We ask not of thee a provision: We provide for thee. And the sequel is for righteousness.” (Surah Ta Ha: 132)”
Sayyidina Rasulullah (Sallallahu Alayhi Wasallam) has said in another Hadith: “The one who seeks forgiveness for Muslim males and females from Allah Ta’aala twenty six or twenty five times every day, Allah Ta’ala will count that person among those whose Du’a is accepted, and through the barakah of whom those on earth gain rizq (sustenance).”
Rasulullah (Sallallahu Alayhi Wasallam) not only made himself 70 till 100 times a day Istighfar and Taubah, but as well enjoined the Muslims to ask Allah Ta’ala frequently for forgiveness. One of the many virtues of Istighfar, that can be found in Ahadith, is that Allah Subhanahu wa Ta’ala deals with the person engaging much in Istighfar in a similar way like with the servant attaining Taqwa.
Sayyidina Abdullah bin Abbas (radhiallahu anho) narrates that Sayyidina Rasulullah (Sallallahu Alayhi Wasallam) said: “The one who (regularly) says Istighfaar, that is, frequently repent to Allah Ta’aala for sins committed, Allah ‘Azza Wa-Jalla will open a path from poverty and difficulties. All sorrow and hardship will be removed, and in its place prosperity and contentment granted. One will receive sustenance from unimagined and unexpected sources.”
Tawakkul on Allah could be translated as sincere reliance on Allah Subhanahu wa Ta’ala. In our context right now it means to be 100% convinced that Allah will definitely give me the rizq, that He has fixed for me. If all creations of Allah Subhanahu wa Ta’ala (malaikah, jinns, humans, animals etc.) come together to change something about that, they simply can not.
Sayyidina Rasulullah (Sallallahu Alayhi Wasallam) has said: “If you have proper and sincere tawakkul (reliance) on Allah Ta’ala. He will grant you rizq like the birds are given rizq, who come out of their nests in the morning with empty stomachs and return to their nests in the evening with a full stomach. Allah Ta’aala says:
“And whoever places his trust in Allah, He is sufficient for him.” (Surah At-Talaq: 3)”
That’s how the Ayaat quoted above continues. Subhan’Allah, what an amazingly illustrious example our beloved Prophet Muhammad Mustafa (Sallallahu Alayhi Wasallam) has given, may Allah shower His blessings upon him and his family.
Sayyidina Imraan bin Husayn (radhiallahu anho) narrates from Sayyidina Rasulullah (Sallallahu Alayhi Wasallam) that: “The person who (sincerely) relies on Allah Ta’aala, Allah Ta’aala will suffice for all the responsibilities of that person. Rizq will be received from such sources, whence it cannot be imagined. The one who relies on the (material) world, Allah Ta’aala hands that person over to the world.”
Shaikhul Hadith Maulana Zakariyya Kandhalvi (rahimullah ta’ala) mentions in his notorious book Fadhail-e-Sadaqat the following saying of Sayyidina Rasulullah (Sallallahu Alayhi Wasallam), which emphasis on relying on the power of Allah Ta’ala:
“One who wishes to become the most strongest, should make tawakkul on Allah Ta’aala. One who wishes to become the most respectful, should adopt taqwa (piety). The one who wishes to become the most wealthiest, should rely more in the qudrah (power) of Allah than that which is in ones possession.”
It’s no secret that when spending or giving charity in the path of Allah, Allah Ta’ala according to His boundless mercy gives back much times more. There are many Ahadith regarding this, but to spare you time I’ll just type the incident of Hadhrat Sayyidina Ali (karamallahu wajuhu) and a beggar which will make you understand this concept very easily.
Hadhrat Ubaydullah bin Muhammad bin Aisha narrates that when a beggar came to the Ameerul Mu’mineen Hahdrat Ali (radhiallahu ano), he said to (his son) Hadhrat Hasan (radhiallahu anho) or Hadhrat Husayn (radhiallahu anho), “Go to your mother and tell her to give one of the six Dirhams that I had left with her.” His son went and later returned with the message that she said, “You had left the six Dirhams to purchase flour.” Hadhrar Ali (radhiallahu anho) said, “The Iman of a person cannot be true until he has more trust in that which is in Allah’s hands than that which is in his hands.” He then sent a message to her to send all six Dirhams. When she did so, he gave it all to the beggar.
Hadhrat Ali (radhiallahu anho) had not yet even changed his posture when a man arrived selling a camel. “How much for the camel?” Hahdrat Ali (radhiallahu anho) asked. “A hundred and forty Dirhams,” the man replied. Hadhrat Ali (radhiallahu anho) told the man to tie the camel by him with the understanding that he would pay for it after a while. The man tied the camel there and then left. Another man then passed by and asked who the camel belonged to. When Hadhrat Ali (radhiallahu anho) informed him that the camel was his, the man asked him whether he would sell it. “Certainly,” replied Hadhrat Ali (radhiallahu anho). “How much?”, he asked. “For two hundred Dirhams,” was the reply. The man agreed to buy it, handed over the two hundred Dirhams and then took the camel.
Hadhrat Ali (karamallahu wajuhu) then paid a hundred and forty Dirhams to the man whom he had promised to pay and then returned with sixty Dirhams to (his wife) Hadhrat Fatima (radhiallahu anha). Seeing the money she asked, “What is this?” Hadhrat Ali (radhiallahu anho) replied, “This is what Allah promised us on the lips of His Nabi (Sallallahu Alayhi Wasallam):
“Whoever brings (carries out) a good act will recieve ten times as much.” (Surah An’aam: 160)”
Subhan’Allah, do I need to say anything more except that this is no fairy tale but a true incident?! The Ulema-i-Kiram have explained many more halal ways of increasing the barakah in your Rizq, but these are the five big points I’ve been taught:
Taqwa, Namaz, Istighfar, Tawakkul and Infaq Fisabilillah.
Oh yeah, and I almost forgot Asbab. There are no promises of Allah attached to Asbab, but our Yaqeen nowadays is made on them. May Allah forgive us and bring all these attributes into our life. Ameen!

Monday, 6 May 2013

Azath Salley was Arrested Because He Made Critical Remarks About Shiranthi Rajapaksa on TNL


Azath Salley was Arrested Because He Made Critical Remarks About Shiranthi Rajapaksa on TNL

Former Colombo Deputy Mayor and Founder Leader of the National Unity Front Azath Salley is currently held at the Police CID Fourth floor headquarters in Fort on a detention order for 90 days issued under the draconian Prevention of Terrorism Act (PTA).
First Lady Visits Rizana Nafeek's Home, Feb 2013
First Lady Visits Rizana Nafeek’s Home, Feb 2013
When Azath Salley was arrested on Thursday May 2nd the Media Centre for National Security (MCNS) Director General Lakshman Hulugalle was reported by the State controlled “Daily News” newspaper as saying that he was arrested by the Criminal Investigation Department following several complaints received by the CID regarding conduct which could damage ethnic harmony, and harm national unity
Hulugalle reportedly said that Salley was taken into custody under Section 120 of the Penal Code and provisions under the Prevention of Terrorism Act.
Hulugalle reportedly stated that Salley had violated clause 21 of the Prevention of Terrorism Act and section 120 of the Penal Code. He (Salley) had incited people with the aim of causing damage to ethnic and religious harmony, in the guise of agitating against the government.

The MCNS Director General further said that no ethnic or religious unrest has been reported under the leadership of the present President. He further said it is the prime duty of the government to safeguard ethnic and religious harmony and no one will be allowed to cause friction between different religious groups and ethnicities.
When Tamil National Alliance MP and Lawyer MA Sumanthiran visited him at ward 55 of the Colombo National hospital , Salley told Sumanthiran that the Police so far had questioned him only about an interview he had given to the Tamil Nadu bi-weekly “Junior Vikatan”.Salley whose health is deteriorating due to his protest fast was hospitalised for a day but is now back in custody at the 4th floor.
Although the State has detained Salley under the PTA for the alleged offence of inciting communal hatred there are very few who believe that explanation. The widespread condemnation of Azath’s arrest by several persons and institutions demonstrate that public opinion does not buy the claim that Salley was arrested for inciting hatred.
It is common knowledge that Azath Salley has been in recent times a vehement critic of the Govt, Sinhala Buddhist extremists and of unofficial patronage extended by the Govt to these extremists. In fact Salley’s arrest itself has exposed the blatant double standards of the Rajapaksa regime. While many Sinhala Buddhist hardliners like Ven Galagoda athhe Gnanasara Thero are able to incite virulent hatred against Muslims on public platforms, a Muslim politician like Azath Salley is being arrested for an interview given to a magazine.
This action by the Govt makes obvious that in Sri Lanka sauce for the Gander is not sauce for the goose.What is sauce for the Sinhala Buddhist Gnanasara Thero is not sauce for the Tamil speaking Muslim Azath Salley.
Azath Salley
Azath Salley
Azath Salley was not a top level Muslim politician until a few months ago. What made his stock rise among Muslims in particular and democracy conscious persons in general was Azath Salley’s courage in giving voice to what is right against majoritarian might. At a time when the Muslim Ministers and MP’s of the Rajapaksa Government were conspicuously silent about the anti-Muslim hate campaign being unleashed by Ethno Religious fascists , Azath Salley won the admiration and appreciation of many by speaking out against it in a frank and forthright manner.
He even went to the extent of initiating moves to haul the leaders of the Bodhu Bala Sena befoe courts for slandering and defaming the Muslim community. This he did knowing fully well that the Country’s second most powerful man was fully supportive of the Bodhu Bala Sena. Defence and Urban Development secretary and Presidential Sibling Gotabhaya Rajapaksa has been openly associated with the Bodhu Bala Sena.In spite of this Azath Salley did not hesitate in taking on the Bodhu Bala Sena.
Being a prickly thorn in the Govt flesh there was a strong possibility that Azath Salley would be soon targeted by a regime that has very little tolerance for dissent or political defiance. It seemed definite that some action was going to be taken against Azath Salley.
There were however nagging doubts as to whether the regime would indeed target a critic like Salley for two reasons. One was the international climate. Would the Rajapaksa regime beleaguered as it is on many international fronts act against Azath and incur further condemnation?
The other doubt was due to the relationship that had prevailed between Mahinda Rajapaksa and Azath Salley. Though not always on the same political wavelength they had been on friendly terms for many years. It has been a trait of Mahinda Rajapaksa to maintain personal relations with many politicians on the opposing side. In Salley’s case he played a prominent part in Mahinda Rajapaksa’s re-eelection campaign of 2010.
Salley had however split with the UPFA just as he had done so with the UNP earlier and joined the Muslim Congress.Later he left the SLMC too.It has however been often said of Mahinda Rajapaksa that he never forgot those who helped him. So it was felt that notwithstanding Azath’s political dissidence Mahinda Rajapaksa would not let any harm befall Salley because of the close relationship in the past.Salley being able to continue with his flagrant defiance of the powers that be seemed to indicate that the benevolent gaze of Sri Lanka’s most powerful person was still upon Azath.
These doubts were proved wrong when the state apparatus was unleashed on Azath Salley last Thursday. It appears that a vindictive regime is determined to penalise Azath Salley despite the national and international opprobrium.
While the recent track record of Azath Salley clearly provides the background to the arrest what is puzzling to many is the reason for action being taken at this juncture? What exactly triggered it off? Where did he cross the line?
It appears that what caused Azath Salley’s fall from grace was his outspokenness.The very same attribute that has earned him tremendous political popularity in recent times has also been the reason for his arrest.
According to informed sources Azath Salley had been featured on the TNL (Telshan Networks Ltd) Tamil show “Ezhuchchi” on April 23rd. This discussion conducted in Tamil is interpreted in Sinhala also with a view to keep Sinhala viewers informed of issues concerning Tamils and Muslims.
Celebrating Thai Pongal ~ Jan 2013~pic: facebook.com/PresidentRajapaksa
Celebrating Thai Pongal ~ Jan 2013~pic: facebook.com/PresidentRajapaksa
When Salley was interviewed on TNL the outspoken Muslim political leader had apparently made some critical remarks about the first lady Shiranthi Rajapaksa. One such remark was referring to her as “Azhaghu Rani” (Beauty Queen).
According to informed sources President Rajapaksa was told of the comments made to TNL by Azath Salley. Sri Lankan society has many tale carriers and there are some Muslim politicians who are notorious for “sneaking” to the President about other Muslim politicians. A failing of President Rajapaksa is being susceptible to glib tale carriers, acting rashly and then regretting it.
President Rajapaksa was infuriated when he was told of Azath Salley’s comments. The tale carriers may very well have exaggerated or distorted what was actually stated. It is however well known that President Rajapaksa regards his immediate family as being “out of bounds” for adverse political criticism.
It may be recalled that many years ago the slain editor of “The Sunday Leader” Lasantha Wickrematunga wrote in his newspaper that Mahinda Rajapaksa had telephoned him and berated him for dragging in his(Presidents) family. There too the President had been misinformed that “The Sunday Leader”was going to carry a disparaging article about the first lady.According to Lasantha , during the heated argument Mahinda had emphasised that his family should be left alone.
Viewed against this backdrop the reason for speedy action against Azath Salley seems crystal clear!Once Azath Salley incurred the wrath of President Rajapaksa punitive action against him seemed inevitable.
Opposition politicians and Human Rights activists protesting the unjust arrest of Azath Salley have described it as political victimisation and suppression of dissent. Their descriptions are indeed correct! There has been simmering anger at the political activities of Azath Salley within Govt ranks but the flashpoint of tension that triggered off action against him at this juncture was the TV interview.
It is totally unacceptable for any person to be penalised for such flimsy reasons but unbelievable as it may seem that is what seems to be happening in the emerging wonder of Asia. Whatever the real reason for the arrest it is highly unlikely that the actual fact would be revealed during Salley’s interrogation or possible indictment.The overt focus would be on the Interview to “Junior Vikatan” and not on the TNL “Ezhuchchi” show!
What is necessary now is to devise ways and means to save Salley’s life in the first instance and then ensre his release from Police custody. Abhorrent as it may seem the only way out at present is only through appealing to President Rajapaksa himself. Sri Lanka is a country where the minister of Justice laments about erosion of rule of law and where the de jure chief justice is impeached through a kangaroo court masquerading as a Parliamentary select committee. In such a situation there is no choice other than to approach the President despite prevailing circumstances. He who inflicted the malady can and must provide the remedy.
Efforts are currently on to soothe President Rajapaksa’s ruffled feelings and secure justice for Azath Salley. It is learnt reliably that a senior Muslim cabinet minister and a Muslim local authority head have directly appealed to the President. Rajapaksa had not made any comment except to say “Pauw” (Sin)when told of Salley’s deteriorating health.
It is in this context that the letter written to President Rajapaksa by Azath’s daughter Ameena assumes huge significance. According to a report in “Newsfirst”, She has in that letter made a special request to the President.
She states in the letter that her father has been unjustly arrested and has commenced a hunger strike from the time of his arrest.As he has refused food and water, his health is deteriorating,Ameena says in the letter that although she and her mother had visited him and asked him to take food and water, he had refused.
She further says in her letter to the president -
“Since I was a small child, it has been a well known fact to me, that you are a close friend of our family and I am sure that if you were, to offer a glass of water to him by your hand, he would return to normal”.
“You and the people of the country are aware of how dedicated my father was towards your becoming the President”.
“Thereby, I strongly believe, that a glass of water offered by your hand, would safeguard the life of a person who is dedicated to peace in this country, and who is also your friend.”
“Therefore, I kindly request that you turn your sympathy and attention towards my father and fulfill the above request.”
The anguish and agony of a daughter is patently visible in the request made by Ameena to President Rajapaksa regarding her father. The humanitarian nature of the request affords President Rajapaksa an opportunity to do the right thing.
It was only on May day that the Machiavelli of Medamulana confounded his political opponents by reversing part of the newly imposed electricity tariffs.In a deft political move the President detached himself from the decision made by the government of which he is head and made a concession to the people. If there is any kudos to be earned by this action all that would accrue to the President and not his Government.
pic via: facebook.com/reno.azath
pic via: facebook.com/reno.azath
Likewise the appeal made by Azath’s daughter provides Mahinda a chance to both make amends and engage in political damage control. The action taken against Azath Salley has deep and far reaching implications. The consequences would be terrible for the President and the Government in the long run. With Salley’s health deteriorating the worst may happen. If it does the excreta will collide with the oscillator in political terms both nationally and internationally.
It is time therefore for President Rajapaksa to act now and act fast. He should avail himself of the opportunity provided and oblige the pathetic request made by Azath Salley’s daughter. This would help to restore Salley’s health and salvage the situation.
Thereafter Azath Salley should be released unconditionally!
DBS Jeyaraj can be reached at dbsjeyaraj@yahoo.com