By Shenali Waduge
LTTE extremism did not spring without a plan. Successive Governments did err and Tamil leaders stand guilty of misleading the Tamil people and tragically continuing to do so. Tamil civilians have helped little by maintaining their silence over the years – that was how Sri Lanka suffered 30 years of terror. That mistake should not be repeated. Previously it was terrorism of a cult kind – this time it is likely to lead to terrorism in religious camouflage that will rip apart the entire country unless we read the warnings and take appropriate actions ever mindful that these are all engineered to destabilize nations and disintegrate and divide the people. The Tamil people and the Sinhalese were not aware of the global dynamics that exist in the formulas used to divide nations – today we are more aware which necessitates the need to remember how historically the people have been welcomed by the majority race that today comprise over 74% following Buddhism since 4th BCE which is nothing anyone should take offence when the country is referred to as Buddhist as enshrined in the Constitution of Sri Lanka.
Whatever governs the teachings, practices or behaviors of Wahhabism what we know from history is that it has been associated with vandalism and destruction of Islamic heritage. It is nothing anyone can deny or raise fury over – the examples are many, the damage to Saudi houses and mosques associated with Prophet Mohammed and family, raids on Shi’a cities of Karbala and Najaf and the destructions in North Africa, Sub-Saharan Africa, Pakistan, the Balkans, Egypt, Libya, Mali where Wahhabi groups destroyed Sufi shrines, mausoleums, cemeteries of Timbuktu – a UNESCO World Heritage site as well as the inhuman manner in which the Bamiyan Buddha was destroyed in Afghanistan.
In all international forums the subject of religious tolerance is given prominence – never answered is why majority Muslim nations do not allow a single religious activity to be practiced, a sale or display of a single non-Islamic religious idol whilst it becomes Muslim right to practice their faith and erect anything to promote that faith in non-Muslim nations. If many are not aware there are over 25,000 Jews that live in Iran and they have over 30 synagogues to pray in while in Libya there were churches which have now been destroyed during the conflict and Libya was one country that did not force women to wear the Abaya or followed Wahhabi Sharia laws.
So the question is why do Muslims tolerate Wahhabism founded in the 18th century which is demolishing not only Islamic monuments, destroying Islamic culture and traditions that date back to 14th century as well as watching these militias destroy entire nations and their people? Is the House of Saud so powerful and above the will of the 1.5billion Muslim people of the world though we are well aware of their ties to the US and British allies and do those links connect to the crisis that prevails in Syria, Iran ultimately targeted at Russia and China? Perhaps the Muslim people themselves should read and find out how much of Prophet Mohammad’s history has been wiped out thus far though ironically Wahhabism is the official religion of Saudi which controls Mecca, Medina and Hijaz.
Sri Lanka’s Muslims
The Muslims arrived in Sri Lanka as traders of East-West trade. It was during the 9th and 10th centuries that Muslims appeared to have settled in coastal cities of Sri Lanka. There is also the links between Muslims of Sri Lanka and Ma’bar from which Arabic-Tamil emerged as a common language form (Muslims Arabicising the Tamil script). The Muslims of Sri Lanka are close to Sufis in culture and religion and the Shafi school of Thought. The Portuguese destroyed whatever mosques were built by Muslims. It was King Senerath, who in 1626 settled nearly 4,000 Muslims in the East of Sri Lanka following their expulsion from the island’s Western coastal belt by the Portuguese.
The Sufi Islamic movement has been part of South Asia for centuries whereas the Wahhabi ideology arrived to Sri Lanka in 1940s but was rejected by Sri Lankan Muslims until petro dollars from 1970 onwards has increased Wahhabi jihadism in Sri Lanka.
Unknown to Muslims, the peaceful Islamic community that once lived with the saree covering the head is today in full black attire because that is what is being taught and promoted as the right thing to do. Large donations, material benefits have become easy ways to convert moderates into fundamentalists and these cash donations are doing the same wonders that enabled the LTTE to buy over even State officials as is evident from the language used as official statements.
LTTE made $300m profit annually but Sri Lanka is dealing with a financing giant throwing close to $90BILLION annually to spread the Wahhabi fundamentalism worldwide working in unison with the world’s most notorious intelligence outfit. It is Sri Lanka’s punishment for ties with Iran. Muslim-Muslim clashes will reveal that it is nothing other than Sufis and Wahhabis clashing over beliefs with Sufis often falling victims. Today Kattankudy is not Sri Lankan soil but self-declared Wahhabi soil with no Sufi is allowed to be buried there. The Muslims of Sri Lanka, the kind that many remember – so different to Muslims in other countries are today a subdued community because of Wahhabism. Just as all Tamils are not LTTErs we must note that all Muslims are not Wahhabi fundamentalists. Tamil leaders followed LTTE because they thought they could fast forward Eelaam in Sri Lanka towards the greater Dravidistan with India through Prabakaran. The agenda of Wahhabi is simply to throw nations upside down in turmoil. How many of Sri Lanka’s Muslim leaders or even Sinhalese leaders have fallen prey to the Billion coffer?
Let not what happened in Libya, Syria, Egypt, Tunisia and many other nations happen to Buddhist Sri Lanka. Sri Lanka’s leaders need to seriously take stock of the situation – we are talking about the future of an entire country and its peoples who are all under threat and it is far graver than India. We are well aware that the West attempted and failed with LTTE but through injecting Wahhabi followers the West stands to upset Sri Lanka in a far more powerful way – we just need to look at the state of affairs in Iraq, Afghanistan, Pakistan and India to realize the gravity.
For the Sinhalese, Sri Lanka is their land of birth and heritage – there are no Sinhalese anywhere in the world. Buddhism is the language of that majority people and it is a religion that they have protected with sanctity and which currently rouses concern and harkens to make people unaware aware of the dangers that loom. Bodhi poojas and other merits alone will not suffice to protect Buddhism. We cannot be taken to another phase of conflict one in which we know we can never be a victor. Bangladesh and Maldives were once Buddhist nations – Burma/Myanmar had only Buddhists – today even Buddhist monuments, priests and historical artifacts are not spared in these nations. To everything there has to be reciprocation and we cannot see that with Islamic dominated nations where Wahhabism reigns. If the Sufi Muslims of Sri Lanka are being hounded and victimized we can only imagine the fate of the rest of the people in Sri Lanka with time and that time is never stretched to decades which is what spells the greater tragedy that needs to be addressed forsaking funds that will only advance that doom.
Our leaders erred in many ways dealing with the LTTE and Tamil leadership over decades, our leaders at most times compromised the rights and freedoms of the Sinhalese and in particular the Buddhists making us to continue to wonder what or who remains the custodian of the nation and the Buddhist religion. Having allowed a greater danger to now enter and take root expanding gradually in militant style fundamentalism we can only say we do not want to have to experience what the Burmese Buddhists are going through now and no Buddhist prelate should have to give his throat to save our people.
Buddhism is the only non-violent religion spreading a philosophy that requires no one to convert to follow. Buddhism existed far beyond all of the religions that exist today – Sri Lanka has proudly continued to protect Buddhism and will continue to unite all Buddhist nations together in common unity while all other communities that respect that place are welcome but Sri Lanka says a big no to any forms of fundamentalism and our leaders must now wake up from their slumber.
Let the Muslim civilians not be misled as the Tamil civilians had been. Let the Muslim leaders not follow the path of the pro-LTTE TNA and let the Government not do the mistakes committed by previous Governments.
Buddhist Asia needs to launch inquiry
It is not too late for the Buddhist nations of Asia to inquire how and why once Buddhist nations fell to the sword of Islam causing most to abandon Buddhism. To India’s defense we must mention that it embraced Hinduism having realized the steel must be met with steel and compassionate Buddhism did not offer the answer. Nevertheless India lost many ancient monuments to Islamic vandalism and India is facing enormous divisions not made easy by the unjust bargaining trends from its federal states – a path Sri Lanka does not want to take applying similar federal option.
In the last 1000 years the Buddhists have been losing the territory that had been part and parcel of their cultural heritage. Bangladesh, Pakistan, Afghanistan, Malaysia, Indonesia, Maldives all used to be Buddhist countries but now Muslim. Why is this marginalization and loss of Buddhist territory not taken up on any international platform? Why should the Buddhist world not rise together and demand their rights that are far historical than any other. We are today being dictated by human rights slogans that have come into place during the past several decades totally ignoring the ancient rights of Buddhists or compromising the territory that was once Buddhist.
Why are these same slogans not questioning animal sacrifice where globally 100m animals are sacrificed within 2 days and the West remains mum because of its sale of animals for slaughter – animal sacrifice is totally against Lord Buddhas teaching? Economics and Trade win the day.
Unlike the West – ours is a country rich in culture, with an ancient heritage and man-made ancient engineering works found in no other civilization – the efforts of the Sinhala kings remain a marvel even today – it is for these reasons that we need to preserve and protect what other nations envy. Multiculturalism is for countries without long histories or significant ancient cultures.
If for Muslims Umma means uniting to protect all Muslims, Christians unite to protect Christians, Catholics do the same, Hindus too then it is time Buddhists do not stand in isolation. There are Buddhists today spreading West to East and they must all be united and that start should be launched by first securing the safety of the Asia region which is today under threat because the ultimate goal is to attack China – it is for China and Japan to unite the Buddhists and for Sri Lanka to take a main lead.
Let us not behave like ostriches anymore! Buddhism cannot be betrayed for money.