By Mohamad R. M. Farook
June 14, 2019
There are two schools of thought prevailing for and against face-cover (Niqab). But from global and local present-day situational aspects with intricacies involved in the outdoor commitments in work, societal and domestic environments, it will be prudent for Muslim women to be without face-cover under the concept of ‘public interest’ (Maslaha).
Next, let us look at the misunderstood and feared word ‘Thawheed’. Thawheedan essential attribute to be adhered to by Muslims is misrepresented and shamed after the Easter massacre due to ignorance as to what it means. Thawheed refers to believing in the Oneness of Allah (Islamic monotheism) with no partner or associate in His Lordship and His Divinity.
Every Muslim must uphold Thawheed – worship Allah (SWT) only and seek help from Allah (SWT) alone giving up all shirks (polytheism / polytheistic rituals) and Bidah (innovations). Thus Thawheed is one among the three main characteristics that must form the personality of a true Muslim – the other two being Tabligh and Sunnah.
In fact, the Thawheed movements came into being to get rid of the Muslim community from the traditionally oriented shirk (polytheistic rituals) and Bidah (innovation) that were prevalent among the Muslims. Gradually they were successful in their mission with intense oppositions from the traditionally oriented Muslim community. With the successful growth of the movement and more Muslims supporting them with the eventual decrease in the traditional un-Islamic rituals, continual splits took place first in the main Thawheed movement and thereafter in the splintered groups and there are about seven or eight groups as of today in Sri Lanka.
The splits could have occurred due to policy conflicts, leadership struggles, personality conflicts, organisational politics, financial benefits and various other matters.
Whatever the reasons for their divisions, the main theme of eradicating Shirk (polytheism) and Bidah (innovations) were the main focus of each group and they were successful. Yet all these groups erred in parts of their sermons and activities in one way or other as they discoursed solely on their personal understanding of Islam without an in-depth study of Islam from all relevant sources.
Then all of a sudden people heard of the National Thawheed Jamaath (NTJ) (banned now) responsible for the Easter Sunday massacre and its true image as a terror-based un-Islamic outfit got projected only after the Easter tragedy – until then even other ‘Thawheed’ organisations would not have realized the true nature of NTJ as a terrorist based group in line with the Islamic State or ISIS and therefore would have looked at NTJ as preaching Islamic Monotheism in an aggressive form not being able to comprehend what NTJ was really propagating is completely anti-Islamic ideology of hatred and killing of people of other faiths especially the Christians. When everyone came to know the true orientation/nature and the modus operandi of NTJ it was too late – deaths, damages and destructions have occurred.
The word ‘Thawheed’ was (and is) already having a distasteful connotation with the conservative Muslims who are accustomed to rituals and practices that have no standing in Islam. Some within the conservative Muslims of various groups and sects did not want to give up any of their supposed to be religious practices/rituals even when they have been made aware of what they had been doing are un-Islamic.
While unjustifiable opposition to the activities of Thawheed groups or the very notion of Thawheed itself was prevailing within the Muslim community, there emerged suddenly the Easter mayhem done by the National Thawheed Jamath. The word Thawheed now took an entirely different ‘image’ among the people, law enforcement authorities, political parties etc. Now the word ‘Thawheed’ is looked at with suspicion by all concerned – this notion must be get rid of if Sri Lanka were to move in the right direction. Thawheed is Islam or Islamic monotheism and every devout Muslim must uphold Thawheed – there is no question about it.
But what has happened is that the purity of Thawheed is being intentionally ‘spoilt’ or ‘twisted’ by the West by naming it as Wahhabism – which is essentially a Western construct. There is nothing called Wahhabism in Islam now or ever. The West is free to call anybody by any name pleasing to its liking but that does not change the sanctity of any concepts of Islam and in this case Thawheed. Opportunists abound in all societies, especially after a calamity. And this is what happened in Sri Lanka after Easter tragedy. Opportunists of various types – political, religious, racial, ethnic etc. – are in action to gain for their advantage and not to address the issue at hand viz. eradication of global terrorism that has penetrated Sri Lanka.
The Muslim community has by now learnt that their selfishness, silence, indifference and inactions, by each and every Muslim organisations, political and intellectual personalities, as to what had been taking place within the Muslim community from the Dawah (propaganda) interventions and other relevant matters, have cost the lives of innocent people, brought immense distress and fear to the Muslims, set back the progress of Sri Lanka and finally the economies of individuals and all communities to suffer alike. Another lesson learnt is that some of the Muslim politicians, community leaders, academics, professionals, activists and even the Ulema who took part in various media briefings, individually and collectively, were espousing their personal notions and behaviours as Muslims and not what should be as per Islamic way of life – this is very dangerous because members of other faiths would wish the Muslims to conform to what has been said by these modernist Muslims.
Where the subject matter should have been solutions to the curtailment of the ISIS based terrorism, violence against Muslims and subsequent assistance to life, property and the economy of the affected Muslims, these participants at media briefing were giving prescriptions as to how the Muslims, men and women, must adapt their lives and behaviours, particularly in dressing style, to be inclusive with other communities. Muslims had been always inclusive in their interactions with other communities, Sinhalese and Tamils, keeping their Islamic identity intact whether they were wearing sarong and coat (men) and sarees (women) in the distant past or wearing Avaya and head Scarf today as per changing fashion in the Muslim Ummah worldwide.
Another episode we see in the aftermath of Easter massacre and violence against Muslims is the partial consolidation of the groups and sects of the conservative Muslims involved in practices and rituals that are un-Islamic coming to the fore and shaming those who are upholding Thawheed in their lives and demanding that all Thawheed Associations (Jamaths) be banned. Definitely, any organisation calling itself Thawheed or by any other name advocating terrorism must be banned. But organisations that are involved in propagating the teachings of Islam and taking their guidance from the Qur’an and the Hadiths (Sunnah) and where necessary the practices of the three immediate generations of the Islamic Ummah (nation) known as Salaf-Us-Saliheen (the Salafs) and devoid of Shirk (polytheism) and Bida (Innovation) are in the correct Islamic path and thus they should be untouched.
Another phenomenon that has emerged is that the government, may be under pressure from vested interests – both Muslims and others – is trying to reform Muslim Personal Laws. One minister says the existing Sharia Laws will be amended and another minister says Sharia university will not be permitted. Both are diversionary tactics to hoodwink the people particularly the Sinhala Buddhists.
When the Constitution guarantees religious freedom, how does the government trying to take away the Personal Laws of a religious community? Or is it only for Muslims? Who is asking for Sharia university? A non-existing issue. Further, we have seen through media that the Prime Minister has said that the Muslim Marriages and Divorce Act (MMDA) will be amended to make the minimum age for marriage for Muslim girls as 18 years to be in lime will the general law of the country. MMDA is in the hold at present due to diverse views to its amendments.
The government should not make use of the present crisis to corner the Muslim community in various ways for pleasing the politico-racial element in the general populace and especially Sinhala-Buddhist racism. Any quick-fix to any issues making use of the present crisis and thereby not finding solutions to global terrorism that was seen in the Easter tragedy and the subsequent violence against Muslims will lead Sri Lanka towards the path of destruction for which the rulers of the present government will be held responsible and answerable by the would-be future rulers.
The Muslim community has to learn deeply from all that have been mentioned above and seek multiple ways of moving forward. The Muslim community is essentially weak as a large number of Muslims are leading lifestyles for the love of this world (Dunya) only and paying lip service to the Hereafter (Ahkirah) thus ignoring the foundational teachings of Islam. Allah (SWT) tells us that His trials on the wrongdoers will not only affect the wrongdoers but also the righteous. This is what the Muslim community is experiencing now and this has to be rectified before Allah (SWT) sends a greater calamity than what we see today.
Let us first ask for forgiveness (Istighfar) and then supplicate to Allah (SWT) to guide us to be in the righteous path of Islam. Why the Muslims of yesteryears got the respect and goodwill of the Sinhala and Tamil communities? Muslims behaved according to Islam – they were trustworthy, honest, and helpful, empathized with the difficulties of others, never hypocritical and so on. But today most of the Muslims, especially businesspersons, lack the qualities thus said and also indifferent to Haram and Halal in their earnings. Let each and every Muslim resolve to be a better Muslim day after day and seek the help of Allah (SWT) in all their rightful and righteous endeavours.
Source: Daily News, Ceylon