“By Time, Indeed mankind is in loss, Except for those who have believed and done righteous deeds and advised each other to truth and advised each other to patience” (Surah Al-‘Asr 1-3)
Surah Al-‘Asr is self-explanatory when it warns of the total loss of mankind for failure to believe in Allah, do righteous deeds and advice each other on truth and patience. The Muslim Ummah is passing a difficult time both locally and globally. The image of Muslims is tarnished, Islam is disparaged and misinformed and the Muslim community is suspected for every conflict whilst they are the victim themselves.
No doubt, the failure of the Muslim to strictly believe in Allah, do righteous deeds devoutly and advice and exhort on truth and patience and be torchbearers to mankind, are the main reasons. This Surah forewarns and sets the bounds to Muslims to be responsible as devout servants of Allah to avert loss in both the worlds. In light of this, the Muslims cannot behave whimsically and then call themselves true believers. Therefore, they have to bear responsibility for their actions and be answerable to Allah. To those believers who staunchly stand for Allah and satisfy Him, He assures the best of protection. Therefore believers need not worry about the rise of racism or any anti-Islamism since their protection lies in their responsible behavior and divine protection.
Rise of racism in society is not only a threat to Muslims but also to every citizen in this country and the country’s image, reputation and economy as a whole. Any group unleashing racism and extremism in the name of religion, community and caste etc. are traitors dragging the country down the abyss. Rising Buddhist extremism and anti-Muslim tirade by fringe elements does not represent the majority Sinhalese or the Maha Sanga. They are sane, knowledgeable, decent and patriotic and they do not wish the country to sink back to conflicts.
The present Maithri-Ranil government envisions building Sri Lanka as a pluralistic nation free of racism and corruption, the two evils that dragged the country down. The vision of the government needs to be supported to build a pluralistic democracy built on respect, recognition, reciprocation based on mutual rights and responsibilities. Racism, extremism and corruption are enemies to progress and civilization. Therefore it is the responsibility of every citizen and the state to fight against them.
The Muslims, having been silent victims of racism in the past at the hands of the chauvinistic forces, do have concerns when law and order fails by extremist forces taking the law unto their hands. Recent past events in Aluthgama and similar other simmering anti-Muslim activism are cause for concerns. Hence pursuant to this, The National Shoora Council at a special meeting with its Member Organisation (MOs) held on 11 July 2016, resolved as follows:
- In the backdrop of the re-emergence of anti-Muslim hate speeches, racial and religious incitements against the minority communities, the NSC calls upon the Government that it has a duty to create and ensure an environment where all its citizens can live peacefully.
- The Government and the relevant State agencies like the Police must protect and safeguard the fundamental rights of its citizens without discrimination, as enshrined in the Constitution and uphold the Rule of Law without fear or favour.
- To meet with HE The President, Mr. Maithripala Sirisena, The Hon. Prime Minister Mr. Ranil Wickremasinghe, Muslim Politicians, The Defence Secretary, Advocacy groups and Civil organisations to discuss with them about the rise of racism and religious violence in the country.
- NSC also notes that there could be a hidden agenda in the recurrence of such uncultured racist behaviour which may also include destabilising the government, create economic turmoil and drag the country towards anarchy.
- The NSC recognises that the media in all its forms has a crucial role to play in keeping with the ethics of journalism and moral values.
- The NSC recognises that the bad conduct of a few does not in any way represent the majority of the cultured, decent and respectable Sinhalese people. It also understands that the bad behaviour of some disgruntled monks do not represent the majority of the Sangha community.
- Therefore, the NSC strongly appeals to the Muslim community to ignore all forms of provocation, incitement or intimidation and to be patient and calm without resorting to any form of reaction whatsoever. The NSC reminds the Muslims that Islam is a religion of peace and tolerance.
- The NSC plans to set up a permanent arm aimed at addressing this phenomenon, to help the government by identifying solutions, to clarify misinformation, misconceptions and misperceptions about Muslims and Islam and other activities which will help create understanding and peaceful co-existence.