Monthly Archives: January 2013

Parliament Jokes

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Don’t be fooled to think from the title that this post is about the cinematic rubbish that Ranjan Ramanayake stars in.

I wrote a post for The Platform titled ‘Parliamentary Debates: The Politics of Comedy’, this was a ranking of ten instances when humour has been utilised expertly to convey a point in the British Parliament. Sadly, such banter does not manifest itself that much in the Sri Lankan Parliament.

As Cerno outlines –

Sri Lankan Parliamentary rhetoric is far too contaminated with hate, absence of intellect, selfish hunger for power and most of all disrespect for another, to facilitate the smooth humorous intercourse of banter. The closest one of our parliamentarians would come would be from this gem by Mervyn Silva.

This is a post to shamelessly promote what I wrote for The Platform. Either way, I am sure readers will find the videos entertaining. I cannot speak for my writing.

Image from here.

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Sri Lanka and the Halal Controversy

I have been trying to write on this matter for sometime, for lack of time and the want to write something coherent without just ranting, I have been keeping away from it.

This gentleman from the Jemmiyathul Ulema (Sri Lankan body of Muslim Theologians) gives an excellent analysis of the social, legal and political dimensions of what ‘Halal’ is and what this controversy is all about, in very eloquent Sinhalese I must add.

It is important that non Muslims in Sri Lanka are enlightened on this matter,  please do share this video to dispel doubts and reduce the chances of unnecessary tension.

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The Golden Globes, Homeland and Islamophobia

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I watched both seasons of Homeland, as gripping and exciting as both seasons are, I couldn’t help but feel disappointed that it is yet another film/TV Series that portrays the default image of Muslims as being terrorists. In the defence of the show, it does show the US Vice President as being a murderer who ordered drone strikes that killed 80 or so children, but the damages the show would do for the image of an everyday Muslim living a normal life is overshadow any depiction of fairness or balance of the real narrative.

It is with a lot of accuracy that Laila Al Arian describes the show as “TV’s most Islamophobic show“.

I like Damian Lewis who plays Sergeant Brody, the Muslim, Vice Presidential candidate nominee and secret terrorist. I posted a facebook link to Damian Lewis being interviewed by Jonathan Ross where he says that he did not want the film to make ‘lazy’ comparisons between  Islam and violence, and instead Islam could be a force for good that sustains him. As noble as Lewis’s thoughts may have been, I am reluctant to feel that Homeland succeeds in doing that. I did the mistake of posting the YouTube link on facebook before actually watching the show.

Homeland has been featuring in my facebook feed for sometime now and many have been watching it. My worry is that it will reinforce the wrong and lazy assertion that the average Muslims, for all their average activities are usually closet terrorists.

The Golden Globe awards that concluded a few days ago have been an endorsement of a rancid American foreign policy in the Middle East and the Film Industry has yet again proved to be the preferred apparatus of US foreign policy to set the stage for future operations.

Rachel Shabi notes in The Guardian about the Golden Globes-

The three winners have all been sold as complex, nuanced productions that don’t shy away from hard truths about US foreign policy. And liberal audiences can’t get enough of them. Perhaps it’s because, alongside the odd bit of self-criticism, they are all so reassuringly insistent that, in an increasingly complicated world, America just keeps on doing the right thing. And even when it does the wrong thing – such as, I don’t know, torture and drone strikes and deadly invasions – it is to combat far greater evil, and therefore OK.

I am inclined to side with Rachel wholeheartedly.

If Homeland did one good thing to sustain my faith it is this – Brody recites a prayer after Abu Nazeer is killed, in thankfulness that his life is now returning to normal, he recites this outside Carrie’s family holiday camping home, I had forgotten this prayer, I must say I say it a lot now. If not for anything, I am thankful to Homeland for this.

وَقَالُواْ ٱلۡحَمۡدُ لِلَّهِ ٱلَّذِى هَدَٮٰنَا لِهَـٰذَا وَمَا كُنَّا لِنَہۡتَدِىَ لَوۡلَآ أَنۡ هَدَٮٰنَا ٱللَّهُ‌ۖ

And they say: The praise to God, Who has guided us to this. We could not truly have been led aright if God had not guided us. (A’raf : 43)

Image from here

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The Falconer

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Falconer, Deserts of Dubai.

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The Desert Dweller

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Kind man who offered to pose for a photograph after he guided me on a camel ride.

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For Muslim Critics of The Lankan Muslim Community

Finger-pointing

I was involved in a twitter argument with someone known and someone unknown about the recent spate of Buddhist extremism in Sri Lanka, particularly instigated against Muslims.  The argument was that there were certain sections of the Muslim community in Sri Lanka who claim that Buddhists are not entirely to blame for the recent anti Muslim activities, but rather there is an outside force kindling unnecessary fires, in this case the group in question was Jewish/Israeli interference. Whether there is authenticity to such claims is for an entirely different post.

But my argument is this, it is nauseating to see some Muslims in Sri Lanka so easily driven to castigate the Sri Lankan Muslim community, if it isn’t clear – castigating their own community. This is a typical mindset fostered by Muslims in many parts of the world where Muslims are a subjugated minority with very low upward mobility, socially, politically or economically. It reflects a sense of insecurity of being part of the community that is so backward, and therefore castigating it is a way of trying to get others to look at one differently. As if to get others to say, “oh he may be from the Muslim community, but he is cooler than most of them”.

The vast majority of my adult life was spent in the West, therefore I understand how the temptation and indeed the opportunities to want to distance one self from the negativities intrinsic to your own community is extremely high. It is a sort of pariah attitude where you feel like you can belong in a better community, but at the same time not be accepted by any other community, simply for not being one of them. I was fostered and harnessed entirely by non Muslim institutions; the only Muslim institution that took care of me was my family. Therefore, the vast majority of my social transactions are with non Muslims, social transactions with Muslims are a mere trifle compared to the rest. Thus, I understand why others in my situation may feel the need to castigate their identity and thereby be apologists in the empty belief that they would be better accepted by another social circle that isn’t of their own.

But in my humble belief, that is to confess an insecurity of their own identity – in this case a Sri Lankan Muslim. The Sri Lankan Muslim community is one of the most backward communities in Sri Lanka, most of the indices point towards such backwardness. The percentage of Muslim university entrants is lesser than the population percentage of Muslims in Sri Lanka as a whole, and the percentage of Muslim convicts is greater than the population percentage of Muslims in Sri Lanka as a whole.

This must not be misunderstood as wanting to not foster integration. Indeed it is pivotal that all communities in Sri Lanka integrate and harness good inter community relations if Sri Lanka is to rise as a built nation.

I will be a fierce critic of my community if need be, but I would consider it shameful and beneath myself to exaggerate the ills of my community in order the project myself as being much better than that. I speak of community here, but the same applies to one’s identity as being part of a nation. If you live in the West, castigating Sri Lanka as a nation is not the way to amplify your otherwise sound credentials.

Therefore, Muslim critics of the Sri Lankan Muslim community, can criticise all they want – but should always keep their intentions purified and in check. Whatever they may think, their community and their country will always be bigger than them.

Image from here.

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Excellent piece by my good friend Ziad, very well thought out and structured.

Prophetic Attitude to Disability

Not a great deal of information can be found in the life of the Prophet Muhammed or in the Qur’an regarding the issue of disability. But like many other issues within the Islamic tradition, a lot can be drawn from a single prophetic example. With this I have in mind the incident where a blind man asked if he could be exempt from the general obligation of attending congregational prayer at the mosque, and pray at home instead due to his disability. Now, given the endless examples of the Prophet’s leniency, gentleness, and patience with all members of his community – especially towards the old, sick, and the needy, one would reasonably expect that the Prophet would have permitted the exemption. However, the tradition goes on to tell us that the Prophet turned down the blind man’s request and encouraged him to attend like everyone else…

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