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.