For Muslim Critics of The Lankan Muslim Community


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.


Filed under 2013, politics, Sri Lanka

7 responses to “For Muslim Critics of The Lankan Muslim Community

  1. a few thoughts as a muslim critic… 🙂

    from my point of view the argument was about accusing an entire community (Jews) as being behind the attacks on muslims in SL, without an iota of proof/facts. unverified attacks especially targeted at whole communities (not individuals or organizations) are equally nauseating for me. for far too long have muslims blamed jews of all ills of its community. but these are the same prejudices that muslims have been at the receiving end and continue to be. i,e current wave of extremism targeted at muslims.
    so the attitude seems to be “its ok for muslims to be be prejudicial against jews but when some terrorist blows up people the world should not be so quick to be prejudicial against muslims.” i see this as plain and simple hypocrisy.

    in my humble opinion, self-criticism is not a reflection of insecurity of identity. it is a desire to improve and reform attitudes which are quite clearly WRONG! and sometimes UnIslamic! each individual has its own unique identify and opinions , it is not necessary that such opinions conform with that those of a community, not withstanding the fact there is no universal community opinion. if standing upto prejudice is non-conformist, i’m glad to be a non-conformist.

    it is easy to pay lip service to inter community relations and peace, but its equally important to back that up with your actions. for e:g how much do we muslims condemn extremist terrorists that have hijacked our religion and given us a bad name? what action are we taking? isnt it true that we secretly admire these ppl for standing upto the tyrant USA, inspite of them making a mockery of the teachings of ISLAM. it is these people that i consider to be shameful.
    we are angered by attacks on our mosques, but when muslims blowup others in the name of islam , we are indifferent. why?

    it is because of such attitudes that we see anti-islam critics spread more hatred against muslims. as such self-criticism and reform is necessary from within our communities, so that muslims are seen as a positive force for good in this world.

    also such reform is much needed as in the case of current Muslim Personal Law which makes it legal for a muslim man to commit polygamy even without the consent of his wife. this is clearly in contravention with islam and its spirit. i have seen the effects of such laws personally.

    i was educated at sri lanka muslim institutions and and spent an overwhelming part of my adult life in SL. i have muslims freinds than i have non-muslims, however i will not claim to speak for my community, but i will not be afraid to speak against injustice that i see, for it is incumbent upon me as a muslim.

    as for intentions, only allah knows such things and it is not for men to judge.

    • Raashid Riza

      I appreciate your sincerity, but you seem to not have understood most of what I have said. I must also mention at the outset that I did not write this post because of you, I don’t even know you to dedicate a post to you. So please note that this is a general post addressing specific attitudes. Also, thanks for taking so much time to construct a response.

      With regards the Jewish community and what you say about them, I don’t see the relevance in your bringing it up, I have hardly mentioned anything about Jews.

      I have not in any way criticised the criticism of one self. My post itself is one big criticism of the Muslim community. I have criticised the community and I claim to being a fierce critic of it. Please understand the context.

      You mention a lot of hogwash that hardly has an relevance and frankly you seem to have not understood much and somehow feel that this post is about you, at least judging by the deviations in your responses.

      With regards hypocrisy of Muslims vis a vis the hypocrisy of the West, I have written of such things many times over the six year history of this blog.

  2. i write this in the context of the crux of your post that castigating once own community seems to be akin to sinful or nauseating. i point out why it should not be, and why u should not be afraid to challenge the status quo. self-criticism and reform is in the long term interest of a community. it is unfortunate that you see it as hogwash and irrelevant.

    be that as it may, you seem to have misunderstood that this is some kind of personal attack on you, which is very unfortunate., i’m simply stating my views and i have not addressed you here at all. whether you have spoken on hypocrisy of muslims on your blog before or whether you are a critic youself is irrelevant, as this post is not about you.
    if somehow this post made you believe you were a target , then i deeply regret any action that may have caused you to think so.

    • Raashid Riza

      No, never felt I was a target. You and I have different levels of understanding of the current socio-political dynamics and are at different points in the curve. Best.

  3. first time reading your blog. And extremely ashamed as a buddhist in SL about the state of things in SL. It is important at least for a few to remain sane in the midst of insanity. What we see as buddhist extremism is the islamophobia. Our people in this country are emotional and lack critical analysis that many in other countries have. We believe anything that other people say and do not ponder upon its effects. As a nation we have suffered due to this. As a person who followed this hysteria i know how these things started. Firts it was youtube videos, then two blogs fighting with each other and now in FB. As we have many social network sites today the spread of evil is greater than we thought.

  4. Pingback: Lankan Muslims and Their Image Problem | Navigating on Balance

  5. Pingback: Sri Lankan Muslims And Their Image Problem By Raashid Riza | Story South Asia

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