[Buddha-l] Insight into Anti-Muslim Violence in Sri Lanka

Jo ugg-5 at spro.net
Wed Aug 21 19:35:57 MDT 2013

There has always been a sizeable population of Muslims in Sri Lanka.
See https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Islam_in_Sri_Lanka 

Besides the SL Moors, there are Malay Muslims and Indian Muslims.

Chris asked:
'Are there now many Salafi and Wahhabi Muslims in Sri Lanka?'

I have no statistics, although I'm betting that they are beginning to
prevail. Hope that I'm wrong. 

What I do know is that since the 1970s, if not earlier, the Saudis have been
propagating their version (Wahhabi) of Islam to Muslims everywhere on the
planet,  by means of missionizing clerics, interest free loans, financial
support for building new mosques and madressahs, massive loans for building
secular & religious Muslim institutions.  

They persuade their Muslim targets, who had been practicing local versions
of religion for centuries, that they are not true Muslims, that they have
allowed kaffir-- impure, unbeliever-- practices to invade their culture.
Thus they persuade locals to allow them to import clerics from Saudi to man
the mosques and madressahs. Hence, loss of ancient traditions. 

The Saudis also IMO have been encouraging Sunni-Shia conflict amongst
Muslims who formerly got along pretty well for centuries, often going to one
another's festivals. This inter-communal, collective habit has been
condemned by Wahhabi or Salafi clerics as un-Islamic--such as holy days of
Sufi saints, taking vows at their shrines or tombs, Shias processing
hand-crafted towers on Ashura (thought of as replicas of Hussain's tomb).
THEIR goal is to convert all Shias to Sunnis. Shiism has been condemned as
un-Islamic. Sri Lankan Muslims even used to attend the annual celebration of
the Hindu deity Kataragama--taking vows, engaging in body piercing penances,
fire-walking, and such. This popular practice has been recorded in a fine
film titled Kataragama, where the anthropologist Obeyeysekere was a
I'm not saying that all SL Muslims participated thus--but many of them did,
as they once did in India Pakistan and Bangladesh as well.
The battle cry of the Wahhabis in S. Asia has always been "Islam is in
danger". Its protection is forceful calls for its purification of all
heathen practices and ideas.

As the Wahhabis cause Muslim minorities to become more fanatical about a
version of orthopraxis--to that extent they become more obvious to their
non-Muslim majority neighbors.  Look at the photo of Sri Lankan early 20th c
Moors in the Wikipedia article: not one of them sports a full beard, while
all wear mustaches. Wahhabism condemns mustaches but insists on the full
uncut beard! Aside from the topis (hats), these chaps are dressed in Sri
Lankan garb. 

Now ponder how it goes over with the Buddhists when the former
non-ethnically clad Muslims start going about wearing full beards and
Arab-imitating gowns, while the women start wearing various stages of hijab,
from a headscarf or Indian-style burqa to the full Arab niqab, where only
eyes appear from behind two slits in the black face covering. The same sort
of shocking changes have begun appearing in southern (Malay part) Thailand.
Indonesian women never used to cover their heads, at least a la
Wahhabi--they wore a blouse over a lungi, maybe a sort of casually wrapped
turban. Today many of them wear a special head covering now being
promulgated all over Muslim southeast Asia--a white thing that fully covers
the head & ties under the chin, with a sort of skirt below the chin that
covers throat and chest--reminiscent of some nuns.

Thus public gestures of exclusion from a majority culture, together with
generally more aggressive expressions of their new correct religious
practices.... I think of how the city of Dhaka changed between 1976 and
1987-98: once a quiet peaceful town, it turned into a loudly promulgated
Muslim establishment (via loudspeakers on every religious building) with a
mosque just about on every corner.  Women stopped wearing sari as was the
old Bengali custom--it was trumped by the Pakistani style of shalwar-kamiz
with shawl. More burqas and long ankle length gowns with shawl began to
appear in public. I'm guessing that niqabs have made an appearance as well,
partly a demonstration that the woman wearing it has gone on Haj to Mecca.
However, all this is not a problem in Bangladesh because it is a Muslim
majority nation, has been since 1947 (and before).





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