Monday 21 January, 2013
Responding to ‘The Rizana Saga’
( a response to Shenali Waduge)
Hameed Abdul Karim
Reading Shenali Waduge’s article titled ‘The Rizana Saga…’ in Ceylon Today dated Thursday 17 January, 2013 I got the impressions that the writer had changed tacks and had had a change of heart, especially when she blamed the External Affairs Ministry for the plight of our women in the Middle-East and the Gulf.
But when I got towards the end of the piece I realised I was sadly mistaken and I got this suspicion that it wasn’t any concern for poor Rizana’s family’s that motivated her to write but rather she found an opening in her family’s plight to indulge in her favourite pastime of punching Muslims and their faith.
Under the sub headline ‘Fellow Muslims have failed’ she displays here detestation for Islam and Muslims when she complains that Muslims had failed to financially help Rizana’s family. But her bluff is exposed in her digression where she says ‘mosques are coming up all over Sri Lanka like mushrooms, when money is thrown to somehow push for Sharia laws to be implemented in Sri Lanka, when rigid extremism of Islam is appearing to signal danger signs for the country…’ . Of course, she doesn’t give us any sources for her inflammatory suppositions and we simply have to rely on her fertile imagination for her baseless claims.
I am fairly well acquainted with what’s happening in the country, and I can assure your readers that mosques are not sprouting like ‘mushrooms’ and neither is there a campaign to somehow push for the implementation of Sharia law in the country. And I can say with firm conviction that Muslims are not ‘throwing’ money to implement Sharia law. There would be no sense in doing such a stupid thing. Aspects of Sharia law already exist in our statutes under different guises and if the writer can only get hold of books on the Sharia’s contribution to international law written by our own Judge Weeramantry, of international fame, it might change her mind set on the issue of Sharia if not Muslims.
Prof John Makdisi
Allow me to point out at least one of the many contributions the Sharia has made to legal system in England for example. John Makdisi, Professor of law at Harvard had said ‘the Islamic legal system (Sharia) was far superior to the primitive legal system of England before the birth of the Common Law. It was natural for the more primitive system to look to the more sophisticated one as it developed three institutions that played a major role in creating the common law. The action of debt, the assize of novel dissension and trial by jury introduced mechanisms for a more rational, sophisticated legal process that existed only in Islamic law (Sharia) at that time.
Prof. John Makdisi goes on to say ‘the study of the characteristics of the function and structure of Islamic law (Sharia) demonstrates its remarkable kinship with the Common Law in contrast to the civil law. Finally, one cannot forget the opportunity for the transplant of the (legal) mechanisms from Islam through Sicily to Norman England in the twelfth century (emphasis mine)
The writer’s contention that ‘rigid extremism of Islam is appearing to signal danger signs for the country’ is completely misplaced. The ‘danger signals’ lie elsewhere if only Ms. Waduge can see them. The other day we heard a Buddhist monk screaming ‘ado thambiya’ many times at an individual and then to add insult to injury we had the media guys asking him if he was a Muslim in such a combative manner that it suggested that being a Muslim was equal to being a criminal. As it turned out the individual was a Sinhala Buddhist. His only ‘fault’ was that he had a beard. We had the destruction of a Muslim shrine at Anuradhapura not to mention the disgraceful ‘disrobing’ of a monk in front of a young girl during the attack at the mosque in Dambulla led by the chief prelate of the Buddhist temple in the vicinity in the presence of police personnel. We have had attacks on churches and kovils. In Trincomalee Mahatma Gandhi’s statue was destroyed. There have been reports that Christian priests have been assaulted in public for preaching their faith. Up until today there has been no legal action against the perpetrators of these violations. This is where the danger signs lie, if you are impartial enough to give these violations some serious and sensible thoughts.
Ms. Waduge’s comparison to Rizana’s ‘execution’ and the protests over the derogatory movie about the Prophet Muhammad (peace be on him) is inconsistent with the fact that the former was a tragedy whilst the latter was an insult to the faith of Muslims.
I agree with the writer when she says that the authorities should do something to stop our women going overseas for employment. The absence of mothers from their homes is creating chaos in families and anyone with a sense of social consciousness will readily agree that something drastic must be done immediately to stop our women from going abroad for employment.
We must also remember that over a hundred thousand of our women work in the Middle East and the Gulf region. And often times we hear negative stories of some unscrupulous employer abusing our house maids. What we fail to see is, barring a few bad apples, the Arabs have treated our people very humanely. But sunshine stories don’t get into the media. The bad ones do. Remember the story of the ‘nailed’ housemaid? We were quick take her word and blamed her employer, but it turned out the woman had got the nails put into her body with a view to get some financial benefits. When this aspect of the story leaked out it was quick to die a natural death.