By Alhaj A.H.M. Azwer
We celebrated Eid Ul Fitr once again by the Grace of Allah. I hope and pray that we all have strived to get the full benefits of Ramadhan this year and celebrate Eid in its true spirit.
We correct our mistakes, become new persons and lay the foundation to carry forward all those meritorious acts in the coming year. We have increased our ‘Taqwa’ (a status of being conscious of God), which is the real purpose of fasting during Ramadhan.
Muslims are tested in various ways, the latest being the fearmongering by certain groups that they will be ruled under Shariah or Islamic law in Sri Lanka and they stand to lose their freedom. This is a baseless allegation, therefore it becomes imperative for Muslims of Sri Lanka to clear this misunderstanding among non-Muslims. It is forbidden to force anything on others.
Let it be known that under an ideal Islamic Government, “non-Muslims will have the same political and cultural rights as Muslims. They will have autonomy and freedom of religion.” This clause was enshrined in the Constitution of Medina, also known as the Charter of Medina under the instructions of Prophet Mohammed (S) when it was drafted in 622 CE.
Dr. John Andrew Morrow, author of The Covenants of Prophet Muhammad (Angelico Press 2013), commends this exemplary conduct of Prophet Mohammed (S) and opined that under the Constitution of Medina:
“Identity and loyalty were no longer to be based on family, tribe, kinship, or even religion. The overriding identity was membership in the ummah (nation) of Muhammad. The Constitution of Medina decreed that the citizens of the Islamic state were one and indivisible regardless of religion. Be they heathen, People of the Book, or Muslims, all those who were subject to the Constitution belonged to the same ummah (nation). In doing so, he created a tolerant, pluralistic government which protected religious freedom. The importance of this is so extraordinary that it is often misunderstood.”
Thus it is abundantly clear that in modern political parlance an Islamic nation is essentially secular in its outlook, which may come as a surprise to many. To the well-informed Muslims and non-Muslims alike this is not a surprise at all. Tolerance is important in Islam, and justice is equal to all as Andrew Murray stressed “even Muhammad the Messenger of Allah was not above the law.”
If Muslims have taken a little effort to spread this message, we would not have seen the misunderstandings that are prevalent regarding Islam in our society today. On this blessed day I urge my fellow Muslims take this as a religious duty and make a sincere effort to clear the doubts that exist among non-Muslims, not only on this issue but on countless other issues.
Overall it has been a tough year for the country. We faced many calamities including the heatwave and the flood disaster. All communities rose to the occasion as a single family and overcame the disastrous situation demonstrating that our strength lies in unity. By the Grace of God we can overcome even tougher situations and progress if we are united as one nation.
Let the celebrations usher in a new era for us as Muslims of Sri Lanka. Let us learn from our mistakes and pray for peace and prosperity in our beloved Motherland. Our prayers are also for the struggling brethren in rest of the world. May Allah alleviate their sufferings and grant them success.