Should Muslims “Turn the Other Cheek”?

(In the wake of assault and violence against Muslims of Sri Lanka, how long should we observe ‘patience’?)

After more than two years of a very successful hate campaign against Muslims, Sri Lanka has suffered a severe outbreak of religious violence as seen during the Aluthgama incident and the ones that followed it. Bloodshed, violence, burnt property, crying children, displaced people; a not so old nightmare reawakened. In such critical times, what does it mean for “Muslims to be Patient?” Does it mean you succumb to the blows of thugs in silence when they demolish your property and assault your family?
“Inna ALLAHa ma’a saabireen”.

Patience, in this context does not mean “turning the other cheek”. It is the kind of Patience that would prevent the way forward for harm and damage. During the last two years, when there were so many hate speeches, provocative action and heartless accusations pinned on Muslims, 99% remained patient. We did not respond to violence with violence; we did not retort with hate for the hate we received. If there was one thing that prevented the outbreak of trenchant violence against Muslims so far, with Allah’s help − it is the fact that Muslims did not provide a chance to “instigate” the mayhem. Extremists are monsters. Their faculties are beyond reason and rationality. All they have been waiting for so long is an opportunity.

According one version of the story, this opportunity came on the 12th of June, the day of Poson Poya in the form of the actions of two thoughtless “Muslim” youth who acted on the spur of a moment, when they assaulted the driver (of a monk) and allegedly the monk as well, (who was present in the vehicle).It is also said the driver had insulted and verbally harassed these youth. Justice was carried out by arresting the youths involved in this incident. However our newly formed fully functioning ‘state apparatus’, the Bodhu Bala Sena had to impart their own share of ‘justice’ by organizing a rally on the 15th of June.

The “talk of the town” now is that Muslims pelted stones at the “people who were returning to their homes peacefully” after the rally. If it is the “stones that Muslims pelted”, which lead to the killing of at least four people belonging to minority communities, demolishing Muslim owned businesses, burning down Muslim houses, et cetera; any reasonable person arrives at the obvious question: where in the world did the “peacefully marching” people get their weapons from? Did the petrol bombs, the swords, the guns (in certain instances) all suddenly and magically materialize from thin air?

Returning to the subject of Muslims being “Patient”; this incident speaks for itself. We gave the hungry monsters an “opportunity” which they pounced upon with all their might. I know as humans we are bound to snap at some point. But at trying times such as this, I believe we have to be the people with magnanimous hearts. Our actions must be dictated by wisdom and insight. One very important fact is to NOT LOSE HOPE. After my faith in the power of the Almighty, I still believe in the peace loving majority of Sri Lankans. It is our duty as Muslims to not harbour any resentment towards the peace loving majority of the Sri Lankan population; our actions should never hurt anyone of them, in any way.

This patience may sometime appear as a form of cowardice. But when a troop retreats during a battle, there could be many reasons for it. One of which is that it is acting out of farsighted wisdom. It is this kind of wisdom that is evident in this patience. Yes, we have Allah on our side; numbers do not matter. But at what cost can there be another outbreak of violence? Our motherland is still undergoing treatment for battle wounds of the past. Patience at such times as this requires more courage than violence. The ‘monsters’ will have to answer and they surely will one day, until then let us carry out our struggle against injustice in the most beautiful and peaceful manner. Let us behave in accordance with the teachings of kindness, compassion and mercy, the precepts that Lord Buddha and Prophet Muhammad (PBUH) reflected through their struggle for the sake of humanity.

– Binth Niwas (IiWords)

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