Woman selling achcharu (fruit pickle), Galle Face Green
As Ramadan ends at the Manhattan mosque controversy simmers, I thought it might be opportune to talk about the brown muslims. Contrary to popular western belief, most Muslims are not Arabs (contrary to Sri Lankan Muslim beliefs, most of them aren’t very Arab either). Contrary to some belief, Muslims are not terrorists or even sympathetic. There is sympathy and support for terrorism in states like Afghanistan, Pakistan, Iran and Saudi Arabia, but that is more to do with their political issues than Islam. As proof, if Islam were correlated with terrorism, one would expect the most populous Muslim countries (India and Indonesia) to be anti-American. They’re not. Muslims are, by now, billions of very diverse people and just cause Al Qaeda claims the mantle of Islam doesn’t make it so. They have their own Arab political issues. As much as the heart of Islam is in Arabia, its body is now spread all over the world.
A friend once asked if it was safe to travel to Sri Lanka, she’d heard that there were Muslims here. I just laughed. Muslims are the last people she’d have to worry about here. Of all the people who’ve been killing, Muslims have done the least. Indeed, they are some of the few people who can speak bi or tri-lingually. Muslims might throng the Colombo World Trade Center for a Deli Market buffet but they’re quite unlikely to blow it up.
If you go out Muslims are often a majority in public spaces. I went to Excel World post-Ramadan and it was packed. Dinemore, everyday, so much so that I think they’re now buying out Pizza Hut. Many Muslims keep apart and I see more and more women in full hijab, but I don’t see any strife.
I’m not saying that Muslims are saints. They are certainly human. In my limited knowledge they don’t seem to marry out of the faith which can make for a lot of unhappy people otherwise in love. I don’t know what else. They’re human, but I’m liable to say that the horrid things they do are due more to their human failings than to Islam. Just as terrorism is a human scourge more than a religious one. But living in Sri Lanka and knowing many Muslims, I must say that I find the Muslim/Terrorist association completely absurd. We have Muslims and we had terrorists and let me tell you, they are not the same.
Eid Mubarak, belatedly. Someone please give me biriyani.