Saturday February 27, 2021

Does religion allow such heinous attacks?

Published : 26 Apr 2019, 22:23

Updated : 26 Apr 2019, 22:41

  By Professor Abdul Mannan

Professor Abdul Mannan.

On the day of Easter, one of the biggest festivals of the Christian community, a coordinated deadly bomb blast in three churches and four five-star hotels in the capital of Sri Lanka Colombo and the adjacent district of Batticaloa 253 innocent people were killed and about five hundred injured. After New York’s 9/11, this was the deadliest attack by militants in any country. The attack was allegedly masterminded and executed by an obscure outfit of ISIS, National Thowfeek Jamaath (NTJ) of Sri Lanka. Its leader, alternatively known as Mo-hammed Zahrin or Zahran Hashim became known to Muslims in Sri Lanka three years ago for his incendiary speeches against people of other faiths in Sri Lanka.

According to the religious beliefs, three major religions emanated from the teaching of Hazrat Ibrahim. In Bible Hazrat Ibrahim is known as Abraham and the three religions preached by his followers are Judaism (Jews claim it is their original religion) by Hazrat Musa , known as Moses in Bible, Christianity by Hazrat Isah known to the Christians as Jesus and Islam by Hazrat Mohammad. They are all known as the Messengers of the Creator and highly respected by the people who recognise them as their prophets. Muslims respect all of them. It is also believed all of them were given a book by the Creator for the emancipation of mankind.

People work at a blast scene at St. Anthony's Church in Kochchikade in Colombo, Sri Lanka, April 21, 2019. Photo Xinhua.Religious people trust that the Creator sent his messengers one after the other to preach his teachings and to bring the peo-ple to path of righteousness, justice and humanity. But the people on earth lost their way and refused to believe the preaching of the Messengers. But Messengers kept on coming and the last Messenger was the Holy Prophet of Islam whose followers are known as Muslims and the religion as Islam. He preached peace, justice, tolerance and enlightenment like all His predecessors. To the believers he is con-sidered the last chance of coming to the shown path of the Creator. Jerusalem the city where Jesus was born was a colony of the Romans. In his early life he was said to be a Jew by many religious historians who preached the virtues of just and righteousness. The senior Jewish leaders thought that young Jesus is chal-lenging their supremacy and infringing their territory. They went and complained to the Roman Governor that Jesus is misleading the people through his sermons and teaching. It is said that the Governor believed in the complaints and ordered Jesus be arrested and put to death by crucification. After his death sentence was executed as ordered he was buried and as the belief goes on the third day of his burial he was called to heaven by the Creator. The grave where he was buried was found to be empty. The Christians term this day as the Day of Resurrection or Easter and is practised by his followers all over the world with due solemnity. Last Sunday was the Easter when the terror struck in Sri Lanka and so many inno-cent lives were lost.

When the 170 feet tall two early sixth century Buddha statues of Bamyan in Afghanistan were destroyed by the marauding Taliban in 2001 the Arab News published from Saudi Arabia broke the news with headline ‘This is not Islam.’ Unfortunately the half educated Mullahs and the self-styled Islamic scholars turned the religions of peace into a religion of hatred, intolerance and made it synonymous with terrorism and militancy. These hate merchants could indoctrinate many young minds with their completely flawed interpretation of Islam and turn them into devils of deaths and destructions like the ones that struck in Sri Lanka on last Sunday.

All religions preach peace, harmony and tolerance. But the half educated or self styled religions leaders made all religions instruments of death or destruction. Things did not stop there. Most religions also are divided into many schools of thought each contradicting the other. Killing of Shias by Sunni Muslims are common in Paki-stan and elsewhere in the Middle East. The Christians and Hindus of Pakistan are constantly in a state of fear. Amongst the Arab countries thousands of Muslims are dying every day due to inner feuding. The Saudi’s are bombing Yemen into Stone Age. In Afghanistan Taliban turned the country into a country of death and de-struction from which it is struggling to recover. In India Dalits face regular intimidation from upper caste Hin-dus and so do the Muslims and Christians. In Bangladesh the non-Muslims in many areas regularly face threats on one pretext or the other from the local Muslims. The fundamentalist Theravada Buddhists, which originated in Sri Lanka, are in the process of committing genocide in Muslim dominated province of Arakan. In Sri Lanka the Tamils inhabitants of North waged a civil war against Sri Lanka for about three decades which was crushed by the Sri Lankan army in 2004. Bomb blasts and killing of innocent people were quite common during those days. Since then no major incidents of terror happened in Sri Lanka until last Sunday. Sri Lanka is primarily a Buddhist majority country and out the total number of Buddhists approximately 12 per cent are Theravada Buddhists who sometimes did create problem for believers of other faiths. 13 per cent of the total population is Hindus and 10 per cent Muslims. People of all faiths lived in peace after the civil war ended. But peace gave way to death and destruction on the Holy Day of Easter.

The deadly incident of Sunday was a case of colossal Sri Lankan intelligence failure. They were warned about the probable danger by the Indian intelligence but not much of importance was given to the alert. It was an unprofessional behaviour on the part of the intelligence. Now Mullah Hashim who has been accused of being the mastermind behind the Easter mayhem must be traced and arrested along with his other accomplices. Already sixty accused and suspects have been arrested but the masterminds remain at large and could be waiting to stage another such deadly incident.

NTJ is known to be an obscure and small terror outfit but the question is what made them commit such a heinous act of destruction? May be they wanted the world to know about their existence by hitting soft tar-gets like churches and hotels. Initially the Taliban, Al-Qaida and the IS were small outfits but in course of time they became a global problem and thugs of destruction.

Let NTJ be nipped in its bud and if necessary Sri Lankan government can seek international cooperation. Mili-tants have no religion, no country and may hit anything anywhere and are considered a global problem.

After the Holy Artisan in Bangladesh no similar incident did take place in Bangladesh but it does not mean it may not happen in future. There are dozens of Mullah Hashims in Bangladesh who regularly preach hatred and intolerance. There is no reason why the government should be lenient towards them. Their activities should be regularly monitored and action taken against those who cross the border of civility and invite peo-ple to become their soldiers of destruction in all types of misdeeds in the name of religion. Being proactive is much more desirable than reacting to a situation once it occurs.

Our prayers are for the victims of mindless terror attack on Holy Easter on last Sunday and wish early recovery of those who are wounded. May the people of all faiths believe and practise tolerance and believe in the doctrine of civilisation survives only on the common understanding about the virtues of peace and harmony.

Notes: The writer is the Chairman of University Grants Commission of Bangladesh and a former Vice-Chancellor, University of Chittagong, Bangladesh.