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Karguzari (Report) on Islam in Sri Lanka

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#1 [Permalink] Posted on 20th January 2014 12:18
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Democratic Socialist Republic of Sri Lanka, is an island country in the northern Indian Ocean off the southern coast of the Indian subcontinent in South Asia; known until 1972 as Ceylon (/sɨˈlɒn, seɪ-, siː-/), Sri Lanka has maritime borders with India to the northwest and the Maldives to the southwest.

This land has thousands of years of documented history and also mentioned in Islamic history by two names respetively:

  1. سرنديب Sarandip: Islamic history almost exclusively calls this area Sarandip
  2. سيلان Ceylaan: This is latinised as "Ceylon" in English and it is the old name and changed to Sri Lanka in 1972

Muslim Scholars and historians have mentioned these islands many times in their work and some of the references are as follows:

Firstly, there are historical traditions to note that Sayyidina Adam (AS) when exiled from Jannah landed on a mountain (Adam's Peak) in Sri Lanka, these claims are not mentioned in Hadeeth so cannot be authenticated.

Secondly, there is another claim that Sayyidina Adam (AS) went to India after he was forgiven by Allah (SWT) and is actually buried in Sri-Lanka,. Sayyidina Thabit Bannni (RA) has recorded this and Imam Ibn Katheer (RA) seems to have accepted this claim as authentic. 

  وعن ثابت البناني أنهم دفنوه في "سرنديب" في الموضع الذي أُهْبِط فيه، وصححه الحافظ ابن كثير

Thirdly, it is mentioned that a young Imam Bukhari (RA) used to attend the lectures of the famous Scholar Ishaq Ibn Rahwayh (RA) who once remarked as to how magnificient it would be to compile a book containing only "Authentic Ahadeeth" . The young Imam Bukhari (RA) thus dedicated his life to compiling Saheeh Bukhari and when his teacher Ishaq Ibn Rahwayh (RA) heard this goal (of his student) the magnificence of this task was likened to Sarandip (Sri Lanka).

يُعتقد أن كتاب "صحيح البخاري" الذي سماه "الجامع الصحيح" أصح كتاب لدى المسلمين بعد القرآن الكريم. وهو فعلاً كذلك إذ أنه كتاب يحتوي على أحاديث للنبي صلى الله عليه وسلم تعتبر مصدراً رئيساً في التشربع وفهم السنة الصحيحة. روى البخاري قصة هذا الكتاب. قال أنه كان في مقتبل العمر جالساً يسمع من الإمام إسحاق بن راهويه، فسمعه يقول: ليت لو جُمعت الأحاديث الصحيحة في كتاب واحد. قال البخاري بأن هذا الكلام وقع في نفسه، فاجتهد على أن يعمل ذلك فعمله! وجود البخاري الذي هو من بخاري (أوزبكستان) في مجلس لإسحاق بن راهويه في العراق يسمع منه، وقول بن راهويه لهذه الكلمة، وسماع البخاري لها، وتأثره وتحمسه، ثم عمل هذا الجهد العظيم سرنديب
 

Fourthly, this reference made Muslims curious about this Island and many travellers such as Ibn Batuta (RA) travelled there and described the majestic mountains of Sri Lanka as one of the greats in their world.

قال ابن بطوطة عن جبل سرنديب أنه: من أعلى جبال الدنيا. رأيناه من البحر، وبيننا وبينه مسيرة تسعة. ولما صعدناه كنا نرى السحاب أسفل، قد حال بيننا وبين رؤية أسفله. وفيه كثير من الأشجار التي لا يسقط لها ورق، والأزاهير الملونة، والورد الأحمر على قدر الكف. ويزعمون أن في ذلك الورد كتابة يقرأ منها اسم الله تعالى واسم رسوله عليه الصلاة والسلام. وفي الجبل طريقان إلى القدم: أحدهما يعرف بطريق "بابا"، والآخر بطريق "ماما". يعنون آدم وحواء عليهما السلام. فأما طريق ماما فطريق سهل، عليه يرجع الزوار إذا رجعوا. ومن مضى عليه فهو عندهم كمن لم يزر، وأما طريق بابا فصعب، وعر المرتقى. وفي أسفل الجبل حيث دروازته، مغارة تنسب أيضاً للإسكندر وعين ماء. ونحت الأولون في الجبل شبه درج يصعد عليها، وغرزوا فيها أوتاد الحديد، وعلقوا منها السلاسل ليتمسك بها من يصعده. وهي عشر سلاسل، اثنتان في أسفل الجبل إلى حيث الدروازة، وسبع متوالية بعدها، والعاشرة هي سلسلة الشهادة. لأن الإنسان إذا وصل إليها ونظر إلى أسفل الجبل أدركه الوهم خوف السقوط. ثم إذا جاوزت هذه السلسلة، وجدت طريقاً مهملة. ومن السلسلة العاشرة إلى مغارة الخضر سبعة أميال. وهي في موضع فسيح، عندها عين ماء تنسب إليه أيضاً ملأى بالحوت، ولا يصطاده أحد. وبالقرب منها حوضان منحوتان في الحجارة عن جانبي الطريق. وبمغارة الخضر يترك الزوار ما عندهم، ويصعدون منها ميلين إلى أعلى الجبل حيث القدم.

Looking at the map Sri Lanka appears like a tear drop separated from India

I fully understood that many of these Islamic historical accounts may not be authentic, yet the mention of Sarandip intrigued me so I wanted to visit and have a look for myself :p

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#2 [Permalink] Posted on 20th January 2014 12:21

During the trip I got arrested, got intoxicated (by accident), dealt with gangsters so the usual trip with details to come as follows. This trip took place in 2007 so details will be documented to the best of my ability.

The whole trip was an accident so all I had with me were:

  1. T-Shirt which I wore and Jeans,
  2. Money
  3. Passport 
  4. Miswak

After the rain I had to wring my T-Shirt and trousers and put it on backwards and sit until I got semi-dry and then put them on the right away and keep going and had to keep my passport and tickets inside my shirt so the body heat will keep it from getting wet!

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#3 [Permalink] Posted on 20th January 2014 14:29
(salam) akhii

Enjoyed your other thread on the Balkans, definitely looking forward to further updates on this one as well.



Eagerly awaiting......
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#4 [Permalink] Posted on 20th January 2014 16:06

Language Barrier: Contrary to popular belief, most Sri Lankans outside of Colombo and while travelling around the country don’t speak English well but their courtesy, manners and demeanour makes up for the language barrier. Sri Lanks are generally and naturally very friendly people. They also don’t speak Hindi, Urdu or Arabic apart from Sri Lankans who are involved with Tableeghi Jamaat, which appeared to be every Sri-Lankan Muslim, Masha’Allah. 

Political Background: Unfortunately, Sri Lanka was in the midst of Civil War (1983-2009) when I arrived. Sri Lankans (majority Buddhists) are humble people who have been bullied by Indian backed (Hindu) LTTE and countless lives have been lost. Sri Lanka has been one of the most favourite playgrounds for the India RAW and most Sri Lankans know what Indians do to their country but are too small and powerless to do anything about it. Pakistan on the other hand to give the Indians a bloody nose has been providing military arms, training and tactics to Sri Lankans military and have been (unfortunately) behind the bloodbath which Sri Lankan Government deemed necessary to crush the insurgency.

Most educated and aware Sri Lankans are friendly and particularly grateful towards Pakistan and Pakistanees , although they have closer geographical and historical ties with their neighbour (India).

Cultural Background:  The cricket mad Sri Lankans are particularly grateful to Pakistanees for their role in encouraging and nurturing Sri Lankan cricket on an International stage. This is mentioned again and again in Sri Lanka by people in the street and officials the minute they find out that you are from Pakistan.

You cannot move one inch in Sri Lanka without someone in complete jaw dropping awe at Shoaib Akhtar and his breaking the 100mph barrier!

From Rickshaw drivers to waiters to police, the Rawalpindi Express rulez Sri-Lanka! Whenever you get stopped by stern looking Sri Lankan authorities, mention Shoaib and a huge smile breaks out! 

 

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#5 [Permalink] Posted on 20th January 2014 16:31

I arrived at Bandaranaike International Airport (Colombo) and it is pretty simple looking building went through immigration without much of a problem except for conversation about...

You guessed it!

Sri Lanka was in the middle of a civil war and I had to get from the Airport to the nearest Bus station and I knew that I had to get out of the Airport to catch a Rickshaw but the military stopped me right at the door.

Some serious looking private asked me for my passport and then asked in broken English as to where I was from and then...

You know who got mentioned with a big grin!

I was escorted to a building and they told me that I was a Guest in Sri Lanka and its their responsibility to ensure that my stay is pleasant and safe and I was not allowed to exit the Airport security cordon. I was told to get a TAXI to go to the Bus station roughly 3-4 KM’s away.

I walked in that direction and asked a Taxi driver and he told me a fare of 270 Rupees. I double-backed and then escaped through a hole in the Security fence, crossed the Road and caught a Rickshaw for the same Bus Station for 70 Rupees!

Rickshaw driver spoke almost no English but as soon as he knew I was from Pakistan he said

Shoaib Akhtar, very fast!

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#6 [Permalink] Posted on 24th January 2014 00:22
masha'allah, nice thread.

Sri Lankans who are involved with Tableeghi Jamaat, which appeared to be every Sri-Lankan Muslim, Masha'Allah.

Sri Lankans are Shafi Tablighis like Gujuratis are Hanafi Tablighis, it doesn't mean that most of them take part in a'maal. Also, there are Jamati-Islamis and Tauheed-Jamatis (Ahle-Hadees) as well as quite a few haari pagri and haqqani bidatis and Sufis from other tariqas.

The cricket mad Sri Lankans are particularly grateful to Pakistanees for their role in encouraging and nurturing Sri Lankan cricket on an International stage. This is mentioned again and again in Sri Lanka by people in the street and officials the minute they find out that you are from Pakistan.

:)...but maybe not anymore

en.wikipedia.org/wiki/2009_attack_on_the_Sri_Lanka_nation...
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#7 [Permalink] Posted on 24th January 2014 04:42
The growing concern these days in Sri lanka are shi'ites.. seems they are gaining political ground there..
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#8 [Permalink] Posted on 27th January 2014 13:04

So my objective was to get to SriPada (Adam's peak) in Sri Lanka from the capital Colombo, instead I went in a little bit of an opposite direction to Kandy, why? I don't know :p

There are easier ways to get to my destination but who knows. 

There are 3 main bus stations at  Colombo, instead I have no idea where the Rickshaw driver dropped me! It was most certainly not the long distance Bastian Mawatha station nor the private Pettah Bus Stand, I don't know where I was!

It was some kind of a Bus stop and I saw a bus to Kandy, I am not intelligent but even I knew that this was a city in Sri-Lanka so when the man at the window said something in Sinhala, I just said Kandy, he told me the bus fare which I didn't understand but looked behind him counted the money and gave him what I think was right.

I was given the change back and a ticket and left wondering. Someone pointed me to a bus which had Kandy written in the front and I boarded. I tried to ask if ths bus is indeed going to Kandy and I got a customary "O yes..." and shake of the head.

I had no luggage, it was blazing hot, the bus had no airconditioning and was playing bad music. I got down and prayed 2 Rakaat Dhohar quickly and surveyed my passengers. 

There were 1-2 Muslim families (men with beards and women in Hijab) so I tried to talk to them but they didn't speak English but they gave me some food which I ate, Alhumdolillah.

And then I said, "Pakistan" and then the bus echoed with "Pakistan..." and everybody looked at him, talked about me but not much more because nobody spoke English.

The seats didn't have much space and it was stiffling hot so I preferred to walk around the bus during the 138 KM journey, playing with children etc and tried to pass my time.

UNTIL we got to Kandy and I got off the Contrapment which was called a Bus :) 

I didn't really have anywhere to go in Kandy but I took a Rickshaw anyways. 

Unlike others this Rickshaw driver spoke reasonable English so when he knew I was from Pakistan after the customary Shoiab Akhtar (very fast) he assumed that I must be a huge Cricket fan and decided me to drive me around town and showed me the Kandy where Murali (Muttiah Muralitharan) played in his youth. Pallekele International Cricket Stadium is actually outside of Kandy so off we went out of the ciity and he showed me the ground and then we came back into the city. On the way I was on the lookout for Masjids, and I saw several Masajid.

While driving around I saw Muslim Hotel and plenty of men with beards eating there so I asked to be dropped there. This is one of the most iconic Tourist attractions in Kandy, I offcourse had no idea, I was hungry and had to pray Asar.

There is a Masjid very close to it so I went and prayed Asar and then went into the Muslim Hotel.

 

Sri Lankan Roadside hotels have a very strange custom, they place a plate of appetisers in front of you as soon as you sit down and then the waiter comes back when you are ready. So your plate of appetisers is picked up from someone else's table whom the waiter deems to have finished eating and put in front of you. SO I got my plate and I had no idea it was there for me to eat so I did nothing!

It looks something like the plate in the front with square things on it.

The waiter came back and saw that I hadn't touched anything so simply transported my plate to someone else. Efficient, indeed. I had no clue what is Halal and what is Haram but there was a man sitting next to me with Full Sunnah and a Turban so I walked up to him and put thumbs up (asking, is it good?) and he just shook his head (confirming I guess) so I told the waiter "THIS" and Coke!

Soon I got the food and it was Alhumdolillah delicious and I finished in no time and asked for more which I also gobbled up in no time. When I went to pay the man at the counter spoke to me and asked me who am I and what am I doing here? So I explained to him and he said I am in the wrong direction and the only person who can help me is "Yusuf" some kind of Muslim Gangster who owns a place in the streets close by. He asked a waiter to take me to Yusuf so I followed him.

I arrived at an eating establishment and some people were eating while others were playing Cards. The Waiter told him that I am here to see Yusuf and everyone surveyed me up and down and I was let upstairs to see Yusuf (the Gangster).

When I went upstairs, the whole scene reminded me of some 1970's Bombay Gangester movie :) and then Yusuf looked up at me!

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#9 [Permalink] Posted on 27th January 2014 13:19
Haha.. Awesome. Hope to the some similar adventure soon
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#10 [Permalink] Posted on 27th January 2014 13:20
bhai why is it that you have all these interesting experiences....meeting gangsters etc.
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#11 [Permalink] Posted on 27th January 2014 13:26
london786 wrote:
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No idea bro but when I am travelling I am a different person to what I am in real life. In Haram I walk around I talk to people, I joke with kids I discuss stuff etc.


In real life I don't really socialise much at all as you know.
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#12 [Permalink] Posted on 27th January 2014 14:57
I have been to sri lanka as well and need to visit again inshallah as our friend ahle zikr of sunnniforum has opened a khanqah as well. Sri lankans are great people. May ALLAH give them hidayah but the situation seems to be getting worse. Apart from that Sri lanka is very beautiful and some very nice coconuts are found everywhere. Tabligh jamaat seems very strong there.
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#13 [Permalink] Posted on 27th January 2014 15:19
it's more waggling than shaking the head, really. it means jee, achha and sahih hain yet it needs no words.

that food pic has made me very hungry and nostalgic.
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#14 [Permalink] Posted on 27th January 2014 16:25

One thing which I forgot to mention is that at this point I was beginning to notice something odd about Sri Lankan Muslims.

When you see Indian or Pakistani Muslims you see that there are no native ethnic differences between Muslims and Non-Muslims (to a large extent), Punjabi (Muslims and Non-Muslims) look similar, Gujrati (Muslims and Non-Muslims) look similar, Pushtun (Muslims and Non-Muslims) look similar, you can see Pushtun Sikhs in Afghanistan who look just like Pushtun Muslims and so on.

In Sri Lanka the local (Tamils etc) have a smaller bone structure and straighter hair. Sri Lankans Muslims on the other hand are visibly taller and where they are the same height their bones are broader and their hair are more curlier and woollier then Non-Muslims, after spending a few days in Sri Lanka you can generally and visibly see the (physical) difference between Non-Muslims and Muslims or this could be just my imagination.

Culturally they all look the same.

While I was there I surmised and thought that the Sri Lankan Muslims must some have Arab or African (race) blood in them due to their Islam. When Islam came to these Islands Arabs must have married local women in large numbers and settled here. 

This is just my observation in a few days and I didn’t spend enough time to make proper observations and I also haven’t read the history of Islam in Sri Lanka (much).

I have noticed the same in South Indian (coastal Muslims) that they are a little (physically) different to South Indian (coastal Non-Muslims), although I have never been to India and this is just based on observing people in Saudia and UAE etc. 

Again these South India and Sri Lankan Muslims may have some Arab and African blood in them to account for different body type. 

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#15 [Permalink] Posted on 28th January 2014 14:44
Muadh_Khan wrote:
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Its true that some south indians have Arabic blood, we even have sayyids here. Its because it was a trade route, lot of Arabs came here for trading.
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