Munafiqun Within Muslim Leadership  

Dr. Ameer Ali,
Murdoch Business School,
Murdoch University,
Western Australia

The Quranic term munafiqun is plural for munafiq or hypocrite, one of three categories of people mentioned in Muslim’s Holy scripture, which is read, memorized either entirely or partially and recited in parts during daily prayers and on other occasions. The other two categories are believers and non-unbelievers. On a rough count, almost in 100 verses, the Quran refers to and warn believers to beware of the machinations of hypocrites. Very early on in chapter two, the Quran says: “When it is said to them: “Make no mischief on earth, they say: Why we only want to make peace! Of a surety, they are the ones who make mischief, but they realize it not. When it is said to them, “believe as the others believe”: They say: shall we believe as the fools believe?” Nay, of a surety they are the fools, but they do not know. When they meet those who believe, they say: “we believe”, but when they are alone with their evil ones, they say: “We are really with you, we were only jesting”, … “These are they who have bartered guidance for error” (Quran, ch.2, verses 11-16).

I am neither a scholar in Quranic studies nor an alim or mufti to issue fatwas. Yet, I am left with no other term to call those Muslim leaders who had sold and brought shame to their community for personal profit and prestige, at a time when that community, in the hands of a new generation of men and women, has thrown itself whole heartedly to participate in the nationwide aragalaya and calling for an end to a regime that had bankrupted this country and betrayed its people. Never in the history of Sri Lanka so much had been lost in so short a time. The regime has no legitimacy to govern even a day longer.

Political summersaults and turncoats in parliament are not the monopoly of any community or religion. But when such behaviour is committed to protect a rotten status quo when almost an entire nation demands systemic change is unpardonable. The two Muslims who accepted ministerial positions from President GR should have known better that it was not sympathy towards Muslims but political expediency and chicanery to rope unprincipled individuals like the two into a cabinet in order to sustain a tottering regime. The so-called new cabinet with inexperienced members has not changed anything. It is old wine in a new bottle.

Even previously, these two were of the seven Muslim turncoats who voted for the 20th Amendment, which empowered GR to become what he is now, a virtual autocrat. It was revealed later that those dirty seven were given the green light by their respective party leaders to raise their hands in support of that amendment. One of those seven even confessed later that they were promised state ministries by Rajapaksas. This clearly exposes the hidden agenda of the two Muslim parties, SLMC and its breakaway ACMC. These parties opiated Muslim voters with Islam for the sake of gaining political power and influence. Now, two from that black sheep company had done a summersault again. Is it wrong to call them munafiqun?

This is not to dub all Muslim leaders as hypocrites. There were in the past and there are at present a few really praiseworthy ones with total dedication to the welfare and progress of the country and community. Their loyalty to the party they represent, their sense of patriotism and commitment to serve all communities stand majestically tall in comparison to the disreputable record of a bunch of self-seeking parvenus who, like the biblical Judas are prepared to sell their community for a few silvers.

What is more shocking than the treachery of these hypocrites is the silence of Muslim religious organization like ACJU and the National Shura Council. There was no condemnation of this behaviour from either of them. Was their silence meant to be an endorsement? Or, are they afraid of vengeful reprisals from Gotacracy?

Ultimately, the buck stops with the community that elected these leaders. Like the Sinhalese Buddhists who were hallucinated by SLPP’s ethno-nationalist campaign, Muslims too were deceived by the religious politics of SLMC and ACMC. If there is one lesson to be learnt from today’s raging aragalaya it is the awakening of a new generation with a determination not to fall prey to sectarian politics again. Over seven decades of sectarianism had destroyed the peace and prosperity of this country. It is time for its Muslim counterpart to take control of its own community’s politics and sweep away the turncoats into history’s dustbin.

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