Why is a Buddhist majoritarian state unacceptable but Islamic states are?

By Shenali D Waduge

According to M M Zuhair former ambassador & Secretary to the State Ministry of National Integration and Reconciliation the international community will not support a Buddhist majoritarian state and will only recognize states that are multi-linguistic, multi-cultural & multi-religious. If so, what is the position of over 50 majority-Muslim states where the constitution upholds only the right of Islam?


His sentiments were given space & published by the Sunday Times newspaper of 18 March 2018 http://www.sundaytimes.lk/180318/sunday-times-2/fake-propaganda-against-muslims-threat-to-national-unity-286339.html


“In any event an ethnic or a Buddhist majoritarian state will not receive the support of the international community, unlike a state which is recognised as multi-linguistic, multi-cultural and multi-religious. The armed forces of such a sectarian state may come under greater pressure from the UN Human Rights Council to allow international investigations. With only a little help possibly forthcoming from the powerful players of the world, the demand to establish hybrid courts will compound.”


Being a Muslim himself, Mr. Zuhair may like to connect his own statement with the status quo in Muslim majority countries where only Islam is given prominence.


Over 100million non-Muslims live & work in over 50 Muslim majority countries that comprises 1/3 of the world and over 1.2billion Muslims – but do they enjoy the same rights that Islam & Muslims enjoy?

Are these Muslim majority nations multi-cultural, multi-lingual, multi-faith  


The Universal Declaration of Human Rights of 1948 declares


Article 1 “All human beings are born free and equal in dignity and rights. They are endowed with reason and conscience and should act towards one another in a spirit of brotherhood”. (Women are inferior under Islamic law; their testimony in  a court of law is worth half that of a man; their movement is strictly restricted, they cannot marry a non-Muslim)


Article 2 “Everyone is entitled to all rights and freedoms set forth in this Declaration, without distinction of any kind, such as race, colour, sex, language, religion, political or other opinion, national or social origin, property, birth or other status”.

(Non – Muslims living in Muslim countries have inferior status under Islamic law, they may not testify against a Muslim. In Saudi Arabia, following a tradition of Muhammed who said ” Two religions cannot exist in the country of Arabia “, non-Muslims are forbidden to practice their religion, build churches, possess Bibles etc.)


Article 3 “Everyone has the right to life, liberty and security of person” (atheists– in Muslim countries do not have “the right to life “. They are to be killed.


Article 4 “No one shall be held in slavery or servitude; slavery and the slave trade shall be prohibited in all their forms” (Slavery is recognised in the Koran. Muslims are allowed to cohabit with any of their female slaves (Sura iv.3); they are allowed to take possession of married women if they are slaves (Sura iv.28);


Article 5 No one shall be subjected to torture or to cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment. (punishments for the transgressers of the Holy Law: amputations, crucifixion, stoning to death, floggings)


Article 6  Everyone has the right to recognition everywhere as a person before the law.


In Muslim majority countries strict laws govern how people live, what symbols are displayed, how people behave in public, how people are to dress in public and these laws come with severe punishments. The world may cry foul, issue countless reports, debate and send petitions but nothing or no one can change these laws.


57 nations declare themselves as Islamic. In these lands strict Islamic laws prevail. Islam is the preferred & privileged religion. Is there Multiculturalism-Multi-Faith-Multi-religious-Multi-cultures in these countries? Are other religions other ethnic groups on par with Islam or Muslims?


The constitutions of most Arab countries including Egypt, Syria, Kuwait, Bahrain, Qatar, U.A.E. and Yemen refer to Sharia either as: A primary source of law or the source of law.


The head of state has to be a Muslim because he is bound by Sharia law to conduct & administer the state in accordance with the Quran and the Sunna. His Government of Ministers are bound to assist him in implementing Islamic principles.

A Non-Muslim can never become the Head of State of a majority Muslim country.


Where the constitution describes Sharia as “The” principal source of legislation, the hierarchy implies that all other laws and statues must comply with the principles of Sharia.


Islamic law “Shari`a” guarantees to non-Muslims “certain specifically stated rights beyond which they are not permitted to meddle in the affairs of the state because they do not subscribe to its ideology.” ONLY IF they embrace the Islamic faith, they “become equal participants in all matters concerning the state and the government.”


Non-Muslims who live in Muslim countries & agree to pay Jizya (tribute tax collected from adult non-Muslim males) in exchange for protection and safety are Zimmis. Tax collected from Muslims is Zakat.


In Arab peninsula, Zimmis (non-Muslims) cannot build new churches, temples, synagogues, renovation is allowed if no new additions are made. Old Churches are those that existed before Islamic conquests. Inspite of the area being occupied by non-Muslims before conquest, ever since Islam has prevailed, it is regarded as the land of the Prophet.


Zimmis cannot pray or read their sacred books out loud les Muslims hear their prayers.

Zimmis cannot print their religious books or sell them in public places to outsiders (only their own people)

Zimmis cannot install their religious symbols even inside their houses

Zimmis cannot hold their religious events in public.

But Zimmis & Muslims have to face the same civic laws – if a Zimmi commits theft, adultery, murder etc they are punished as per Islamic law.

Islamic law applies to civic, business, financial transactions, mortgages & contracts etc.


Though civic law is common to Zimmis & Muslims there are instances where non-Muslims are treated differently. A Muslim male can marry a Zimmi girl but a Zimmi man cannot marry a Muslim girl.


Zimmi’s cannot testify against Muslims. Their oaths are not considered valid in an Islamic court. A Zimmi, regarded as an infidel, cannot testify against any Muslim regardless of his moral credibility.


Shariah Law holds that a Zimmi is not even qualified to be under oath.


“The testimony of a Zimmi is not accepted because Allah – may He be exalted – said: `God will not let the infidels (kafir) have an upper hand over the believers’.”


A Muslim cannot emulate Zimmi dress or behavior, attend their festivals, lease or sell his land to construct a Zimmi church, temple, liquor store etc.


No Muslim can change their faith. Conversion of Muslims is not allowed but non-Muslims can convert to Islam.


When Brunei implemented Shariah law non-Muslims were banned from using 19 Islamic words – anyone found guilt had to pay $4000 fine or a year in prison or stoning to death.

In Malaysia, non-Muslims cannot use the word Allah.

In 2015, Iran executed 20 people for “enmity against God,”


Pew Research poll in 2015 http://www.pewglobal.org/2016/04/27/the-divide-over-islam-and-national-laws-in-the-muslim-world/ has presented these findings


In Jordan, which is a constitutional monarchy, 54% say their laws should strictly follow the Quran.


Around half of Nigerian Muslims (52%) prefer the strict interpretation of the Quran for the country’s laws, while 64% of Nigerian Christians prefer the Quran have no influence.


According to Pew “Generally, more-educated people say laws should not follow Quran”


Incidentally, the following countries were secular and turned into Islamic nations!


Iranian-born professor of law Afshin Ellian argues that while Muslim migrants are quick to claim their customs under “multiculturalism”, they have no intention of reciprocating.

“The Islamic world is not multicultural and is not going to be multicultural. It is only the Western countries which have had to become multicultural at breakneck speed. So the migration is one-way.”



Robert Spencer, says “When in Muslim countries, do as the Muslims do, and when in non-Muslim countries, do as the Muslims do.”


“In the West, Muslims are willing to make a nod toward the Western celebration of diversity. But in Muslim majority nations it’s a different story. To the extent that other faiths are tolerated, they are tolerated only insofar as they accept dhimmi status.” (William Kilpatrick)


Do any of these restrictions prevail constitutionally, legislatively or legally in Sri Lanka? Foremost place of Buddhism prevails because it had been the state religion even at the point of signing the Kandyan Convention and the British assured to maintain that status quo. The status quo of Buddhism has not impeded any individuals of non-Buddhist faith from practicing their religions. The answer to this is can Buddhists go about putting up Buddhist temples in any of the Muslim majority countries in the manner that minorities are presently putting up religious structures? Anyone denying are requested to take a journey throughout Sri Lanka & count the numbers of mosques, kovils, churches, madrassas, free-churches that have come up of late.


The concept of multiculturalism is a new liberal theory introduced by the West whose citizens are now openly condemning their governments for implementing. Leaders of the West themselves are admitting that multiculturalism has failed.


The severe restrictions and regulations enforced by Muslim majority nations are to protect & preserve their faith & the cultural system based on that faith. Christian West has been liberal and accommodative of other faiths & cultures & in so doing many have found refuge in other faiths, thus the rising number of Westerners embracing Buddhism while large numbers are becoming atheists.


If the West has no issues in the Muslim majority nations placing their faith above all others and non-conforming to any of the UN charters & declarations as none of these Muslim majority countries follow multiculturalism-multi-faith or multi-linguism, why would anyone of this same faith take offence against Sri Lanka that has provided enough and more to the minorities and seeks only to preserve, protect and foster what had existed for over 2500 years.





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