Shihara Farook assails Extremism. A Biography and Counter-Current of Significance

Shihara Farook

After three days of crying and being angry I am going to start speaking my heart to all of you. You are free to share this as much as you want and with whom you want. I was born a Sri Lankan Muslim in a town called Gampola very near Kandy Sri Lanka. I was born into a multilingual household and have been trilingual from birth. In that town we had a Muslim majority. There were several mosques and my very large extended family lived sprawled all over the town.

Irfadha Muzammil ….. from

At pre school age I was sent to a preschool in a local church . I observed the nuns quietly (Leon Chan and I were friends there as tiny tots) the nuns preferred to call me Fathima as it was a name of a Christian saint as well. They were peaceful kind and so calm! I had the most wonderful time of my life there! They ran an orphanage had some rabbits and made us all smile .

Then I went to the main school Zahira College Gampola for three years. I have never known known a school like that till I turned up in a private school in England and found the same facilities and ethos! There were no burqa clad teachers! We were taught everyday as any child should be taught! The school hymn was in English and girls were as free as the boys! The compulsory uniform for older girls was the same as any Indian school a top bottom and a shawl! Modest yes stupid not! There were Sinhala and Tamil streams and all religious communities were welcome and celebrated.

Then my parents decided to make the big move to Colombo. Here I attended two schools St Pauls girls school where there were many Christian and Muslim girls. Treated fairly and equally allowed to wear their extra bits to the school uniform to make it more modest if you were a Muslim girl. Everyone loved by everyone.

Then through my good fortune I ended up in Devi Balika Vidyalaya. An exclusive establishment for the most intelligent girls from all over the country. Vastly Buddhist in its approach, build to celebrate the heroic Sri Lankan women .In my year out of two hundred scholars I was the only Muslim. There were a few catholics and Christians but hardly any Hindus.

I have had seven years of quality education , love, lifelong friendships , teachers that one would gladly worship and most of all equal fair treatment from day one to the last day! I was allowed to go to school wearing what I chose as my modest attire! I was The president of the junior English literary association, a junior prefect ,Captain of Shanti house and one of the seven highest ranked prefects of my year!??

The best opportunity I had was to sit and learn Buddhism with my fellow friends. Don???t misunderstand this I was not forced to. I was allowed to learn Islam and sit my O levels . I had a choice of going to the library or sitting in class for the Buddhism Lesson. I chose to sit with my friends and learn about what they believed in.??

I have been present at many a carol service, nativity, Bodhi puja, school Sil days and many other non Muslim religious celebrations. Now open your eyes carefully . This is the journey of a Muslim woman born in Sri Lanka. I was respected celebrated and loved by everyone. Indeed I found the love every woman looks for in this form too but will not discuss it as people will get up in arms about it! Those who know know well?? What I am talking about. My friends are my family they always have been and always will be.

They are Buddhists, Christians and muslims. Many members of my family are married to men and women who have come from above faiths and we love them all equally. In fact two of my favourite family members are?? Noori Sharmil??and Nishoothanan Satgunarajah

In the beautiful island of Sri Lanka we co-exited for centuries. We loved we fought with each other occasionally as siblings do! We had our migisvings, misunderstandings but we fought with each other! That is ok! When you are family that happens.

But would you stand and watch when your brother is being beaten up by your neighbour? NO

MY  flag that holds all of us. My national anthem that makes me stand up where ever I am. My people . My rivers my mountains my beaches. My beautiful Tamil women on the the mountains picking tea, my beautiful Sinhala women up and down the country! Beautiful Batticaloa! wonderful Negombo , my crazy city Colombo!

We cannot watch as even one drop of blood is shed on our land because of an outside influence!? This [message] is to anyone who still thinks the majority of Sri Lanka is [made up of ]racist right wing Buddhists ! It isn???t?? It is an all Encompassing , loving , giving society build on the basis of tolerance of Buddhism!

We had no Burqas as we grew up! Sri Lankan Muslim women wore their Shalwar Kameez and a shawl or a modest blouse and sari. Some chose to cover their head with the shawl or the pallu of a sari and some didn???t ! What is this new menace of black abayas and stupid burkas? Where have all the pious beautiful Sri Lankan Muslim women gone? Hidden under that black garb!

What we need as humans is love and trust! Not religious bigotry at this point !

Look inside you and find the human. Trust your Sinhala brother trust your Tamil brother! Love each other. Hold each other and walk forward. The last thing this beautiful nation needed was terrorism again! After 30 years of bloody war and a string of spineless leaders we are worse off than when we were a British colony! In one day we were set back 10 years.

Wake up stand up and stand together. Trust and love trust and love. Get rid off all things that make us segregate! Integrate again. Be like my two grandmothers one who stood waiting for the Buddhist monk to come to her house with the best food she could find and quietly and respectfully offered it to him when he came with his black bowl. The other who befriended a catholic priest and had religious discussion in her front room while offering him the best she could find in the house!

Be like King Parakrambahu who had Tamils Muslims and even Jews in his court!

Be the best Sri Lankan and human you can be.

We are one and we must stand as one.

Teach your children love, teach them all four religions in equal measure and let them choose their path! Mine have chosen to refrain from any path but walk on the path of humanity. I will quietly walk with them and if God exists he will let the best humans into his heaven and not suicide bombers!

Shoot me if you want I will walk this path from today with my head held high. Every place of worship is a worship to God ! I will not hesitate as I walk into a Church a temple a kovil a sinagogue a gurudwara !

May we find God in ourselves . May we find God in love! May we find God in each other ! Walk with me henceforth…


***  ***


A Sri Lankan Muslim woman carries her daughter while standing outside her burnt house in Adhikarigoda , a village near Aluthgama town, 50 kilometers (31.25 miles) south of Colombo, Sri Lanka, Monday, June 16, 2014. At least three Muslims were killed after a right-wing Buddhist group with alleged state backing clashed with Muslims in southwestern Sri Lanka, a government minister said Monday. Dozens of shops were burned, homes looted and some mosques attacked in the violence Sunday night in the town of Aluthgama, local residents said. (AP Photo/Eranga Jayawardena)

A Sri Lankan Muslim woman grieves out side her vandalized house in Aluthgama, town, 50 kilometers (31.25 miles) south of Colombo, Sri Lanka, Monday, June 16, 2014. At least three Muslims were killed after a right-wing Buddhist group with alleged state backing clashed with Muslims in southwestern Sri Lanka, a government minister said Monday. Dozens of shops were burned, homes looted and some mosques attacked in the violence Sunday night in the town of Aluthgama, local residents said. (AP Photo/Eranga Jayawardena)



Filed under accountability, communal relations, democratic measures, female empowerment, Indian traditions, landscape wondrous, life stories, patriotism, politIcal discourse, reconciliation, security, self-reflexivity, sri lankan society, tolerance, unusual people, welfare & philanthophy, women in ethnic conflcits, world events & processes

4 responses to “Shihara Farook assails Extremism. A Biography and Counter-Current of Significance

  1. Recent Attacks? Aluthgama happened in 2014 if I remember right. Isn’t this misleading trying to connect Aluthggma incident with Sri Lanka’s current situation?

  2. The Wahhabi ideology has been entering Sri Lanka for decades (see the Ameer Ali articles in Thuppahi) and the recent articles have targeted Catholic on a Holy Day in combination with symbols of Western wealth. The Aluthgame incidents and those arising from Digana in March last year had Sinhala Buddhist chauvinists as principal assailants . What these threats would have done is to strengthen the “fortress mentality” in the SL Muslim community. So, in this fashion there is a prima facie argument that majority extremism helps sustain Muslim extremism ariisng from many causes –with Wahabi thinking as a major current — aided by the demand for the Muslim vote from local politicians.

  3. Shihara Farook

    My dear Blogger
    Pleased to find my piece here . Please could you contact me via email. Thank you

  4. Pingback: BBC Documentary Series on 21/4 Jihadist Terror in Sri Lanka | Thuppahi's Blog

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