An inspired migration
It is of such importance for us who celebrate the Islamic New Year
this month to ponder why the beginning of the calendar was calculated
from the point of a painful migration, the greatest benefactor of
humanity the Prophet Muhammad (s.a.w) had to make the supreme sacrifice
of tearing himself from the soil of his birth.
The Prophet set out on this journey on June 16, 622 A.D. This was the
13th year of Prophethood. He was then 53 years of age. Safar 27th he
left Makkah, for the Cave of Thaur.
Prophet and his loyal friend Abu Bakr hid in the cave till the 1st of
Rabiul Awwal and left towards Madinah. Yes! Allaah in His Mercy had
granted permission for migration. Revelations very clear had come
regarding this. Wasn’t the Prophet advised: Say, “O my Lord let my entry
be by the Gate of Truth and Honour.... And grant me from thee an
Authority to aid me” - 17:80.
That meant he had to leave behind such poignant memories. Leaving the
sacred city - the lanes and streets he walked since childhood, the
beloved Kabah, where he had prostrated for the well-being of his people.
He had endured such oppression, ridicule and unbearable physical and
mental torture because of his call to the Truth. Yet it was
heart-rendering for the human Prophet to leave his beloved city of
The Arabic word ‘Hijrah’ does not mean ‘flight’ as many writers
interpret. It is best translated as ‘emigration’. Here it is not the
connotation of geographical transference, but of separation from one’s
loved ones, homes and all that they held dear and near. The great
strategist Muhammad (SAW) had sent a few of his Makkan followers to
Madinah, as Makkah was no more a safe place for the Muslims.
This action ensured that there would be this community of Makkan
followers there to support him. It also meant that the Prophet had
decided in spite of persuasion and cruelty to stay in Makkah to
encourage any waverers.
He couldn’t bear the Muslim’s suffering and tribulations the Prophet
appealed bitterly “When (will come) the Help of Allaah” 2:214) He also
knew that God was directing his destiny; the brave soldier he was, the
Prophet was not seeking refuge for safety.
He was entrusted with a mission as a Messenger of God to all
humanity. His appeal to the Makkan tribes was to divorce themselves from
idoltory, alcoholism, tribal wars, immoral practices and surrender to
the almighty One.
He did not seek any reconciliation or compromise in religion. He had
such faith that Allaah would help him to preach the True Faith entrusted
to him. Doesn’t Allaah say thus, in the Quraan: “they plotted against
thee to keep thee in bonds or slay thee or get thee out (of thy home).
They plot and plan and Allaah too plans, but Allaah is the best of
Planners” (8:30). In the teeth of intense, persecution, ridicules and
abuse the Prophet secretly and openly stood firm courageously to spread
the Divine revelation.
Nothing deterred him from Allaah’s chosen path - a mission, a
movement based on reason. But his sensitive sympathetic heart bled to
see the suffering of his poor followers and friends who had embraced the
Unable to witness anymore of the persecution beyond human endurance -
when permission came to migrate; in the 5th year of his mission sent a
group of Muslims to Abyssinia. They were the first migrants and it was
the first international relations of the Muslims.
The Prophet himself realised, there was no room for enlightment in
the heart of the Quraish and decided to go to a neighbouring town called
Taif. The chiefs whom he met in Taif ridiculed and incited the street
urchins to pelt him and his slave Zaid with stones. The Prophet bled
profusely and sat down when he was unable to stand.
They raised him by his shoulders and assaulted him mercilessly again.
Some Christians in whose vineyard this took place witnessed this cruelty
offered him some grapes and solace. From Taif he sought the protection
of Mutin bin Ali to return to the Kabah. His slave Zaid carried him on
his shoulders, when the Prophet became unconscious due to loss of blood.
On the way Zaid asked the Prophet to curse these people to which the
Rasool replied: “Why should I curse them. If they do not accept Islam
now future generation will certainly accept it”.
During his time when the Prophet was physically and mentally
tormented Divine help came. He was honoured with the ascent to the
Heaven - Known as Mehraj. He was taught the prayer of migration
mentioned earlier. Amidst great hostility, this event gave renewed
strength to the Prophet and his followers.
Even before the Prophet was entrusted by God with this unique mission
there were a few thinking men who were seeking guidance to rebel against
the evils that prevailed in Arabian society. But the majority of them
were seeped in ignorance and every kind of vice you could think of.
They jeered, tortured heaped entrails of animals on his head and
poured dust on his back while prostrating. God comforted him with the
Quranic verse 7:199 “Hold to forgiveness; command what is right, but
turn away from the ignorant”.
The enemies demanded that he give-up his new creed that asked them to
worship One God and not to assign partners to Him. They even went to his
uncle Abu Talib a nobleman and pleaded with him to advise his nephew.
When he did so the Prophet was faced with a great crisis as he was
the only support from the rival camp. But the Prophet with his
characteristics fearless fortitude born of his conviction declared
firmly “Dear uncle, if these people place the Sun on my right hand and
the Moon on the left and ask me to give up my mission, I will not do it
even if I loose my life in the struggle”.
That was the voice of determination that changed the course of
history. Realising the great future of this movement they bargained for,
a compromise which the Prophet rejected. Affirmed in the Quran: “It is
not for me to change it on my own accord; I only follow that which is
revealed to me” (10:15).
The great leader of humanity left his beloved Makkah. What Makkah
lost, Madinah gained. When the Prophet and Hazarath Abu Bakr hid in the
Cave of Thaur, the enemy pursued them upto the entrance of it. Abu Bakr
voiced his fear. The Prophet comforted him. “Have no fear for God is
with us”. Many attempts were made on the life of the Prophet while in
Madinah too. But the chosen one was saved by Divine Protection.
His life in Makkah was concerned with the fundamentals of his faith -
Belief in One God, righteous deeds and the purification of the soul. In
contrast, he Hijrah to Madinah, gave the Prophet and the Muslims to
establish the Islamic State in which was embodied both spiritual
guidance and a social structure of peace and democracy. What political
vision and wisdom the Prophet possessed.
This new State became a portent force the continued to develop,
expand into a great civilization in a short time. Do we Muslims ponder
even for a moment sincerely deserve to be called that followers of a
unique Prophet who made supreme sacrifices stood with indomitable
courage tact and wisdom?
Islamic Centre for the physically handicapped (ICPH) at
The IC PH at Thihariya school for disabled
Free special education for disabled children at the Islamic centre
for the physically handicapped (ICPH) Doolmala Thihariya dates back to
1984 when Al Haj Jiffri Haniffa first started this charity in a rented
house with one teacher and five students.
Today it has 250 students and 40 member staff. This school was
registered as a voluntary social service institution on 21.10.1986 under
the voluntary social services organisation act and is eligible for
annual grants by the social services department, Sinhala, Muslim and
Tamil disabled children, both male and female receive special education,
vocational training and rehabilitation at this school.
On completion of education and training most of these disabled youth
have found lucrative jobs and leading normal lives with their families
as able citizens and some have found employment overseas too.
Instructed in Braille
Director of the school, Al Haj Jiffri Haniffa said, with the grace of
he Almighty Allah, one of our students, M. Rasak from Beruwala, who does
not have any talking ability has been selected to attend the university
of Hong Kong. Likewise M. Akbar a sight impaired student gained
admission to Colombo University to pursue his higher education.
Hearing impaired students both male and female are taught by the use
of sign langauge and lip reading techniques. Sight impaired (blind)
students are taught in Braille and physically disabled are provided with
standard education in accordance with the Government stipulated
curriculum. Mentally retarded male and female pupils are taught
according to locally accepted special syllabus.
Students who have completed general or special education are trained
in various vocational disciplines such as gem cutting, tailoring,
printing. Carpentry, dental technology, computer, Juki machine
operating, jewellery making, Home science ladies dress making, house
keeping courses are also provided for female students.
Students who complete the vocational training are assisted to find
employments and also provided with equipments to encourage
Education, vocational training rehabilitation, accommodation, food
clothing, medical care and other basic necessities are provided free of
This school aims to develop and maintain a new and separate facility
for mentally retarded children, in place of prevailing day care service
which is restricted to 32 mentally retarded children. The school now has
a list of more than 100 applications for admission on a full time in
To address this problem we have to acquire land and build class
rooms, hostel and other accommodation with full fledged facilities, the
school’s director Jiffri Haniffa added.
Dialogue between Buddhism and Islam
An international conference on dialogue between Buddhism and Islam
was organised by the Department of Pali and Buddhist Studies, University
of Kelaniya in collaboration with cultural section of the Embassy
Islamic Republic of Iran Colombo at the Faculty of Social Sciences of
the University of Kelaniya, recently.
The Chief Guest was Mahmoud Rahimi Gorji Ambassador of the Islamic
Republic of Iran in Sri Lanka. In his address the Ambassador said “I am
honoured that during my tenure as ambassador this historical event of
dialogue between Buddhism and Islam has taken place for the first time
in Sri Lanka, although it has been long overdue.
I consider today as a day of much significance in that, for the first
time a dialogue between two great religions, Buddhism and Islam has
taken place in Colombo organised by the University of Kelaniya and the
cultural section of the Embassy of the Islamic Republic of Iran.
As you are all aware the holding of such a dialogue assumes greater
importance in bringing about mutual and better understanding between
different cultures and religions and promote peace and harmony in a
world of conflicts terrorism and strife. Certainly, there are more
commonalities than differences between religions and it is the factors
that have to be explored, studied and presented to the people by
religious scholars. In fact, the roads are many but the goal is the
Foreign policy of Iran
I may also add that the dialogue of religions and civilisations is
considered as one of the main aspects of the foreign policy of the
Islamic Republic of Iran which was initiated by the late Imam Khomeini
the architect of the Islamic Revolution in Iran.
It is pertinent to note that it was view of the late Imam Khomeini
that only though the unity of religious people oppression and
suppression in the world could be eliminated.
It was in keeping with the policy of promoting dialogue and exchange
of interactions the Islamic Republic of Iran has held such dialogues in
Tehran and many capitals of the world. In this regard Iran has even
established a permanent secretariat in Tehran to co-ordinate and
implement the policy.
The ambassador also said that moreover, as far back as in 1999 the
Government of the Islamic Republic of Iran proposed to the United
Nations to hold a dialogue of civilisation among the members of the
organisation. Accordingly, the United Nations declared the year 2001 as
the year for dialogue among civilisations.
“I am sure that in a world marked by material considerations,
unlimited greed and consumerism which have taken precedence over
religious values and which have in turn brought about strife, insecurity
and conflict of such magnitude any move towards dialogue of religion and
religious values would culminate in ushering in a world of peace and
harmony of living.
Sri Lanka and Iran relations which have endured for more than 2,500
years could contribute a great deal towards this end through seminars
such as this held the University of Kelaniya of Sri Lanka. Therefore
while wishing the seminar every success I have also the pleasure to
announce that it is our intention to hold such dialogues alternatively
in Colombo and Tehran annually.”
Prof. Sarath Amunugama Vice Chancellor, University of Kelaniya said
that the intention of this Conference of Dialogue between Buddhism and
Islam, was landmark event in the fiftieth anniversary of the
establishment of University of Kelaniya.
The conference has been organised at a very significant time when
increase attention is being focused on ethnic and religious harmony
co-existence of every community in a peaceful environment in Sri Lanka.
Prof. Amunugama further said that today many parts of the world are
disturbed due to ethnic, religious and language dispute and people are
waging wars against their own socio-religious rights without considering
the rights and the heritage of others. To my knowledge this pathetic
situation is prevalent everywhere in the world owing to the inherent
selfish mentality of mankind.
He said, “To overcome this negative attitude and to establish peace
in a multi-cultural society like Sri Lanka, it is necessary to provide
opportunities to study the teachings of one’s own faith with an open
mind and to have a general understanding of that of others.
“I think this conference on dialogue between Buddhism and Islam will
be a great step to achieve this noble objective which has not been
practised in the past. In this regard, I am very thankful to the
department of Pali and Buddhist Studies of the University of Kelaniya
and the Cultural Section of the Islamic Republic of Iran for sponsoring
Ven. Dr. Nabirittankadawara Gnanaratana Thera, Head, Department of
Pali and Buddhist Studies, University of Kelaniya said that amongst the
few worldwide faiths in today’s world both Buddhism and Islam have
emerged has global faiths. Everyday we experience the increase of the
number of followers and adherents to these faiths seeking their worldly
and spiritual happiness.
Many of the followers of these religions are well aware of the
teachings of there respective religions. And they engage in chanting and
prayers with great enthusiasm, and they sacrifice their time and
earnings for the preservation and expansion of the Buddhist and Islamic
Therefore we believe that it is necessary to guide the people
properly in the direction of scriptural teachings. As a result of
globalisation, every community has come closer, in every walk of their
life. Today in Sri Lanka Buddhist and Muslims live in every part of the
country sharing views and the resources available to them. We know that
besides religious beliefs, people have common objectives in their
Ven. Gnanaratana Thera further, stressed that in the globalise
context of mankind, knowledge of one’s own faith seems inadequate in
order to overcome the fear and suspicion towards other faiths and
therefore it is necessary to know what others believe and practice.
Therefore we believe that this conference is organised at a very
significant time when increased attention is being focused on ethnic and
religious harmony for co-existence of every community in a peaceful
environment in Sri Lanka and the world in general.
Ven. Thera further said that this conference will provide significant
opportunity and create a stage to discuss religious issues in an
academic environment leading ‘How to live in a multi cultural society’.
I gratefully remember the co-operation extended by Dr. Seyed Mahmoud
Reza Marandi and his staff under the direction of Ambassador of the
Islamic Republic of Iran.
Vote of thanks was made by Prof. Sumanapala Galmangoda, Director,
Post Graduate Institute of Pali and Buddhist Studies University of
Kelaniya, Prof. Ali Mesbah, Ph.D. Department of Philosophy, Imam
Khomeini Institute for Education and Research, Qum, Iran, Prof. Siavosh
Naderi Farsani, Ph.D. University of Religions and Sects, Qum, Iran,
Khalil Ghanbari, Faculty of Religious Studies, University of Religions,
Qum, Islamic Republic of Iran, Ven. Prof. Kollupitiye Mahinda
Sangarakkitha Nayake Thera, Senior Professor, Faculty of Buddhist and
Pali, University of Kelaniya, Prof. Oliver Abenayake, former Senior
Professor Buddhist and Pali University, Prof. Tilak Kariyawasam former
Senior Professor, University of Kelaniya, were also addressed.