'Fundamentalist’ mosque demolished in east

[TamilNet, Thursday, 27 September 2001, 15:42 GMT]
A group of Muslim youth in Oddamavadi, 34 kilometres north of Batticaloa, demolished a mosque built by a ‘fundamentalist’ Islamic sect Wednesday, Police sources in the eastern town said. Friction between the followers of the sect and other Muslims in the general area has been brewing since January this year when a small group of adherents erected a temporary mosque in Brianthuraichenai, a small village on the outskirts of Oddamavadi, sources said. The sect preaches that women should remain at home and should be fully covered if they have to go out and prohibits jewellery. “They were in the habit of denouncing us as Kaffirs (unbelievers) and our mosques as the dwellings of Satan,” a Muslim cleric in the eastern town said.

The followers of the sect lodged a complaint with the Valaichenai Police this morning.

A senior follower of the sect said that Islam has been corrupted by the influence of local cults which encourage Muslims in the Oddamavadi and other parts of the east to worship the tombs of Sufi saints and to deviate from the fundamental teachings of the Koran (Hadith).

Muslims in many parts of Sri Lanka follow the teachings of ‘Thanngals’- hereditary Gurus from Kerala in South India and the Lakshadeep islands off India’s southwestern coast. The Thanngals regularly visit Sri Lanka and are accepted as the traditional Gurus of many devout Muslim followers.

The sect, the mosque of which was attacked Wednesday night, lambastes the Muslims who honour such south Indian Sufi traditions. It wants them to return to the “true path”. The followers of the sect claim that a child born to Muslims parents cannot automatically become a Muslim but has to be sworn as a devout follower the Koran (Hadith).

As the preaching of the sect was creating many rifts among Muslims in the Oddamavadi, Miravodai, Valaichenai area, the local council of Ulamas (clerics) intervened to determine the status of the new sect.

Following several consultations, the Ulama board rejected the tenets of the new sect. However, its followers started brickwork to transform their makeshift place of worship into a mosque.

The attack last night took place following several warnings by the 'traditional'followers of Islam in the Oddamavadi area, sources said.

 

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