Seyed Ali Zahir Moulana – Resigns over cremation issue

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Former State Minister Ali Zahir Moulana has resigned from the Sri Lanka Muslim Congress (SLMC) citing the Supreme Court rejection last Tuesday of his appeal to stop forced cremation of deceased from COVID. In a letter of resignation on his official Twitter page, he added that “the persecution faced by our community stems largely now from individualistic traits of politicians within the party, who do not have the best interests of the community and the country in mind.”

He said that some SLMC members “unashamedly and audaciously” voted in favour of the 20th Amendment to the Constitution.

“I was personally disgusted and ashamed of the duplicitous, deceptive and dangerous behaviour of my fellow party members,” he said. He said that he was astounded to hear that SLMC Leader Rauff Hakeem gave the SLMC members the freedom to express their views independently on the 20th Amendment to the Constitution.


1st December 2020
Hon. Rauff Hakeem, MP
Sri Lanka Muslim Congress
53 Vauxhall Lane
Colombo 02
Assalamu Alaikum Wr. Wb
Resignation from Membership in the Sri Lanka Muslim Congress
Today is a day that will live in infamy amongst the Muslim community in Sri Lanka. Today, the highest court in our land delivered a judgement which yanked grievously at the heartstrings of mine and two million of our fellow Muslims in Sri Lanka, depriving us of our dignity and one of our most basic rights as Muslims, and as Sri Lankans.
It is with this heavy heart that I write to you with reference to the aforementioned subject, in which I wish to bring to your attention that I hereby tender my resignation from membership in the Sri Lanka Muslim Congress (SLMC), effective immediately.
My decision to do so, comes amidst a turbulent period befalling the Muslim community in Sri Lanka, and my deliberation reached its climax today.
As you are well aware, we Muslims have been part and parcel of the rich collective culture, traditions and heritage of Sri Lanka for over a millenia. However in the recent past, there have been repeated instances where the security, well-being and best interests of our community have come under threat, and our community has been alienated and subject to prejudice and discrimination by undesirable elements for the mere sake of political expediency.
While I had staunchly been a proponent of national politics and national parties since my foray into politics in 1988 and having contributed immensely towards safeguarding the sovereignty of our country, I joined the SLMC a little over five years ago at your invitation, with the expectation that the SLMC under your leadership, can give voice to the Muslim community and work towards fostering multiracial amity and collective prosperity for all citizens. I truly believed at the time that we could do it from within, and I know now that working closely alongside you for the last five years, you tried your utmost to do just that, and I strongly believe that you too are well aware that I did my absolute best within my capabilities to deliver during my tenure.
Since 2015, we addressed and encountered several challenges facing the Muslim community, and managed to resolve, provide redress and relief to those affected, and remediate the issues in some shape or form. This was because we remained resolute and acted with responsibility and tolerance towards our commitment in serving our constituents, the community, and the well-being of all our fellow citizens. We did so collectively, outside of politics or personal gain.
Unfortunately, although our efforts were not enough, and we were unable to fully satisfy the peaceful expectations of our community in the face of extremism, ethnocentric politics and a divided society, I must say that according to my conscience, I know that we did everything possible, with collective decisions made in consultation with every single stakeholder. Most importantly, we did so transparently without any ulterior agendas, and this sense of unity and cooperation within our community created a healthy forum moving forward to address the burning issues of the day.
Today however, I must say that sadly the persecution faced by our community stems largely now from the individualistic traits of the politicians within the party, who do not have the best interests of the community and the country in mind.
This was most evident in the last few months alone, when during the campaign for the recently concluded General Elections in August, I witnessed with my own eyes the manipulations through which our elected representatives criticized national parties and politics as regressive and rigid towards national unity and harmful to the Muslim identity in Sri Lanka. They even boldly claimed that it was every Muslim’s civic duty to vote for them, to protect minority rights in Sri Lanka, especially at a time when a formation of a 2/3 majority was possible in which majoritarian oppressive rule aims to suppress all of us. By doing so they brazenly sparked and invoked the raw emotions of an innocent, aggrieved voter base, exploiting their franchise in their favour to be elected to Parliament.
Less than a month later in Parliament, a draconian amendment to our nation’s Constitution was brought for debate, and four of our five parliamentarians unashamedly and audaciously as their first act in the new Parliament, voted in favour to provide unchecked, unbridled authority to a regime which was swept to power on the overt promise to suppress and quell the voices of minority communities, particularly Muslims in Sri Lanka. This nefarious act alone effectively negated all the work and progress that we made over the last 5 years, and moreover expressed the sheer hypocrisy and unscrupulous intent of these so-called representatives, who were elected on the promise and mandate of protecting and voicing the woes of the Muslim community in Sri Lanka.
I was personally disgusted and ashamed of the duplicitous, deceptive and dangerous behaviour of my fellow party members. I can clearly recall that during my tenure as a Member of Parliament of the SLMC in the last Parliament, from the less-serious motions to the 52-day constitutional crisis in 2018, all voting and divisions on legislation were done only after a collective decision was reached, with consistency and with the guidance and instruction of yourself as our party leader and Parliamentary group leader. Moreover, in the face of extremism and violence which plagued our community after the heinous Easter Sunday attacks, the entire Muslim caucus in the last Parliament, irrespective of party and personal politics, stood firmly together for the sake of our community.
Therefore, I was astounded when I saw one particular SLMC parliamentarian unabashedly claiming in the House during the debate on the 20th Amendment that you had given all our Parliamentarians the “freedom to express their views independently” before shaming himself on live television as the whole nation watched, and then proceeding to vote in favour of the amendment along with 3 other SLMC Parliamentarians. The alleged fact that you had permitted them to proceed, that too on easily the most critical piece of legislation which you knew fully well would directly and negatively affect the well-being, safety and security of our community is nothing short of alarming. Further, the fact that the party is yet to take any remedial action whatsoever against them for such traitorous actions is unbecoming of a party that began as a political movement to address the grievances of the Muslim community, and one which claims to be the sole voice of Muslims in Sri Lanka, especially now, given the very serious trials and tribulations that we as Muslims in Sri Lanka face today.
The decision of the Supreme Court today is a direct result of the selfishness and irresponsibility of those SLMC Parliamentarians, and is the final straw. This decision effectively prevents us from performing fard kifaya or a collective obligation to one of the most basic principles of our beautiful religion of Islam, a direct aggression against our faith. However, we have no choice, as law-abiding citizens of our country, to obey and honour this judgement, no matter how hurtful it may be to us.
I am truly disillusioned.
حسبنا الله ونعم الوكيل
“Sufficient for us is Allah, and [He is] the best Disposer of affairs.”
While I find comfort in this phrase from the Holy Qur’an, and we will now leave it to Allah SWT as He is the final and best Judge, and His justice is pure and enough for us all, I cannot in any way come to terms to accept that being a politician, the party which I claim to stand with and represent, had in fact strengthened the hand of those that brought this upon us. I cannot accept and stand by the fact that our representatives, some of the main culprits who were elected with my own votes as well, were playing petty games instead of giving us that much needed voice in the Parliament, the temple of democracy.
Over the course of the last 5 years, I had made statements that I will stand by the party till my dying breath. I ask you today, how can we even breathe when the fundamentals of our faith, our Iman and our existence today is compromised and put in jeopardy by the actions of our own?
My conscience cannot bear to look at and engage with our disenchanted youth, who are our future, and provide them with the much-needed counsel, mentorship and advice to relieve them of their fears and trepidation, when I know that they are aware of and blame the party I claim to represent till my dying breath as complicit in some shape or form for the situation we are now in.
Therefore, by extension of the continued immoral actions and sheer ignorance of our party representatives in Parliament, I feel guilty, I feel responsible and I am truly sorry.
It is in this unfortunate spirit, that I hereby do not wish to associate myself any longer with the Sri Lanka Muslim Congress, strictly on account of my conscience and a matter of principle. No perks, privileges or positions await me anywhere, nor do I seek them. In fact I am proud to be one of the few who voluntarily resigned my seat in Parliament for the sake of peace and stability in my country.
I know now that the SLMC does not represent what I stand for, nor do I believe does it rightfully stand for the Muslims in Sri Lanka. I can only hope and pray that the party shall align itself to endeavour towards ensuring that the best interests of the Muslim community is represented in the future.
On a personal note, I wish to express my sincere and profuse gratitude to you, the party secretary Mr. Nizam Kariapper PC and those party officials and members across the country who I have had the absolute pleasure of associating and working closely with over the last 5 years. I wish you all the very best.
While I leave with dismay, it must be done.
Your Brother in Islam,
Seyed Ali Zahir Moulana
cc. General Secretary, Sri Lanka Muslim Congress
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