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Why insecure men and immature and irresponsible women want marriage guardianship



At a time when calls for reforming the Muslim Marriage and Divorce Act (MMDA) are getting stronger, we find a devious move to scuttle the reform process altogether by some UK-based bigots obsessed with depriving our Muslim women here of a basic human right.

One such is the so-called ‘Strengthen MMDA’ movement and their mouthpiece, a woman going by the name of Shifana Sharifudeen who, instead of fighting for Muslim Rights in the UK, are championing a lost cause here.

The issue at heart here is the consent and legal capacity of a Muslim woman, to enter into a marriage contract at her own discretion. The present MMDA does not allow an adult Muslim woman even in her 30 s to contract a marriage without the permission of her Wali or ‘Marriage guardian’ who is an agnate relative, such as father or, in his absence, her brother. That this is a violation of a basic human right any reasonable person would agree.

The reforms envisaged include getting the written consent of the bride and from what we gather dispensing with the need for the marriage guardian to sign the marriage register. Proposed reforms put forth by more reasonably-minded Muslims include allowing the bride to appoint her wali rather than putting her at the mercy of an agnate in this connection. In fact, a proper study of Islam shows that the wali is actually an agent of the bride who contracts the marriage on her behalf and with her consent. This is why most Muslim countries have entrenched the right of the adult Muslim bride to contract marriage at her own discretion and appointing a wali, be it her relative or any other person of her choosing to do so. This meets the Islamic requirement and addresses a basic human rights concern.

It was in order to sabotage this move, that the reactionary group ‘Strengthen MMDA’ recently issues statements and videos against these changes. So let’s see what motivates these people to take such regressive actions in sabotaging the reform process. They have been told that Islam clearly upholds the right of a Muslim woman in this connection, a fact supported by both the Qur’an and the Sunnah, or traditions of Prophet Muhammad (Peace Be Upon Him). So what motivates them?


We have plenty of these types in our community, insecure men who take pleasure in subjugating women and trampling on their very basic human rights. The only reason they do this is because they are thoroughly insecure about women making independent choices. This, of course, badly reflects on their manhood because it’s always a weaker, more vulnerable segment they want to trample and walk over, which is of course the women.

Another is a misplaced misogyny. They believe women are not intelligent enough to make a free choice in a matter like this. Of course we know that Muslim women today are actually more intelligent than Muslim men in a lot of ways and this becomes apparent in any social media platform to start with. It’s also pretty obvious in their educational level where in every university we have Muslim females outnumbering Muslim males. So this is not a valid argument at all.

Yet another is the immaturity of these men. When they think of an adult woman, they are always thinking in terms of a minor 16 year old girl and her eligibility in marriage. So basically these guys look at an adult woman with a head of her own as if she were a young girl entering sixteen or so. Even retarded is not sufficient a word to describe this mentality.


At the same time we have some very immature, irresponsible women supporting the same. They believe that a Muslim woman should not be given the right to choose her partner. There are reasons for this of course and these only reflect their absolute immaturity.

Firstly, by assuming that their fellow women are not intelligent enough to make such an important decision, they are questioning the intelligence not only of other women, but their own intelligence as well. They are simply saying “Hey look, we don’t have the brain to make a choice, let my father or brother make it for me”.

Secondly, they are weak and pathetic. They think that when her kinsman gives her away, he would always be watching over her. In fact one argument I have heard is that when her kinsman consents to the marriage and gives her away, it implies he is giving her to the groom with a warning as well. That he’ll be coming after him if the marriage turns sour. What a pathetic argument. These types are so insecure even about the man they are marrying. Even when they enter into matrimony it is this that is in their heads. There is a lack of love and trust between her and her man because psychologically she is attuned to the fact that her guardian would stand up for her, even at the expense of her husband whom she is duty bound to love and obey. Which honourable, self-respecting man would want to live with a woman who has this attitude? Is it any wonder that the marriages of these immature women end up in the rocks?

Thirdly, they are utterly irresponsible. For one thing, if they are not happy with their men, they put the blame on their fathers or other relatives. In fact I know of one married woman who was having an affair with another man, and I questioned her about it, only to be told that her husband was NOT HER CHOICE, BUT HER FATHER’S. Imagine that, we now in Islam that both a man and woman freely enter into marriage on their own free will. If they commit adultery, they have a price to pay, and a heavy price at that. In other words, both spouses have a duty to safeguard the marriage bond, and to turn round and say after all those years “I did not have a choice” is pathetic to say the least!

For another, these women think that if the marriage turns sour or ends in divorce, they could always run back to the homes of their fathers or brothers because they were the ones who gave her in marriage in the first place. They need to ask themselves is this a healthy attitude they are having? Marriage is all about understanding the other and giving in and sacrificing. This of course works both ways. It is only when one learns and respects the likes and dislikes of the other, that the marriage can over time reach the equilibrium so necessary for its continued existence. So to disregard this ideal in place of a mistaken notion that they can always go back to their kinsmen and get another marriage contracted by them is unhealthy to married life to say the least. It is also an additional burden on their own menfolk, taking in such a fickle-minded woman.

So now you know what drives these people. Let alone marriage, they are not fit to exist in society!

Asiff Hussein

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Jayantha Dhanapala, a star in a Trinity galaxy



It was about one and a half years ago that I contacted Jayantha Dhanapala to find his Kandy address in order to send him two of my books. On that day he informed me of the death of Mr SML Marikkar, his classmate at Trinity College, Kandy and my student to whom I had taught the classical languages. In an appreciation of Mr. Marikkar I had used the well known Latin dictum, “seniores priores” to indicate that in death too the older should take precedence over the younger as in matters of ordinary life.

As I commenced teaching the classical languages I was more than surprised that I had to teach another subject to the students of the University Entrance class . It so happened that the students learning this subject were an exceedingly outstanding group of Arts and Science students. Among them were Jayantha, Marikkar, Sarath Amunugama, Arjuna Aluvihare, Nihal Perera, Breckenridge and Karaliyadde.

The subject was called General English, a motley combination of general knowledge, language, precis writing and current affairs . In my school by the Beira this subject was taught by the Rector, Very Rev. Fr. Peter Pillai, a mathematician turned a teacher of Government to senior students.

Why the Trinity Principal, Mr Norman Walter selected me, a green horn, to teach this subject was a mystery to me. Sometimes I was out of depth. Some of these outstanding students would help me by raising very appropriate questions in class before I got “drowned.” They were Jayantha Dhanapala, SML Marikkar, and Sarath Amunugama. The last two later joined the Civil Service. Sarath even became my boss when I returned to the public service, the SLAS, after premature retirement with full pension rights.

Jayantha won the open Essay prize at Trinity in his final year. The English teacher Rev. Eliott shortlisted the competing essayists selecting two Jayantha’s and JKL Pereira’s as the two best and asked me to be the final arbiter. Though my talents were elsewhere, in the logic of grammar and in figures and less in literature it was clear that Jayantha should be the winner.

JKLP, who came second, like me chose accountancy as a profession. After finishing the English Honours degree with a good second class, Jayantha had a short stint at my old school at Maradana. In the first Administrative Service examination held, after the abolition of the Civil Service, he was placed first. But he chose the diplomatic service.

I heard that he had chosen to learn Mandarin Chinese as one of the foreign languages that young diplomats were required to learn. He later progressed in his career up to the top as an Under Secretary to the Sec. General of the United Nations. I remember reading in the media how President Clinton had paid a tribute to him on his handling of the complex affairs with regard to the nuclear arms proliferation and disarmament.

I had not met Jayantha while he was serving in the UN. It was only when he attended meetings of the Peradeniya Jayatilleke Hall old boys reunions that I came face to face with him after 50 years or so. He would have been surprised to see me at these reunions ,sometimes playing the piano accordion accompanying the ageing old boys of J Hall singing old favourites. Among them were Rev Fr. Derrick Mendis and his cousin Rev Fr. Egerton Perera, both of whom had qualified as Chartered Accountants and had dedicated themselves to a life of poverty as Jesuits. Sadly they are no more.

Jayantha could have reached the top in the UN outfit had the then SL government sponsored his candidacy with greater vigour. Even in the case of his classmate, Sarath Amunugama, had the recommendation of the late Prof. Carlo Fonseka that Aumunugama be the second in command in managing the affairs of the country been realized, the world and our country would have been better places.

May Jayantha Dhanapala’s soul rest in Peace.

Dr Leo Fernando,

Talahena Negombo.

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TImely action must be taken to preserve Buddhism in Sri Lanka



As reported on the first page of Sunday Island (June 4) it is indeed very praiseworthy for the government authorities to have taken timely action to safeguard the most venerated Bo tree in the world. It is both an object of worship and symbol of national sovereignty on the majority Buddhist island of 22 million people. It is a well established fact that a sapling of the sacred Sri Maha Bodhi was brought to Ceylon by none other than Indian Emperor Ashoka’s daughter Sangamitta Maha theri, who established the Bhikkuni sasana here.

However it is sad to note that presently the Bhikkuni sasana is not given the due recognition it deserves in our country, though it is common knowledge that our Buddha sasana comprises of Bhikku, Bhikkuni, upasaka and upasika. It is very difficult to fathom why the government authorities are not issuing Bhikkuni Identity cards, while the Bhikkus even though some break the vinaya rules in public from time to time are allowed to continue with their Bhikku identity cards. Why the double standard? Therefore it is of great importance that Buddhists rise up to the occasion and demand that government issue Bhikkuni Identity cards and give them the due recognition they deserve to have in our society.

If timely action is not taken to rectify the situation to protect the Bhikkuni Sasana, it will face the same fate as the Dhamma Chakraya, which symbolizes the Eight Fold Path preached by The Buddha in his first sermon to the Pasvaga mahanunun, after attaining Buddha hood. The ancient Dhamma Chakraya is correctly depicted in all Emperor Ashoka’s pillars which were erected in Buddhist places of worship in India, under his direction and guidance. Needless to say it is in the shape of a cart wheel with eight spokes connecting to the outer circle depicting the Eight Fold Path. It was also accepted as the Buddhist symbol here after Emperor Ashoka’s son Arahat Mahinda Threra introduced Buddhism to Sri Lanka.

However, presently due to unknown reasons the Dhamma Chakraya has taken the form of the helm, (the wheel connected to the rudder to steer a ship), with projections from the outer circle. Presently 90% of the Buddhist establishments, TV channels and print media use this wheel as the symbol of Buddhism which is an incorrect depiction of the original Dhamma Chakraya. Thus it is equally important to take timely action to rectify this to contribute towards stability and continuity of the Buddha Sasana for posterity.

R. W. W.

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Appreciation: Nalini de Lanerolle



Peradeniya with its soaring architecture reminiscent of auspicious traditions melding the grace of the sculptured rock and incredible richness of greenery and extravagant streamers and showers of glowing flowers in the space of 1956 to 1959 merged Nalini de Lanerolle’s (then de Silva’s) stores of reading and imagination to a vision of the past in all its splendor.

She graduated from the University of Peradeniya in 1959 where she majored in Sociology. She married Asoka de Lanerolle in 1960, and became the mother of a girl and two boys. From 1960 to 1972, she was a Librarian in the Ministry of Planning; from 1973 to 1975 she was an Instructor in English at the University of Colombo.

Energetic in temperament, she had many interests. She read extensively from teen-hood: a vast variety of books ranging from the classics to murder mysteries and science fiction to movie magazines and historical novels. In Sinhala, she mentioned having enjoyed W.A. Silva’s Vijayaba Kollaya and Martin Wickramasinghe’s Rohini, at Visakha. She was appointed to the panel which judged the annual Sinhala Drama Festival. She was also a member of the panel appointed to evaluate films and performers regularly. Le Roy Robinson’s “An Interview with Nalini de Lanerolle on Aspects of Culture in Sri Lanka” reveals the scope of her reflections which enriched readers through ‘The Reign of Ten Kings – Sri Lanka – The World 500 B.C. – 1200 A.D.

Alert in judgment, she had had an active mind and capacious imagination which turned mere curiosity to tough questions with firm answers. Why do the Apollo Belvedere and the Gandhara Buddha show distinct traces of similarity? Was there a King Arthur?

Nalini de Lanerolle has not only satisfied her own musings; in her book she has deftly interwoven facts from Lanka’s chronicles and periods of European history to throw light. To quote Manik de Silva “She has done some innovative historical researching and found exciting parallels of kings and epics in the East and West during the same periods.”

According to Sir Arthur C. Clarke ‘The Reign of Ten Kings’ is an “excellent and much neededpiece of research. I hope that her book will bring to the attention of a large audience some of the most remarkable architectural and cultural achievements in history …”.

Nalini in her interview with Le Roy Robins attributes her interest in history to her father, a Government Surveyor who travelled widely in the country and who told stories of Greek Gods to his children pointing out the constellations including Orion striding across the night sky. Her mother too inspired her, reading to her in Sinhala from Milindapanha, which she later discovered was about the questions posed to an Indo-Greek ruler, a contemporary of King Dutugamunu. Parallels always interested her. As she says to Le Roy Robins “I think I was a history addict. It began with the stories of all those kings – King Arthur included.”

Her husband, Asoka de Lanerolle took a keen interest in history as well and to quote her “my husband Asoka has been interested in most of my thinking regarding history, so he has always urged me to write”. I tried out the idea of parallels in history on him and he encouraged me feeling it was “a different way of writing a history of Sri Lanka”.

Asoka having gained his high school education at Royal, graduated from the University of Peradeniya with an Honors degree in Economics and began his career as an Assistant Lecturer in Economics. He then became a Foreign Service diplomat, and later the Marketing Manager at Lever Brothers Ceylon.

In 1972 he was nominated as the Eisenhower Exchange student from Sri Lanka, giving them both the opportunity of living for seven months in the USA and travelling widely soaking in the history of a different continent. When he joined the UN International Trade Center in Geneva, and worked in Somalia, Bangladesh and Nigeria, Nalini travelled extensively enjoying glimpses of history like the sale of frankincense (one of the three gifts to baby Jesus by the kings) in Somalian market places.

She took great pleasure in all her children being avid readers despite the advent of televisions and in the fact that they all strongly supported the publication of her book, helping her by taking photographs, doing line drawings and cross-checking all the years mentioned in the book.

We have lost a historian and an intellectual, one who sought knowledge and thought, for the pleasure it gave – who has left to her country men and visitors to the island and enchanting and enlightening volume.

Dr. Lakshmi de Silva

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