Kerala’s Salafis now look for ‘real Islam’ in Sri Lanka

53165910Sri Lanka has emerged as the favourite destination of a section of Malayalee Salafis who are on the pursuit of ‘real Islam’ and believe that scholars in Kerala lack correct understanding of the religion, the Times of India reported.

At least three youths, who are suspected to have joined the Islamic State (IS), had told their relatives that they were going to a Hadees centre in Sri Lanka for religious studies.

The trio has been identified as Abdul Rahid Abdualla and Hafeesudheen from Kasaragod and Ezza from Palakkad. Intelligence agencies have not yet identified the Hadees centre or established that a group actually landed in Sri Lanka.

But some of the youth had indeed called their families while they were there. Earlier, Yemen was the attraction for ultra-Salafis in Kerala. Three years ago, at least 12 people from Nilambur in Malappuram had gone to the Darul Hadees at Dammaj in Yemen, which Salafis refer to as the ‘Lighthouse of Islam’.

Back home, the ultra Salafis had ‘recreated’ a true Islamic ambience at Athikkatt near Nilambur in Malappuram. Going beyond the teaching of traditional Salafis that three generations after Prophet Muhammad had a perfect understanding of Islam, they sought to imitate life in the times of the Prophet himself. They led a reclusive life, immersed in prayers and kept aloof from society. They even tried to start a goat farm to replicate life in Arabia in the 7th century.

After the fall of Darul Hadees in Dammaj, the centre in Sri Lanka became popular with the ultra Salafis. A Sri Lankan national was detained by the intelligence agencies in the state two years ago after he was found holding religious classes in Nilambur. He ( the Sri Lankan) had arrived on a tourist visa and was holding classes on Islam. We detained him and issued a quit notice.However, no case was registered against him,” said an intelligence officer.

Salman, a member of the group that had gone to Dammaj in Yemen, was abducted by Houthi rebels in Yemen and released later.

Darul Hadees evicted all non-local students as per the agreement reached between the Houthis and the Yemen government. (Colombo Gazette)