The Forgotten Ummah: The Rohingya Muslims

The Forgotten Ummah: The Rohingya Muslims

By Amad Uddin

All praise is to Allah (swt) who has blessed this noble Ummah to remember the oppressed and the weak from amongst us from around the Muslim World. But if I was to survey Muslims and ask them which countries had Muslims who are oppressed than the responses I will get will be like Palestine, Afghanistan, Iraq, and Chechnya etc. Then if I asked them about the oppression of the Rohingya Muslims, I would get responses like “The who Muslims” or “Never heard them mate”. The Rohingya Muslims don’t get the publicity and are not as well known as causes and oppression of places like Palestine or Kashmir. So that is why they are the forgotten members of our noble Ummah, so through this article I hope to raise their plight and oppression so every single Muslim gets to know them and the oppression they face.

The Rohingya Muslims mainly live in western Burma (now Myanmar) in the Arakan State which borders Bangladesh. Their ancestry can be traced to Arabs, Moors, Persian, Turks, Mughals, Pathans, and Bengali’s. The spread of Islam in the Arakan (and along the southern coastal areas of Bangladesh) mostly happened through the sea-borne Sufis and merchants. The Rohingya Muslims are known to be one of the World’s last great stateless people. Around 30% of the total population of Arakan State are Bengali and this population is growing. Within Myanmar Muslims makeup a small percentage of the population overall. 1.5 Rohingya Muslims live in Myanmar and another 1.5. Rohingya Muslims live abroad in countries like Bangladesh, UAE, and Saudi Arabia due to oppression and persecution. The Rohingya Muslims are mainly employed as farmers, and the Arakan State has many unexplored natural resources like oil, gas, coal, lime, and has a fertile land which is known historically in Myanmar as the land of wealth.

The people of Myanmar are ruled by a brutal and oppressive military Junta called the State Peace & Development Council (SPDC), and this Junta has one of the most appalling human rights record in the World. The military Junta regularly detains, tortures, and kill’s its citizens to maintain an iron grip on the country. The Junta oppress and abuse many ethnic minorities within Myanmar like the Rohingya Muslims. My eyes welled up and I felt physically sick when I researched the abuse that the Rohingya Muslims have gone through. Doing this research made me for days think and contemplate in silence on how can this happen to our Ummah and when and where will the oppression and suffering of my brothers and sisters end. What I about to catalogue to you is just a small snapshot of what our beloved Rohingya Muslims have been through, bear in mind the Myanmar state is a closed country.

Rohingya Muslims cannot marry without permission of the state this only applies to the Muslims and not the Buddhist people that live in Arakan, many face torture, rape, and forced slavery on roads and in camps. The Rohingya Muslims are denied citizenship, land confiscation, forced eviction, extrajudicial killings, they have to get permission to travel from one part of the country to another. In 1997 over 40 Mosques were destroyed by the military, the military destroys shrines, archaeological remains and graveyards to wipe out the Islamic cultural heritage of the Rohingya Muslims. Taxation is another way of oppressing the Rohingya Muslims to get married they have to pay a large tax, there is taxes on collecting firewood and bamboo, taxes to register deaths and births, livestock, even taxes on football matches. Rohingya pregnant women have to register and show their faces and abdomens to the authorities. Because of travel restrictions Rohingya students face a life without education and learning.

Rohingya women are raped, molested, and dishonoured by the security services, they are not allowed to wear hijab. Rohingya religious leaders are harassed and tortured and sometimes their beards are shaven off and are forced to issue un-Islamic decrees. There is birth control by the authorities where couples are warned not to have more than 3 children and must not take a second wife. The Rohingya Muslims are told to discard their Islamic name for a Myanmar name. Rohingya Muslims are forced to practice Buddhism. The situation for Rohingya Muslims abroad that flee is not so great either. In Bangladesh the Rohingya Muslims live in camps and are viewed with hatred and not with love as the Ummah of Muhammad (saw). In Bangladesh the Rohingya Muslims are tortured by the police, beaten, locals snatch their firewood and generally abuse them as worthless people. In Bangladesh the Rohingya Muslims are denied the right to work or receive aid. In Bangladesh around 28,000 Rohingya Muslims live in officially recognised camps and around 200,000 Rohingya Muslims live outside the camps illegally. In recent times a boatload of Rohingya Muslims were intercepted by the Thai army out in sea, after a few days in detention they were put back onto the boat with food, water and motors to power their boats many men, women, and children died subhanallah.

In a hadith of an-Nu’man bin Basheer (ra) it is narrated that the Messenger of Allah (saw) said:

“The example of the believers in their mutual love, compassion and empathy is like that of a body. If one part of the body is hurt then the rest of the body calls out in sleeplessness and fever”

Even after the oppression the Rohingya Muslims hold on to the rope of Allah (swt) and Islam strongly. We the Ummah of Muhammad (saw) must feel and be aware of every Muslims plight and oppression around the World. Not only should we be aware, we need to work for their plight and oppression to be lifted as Allah (swt) will ask us what we have done for the Ummah who are less fortunate. Countries like China continue to hold up and support the military regime in Myanmar, we as Muslims need to ask why has this regime being allowed to flourish for this many years. We need to ask why countries like Bangladesh continue to remain silent and in cases no different than Myanmar in treating the Rohingya Muslims as parasites that needs to be moved on elsewhere. The military of Bangladesh are quick to support UN missions around the World (Bangladesh is one of the largest contributors to UN missions) but lacks the will and drive and compassion to help the Rohingya Muslims. A sincere Muslim leadership (Caliphate) needs to emerge in South Asia who Insha’Allah stands up for Muslims all around the World like the Rohingya Muslims in Myanmar, the Philippine Muslims in the Philippines, and the Muslims of Thailand. Without this leadership the Muslims will continue to suffer like the Rohingya Muslims and we will be powerless to stop the oppression meted out on them.

“O people, Truly Allah says enjoin the good and forbid the evil before you call upon me which means that I don’t answer you and you ask me and I don’t give to you and you seek Victory from me and I do not give you that Victory (because you did not enjoin the good and forbid the evil first)”

(Ahmed, ibn Hibban, Bayhaqi)