Sri lankan moors

Sri Lankan muslims represent a number of different ethnic groups: Sri Lanka Moors (1.1 million ppl.); Malays (60,000 ppl.); and Indian Moors, the majority of whom are ethnic Tamils from southern India (40,000 ppl.). The country shares two languages: Tamil and the Sinhala. Tamil remains the language of education, for the majority, up to the university level in addition to the English studies taught in big cities.



Once the Muslim Arabs settled in India, around the eighth/ninth century, they traveled south to reach Sri Lanka. It is believed that they married within Sinhala communities and began to be a powerful merchant class. According to the historian, Ibn Battuta, in the 13th century Colombo (the Capital) was a muslim city. The spreading of Islam in Sri Lanka was due to an Arabized dialect written in Arabic script (not in use today) and the narration of the prophet's life which grew within the community. After that, the conversation and the influence of the Islamic faith began.



The Sri Lankan moors, although divided by castes, are an urban population maintaining their own customs and languages. The principal caste within the Srilankan Moors are the Maulanas or Sayyids. They claim to be the descendents from the prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him) or those who were close to him. The second most important caste is the Marakkayas (also Maraikkars or Marikkars) represent a leading business group in and around Colombo.  They have a long tradition of trading in ships, dating back to King Solomon. The Lebbe (or Lebbai) serve principally as prayer leaders and preachers. Barbers form the most separate muslim group, they are called Nasuvar in the west and Ostas in the east. They are considered as the lowest social status and are practically endogamous, operating as a separate caste. Due to the proximity of Hindu neighbours, many Muslim peasants have matrilineal clans. There are some small Muslim fishing villages and masons on the island. On the east side of Sri Lanka, there are some muslim peasant farmers. The coexistence between the Hindu and Christian communities is very hostile. This leads to various political disputes; those disputes are not motivated by faith but rather by inter-ethnic differences between Tamils and Sinhalese. Although the young generation implements a peaceful living between communities, still much needs to be explored in depth to grasp the whole understanding of a rich ethnicity.



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