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Sri Lankan Moors


Dec 16, 2021

Sri Lankan Moors (Tamil: இலங்கைச் சோனகர், romanized: Ilaṅkaic Cōṉakar; Sinhala: ලංකා යෝනක, romanized: Lanka Yonaka; formerly Ceylon Moors; colloquially referred to as Sri Lankan Muslims) are an ethnic minority group in Sri Lanka, comprising 9.2% of the country’s total population.[1] Most of them are native speakers of the Tamil language[3][4][5] who also speak Sinhalese as a second language.[6] They are predominantly followers of Islam.[7] The Sri Lankan Muslim community is divided as Sri Lankan Moors, Indian Moors and Sri Lankan Malays depending on their history and traditions.[8]

The lead section of this article may need to be rewritten. (August 2021)
Muslim ethnic minority in Sri Lanka
Sri Lankan Moors
ලංකා යෝනක
இலங்கைச் சோனகர்

20th century Sri Lankan Moors
Total population
(9.2% of the Sri Lankan population; 2012)[2]
Regions with significant populations
 Eastern 569,182
 Western 450,505
 North Western 260,380
 Central 252,694
Languages of Sri Lanka: Tamil
Some Sinhala and English
Islam (mostly Sunni)
Related ethnic groups

The Sri Lankan Moors are of diverse origins with some tracing their ancestry to Arab traders who first settled in Sri Lanka around the 9th century, and who intermarried with local women.[who?][9][10][11][12] The concentration of Moors is the highest in the Ampara, Trincomalee and Batticaloa districts.

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Kechimalai Mosque, Beruwala. One of the oldest mosques in Sri Lanka. It is believed to be the site where the first Arabs landed in Sri Lanka.

The Portuguese called the Muslims in India and Sri LankaMouros, after the Muslim Moors they met in Iberia.[13] The word Moors did not exist in Sri Lanka before the arrival of the Portuguese colonists.[14] The term ‘Moor’ was chosen because of the Islamic faith of these people and was not a reflection of their origin.[15]

The Tamil term Sonakar along with the Sinhala term Yonaka, has been thought to have been derived from the term Yona, a term originally applied to Greeks, but sometimes also Arabs and other west Asians.[16][17]

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