A brief History of 

the Colombo Grand Mosque

extracted and revised from an account written by MIL Muhammad Nuhman in 1959, an old boy of Hameedia Boys'English School in 1905, which was presented to the Colombo Grand Mosque Committee of Management on July 25, 1959

 

 

The Colombo Grand Mosque occupies a unique place in the life of the Muslim community in Ceylon from the times of ancient Sinhalese Kings. Its early origins are hidden in the dim past where legend and tradition are interwoven with history. Its significance and position for the Muslim community has been such that even today it takes a leading role in all the religious activities of the community. The decisions made by the Mosque committee on various religious issues based on the consensus, deliberations and agreement of the various Trustees, Imams of the many Jumuah Mosques in Colombo, and the Ulema, held regularly within its auspices and premises have, generally, been accepted by most of the Muslims in the whole Island.

 

The origin of the Mosque can be traced to the adventurous and pious Arab traders who used to carry on a lucrative trade between the Orient and the European ports in the Mediterranean in elephants, pearls, gemstones and spices during the period between the first and sixteenth centuries. This was a period when the Arabs had established lucrative trading posts on the Western coastal belt of Ceylon from Puttalam, in the North West, to Hambantota, in the South, as evidenced by the large number of Ceylon Moors, descended from them, living in these parts of the Island. It is hardly necessary to mention that the Arabs of that era were pioneers, not only in trade, commerce and accounting but also as skilful navigators and geographers, carrying this vast knowledge to the then known parts of the civilized world.

 

PORTUGUESE PERIOD 1505-1658

 

The earliest reference to the Mosque is contained in an illustration of the first Fort of the Portuguese which was built in 1518 (see map above). This illustration has been reproduced by Mr. R.L. Brohier in his "Historical Series" - No 1, and appears on the front of the book. The existence of Mosques in Ceylon, during this period, appears from a description found on this illustration in Colombo. It is said that when "a flotilla of eight Portuguese sailing vessels anchored in the Bay (Colombo) on November 15, 1505, the Commander of the expedition saw, beyond a rummage of masts and spars of smaller shipping and off the shore marred by a crescent of sand, clusters of huts hidden by foliage, some cadjan godowns and two limewashed Mosques."

 

Until the Portuguese arrived, in 1505, the sea-board trade was mainly in the hands of the Arabs, some of whom who had settled in Colombo, Kalutara, Beruwela, Galle, Matara, and Hambantota along the western shoreline. Soon after their arrival, the Portuguese obtained permission from the Sinhalese King to establish a trading post in Colombo. After some years the new Governor of the Portuguese settlement in Goa (India), Diogo Lopez de Siqueyra, sent Lopo de Brito to take up position as Captain of Colombo (1518-1521) with a number of workmen to build a stronger Fort in Colombo, not just to strengthen their position against the Sinhalese but also to put down the competition in trade created by the Moors.

 

King Vijaya Bahu who was not opposed to the Portuguese establishing a trading post, was alarmed at their effrontery in trying to dominate the sea-board by building a Fort. He, therefore, launched an attack on the Portuguese in 1520. Thosugh the Portuguese garrison was small their superior arms and training kept the King at bay and he was ultimately compelled to withdraw.. De Queyroz says, "The King himself abandoned the camp despairing of success against the Portuguese, and our people on the following day, again, burnt the town (Colombo) along with the two large Mosques built by the former Moor's who had lived there."

 

The continued friction between the Sinhalese and the Portuguese, and, the latters inability to compete with the Moor's in trade in the interior parts of the Island made their position in Colombo rather precarious. Hence, when Vasco da Gama came to India (second Viceroy in 1524) he had orders from the King of Portugal to dismantle the Fort of Colombo, leaving only a factory there. The Fort was, therefore, razed to the ground and the garrison and artillery were moved to Goa in India. This was an occasion of great joy for the Moors, who, in gratitude to Almighty Allah, re-built a small Mosque in Colombo.

 

Father S.G. Perera has recorded that,"The population of the town was largely Muslim and there was a Mosque together with a Muslim cemetery and a Court of Justice to settle disputes according to Muslim Law."

 

There is also a strong tradition to show that the new Mosque was built on the identical spot where the demolished ones stood thus implying that the present day Colombo Grand Mosque must have a history of more than 450 years today (2002).

 

In later years the Portuguese found that it was to their advantage, commercially, to tolerate the Moors and hence they began to enjoy a considerable amount of freedom. In spite of definite instructions from the Portuguese Provincial Council in Goa and the Roman Catholic dignitaries against employing Moors by the Christians, many Moors were still appointed as Vidane's (Headmen) etc. by the local Portuguese.

 

In his,"ceylon: The Portuguese Era", Dr Paul E Pieris states that even in Colombo there was a Moorish tailor named Belala, who, by 1625 had resided for thirty years and had also amassed great wealth. On the occasion of the marriage of his daughter to another Moor, the wedding procession paraded through the city at night and several Portuguese had also decorated and illuminated their houses and also joined in the procession. One of the influential Portuguese residents had even sent one of his African slaves to slaughter the cattle according to Islamic Shariah rites for the marriage feast.

 

This brief description is more than sufficient to prove the existence of a flourishing Muslim community where this old Mosque played a significant part in their social, cultural, and religious requirements.

 

DUTCH PERIOD 1658-1796

 

This flourishing era for the Moors of Colombo was not destined to last for long. The Dutch, who captured Colombo in 1658, were not prepared to tolerate the Moors for two main reasons. First, because they were of an alien faith, and next, because the Dutch were solely intent on earning as much wealth as they could and hence would not tolerate any rival or competition in their trade, unlike the Portuguese. Thus many oppressive laws were passed against the Moors preventing them from residing within the limits of Colombo and other towns and also preventing them from acquiring land and property within these towns. The Moors were thus compelled to keep away from the town and concentrate on their trade with the indigenous people of the interior.

 

In the 17th and 18th Century, both Ceylon and Indonesia (Batavia) were ruled by the Dutch United East India Company. At the zenith of their power, the Dutch East India Company, besides bringing mercenary soldiers to Ceylon had also sent many of the Indonesian nobility into exile here, especially those people whom they considered a threat to their poltical activities. Many of these exiles belonged to the ruling classes in Indonesia and they were also those who objected, both, spiritually and physically, to the growing power of the Company.

 

Kings,Princes, Chiefs and other Nobles who became a nuisance or hindrance to the Company were sent to Ceylon with their families from Indonesia as political exiles. A list of state exiles contains the names of 176 persons belonging to 23 families. Among the 23 heads of these families was Raja Gosman of Oesman (King of Goa in South Celebes) together with his Minister Hooloo Balangkaya, who had arrived in Ceylon in 1790 or earlier and had lived in Moor Street, Colombo.

 

BRITISH PERIOD 1796-1948

 

It was only after the coming of the British to Ceylon that all nationalities were treated alike irrespective of caste, creed or numbers. The late C.J. Van Sanden in his book,"Sonahar", states, "It would appear that as early as 1804 they (Moors) had so succeeded in enlisting the sympathy of the Britisher that a resolution was passed on 5th August, publishing a code of Muslim laws which were observed by the Moors residing in the area known as the Province of Colombo. It will be noted that while the Portuguese and the Dutch did everything that was possible to disregard the rights of the subjects and wantonly wound their susceptibilities, the diplomatic Englishman took them under his sheltering protection." Some of the Moors began to flock to Colombo and occupy, especially, the Pettah, gradually ousting the Dutch residents.

 

RE-BUILDING OF THE COLOMBO GRAND MOSQUE

 

The present Colombo Grand Mosque was rebuilt during this period, and it is interesting to recall the circumstances which led to the need for enlarging and rebuilding the Mosque.

 

Hooloo Balangkaya, who has been mentioned earlier, had a son named Muhammad Balangkaya who displayed a great interest in the Moorish community. In spite of the objections and protests of his relatives and friends her had married a Moor lady, and through this marriage he had six sons and three daughters.Muhammad Balngkaya was an Architect by profession and was also a pious Muslim. He found this small Mosque in New Moor Street inadequate for congregational prayers, and by enlisting the support of many of his rich Moorish co-religionists, he had the Mosque enlarged and renovated to a two-storey building, designed entirely by him. This is the present Colombo Grand Mosque, and was the first of its kind in Colombo, or probably in all of Ceylon at that time.

 

When the re-building of the Mosque was completed, the then British Governor of Ceylon, Lieut. General Sir Edward Barnes, GCB, visited the Mosque in 1826 and highly commended Muhammad Balangkaya on the excellence of his work.

 

An additiona wing to the Mosque was later constructed by Mr. I.L.M.H. Muhammad Mohideen in 1897, when he was managing the affairs of the Mosque. This wing which was used as part of the Mosque in addition to it also being used as classroomsfor the Hameedia Boys'English School in 1959 was originally known as "kanjee maduwam" on account of it being used as the place for the distribution of "kanjee" (rice porridge) during the breaking of the Ramadan fast at sunset.

 

HISTORY OF THE MANAGEMENT OF THE MOSQUE

 

The lack of historical evidence has prevented information to be found regarding the early management of the Mosque. It has been generally held that the management of the Mosque was in the hands of different individuals at various times and these persons carried out the onerous task of management throughout these years.

 

However, it is from the year 1918 that substantial historical evidence of the Mosque management is available. A group, consisting of some of the leading members of the congregation of The Colombo Grand Mosque met on Friday, March 17 1918, after the Jumuah Prayers at a meeting held within the Mosque premises to discuss the improvement of the management as the financial status of the Mosque was in a depleted state. The outcome of this meeting, as far as the welfare of the Mosque is concerned, have been of very significant importance. For the first time in the history of the Mosque discipline and methodology were introduced into the management of the Mosque. This was achieved by the establishment of a set of rules and regulations which provided for the management of the Mosque to be handled by a Trustee and a Management Committee, in addition to defining in detail their powers, responsibilities, and duties. Regular meetings were also provided for in this constitution.

 

It was at this meeting that New Moor Street Colombo Grand Mosque held its first democratic election in order to select a Trustee and a Committee of Management. I.L.M.H. Muhammad Mohideen was elected the first Trustee, unanimously, since he had already been handling tyhe affairs of the Mosque for many years before and was acclaimed to be a very prominent benefactor and supporter of the Mosque. A committee of 45 members was also elected which comprised a Managing Committee of 16 and a General Committee of 29 members.

 

Since the introduction of the democratic system of electing trustees and committees to manage the affairs of the Mosque in 1918, the following persons have held office until 1959:-

 

TRUSTEES                                                           TREASURERS

1918-1920: I.L.M.H. Muhammad Mohideen          1918-1933: W.M. Mohamado Usooff  

1920-1925: H.N.H. Jalaldeen                               1933-1940: W.M.A. Wahid 

1925-1940: S.L. Mahmood, JP                             1940-1957: W.M. Abdul Jabbar

1940- ?      : M. Ghouse Mohideen                         1958-?     : A.J.M. Ariff

 

The youngest son of Muhammad Balangkaya was Tuan Bagoos Krawan Balangkaya who was born on Tuesday, Rajab 21 1243 Hijra corresponding to January 28, 1827. He was qualified in Islamic Theology and became a scholar (Alim) succeeding to the position of Khalifa in Colombo.

 

THE MOSQUE CANNON

 

A landmark in the history of the Colombo Grand Mosque is the Cannon. Credit must be given to the members of the then Mosque Committee for the keen interest taken by them in installing the Cannon sometime in circa 1898. The Cannon has become an institution by itself and stands as a monument to their zeal and enthusiasm. The original Cannon was in service for quite a period of time and was fired to indicate the times of break of fast, end of Suhoor during the Islamic month of Ramadan and was also used to indicate the start of the Eids (festivals). The present Cannon was donated by A.A. Abdul Raheman, a well known hardware merchant of the Pettah and also a member of the managing committee. The Cannon was mounted on a wooden base that was movable on wheels and this has stood the rigors of sun and rain for more than half a century. It was maintained by the then Imam C.L.M. Abdul Hameed who introduced many improvements for the benefit of the congregation and the Mosque.

 

The Muslim community has always been most grateful to all governments of Ceylon for having allowed the firing of this Cannon, even during the period of the two World Wars when such activity was restricted and prohibited. The Cannon is being fired until the present day.

 

THE CEMETERY

 

The burial grounds that was present within the premises of the Colombo Grand Mosque was discontinued on October 21, 1874, on the orders of the government. In the meantime a block of land of over 1.25 acres in extent was purchased in Maradana, on Aug 12, 1875, not only for the purpose of building a Mosque but also to be used as a cemetery for the burial of the dead from amongst the members and families of the congregation of the Mosque. This ground was used for burials after the closure of the cemetery at the Colombo Grand Mosque. The present Symonds Road Mosque was built on this site and burial was discontinued here on May 21, 1875. The present Maligawatte Muslim Burial Ground was purchased on October 12, 1874 and this land became the cemetery from this date and is in use even today (2002).

 

AL MADRASATUL HAMEEDIA

 

The history of the Colombo Grand Mosque will not be complete without the mention of the famous Muslim School which has been a part of the Mosque itself from its inception. The foundation of the building was laid by the then Turkish Consul in Ceylon on August 31, 1900 (1318 Hijra). The school building was erected by I.L.M.H. Noordeen, a great philanthropist and a leading member of the Muslim community, assisted by a band of his friends, viz; OLM Ahamadu Lebbe Marikar Alim, SL Naina Marikar, AL Abdul Careem, and SL Mahmood, JP. If not for the foresight, initiative, and enthusiasm of the founder, who had managed the school for many years, the school would not be in existence today (1959).

 

The management of the school and its properties was entrusted to NDH Abdul Caffoor in 1917. Amongst the alumni of the school were, a Minister of State, Civil Servant, Proctors, leading merchantsand several other leading Muslims who embarked into various professions in life. Someof the old boys of this school are men of eminence in the community. The acedemic staff were well versed in Arabic and Tamil which were, at that time, the primary subjects. Other subjects taught at the school included English, Urdu and Persian.

 

It was in 1921 that the nameof the school was changed from Al-Madrasathul Hameedia to Hameedia Boys' English School.

 

When SL Mahmood, Secretary of the school since its inception, was appointed Trustee of the Colombo Grand Mosque on March 1, 1925, he was also entrusted with the management of the school in 1930, when he took over from NDH Abdul Caffoor.

 

The Jamiyathul Hameediya Society, which was in existence from the time the school was founded in 1900, was re-organized on November 7, 1937. This Society appointed SL Mahmood as Manager of the school which he held until his demise in 1940. On August 4, 1940, SLM Sheriff took over as manager of the school being appointed by the Society.

 

The management of the school was handed over to the Colombo Grand Mosque Educational Society on September 1, 1955. Muhammad Ghouse Mohideen, the then Trustee of the Mosque, was appointed as its Manager from August 1957.

 

The school has, today (1959), achieved great distinction, both, in the sphere academic studies and sports. Permission to conduct the SSC class was granted to the school on December 9, 1953 and students were presented for this examination for the first time in December 1955. Much credit is due to the past principals of the school, as well as the present (1959) principal, MH Amit, for all the glory and achievements.

 

Thanks are also due to the Jamiyathul Hameedia Society for the very generous contribution of Rs 15,000 for building four classrooms with modern equipment in 1959.

 

DEATHS OF MEMBERS OF THE MANAGEMENT COMMITTEE

 

Name of Member

Date of death

 

M.A.C. Idroos:                             

I.L.M. Abdul Majid:                      

I.L.M.H. Muhammad Hassan     

M.M. Muhammad Amir:              

S.M.L.M. Haniffa:                        

M. Zahir Mohideen:                     

M.C.M. Fuard:                             

Razeen Abdul Cader:                 

S.D.H. Abdul Razack:                 

A.M. Hasheem:                            

M.I.L. Muhammad Nuhman:        

W.M. Abdul Jabbar                      

A.A.M. Ismail:                         

 

 

11-03-1942

21-10-1946

04-12-1947

26-03-1948

30-04-1951

03-03-1952

9-07-1952

19-09-1952

22-02-1953

25-07-1955

24-02-1962

29-12-1957

circa 1959

 

 

 

OFFICE BEARERS COLOMBO GRAND MOSQUE 1956

 

CHAIRMAN: ARM Saleem

TRUSTEE: Muhammad Ghouse Mohideen

HONY TREASURER: WM Abdul Jabbar

HONY JT SECRETARIES: SL Muhammad, MUM Salih

 

 

MANAGEMENT COMMITTEE COLOMBO GRAND MOSQUE 1956

 

1   Muhammad Ghouse Mohideen, "Razeendale", Bambalapiiya, Colombo 4

2   WM Abdul Jabbar, 12 Alexandra Road, Wellawatte, Colombo 6

3   SLMM Sheriff, 491, Galle Road, Colpetty, Colombo 3

4   MIL Muhammad Nuhman, 140, Messenger Street, Colombo 12

5   ML Bin Ahmed, "Salonica", Colpetty, Colombo 12

6   Rashid bin hassan, 27, fareed Place, Bambalapitiya, Colombo 4

7   SDHM Yoosoof, 104 St Joseph's Street, Grandpass, Colombo 14

8   SMS Hamid, 18 Hultsdorf Street, Colombo 11

9   ARM Saleem, 118, Galle Road, Wellawatte, Colombo 6

10 SL Muhammad, 25, Clifton Lane, Maradana, Colombo 10

11 MUM Salih, 181, New Moor Street, Colombo 12

12 SHM Mohideen, 618-2, Nawala Road, Rajagiriya

13 AMM Mohideen, 21, Aloe Avenue, Colpetty, Colombo 3

14 MHM Yusuf, 87, Dickman's Road, Colombo 4

15 AMM Ismail, 35, Moor Road, Wellawatte, Colombo 6

16 MT Jalaldeen, YMCA, Fort, Colombo 1

17 MM Jalaldeen, 522, Galle Road, Colpetty, Colombo 3

18 CMM Salih, 13, Hultsdorf Street, Colombo 11

19 AJM Ariff, 10, Station Road, Wellawatte, Colombo 6

20 MMBKA Hamid, 50, Messenger Street, Colombo 12

21 MHM Mahful, 18-1, Frances Road, Wellawatte, Colombo 6

22 MHM Nasoordeen, 90, Messenger Street, Colombo 12

23 AAM Khamsus-Zaciya, 381, Dam Street, Colombo 11

24 MFA Marzook, 22, Station Road, Wellawatte, Colombo 6

25 M Shamsudeen Muhammad, 606, Galle Road, Colpetty, Colombo 3

26 AAM Ismail, 6 Ascot Avenue, Colombo 15

27 Muhammadh Ovais, 69, 37th Lane, Wellawatte, Colombo 6

28 Mansoor Abdul Cader, 37, Pendennis Avenue, Colpetty, Colombo 3

29 Mohideen Jalaldeen, 28, Beach Road, Mount Lavinia

30 MA Careem, 10, 8th Lane, Colpetty, Colombo 3

31 ACM Hasheem, 52, Nelson Place, Wellawatte, Colombo 6

 

 

Bibliography

 

Dr Paul E Pieris: " Ceylon: The Portuguese Era"

Fr de Quetroz: "The Temporal and Spiritual Conquest of Ceylon"

Fr S.G. Perera: "History of Ceylon"

R.L. Brohier: "land, Maps and Surveys"

J.C. Van Sanden: "Sonahar"

M.J. Wangsa Achmed: "The Truth"

 


Extracts from the Report of the Trustee of the Colombo Grand Mosque, 

M Ghouse Mohideen, 

on 9 March 1956

 

The Administration of the Mosque and the Trust properties fell on the shoulders of the erstwhile M Ghouse Mohideen, of Razeendale, Bambalapitiya, brother in law of Sir Razik Fareed on June 30 1940 consequent to the death of the late Trustee, the much lamented Mr SL Mahmood Hadjiar, JP.

 

Mr WM Abdul Wahid, who was the Hony Treasurer, expired on May 2, 1940, and Al Haj WM Abdul Jabbar was appointed to the position on May 12, 1940.

 

At the time of assumption of office of Mr M Ghouse Mohideen the amount of finances in hand was as follows:-

 

Received from the administration of the Estate of the late Mr WMA Wahid:                            Rs 2,586.46

Received from the administration of the Estate of the late Mr SL Mahmood Hadjiar JP:    Rs    271.50

Total:                                                                                                                                                                Rs 2,857.96

 

Of this amount a sum of Rs 2,508.50 was paid as balance purchase cost of premises No 175 New Moor Street and another sum of Rs 740.00 being repayment of deposits made by the tenants as advances, leaving a balance of Rs 390.54 as debit.

 

                         1940               1955

INCOME:                       Rs 295.00                Rs 2,148.11

EXPENSES:                Rs 197.00                Rs 1,600.00

 

The increase in income is mainly due to the amounts received as rents from the properties purchased since 1940, viz; Premises No 186, 188 New Moor Street, and Nos 176, 180, and 182 Keyzer Street, and from premises taken over consequent to the acquisition of the lands adjoining the Maligawatte Muslim Burial Grounds by the Government.

 

Three Khatheebs were officiating in 1940 as follows:-

Khatheeb ARM Salahudeen

Khatheeb MM Sabir

Khatheeb AJM Warid

 

They were paid an annual allowance of Rs 50.00 each from 1940 to 1943 which was later raised to a monthly renumeration of Rs 25.00 from Aug 1 1943. This amount was then increased to Rs 30.00 per month from Nov 11 1946.

 

On September 30, 1948, Khatheeb AJM Warid resigned his position and his allowance of Rs 30.00 per mensem was divided equally between the other two Khatheebs as they agreed to officiate alternatively taking up Khatheeb Warid's responsibilities. In January 1952 the monthly renumeration paid to the two Khatheebs was raised to Rs 65.00 each. In this manner the work of the Khatheebs was carried out successfully up to the end of December 1953, at which time Khatheeb MM Sabir resigned his position. In his place, Al Haj Moulavi SUM Hibathul Careem was appointed as Khatheeb on Jan 9 1954.

 

The roof of the upper floor of the Mosque was renovated during 1945 at a cost of Rs 4,883.29. This expenditure was met by the following benefactors:-

 

YM Naina Marikar JP:                        Rs 500.00

AL Haj AMM Abdul Cader                Rs 500.00

Al Haj M Mathany Ismail                   Rs 500.00

MHM Shamsudeen                            Rs 500.00

Al Haj WM Abdul Jabbar                 Rs 500.00

MB Mohammed                                  Rs 250.00

AL Haj MHM Sulaiman                     Rs 250.00

M/S WMA Wahid & Brothers         Rs 250.00

M/S A Meera Mohideen & Sons  Rs 200.00

M/S Mukthar & Ghouse                   Rs 100.00

Anonymous                                         Rs 100.00  

TOTAL:                                    Rs 3,650.00

 

The late MHM Sulaiman met the shortfall of Rs 1,283.00 making a total of Rs 4,933.00, leaving a balance of Rs 49.71 which has been carried over to the Mosque funds. Since then the Mosque has been white-washed annually and minor repairs and painting works have been carried out. Mention must be made here that a portion of the cost of this annual maintenance work was met by a few members of the Congregation up to 1953.

 

The Electrical wiring of the Mosque which was in a deteriorated state, was also attended to by a complete re-wiring of the whole Mosque in 1948. Additional lamps for lighting were also provided at a cost of Rs 2,500.00. This expenditure was met by Al Haj WM Abdul Jabbar, the Hony Treasurer. His name is mentioned here in appreciation of his generous gift although he himself wished to remain anonymous.

 

The late Al Haj MYM Mashood gifted four ceiling fans and paid Rs 20.00 per month towards their cost from October 1947 to July 1951. AM Shahul Hamid also gifted two fans. The cost of lighting the Minaret was met by some of the members of the Committee of Management.

 

Under the auspices of the Committee of Management of the Colombo Grand Mosque a mass meeting of representatives from various Mosques throughout the Island was held on September 29, 1943 at Hameediah School Hall, to consider the Draft Ordinance affecting Mosques, Waqfs, Charitable Funds, Shrines and Thakkiyas. A representative gathering, including Ulema, was present. At this meeting the various aspects of the Ordinance was discussed and all present were made to realize the hardhsips that were bound to be caused to all Muslims should the supervision and control of these institutions be handed over to the Public Trustee as contemplated in the Bill. It was decided to inform all Mosques in the Island of the defects in the proposed Ordinance and how it violated Islamic Law in allowing a non-Muslim to control the affairs of the places of worship of Muslims. A Committee was formed to take immediate steps to ascertain views of the representatives of the various Mosques in the Island.

 

A conference of delegates was held on December 18, 1943, at Hameediah School Hall. The late Mr MHM Shamsudeen presided and several resolutions were passed condemning the Bill. Later, as a result of a memorandum submitted by this Committee to the then Minister of Home Affairs, the general opposition manifested, and the Bill was shelved by the Government.

 

Since the attainment of independence the question of promulgating the amended Waqf Ordinance was revived. The Draft Ordinance was, again, taken up in 1952 by the Muslim Members of Parliament and the Senate. The Committee of Management lost no time in taking necessary action to protect the interest of Muslims. Under the auspices of the Committee a conference of representatives of Mosques and other places of Muslim Worship, of Muslim Organizations, and of Ulema, and other prominent Muslims, was convened on October 21, 1952 at Hameediah School Hall, New Moor Street, to protest vehemently against the proposed Draft amendments to the existing ordinance of 1931, as the proposed amendments were a violation of the inherent rights of Muslims under Muslim Law.

 

In accordance with the decision of the conference a Memorandum protesting against this amendment was forwarded to the Minister of Home Affairs on November 30, 1952.

 

On January 10, 1953, a circular was issued to all the Mosques in the Island requesting Muslims to meet their respective Members of Parliament and request them to oppose the Bill when it came before the House. The matter is now before the Parliament.

 

In this connection I would earnestly appeal to all Muslims to consider seriously, whether under the prevailing conditions of religious antagonism in the Island, it would be advisable for our Muslim Members of Parliament to continue to support the enactment of this amending Ordinance that is repugnant to the very spirit of Islam.

 

A notice was published in the Ceylon Daily News of December 4, 1950, by the Government Agent, Western Province, under sub-section (I) of section 7 of the Land Acquisition Act No 9 of 1950, to acquire the following lands belonging to the Maligawatte Muslim Burial Grounds:-

 

PPA 2831 Lot No 9 Narahena alias Narahenakumbura part of Assessment No 75 Maligawatte Lane, extent 17 Acres, 0 Roods 18.9 Perches.

 

PPA 2831 Lot No 12 Narahenakumbura Part of Assessment No 75, Maligawatte Lane, extent 11 Acres, 1 Rood and 30.5 Perches

 

Immediately this advertisement was noticed, the Chairman, in consultation with the office bearers, lofged an objection with the Government Agent, Western Province, through our lawyers on December 12, 1950, against the insertion of the name of OHM Sulaiman as claimant to the above lands and pointing out that the legal claimant was the Trustee of the Colombo Grand Mosque.

 

The action taken by the Chairman was unanimously approved by the Committee at its meeting held on Feb 3, 1951, and he was also requested to take all further action necessary to establish the claim of the Mosque to those lands.

 

Mr ARM Saleem, a member of the Committee of Management, suggested that instead of getting into endless litigation, it was desirable that an amicable settlement should be arrived at, as the claimant was in possession on a notarial document. The whole matter of bringing about a settlement was entrusted to a sub-committee comprising of Al Haj M Ghouse Mohideen and Al Haj WM Abdul Jabbar with power to add. Mr Saleem was co-opted to the sub-committee. At the meeting held on October 6, 1951, the sub-committee reported to the Committee of Management that they had recommended the payment to the claimant a sum of Rs 55,000 on account of compensation and Rs 4,000 on account of the damages received from the Government, if he agreed to renounce his right, title and interest in the said lands. It was agreed that a sum of Rs 13,820 taken by him as advance from the tenants on the leases granted by him be waived off.

 

A sum of Rs 316,000 was received from the Government as compensation for the aforesaid lands and Mr OHM Sulaiman was paid the agreed sum as compensation. The monies remaining were utilized to purchase Premises No 176, 180 & 182 Keyzer Street, at a cost of Rs 255,289, with the Mosque funds advancing the balance amount of Rs 14,126.44 required.

 

Prior to the purchase of these properties the Committee had paid an advance for the purchase of Premises No 188, New Moor Street, a new house opposite the Mosque. In order to meet the purchase price and costs of transfer, amounting to Rs 49,209.67, two sums of Rs 20,000 each were borrowed from Mr AJM Ariff/Mr AJM Jabir and Mr MHM Yusuf, who were very kind enough to accommodate the Mosque with these amounts. The loan of Rs 40,000 has since been repaid from the revenue of the Mosque.  

 

The old ablution tank, which was in an insanitary condition, was filled up and a new one built. This, together with the building and passage leading to the Maligawatte Mosque Burial Grounds, was erected at a cost of Rs 14,000 which was met by Al Haj WM Abdul Jabbar, the Hony Treasurer, in memory of his daughter, Ummu Mahbooba.

 

Properties Purchased:-

Property                            Value                     Transfer Cost           Total

186 New Moor Street        Rs   10,000.00        Rs     200.00           Rs  10,200.00

188 New Moor Street        Rs   47,292.50        Rs 1,912.17           Rs   49,204.67

176,180,182 Keyzer Str     Rs 250,000.00        Rs 5,289.00           Rs 255,289.00

Total                                                                                Rs 317,207.67