Sri Lankan Muslims

  The History of the Maradana Mosque


The Arab’s came to Ceylon in the pursuit of trade and also to visit Adam’s Peak. The earliest record, by a Moor, of the existence of a Prince in Colombo is that of Ibn-Batuta in AD 1343-1344.


He states, “We took our departure for the town of Kaly (Galle), a small town, six parasangs from Dinewer (Dondra). A Muslim called, Ship Captain Ibrahim, entertained us at his house. We then took the route for the town of Colenbou (Colombo), one of the largest and most beautiful in the Island os Serendib (Ceylon). There dwelt the Vizier, Prince of the Sea, DJALTESTY, who had about five hundred Abyssinians.


In 1505, when the Portuguese, piloted by the Moors, came to Colombo from Galle, they saw two white-washed Mosques there. (See Surveyor General’s Map Historical Series No.1, Portuguese Period). It is recorded, “The first Portuguese to put into Colombo did so by accident. Don Laurenzo de Almeida, son of the Viceroy, Fransisco de Almeida of Goa, set out from Cochin, in the month of November 1505, with nine sailing ships and made for the Maldive Islands, hoping to intercept Moorish ships bound for Makkah. Being carried away by a storm and reaching the Port of Galle, and after victualling, the ships followed the coastline, Northwards, to the Port of Colombo in which the anchored, causing much astonishment to the natives and tremendous grief to the Moors.


Passing coconut gardens and thatched roofs, as Colombo came into view, they saw the white walls of the two Mosques, sailing ships and fishing craft.


The precise location of these Mosques are doubtful. There was one at Gabokka where the new lighthouse stands. The other could have been the Grand Mosque at New Moor Street, being situated on a hill and hence visible from the sea. According to another version, there was a Mosque on the hill at Wolvendhal, and that part of Colombo was an open space fully visible from the sea. This Mosque was being used by Arabs for prayer, who had their go-downs, moored, in the harbor. The had complete freedom in the Island and a large majority of them monopolized the coastal areas in order to be in close contact with their sailing vessels. The advent of the Portuguese brought intolerance and business rivalry and the Moors had to move to the outskirts of Colombo by a “Road to Cotta”, now called Maradana Road, and settled therein. The more powerful and wealthy of them mustered strongly at Moorish quarters at Grand Moor Street (ie the Pettah section of Main Street), New Moor Street, Old Moor Street, Dam Street and Messenger Street.


Among those settled in Maradana were physicians, master masons, and branch business agents of those at the Moorish quarters. There was also a colony of Moors in the vast areas  known as Mankaratotam, on the lower side of Darley Road where the railway tracks have been laid. This land was on level with Maradana Road and was occupied by the Government. It was expanded during the year 1877 and the de-housed shifted to Vauxhall Street, Temple Road and several other parts of Maradana. Arab Place (then Stanley Place), now called Arab Passage, was fully occupied by the Moors from which they managed their Mosques.


The Sinhalese were very cordial in their relationship with the Moors. They had much reverence for Arabia. They also believed that the Buddha had left his footprint, among other places, in a certain part of Arabia as quoted as follows:-


His footprint is on the sandy bank of the river Nadia; on the summit of the hillock Buddehiri, on the top of Mount Samane, and in the city of Yonakapura, that radiant footprint of the eminent sage do I salute with a bow of my head


which is sung by the many Buddhists during their pilgrimage, climbing the mountain of Adam’s Peak, on which is a footprint, the claim as that of the Buddha. Yonakapura is a town in Arabia as the people of Aaba were then known as “Yonas” and married in Sri Lanka in “Marakkalam” boats. Hence the term “Marakkala Minissu” for Sri Lankan Muslims emerged. There were eminent physicians amongst the Moors who held high positions as Royal Physicians. On May 7, 1019, the Sinhalese King had granted a Charter to the ancestors of Bastamiar Lebbe Meera Lebbe alias Ahmed Leva (Madleva), Chief of the Moors in 1760, as follows:-


Periya Mudaliyar Marikar and his descendants are hereby exempted from punishment of either imprisonment or death, and His Majesty, being highly pleased with their services to his Government, they shall at all times be protected from all troubles and difficulties. They shall be free to follow their own religion, and build Mosques and such places of worship on any land they choose. It shall be allowed them to build ships, and trade thereby with other countries.


The Maradana Mosque land was such a grant t the Moors, and a Mosque was built as permitted by the early rulers.


About the year 1770, Ahmed Lebbe, brother of Cappodear Lebbe and Shekadi Marikar (Moorish Doctor), sons of Bastamiar Lebbe Meera Lebbe alias Ahmedleva, (shortened by the Dutch, who came later on, as Madleva. Other names similarly shortened were Drahman for Abdul Rahman, Lye for Malye etc.) Chief of the Moors, was in possession of the Marakkala Palliyawatte - Mosque, Land, and the Priest - Segu Mohideen Sinne Mira Audeka Lebbe - and was in charge of a small Mosque thereon. The land called Kajugahawatte was known as MarakkalaPalliyawatte in 1770 on account of the fact that a Mosque had stood thereon, under the control of he residents of Maradana, long before that date. The Mosque land abutted Maradana Road, and, its rear, the Beira Lake. The water of the lake was drained into a pond, “Kanmany Kolam”, with steps on the side of the Mosque. The title to the land accrued, by it being in continued possession of the Moor Capitalists, by their patronage of the Mosque and the use of the land for the burial of their dead.


Governer Fredrick North, in his report on, “The People of Ceylon in 1798”, wrote of the Muslims as follows:-


There are two very numerous ones of the Mohammedans. The first is that of the Lebbes or African Merchants who were always considered by the Dutch as aliens, though numerous and industrious, and were subjected to the payment of a poll tax of twelve Rix Dollars, or twenty four Shillings, per annum in lieu of personal service..... I have an idea of drawing from these people, nearly, the same revenue to the public, and at the same time of procuring for them the comforts of a correct and respectable Government, by bringing into the Island a Mufti to be consulted by me on all points of Mussalman (Muslim) Law and, half a dozen Qazies, as Judges in the different parts of the Island, where are now many Moorish inhabitants collected under chiefs whose want of knowledge, manners, morality and religion render them a disgrace to the Government which employs them, a scourge to the people subjected to them. The expense of this establishment will be more than defrayed by a contribution of the Mussalman smaller than that levied in the Dutch time..... These Lebbes form the greatest number of small capitalists and active merchants in the country. They are industrious, and, apparently, peaceable, and if they sometimes have disputes among themselves, it is not extraordinary, as there is not one of common knowledge of their law who can decide for them. Another remarkable class of Mussalmans in Ceylon is that of the Malays. They may be sub-divided into three distinct sorts; viz; Princes, Soldiers and Robbers, though, I by no means wish to assert that the third class exercises its profession to the other two. “ (Times of Ceylon, 4th February, 1950)


The following are the Commissioners appointed by the Government to draft the Mohammed Code of 1806:-


1. Mamoenepoela Suleyma Lebbe Marikar

2. Segu Ismail Lebbe Naina Marikar

3. Oduma Lebbe Maestriar Shekadie Marikar (grandfather of ILM Abdul Azeez)

4. Mukallam Assen Lebbe

5. Segoe Mira Lebbe Oduma Lebbe Marikar

6. Ibrahim Pulla Snne Lebbe

7. Lebbe Marika Saray Lebbe Marikar

8. Aghmadu Lebbe Segu Abdul Cader (Interpreter)

9. Omar Naina Pulla Lebbe

10. Kasie Lebbe Mamoe Naina Pulla

11. Assen Meera Lebbe Maghmadoe Lebbe

12. Audekana Pulla Ossena Lebbe (father of Othman Hajiar and Consul Majeed)

13. Kasie Lebbe Segu Meera Lebbe

14. Idroos Lebbe Sultan Kando

15. Lebbe Marikar Omar Lebbe Marikar

16. Lebbe Marikar Shamsu Lebbe Marikar

17. Segu Mira Pulla Abubaker Lebbe Alvers

18. Meera Lebbe Maestriar Shekadi Marikar (ancestor of SDM Burhan)

19. Suleyma Lebbe Josboe Naina

20. Suleyma Lebbe Pakkir Pulla

21. Mimor Naina Pulla Shamsudeen Lebbe

22. Aghmadu Lebbe Alie Marikar

23. Lebbe Marikar Oduma Lebbe Marikar

24. Lebbe kandu Seyadu

25. Ossen Lebbe Kapitan Aghmadu Lebbe

26. Madinah Lebbe Shekadi Marikar

27. Muhammadu Kassim Aghmadu Lebbe

28. Lebbe Naina Marikar Aghmadu Ali Marikar Kapitan


The above list has been furnished by Sir Dr. Paul Peiris and is available for inspection at the Government Archives, Colombo.


Moors purchased more properties in Maradana and popularized the Mosque. The Headman system of the old had bee extended to the Moors and they were all under a Head Moorman. Their Mosques and Cemeteries and other community issues were all under the jurisdiction of the Head Moorman as he was, to the Muslims, the Mufti or Qazi of their religion. As all Mosques were under the Head Moorman, the Maradana Mosque and New Moor Street Grand Mosque were also under the control of Oduma Lebbe Marikar, Head Moorman in 1818. Every Mosque had a set of separate Board (Mathicham) of Managers with a “Chief”. In 1840 the Maradana Mosque was rebuilt.


At the time Oduma Lebbe Marikar Shaikh Abdul Cader Marikar, commonly known as Shekadi Marikar, having been appointed Mudaliyar of the Eastern Province in 1835, was at Trincomalee, training his son, Cassim Lebbe Marikar (Mudaliyar) (See AIL Marikar’s statement, page 88, in the Souvenir of the MICH issued in 1965)


A powerful Committee (Mathecham) of the Mosque, selected from the congregation list below, built the present Maradana Mosque in 1840:-1841:-


1. Mowlana Syed Abubakr

2. Shamsudeen Lebbe Cassim Lebbe (NDH Abdul Caffoor haji’s grandfather)

3. Sulaiman Lebbe Naina Marikar (grand-uncle of SL Naina Marikar Haji)

4. Cassim Calefa Raja Levana Marikar (brother of CKR Samsu Lebbe Marikar #52)

5. Sinne Lebbe Tamby Markar

6. Sinne Tamby Cassim Lebbe Marikar

7. Meera Lebbe Sinne Marikar

8. Hajji Marikar Pitcha Thamby

9. Shams Lebbe Shaikh Marikar

10. Ibrahim Lebbe Abubakr Lebbe Marikar (grand-uncle of MLM Reyal, former MMC)

11. Hajji Marikar Constable Meera Lebbe Marikar

12. Sinne Lebbe Sinne Thamby

13. Yousoof Lebbe Hajiar Thamby

14. Muhammad Lebbe Shaikh Marikar

15. Meera Lebbe Marikar Hassena Marikar

16. Othman Lebbe Yousoof Lebbe

17. Shamsudeen Lebbe Ahamed Lebbe (brother of SL Cassim Lebbe #2)

18. Idroos Lebbe Shamsudeen Lebbe

19. Omar Lebbe Sinna Marikar

20. Ahmed Lebbe Hassen Meera Lebbe

21. Hajji Marikar Sulaiman Lebbe

22. Shamsi Lebbe Marika Ahamed Lebbe Marikar (grandfather of MCHM Rasheed, AHM Junaid,

       SLM Ahamed, SLM Zohar, SLMA Rahman)

23. Sulaiman Lebbe Mathicham Sinna Marikar

24. Colanda Marikar Palli Adian

25. Coonge Muhammad Nagotha Coonge Moosa

26. Ahamed Lebbe Marikar Levana Marikar

27. Meera Lebbe Marikar Arasi Marikar

28. Naina Lebbe Muhandiram Muhammad Thamby

29. Thamby Candu Lebbe Katu Bawa

30. Kappu Odear Lebbe Cassim Lebbe Marikar (great-grandfather of Muhammad Sameer)

31. Kappu Odear Lebbe Shaiku Lebbe Marikar (grandfather of OLM Faloon, AM Saleem, SDHM

       Yousoof Hajiar, Mrs. NHM Abdul Cader-first bed, and Mrs. NM Zaheed)

32. Conji Marikar Muhammad Lebbe, Notary

33. Aboo Lebbe Marikar Sinne Lebbe

34. Meera Lebbe Abdul Fatha

35. Aboo Lebbe Marikar Sinna Marikar

36. Shaikh Abdul Cader Marikar Idroos Lebbe Marikar (father of ILM Abdul Azeez)

37. Sinna Lebbe Saibo

38. Usoof Naina Ahmed Lebbe Marikar

39. Sheikh Meera Lebbe Raja Marikar

40. Naina Marikar Ismail Lebbe Marikar

41. Yousoof Lebbe Constable Saibo

42. Sinne Lebbe Constable Packeer Bawa alias Muhallam Hassen Lebbe (ancestor of Muhammad


43. Yousoof Lebbe Constable Mohideen Abdul Cader

44. Yousoof Lebbe Constable Lebbe

45. Ibrahim Lebbe Ahmed Lebbe Marikar

46. Omar Lebbe Ahmed Lebbe Marikar (grandfather of ILM Sathuk)

47. Mamuna Pulla Marikar

48. Sulaiman Lebbe Cader Saibo

49. Cader Pulla Uduman Nana

50. Sheikh Fareed Marikar Cader Mohideen

51. Uppapulla Packeer Thamby

52. Cassim Khalifa Raja Shamsu Lebbe Marikar (grandfather of LM Hasheem)

53. Sheikh Ismail Lebbe Vappuchan

54. Hassena Marikar Muhammad Thamby

55.  Muhammad Burhan Shamsi Lebbe Marikar (grandfather of SDM Burhan)

56. Cader Marikar Bawa Saibo

57. Bawa Lebbe Ahamed Lebbe Marikar

58. Naina Lebbe Cassim Lebbe

59. Saibo Ahmed Lebbe Marikar

60. Cuppathamby Pir Cando (father of PCM Yousoof)

61. Yousoof Lebbe Omar Lebbe Marikar

62. Cuppathamby Ahmed Lebbe Marikar

63. Muhammad Thamby Katu Bawa

64. Shamsy Lebbe Alia Marikar

65. Sheikh Ismail Lebbe Uduman Lebbe Marikar

66. Colanda Marikar Sinna Lebbe Wapuchan

67. Packeer Thamby Constable Sinna Lebbe (great-grandfather of Muhammad Sameer)

68. Cader Lebbe Muhammad Thamby Marikar

69. Sinna Marikar Aboo Lebbe Marikar

70. Sinna Bapoo Assen Meera Lebbe

71. Packeer hamby Uduman Lebbe Marikar

72. Packeer Bawa Minnar Marikar

73. Coonge Muhammad Nagotha Shaikh Fareed

74. Meera Lebbe Periya Thamby


The Arabic inscription on the facade of the Mosque gives an account of the date and the description of the opening of the Mosque at re-erection as follows:-


In the name of Allah, One who purified the heart of the founder of the Ka’aba.

We lay the foundation of this house of Allah at Dhuhar time (Noon).

In doing so we follow the path of righteousness in the forenoon of the day.

Which is the sixth of Rajab, the month of respect, of goodness.

That is the day on which the Imam stood praising Him.

All others stood there invoking the blessings on the Prophet (sal), all together.

The building was completed as the work of Moses was perfected on Ashura Day.

On the day of Hajj, which was the day of excellence and beauty.

Which belonged to the sixth year (6)  along with fifty (50) and two hundred (200) and thousand (1000)

(ie the year 1256 Hijra).

From the time of the departure of the Prophet of the Hashemite Clan.

O! Our Lord, grant victory and forgiveness and mercy.

To those who glorified you in it, prostrating.

And we ask blessings upon him who recommended to build Mosques.

And he is your beloved creature ad the best of those who prayed at Makkah.


Month of Hajji 10, 1256


                                                Translated by Noordeen Abdul Careem

                                                (brother-in-law of Muhammad Sameer)


Besides money, the members supplied materials for the building Shamsi Lebbe Marikar Ahmed Lebbe Marikar owned properties opposite the Mosque. While frequenting his estate he visited the Mosque and paid personal attention to its requirements. He supplied beams for the roof bringing them from Chittagong. Master masons lived within the Maradana area, and, in a limited time, they re-built the Mosque, offering their services completely free of charge.


The selection of a Khaeeb, for the Mosque, in 1840 was also a matter of great dispute. In 1848, a small property adjoining the land was purchased by the congregation in the name of Khateeb Assen Lebbe Muhammad Abdul Cader Muhallam. In 1847 the Head Moorman died and Assen Lebbe Marikar, grand-uncle of ILM Noordeen Hajiar (NDHM Salih’s father), was appointed Head Moorman by the Government.


On 6th Markali 1852, Muhallam Sinna Lebbe Marikar Hassen Lebbe alias Packeer Bawa Costapola (Item 42 in the list), an ancestor of Muhammad Sameer, was selected Khateeb. e preached Khutba on 1st. Adi 1853. There was also another Khateeb named Khateeb Muhallam Ossen Lebbe Madar Lebbe in 1854 (1270 Hijra).


By virtue of his appointment of Head Moorman, Ossen Lebbe Marikar had control of all the Mosques including Maradana Mosque. A section of the Moors refused to recognize the leadership of Ossen Lebbe and the congregation of the Mosque was split. Those who patronized him, wished him to be the Chief of the affairs of the Maradana Mosque, and the Government Agent appointed him as Trustee together with Avoo Lebbe Marikar (Mohideen Abdul Cader) as Trustee of the Grand Mosque, New Moor Street, Colombo. From this time onwards the Moors of Colombo were divided into two principle groups, managing their affairs in rivalry, scorning one another. They divided themselves as “Lebbe Party” of new Moor Street Mosque and “Marikar Party” of the Maradana Mosque. There were also many small Mosques, viz; Mutuwal, Kollupitiya, and Maligawatte who had heir affairs managed separately under the Head Moorman. At this time, the Moors in the Island were also divided amongst themselves on the issue of whether the parents of the Prophet Muhammad (Sal) were  Moomins (believers) or Mushriks (non-believers).


The land at the rear of the Mosque was being reclaimed from the Lake, and added, thus increasing the extent of the property to almost fifteen acres. In 1866 the Government vested the reclaimed land to the Colombo Municipality. The Maradana Mosques claim to this land was in vain and the extent of the property reduced to about twelve acres. Around the year 1870 the Government acquired the Mankaratotam for the extension of the Railway along the coastline and a plot of the Mosque land was also included in this acquisition. More than one group of the congregation made claims to the compensation and, on account of this dispute, payment was put off.


In 1860, Cassim Lebbe Marikar Mudaliyar, son of Shaikh Abdul Cader Marikar Mudaliyar, was appointed Head Moorman, and, consequently, he became the Trustee of the Maradana Mosque. He levied subscriptions from the congregation, raised funds, and purchased properties at the corner of Maradana Road, and Sutherland Road (Darley Road). He was a widower ad married a lady whose aunt was the widow of a Mathicham of the Maradana Mosque. This lady possessed two immovable properties at No 107 New Moor Street and No 23 New Moor Street. She donated the former to her sister’s grandson, Kappodear Lebbe Cassim Lebbe Ahmed Ali Marikar, and the latter to her sisters daughter, Ayesha Natchia (Mrs. Muhammad Lebbe Marikar Hajiar) in 1861. She also donated cash to the Maradana Mosque to purchase a property at No. 16, Hospital Street (now Nos. 21, 23, & 25), Fort. Full particulars of these donations are as follows:-


1. Pathuma Natchia of Colombo, widow of Assena Lebbe Muhammad Naina Marikar, head Moorman, was possessed of premises No 23 and No. 107, New Moor Street, and had money, in sovereigns stored in a wooden safe. (Title Deed Nos. 1438 of 28 December, 1862 re No 23 New Moor Street). By Deed No. 14103, dated 8 December 1862, she gifted to her niece, an adopted child named Ayesha Natchia, daughter of Kaluwa Raja Shams Lebbe. Ayesha Natchia joined by her son, Levana Marikar, donated the premises No. 23, New Moor Street, to her daughter Muthu Natchia, wife of Ahmed Raja Shamsudeen, as dowry at marriage.


2. Pathuma Natchia gifted her other property at No. 107, New Moor Street, to a nephew named Ahmed Ali Marikar (maternal grandfather of Muhammad Sameer and Waleed). treating him as an adopted son.


Cassim Lebbe Marikar Mdaliyar had been married to a niece of Pathuma Natchia. Pahuma Natchia’s late husband, Assena Lebbe Muhammad Naina Marikar, head Moorman, was a Mathicham Elder of the Maradana Mosque. Hence she donated her wealth of sovereigns, amounting to about one thousand, to the Maraana Mosque, in order to purchase a property for the welfare of the Mosque. The trustee purchased premises No. 16 at Hospital Street, Fort, Colombo. In 1898, Ahmed Ali Marikar, the donee of the property a New Moor Street, gained possession of the premises No. 16, Hospital Street, as the property of his aunt. Sometime in 1900, the late Ahmed Lebbe Marikar Idroos Lebbe Marikar (cousin brother of Haji Ismail Effendi bin Sahib Doray), a prominent member of the Maradana Mosque congregation, regained possession of this property and put one Ahmed Lebbe Marikar as its tenant under the Assistant Trustee, Wapchi Marikar Meera Lebbe Marikar Puthiya (New) Lebbe.


With he compensation received from the Government for the Makaratotam acquisition, the Mosque purchased property at Sutherland Road (Darley Road) from the heirs of Mamuna Lebbe Bass. Marsh land a the rear of the Maradana Mosque, amounting to an extent of seven Acres, two Roods and twenty eight Purchases (7A.2R.28P), by Plan No. 782628 dated December 16, 1866 was granted to the Colomb Municipality by the Government under the waste land ordinance. This was claimed to be Mosque and by many of the congregation. (See Maradana Mosque Plan of JA Kricjenbeck & CA Buyzer, 1894 & 1905)


Small Mosques were also helped by the members of the Maradana Mosque. At the shrine of one Malay Saint, Sebesta Peer Saibo, buried in 1845, there were properties of the trust in the illegal possession of squatters. Tuan Seyeth arranged with Kappodear Lebbe Avoo Lebbe Marikar (great-grandfather of MHM Dhahlan), Chief of the Maradana Mosque Management in 1869, to advance funds, raised from the congregation, in order to file action to regain possession of Peer Saibo’s properties, on he promise of returning the funds back to the Maradana Mosque..


Up to the time of the purchase of  immovable properties, the affairs of the Mosque were managed entirely with the subscriptions of the congregation which was collected by the Khateebs. During the months prior to Ramadhan the Khateebs visited the Mathichams and explained the numerous needs for the Mosque. Mats and Carpets, Olava and Oil lamps and the various requisites were supplied by the members of the congregation and their families on a regular basis. Those who were skilled in manual labor and other services volunteered to assist in repairing, color-washing, painting and attending to other requirements of the Mosque. Others helped in laying out the mats, ensuring that the “Howdl” was filled with water etc. The Muezzin and barbers who helped in such matters were also paid a part of the donations for their services. Provisions and cash, for the purchase of provisions, came in as offerings. The entire administration was managed by the Khateebs under the approval of the Managers. Those members of the congregation who had businesses outside Colombo, especially in the Central Province, and who owned land and property there gifted some of these real-estate for the upkeep of the Mosque. Some even left monies in heir wills for the Mosque.


In the beginning of 1870 a Muslim (Shammara) girl was taken away in a barrel by Sellanchy Appu, a carpenter, of Moratuwa. The relatives of the girl appealed to the Muslim public and an appeal to the Supreme Court was made. The girl, however, chose to go with Appu. She was given Police protection at e Maradana Police Station which was situated directly opposite to the Maradana Mosque. The Moors tried hard but failed in all their endeavors to release the girl. They then, in their fury, attacked the Police Station sing the bricks of the boundary wall of the Mosque. The Police appealed to the Muslim leader, M.C. Abdul Rahman. On arriving at the scene e found one Abdul Azeez and son attacking the Police with a co[py of the Quran in one hand and a brick in the other. In retaliation the Police attacked the Mosque. According to another report the assailant was supposed to have been one Kassim Bhai Muhammad Ismail, brother of M.C. Abdul Rahman, the Muslim leader.


The report of the Police was as follows:-


Many of the mob had rushed straight into the Mosque itself, and, on reaching it. I found the last of them being brought out by a constable and some Singhalese towns people. I found, too, to my regret, that these later (and some members of the Police too although they deny it), had smashed the lamps of the Mosque in their anger against the Muslims.”




I certify that SAGO MEERA LEBBE AHAMADO MARIKAR is entitled to a family grave in the burial ground of the Maradana Mosque to the best of my knowledge and belief, but this individual has not contributed to the benefit of the said Mosque, the sum of Rupees Fifty, as was ordered and received by my predecessor, the late S.M.C.L. Marikar Mudaliyar, who has furnished to the Council on 27th August and 16th October, 1875, list of names of persons and the sum contributed by them.


Sego Meera Lebbe Ahamado Lebbe Marikar

Katta Lebbe Marikar  Cassim Lebbe Marikar (Trustee of the Maradana Mosque)

(grandfather of Proctor AHM Sulaiman)

3rd. December, 1878


The above is a copy of a document, found, among the papers left behind by the late Mr. Y.L.Abdul Wahab (father of Mr. A.W.M.Ghouse), who died on 17 August, 1959, as that of an uncle of his, who was a member of the Maradana Mosque.


However, in the Ceylon Government Gazette No. 4468, dated June 10, 1882, the name of this member of the Maradana Mosque, appears as one entitled to have a family burial ground at the Mosque cemetery by order of the Government of Ceylon, as the member contributed the sum levied by the Mosque.


Among those names that ca be identified in he list of other persons, referred to in the above mentioned gazette, are:-


1. Rasa Marikar Uduma Lebbe Marikar (grandfather of MCM Wazir)

2. Shaikh Muhammad Naguda Uduma Lebbe Marikar (father of ULMM Mohideen Haji)

3. ILMH Mohideen Haji (father of Haji Ghouse Mohideen)

4. Usuf Lebbe Sinna Lebbe Marikar Hadjiar (grandfather of MHM Yusuf Haji)


About the year 1876, ALM Hassen Lebbe alias Hasen Meera Lebbe Muhammad Thamby Marikar, died, leaving a sum of money wit his nephew, ALM Idroos Lebbe Marikar (father of ILM Noordeen Hajiar), for the improvement of the Maradana Mosque. Using these funds a side verandah, all around the existing Mosque o the well side, was added.


After rendering some very useful service to the Mosque, the Trustee, Cassim Lebbe Marikar, died in 1877. The managing body f the Mosque was then known as The Mussalmans’ United Assembly from about the year 1870, and, its Secretary, 1879, was Meera Lebbe Marikar Muhammad Oduma Nayina Marikar, grandfather of AMM Lameer.


The permanent Muslims in Colombo were Moors and Malays. They worshipped in all the Mosques managed, both, by Moors and Malays, without any differences amongst them. They also buried their dead in any Muslim cemetery. In 1856 the Government Agent had informed the Coast Moors (Moors of Indian origin), that they should obey the “Local Marikars’” Head Moorman. In the same year the Indian Moors applied to the Maradana Mosque for permission to bury their dead in the Maradana Mosque cemetery. This request was granted. Some of the Indian Moors, wanting a separate location for their burial, purchased a piece of land between the Maradana Mosque and the small Mosque at Symonds Road. However, the Government, since they were closing up old burial places in Colombo, disallowed their request and refused permission. This lans was vested in the small Mosque at a reconveyance for non-payment of rates.


There were three principal burial grounds for the Muslims. These were closed down by the sanitation authorities, along with the others, on the following dates:-


1. Peer Saibo’s Land Mosque Cemetery - May 4, 1861

2. Maradana Mosque - May 21, 1873

3. New Moor Street - October 21, 1874


The closing down of these cemeteries was greatly resented by the Muslims and some of them, even, defied the order and buried their dead, paying the penalty. The Mussalman’s United Assembly petitioned the Government for a cemetery in close proximity to the Moorish Quarters. The Government allowed burial in the land at Kuppiyawatte in 1879, and, by an Ordinance, in 1879, vested the land in “the Mohammedan Community of Colombo”. The following (three) were elected Trustees by he Assembly ad approved by the Government:-


1. Katta Lebbe Marikar Casie Lebbe Marikar (“YAKKO”)

2. Shaikh Abdul Cader Marikar Idroos Lebbe Marikar

3. Meera Lebbe Marikar Muhammad Uduma Naina Marikar


A section of the Muslims sought legislation, in 1882, to bury the remains of certain individuals at the Maradana Mosque burial grounds, and an Ordinance was proposed but was not carried out as by that time all burials were being conducted at Kupiyawatte. A portion of the vested land was assigned to the Borah Community at the request of their leader, Carimjee Jafferjee.


As the Moors were divided on the election of a Head Moorman the Government did not take any action in appointing one who would also have been the Trustee of  the Maradana Mosque. The congregation, however, elected by a majority vote, Katta Lebbe Marikar Cassim Lebbe Marikar, grandfather of Proctor AHM Sulaiman, as Trustee of the Maradana Mosque, in 1877.


The appointment of Trustees and Priests of the Mosque were subject to the approval of the Government Agent. In 1886, the Khateeb of the Maradana Mosque was Yousoof Lebbe Ahamed Lebbe Marikar Alim. He served up to 1896. Khateeb Idroos Lebbe Marikar Cassim Lebbe Marikar, father of Khateeb Abdul Hameed of the New Moor Street Mosque, served the Maradana Mosque as Khateeb in the year 1889. Wapuchi Marikar Meera Lebbe Marikar Alim Hajiar was Khateeb from April 14, 1890. He maintained a record of all contributions to the Mosque during the 27th. Night of Ramadhan and also during the two Eid Festival Days.


During the time when the Mosques were under the Head Moorman, Khateeb Shaikh Ismail Lebbe Abdul Latiff, commonly known as Lebbe Sinne Lebbe, of the New Moor Street Mosque, he was elected and approved b the Governer as per instrument of approval given herewith:-


By His Excellency Lieutenant General Sir Colin Campbell, Knight Commander of the Most Honorable Military Order of the Bath. Governer and Commander-in-Chief in and over the British settlements and territories in the Island of Ceylon with the dependencies thereof.


Whereas the Moorish population of Colombo have elected Sagoe Ismail Lebbe Abdul Latiffu to be one of their priests, we do hereby grant this certificate acknowledging Segoe Ismail Lebbe Abdul Latifu as such.


Given at Colombo under our hand and seal the Thirteenth day of February, 1845.


By order of His Excellency the Governor




Owing to certain abuses by Muslims in the Eastern Province in the matter of their marriages, representations were made to the Maradana Mosque members by the Government and an Ordinance was passed by the Government in 1886 to register Muslim marriages.


In 1890, Siddi Lebbe Muhammad Cassim, Proctor, of Kandy came over to Colombo and started an educational Movement. The Moors of that time were conversant in the Tamil Language and Siddi Lebbe wanted them to study English and Arabic. Arasi Marikar Wapochi Marikar, grandfather of Sir Razik Fareed, gifted some land to this Movement. There was much enthusiasm amongst the Muslims yet financial assistance was not forthcoming. A society called the Jamiyyathul I’thikanul Uloom - The Colombo Muslim Educational Society - was formed and obtained, from the Mussalman United Assembly, a lease of a few blocks of land of the Maradana Mosque premises for fifty years, commencing 1906. Funds were called for yet the amount realized was still insufficient to purchase furniture for the proposed Madrasa School. Wapochi Marikar, by a magnanimous gesture, built the first School building at his own personal cost to initiate the project. He also gifted four new buildings on the Mosque Land and even persuaded his erstwhile friend Carimjee Jafferjee to gift another building for the school.


The members of the society in 1895 were as follows:-


1. Yousoof Lebbe Sinne Lebbe Marikar Haji (Ancestor of Farooq Saleem, MHM Yousoof, MHA Gaffoor, IM Uzair, and grand-uncle of Sir Razik Fareed)


2. Arasi Marikar Wapchi Marikar (father of Hon. WM Abdul Rahuman and grandfather of Sir Razik Fareed)


3. M.I.M. Haniffa (father of MHM Shamsudeen)


4. S. L. Mahmood Hajiar (father of MHM Yousoof)


5. P.B. Muhammad Lebbe Marikar


6. O.L.M. Ahamed Lebbe Marikar Alim (father-in-law of WM Hassim JP, and grandfather of Mrs. Raliya Umma Sameer nee Noordeen, & A.I. Mohideen CCS)


7. A.L.M. Uduma Lebbe Marikar (father of OLM Mohideen)


8. S.M. Ismail Lebbe Marikar


9. O.L.M. Sulaiman Lebbe


10. A.L.M. Abdul Rahman Haji (father of ARHA Majeed)


11. C.M. Zainudeen


12.  O.L.M.M.C. Marikar (father of MCM Wazeer)


13. Yousoof Lebbe Marikar Haji (grandfather of Sir Razik Fareed & MCHM Rasheed)


14. A.L.M. Sinne Lebbe Marikar Haji


15. A.T. Amirdeen (grandfather of Saleem Abubacker)


16. Ibrahim bin Ahamed (father of  Lady Razik Fareed)


17. Sahib Dorai Haji Ismail Lebbe Marikar Alim (father of Mohamed Sameer)


18. S.L. Cassim Lebbe Marikar


In 1896, there were one hundred and fifty five students at Zahira School. Average attendance was one hundred and eleven. There were 43 English study, 112 Tamil study and 77 Arabic study students. All students were compulsorily required to study the complete Quran. Of seventy six students presented for Government examinations in English and Tamil, seventy passed and earned a grant of Rs. 386.00 from the Government of which the Government granted Rs. 271.00, in 1895. Alia Marikar Alim examined the students in Quran and Arabic.


A section of the congregation opposed he appointment of Katha Lebbe Marikar Cassim Lebbe Marikar and four other Mathichams as Trustees and began to undo the work of Cassim Lebbe Marikar Mudaliyar. They informed the tenants of the Mosque properties to pay the rents to them. Litigation followed with the tenants and they refrained from paying the rents to any Trustee for several years. Among those who opposed the Trustees were the descendants of the donor of the money through which the Fort property was purchased.


Cassim Lebbe Marikar was ailing for some time, and Cader Saibo Alia Marikar, son-in-law of Mudaliyar Cassim Lebbe Marikar, was appointed Assistant Trustee. The Trustees, in 1896, and the Assistant were all elected Trustees. Another section of the congregation elected Muhammad Ismail Muhammad Haniffa, brother of Muhammad Ismail Muhammad Ali JP,  as the Trustee. Yet he was not able to function. A portion of the Mosque verandah floor was paved with colored cement and the cost was borne by M.I.M. Haniffa. In 1896, Hassena Lebbe Sheikh Lebbe, father of SLM Hasheem, was appointed Khateeb.


Ahmed Lebbe Marikar Idroos Lebbe Marikar, Registrar of Marriages from March 10, 1898 to December 31, 1936, son of the brother of the late Trustee Ossen Lebbe Marikar, was a very wealthy merchant. He took a personal interest in the affairs of the Mosque. He set about to recover possession of the Fort property by any means whatsoever, and, on a day when the property was vacant, he put in, forcibly, one Ahmed Lebbe of Maradana in possession, who immediately commenced a business therein and recognized the Trustee as the Landlord. The Southerland (now T.B. Jayah Mawatha) property was recovered in a similar manner. A tract of Mosque land at the rear was leased, from time to time since 1869, to plant grass. This generated an income for the Mosque. The building around and over the “Howl” tank was built and the cost defrayed by Sulaiman Lebbe Naina Marikar Hajiar in 1899. In the same year, the estrade in front of the Mosque was also built and the cost borne by Abdul Careem Tamby Amaradeen, grandfather of Saleem Aboobacker ex MMC. The gates were made out of timber from an old flag staff. In 1900, the Trustee, Alia Marikar, passed away. He had leased the Fort property to his nephew, S.L. Abdul Hadi, who claimed money to be due to the late Trustee, and A.M. Wapchi Marikar paid back Rs. 500.00 and recovered the property. S.L. Abdul Hadi paid back the Rs. 500.00 to the Mosque, years after and, in a dream, received thanks from A.M. Wapchi Marikar.


As the post of Trustee had been the cause of much discord amongst the congregation, none wished to be elected to same. The congregation paid due respect to Seyeds and Abdul Raheem Ibn Seyed Khudsi Mowlana, who was among the congregation, was elected Trustee for three years. Previously the Trustee used to be elected for life, but a he appointment of the Mowlana, certain rules were made, and a period of Trusteeship was established. The congregation was called upon to show their approval by printed proxy forms. The congregation was defined as follows:-


The Ceylon Moors, according to them, were Sonagars who were descendants of the pioneer Arab settlers in Ceylon. The members should be Colombo Moors who have lived in Colombo from generation to generation, and who got the Khateebs of the Maradana Mosque to conduct the Nikah, Kandury, Katham, and other religious and cultural matters of the individual members.


The Managing Committee, in 1900, was composed of:-


1. Seyed Abdul Raheem Mowlana

2. Yousoof Lebbe Sinne Lebbe Marikar Hajiar

3.  Arasi Marikar Wapchi Marikar (grandfather of Sir Razik Fareed)

4. Ahmed Lebbe Marikar Oduma Lebbe Marikar

5. Ahmed Lebbe Marikar Idroos Lebbe Marikar (grandfather of WM Hassim JP)

6. Cassim Lebbe Sheikh Abdul Cader Marikar (grandfather of MCM Zacky)

7. Cassim Lebbe Marika Abdul Jabbar (father f AJM Waleed)

8. Mohideen Abdul Cader Zainudeen

9. Sinne Marikar Levana Marikar Hajiar

10. Slaiman Lebbe Noohu Lebbe (grandfather of MUM Saleem)

11. Thamby Mustapha Lebbe

12. Khateeb Wapchi Marikar Meera Lebbe

13. Idroos Lebbe Marikar Abdul Azeez (father of Rashard Azeez)

14. Arasi Marikar Muhammad Lebbe Marikar (grandfather of Mrs. S.L.Abdul Hadi)


A.L.M. Arasi Marikar Hajiar defrayed the cost and built two enclosures adjoining the Mosque for special burials, and the remains of I.L.M. Abdul Azeez, N.H.M. Abdul Cader, C.M. Meera Lebbe Marikar Haji, and a few others are interred therein.


The remains of Mr. N.D.H.Abdul Caffoor are buried near the burial place of Mudaliyar Cassim Lebbe Marikar, his grand-uncle.


On August 31, 1900, the Silver Jubilee celebration of H.H. The Sultan of Turkey, the Khalifa of the Moomineen, was held a the Maradana Mosque. The Muslims of Ceylon were greatly attached to the Spiritual Head and all of the Muslims of Ceylon rejoiced on that day. The Ceylon Standard newspaper gave the following account of the event:-


The Muslim Association had issued several invitations, and amongst those who graced the occasion by their presence were, Mr. A Forsyth, Consul for Portugal, and the French Consul, while letters of excuse were  received from various other Consulates. On the arrival of the Turkish Consul, at 10 pm, he was received by Messers A.T. Samsdeen and A.M. Wapchi Marikar, the Chief Imams, and other high dignitaries.....” (Celon Standard, September 4, 1900)


The Crescent of Liverpool gave an account thus:-


Rejoicing a the Maradana Mosque.

The festivities at the Maradana Mosque were carried out on an elaborate scale. During the evening, an address on behalf of he Muslim Association was presented to the Turkish Consul..... The volunteer Band was in attendance and discoursed a fine program of music, while grand pyrotechnic display brought a most successful evening to a close.” (Crescent of Liverpool, October 8, 1900)


The Trustee, Abdul Rahman Mowlana, died within a few years. He had been elected from those residing in what was called “Street Side” at the Moorish Quarters, and those living a Maradana, considered “Country Side” (rural), agitated for one of those living at Maradana to be elected as Trustee. At that time, the Secretary of the United Assembly, agreed to consider the claim of the people of Maradana as the Mosque had stated with the Muslims residing there. In 1902, Muhammad Ismail Abdul Raheman Mudaliyar, married to a niece of A.M.Wapchi Marikar, was elected Trustee for three years. Khateen Meera Lebbe was elected Assistant Trustee. The Mudaliyar resigned the post, and Lebbe was also incapacitated by illness and could not continue functioning in his post. Khateeb Meera Lebbe’s brother, Wapchi Marikar Abdul Rahman, was elected Khateeb in 1902. In 1903, I.L.M. Abdul Azeez and S.L. Noohu Lebbe were appointed Trustee and Assistant Trustee respectively, for five years.


In 1905, a gigantic Muslim meeting was held at the Maradana Mosque, presided by Hon. W.M. Abdul Rahman, MLC, to protest against the action of the Supreme Court in refusing to hear M.C. Abdul Cader, when he was about to address the court in a case, wearing the national headgear of the Muslims, the Fez Cap.


The income from immovable properties in 1906 was Rs. 87.50. Mohideen Abdul Cader Muhammad Zainudeen was elected Secretary of the Assembly. The rent yielding properties were, No. 16 Hospital Street, Maimoon Lebbe’s property at Southerland Road, the grass land a the rear of the Mosque, and lands let to the Educational Society. A.T. Amaradeen formed a Committee called, The Gas Committee of Maradana residents, of which he was the Chairman. he Committee collected subscriptions and furnished the Mosque with Gas lights within its premises. Expensive lamps and chandeliers were imported from the continent. Ismail Lebbe Marika Ahamed Lebbe Bass constructed ceilings at the entrance hall in 1902 at his own personal cost. The President of the Assembly was Cassim Lebbe Abdul Cader Marikar, grandfather of MCM Zacky. Vice President was Arasi Marikar Wapchi Marika, grandfather of Sir Razik Fareed. In 1904 I..L.M. Noordeen Hajiar replaced the whole roof of the Mosque with Calicut Tiles and also fixed a double faced clock within the Mosque.


The Trustee, ILM Abdul Azeez, found that the grounds of the Mosque were greatly misused, and some parts of it were in wrongful possession of individuals not connected with the administration. Cattle were also allowed to graze within the compound. Some portions of the land were being used as lavatories. The bungalow, donated by Ibrahim Lebbe Abubacker Lebbe Marikar, grandfather of Mrs. HASM Najumudeen and grand-uncle of MLM Reyal, was in possession of certain rowdies. As there was no protecting wall or fence around the grounds, trespassers were many. Restoration of the premises to its legitimate use was impossible without driving the malpractitioners to revolt. Trouble started, and it was with great difficulty that Abdul Azeez restored the Mosque and its lands to their legitimate use. Mosque funds were increasing and he opened an account in the National Bank. Internal Auditors wee also appointed. In 1908, there was a regular income of Rs. 350.00 per month. Abdul Azeez was re-elected Trustee for another five year term. A section of the residents of Maradana opposed his re-election, and elected Muhammad Ismail Abdul Rahiman Mudaliyar, who had previously given p the Trusteeship in 1902. From 1908 to 1917 A.L.M. Ibrahim Lebbe was the President. The new Trustee and his group took possession of the Mosque, yet, the property of the Mosque continued to be under the jurisdiction of the old Trustee. The first thing that the new Management did was the removal of the sign-board that had been placed by the old Trustee in a conspicuous part of the Mosque grounds, to prohibit people, on pain of prosecution, to graze their cattle, commit nuisance, play cricket, and conjugate for gambling and other unlawful purposes within the premises. Mr. Abdul Azeez consulted his lawyers and filed an action, in the District Court of Colombo, against the new Trustee and his deputies, above referred to, for restoration of possession of the Mosque. The defendants filed answers, and the leading luminaries of the local Bar were engaged on both sides.


The trial took place on December 7, 1908, and the principal point at issue was whether the plaintiff was entitled in law to maintain a possessary action. The acting District Judge, Mr. G.S. Schneider, gave judgment for the plaintiff, and ordered the defendants to restore to him the possession of the Mosque. The complied with the order of the Court, yet, in he meantime, the first defendant, the new Trustee, appealed to the Supreme Court against the said order. In appeal it was argued that the plaintiff was not ut domins possession of the Mosque, and therefore was not entitled to maintain a possessary suit, and that the previous Judgements of the Supreme Court, which were followed as authority by the District Court in this action, were against he principle laid down in the Roman Dutch Law with regard to possessary action, and which had been given by two judges, there being no decision of the full court on the point. As, on this occasion too, the Supreme Court was constituted of two judges. It ordered the case to be enlisted for argument before the full Court. Accordingly it came before the full Court, which constituted of Chief Justice Hutchinson, and Justices Middleton and Wood-Renton, and which, after hearing arguments on both sides, delivered three long Judgements, each by a justice, setting aside the order of the District Court, and declaring hat the plaintiff’s possession was not ut dominis as he only managed the Mosque for others, and hence, he could npot maintain a possessary suit.


This finding of the highest tribunal of the land was a veritable blow to Mr. Abdul Azeez and his group. But with characteristic courage he thought of further remedy.


The question at issue was of an importance more than sectarian. It concerned the entire community. Mr. Abdul Azeez had been advised not to bring an action to prove his title to the Trusteeship, because such title had to be derived from the congregation. But the congregation was then, having been split into factions, not in a position to exercise its rights in an effective manner. So, in a Court of Law, his title might be considered defective. But his opponent, the new Trustee, was also in the same position, as far as his title was concerned. Hence he, instead of asking legal remedy, had recourse to violence.


 A large number of the Mosques, Churches and Temples, in the Island had no incorporated bodies to manage their affairs and were on controlled by members of the congregations, which usually tend to veer into disputes and differences thus casing divisions. hence, if he decision of the full Court was to hold good, there would have, naturally, been perpetual dissension’s in congregations, one party superseding the other through the use of violence.


Mr. Abdul Azeez and his Group decided in their own interests and as well as that of the general Community, to carry the matter before the Privy Council, and there thrash it out further.


Accordingly, Messers Bowe and Wilkie, a London firm of Soliciters, filed Mr. Abdul Azeez’s petition of appeal at the Privy Council. The matter duly came up before Lord Mac Nought, Lord Atkinson and Lord Shaw. It was argued for the Plaintiff - appellant by Sir Robert Finlay, one time Attorney General of the United Kingdom, and Messers R. Dornhorst, KC., and F.H.M. Corbet. The defendant respondent was also represented by eminent counsel.


After hearing both sides, heir Lordships delivered judgment, setting aside the decision of the Supreme Court of Ceylon, and upholding the decision of the District Court, Colombo. The judgment of the Privy Council was read by Lord Shaw on July 27, 1911 and it holds that the Plaintiff - appellant had legal possession of the Mosque, as possession through agent was contemplated by the Roman Dutch Law, and, therefore, had the right of maintaining possessary action. The decision of the highest tribunal of the British Empire placed Mr. Abdul Azeez once more in possession of the Maradana Mosque.


Whilst the appeal to the Privy Council was pending, the defendant tried, as he was then possessing the Mosque as the result of the Supreme Court Judgment, to take possession of the properties of the Mosque as well. This attempt proved futile. Finally, the opponents of Mr. Abdul Azeez came to realize how costly a pastime it was to oppose a just cause.


After the Privy Council decision all opposition to Mr. Abdul Azeez disappeared.


In 1906, Government acquired the land of the Mosque and the building which wee gifted to Zahira School by Wapchi Marikar and Carimjee Jafferjee. Compensation for land and buildings were paid respectively to the Mosque and Wapchi Marikar. There were also some additional lands and buildings of the Mosque and also some which belonged to Singhalese people. These were also acquired by the state and compensation was paid accordingly. e acquired land is the “car park”. With the compensation amounting to Rs. 12,674.00, Wapchi Marikar built premises Nos. 15 to 27, at Darley Road.


On may 7, 1906, Wapchi Marikar laid the foundation for the extension of his original school Madrasah building. A small sum of Rs. 1,409.36 was subscribed as follows:-


The following members of the Muslim Educational Society contributed sums for the extension of the first Madrasa, which is planned to be a single storey building and to be built adjoining the Madrasa.


1. O.L.M.A.L.M. Alim (grandfather of A Mohideen CCS)                    Rs.   300.00

2. S.L. Naina Marikar Hajiar                                                                     Rs.   250.00

3. C.M. Meera Lebbe Marikar                                                                  Rs.     50.00

4. S.L.M. Abu Salih Hajie                                                                          Rs.   138.00

5. H.M. Abdul Rahman Bass                                                                    Rs.   250.00

6. A.L.M. Meera Lebbe Marikar                                                               Rs.     34.65

7. A.R. Hashim Haji (father of HHM Hassan)                                         Rs.     44.00

8. Muhallam I.L.M. Ahmed Lebbe Bass                                                 Rs.   169.50

9. M.L. Samsudeen Bass                                                                            Rs.     53.00

10. M.L.M. Abul Cassim                                                                            Rs.   120.21

            TOTAL                                                                                              Rs.1,409.36


Since the total collection was too little, it was spent in purchasing furniture. The one-storeyed extension was built at a cost of Rs. 10,000.00 and Wapchi Marikar defrayed the cost himself, according to the Annual Report.


On March 17, 1907, a meeting of the Educational Society was held, and subscription was received as follows:-


The following sums were subscribed to build Nos. 105 to 121, Darley Road:-


1. N.D.H. Abdul Caffoor                                                                                        Rs.   2,500.00

2. S.L.M. Mahmood Hajiar                                                                                    Rs.   2,000.00

3. S.L. Naina Marikar Hajie                                                                                   Rs.   2,000.00

4. I.L.M. Muhammad Meera Lebbe Marikar                                                     Rs.   2,000.00

5. O.L.M. Ahmed Lebbe Marikar Alim (grandfather of AI Mohideen CCS) Rs.   1,000.00

6. I.L.M. Noordeen Hajiar                                                                                      Rs.   1,000.00

7. Muhammad Macan Markar Haji Effendi (later MLC, Sir, Senator MMC)Rs.   1,000.00

8. S.M. Hashim & A.M. Hamid                                                                             Rs.      500.00

9. S.M. Hajie Cassim                                                                                               Rs.      250.00

10. N.D.H. Abdul Careem                                                                                      Rs.      250.00

11. A.L.M. Shamsi Lebbe Marikar Haji (father of SLMHA Rahman)             Rs.      250.00

            TOTAL                                                                                                          Rs. 12,750.00


From “Al-Muslim”, March 15, 1907, edited by I.L.M. Abdul Azeez.


In 1907, there were 240 students on the school roll. Daily attendance was 142. There were 62 English students, 80 Tamil students and 98 Quranic Study students. Examiners were I.L.M. Yousoof Alim and M.L.M. Abdul Raheman Alim. 96 students were examined by the Government Inspector, and 94 Passed and obtained a grant of Rs. 405.50. Classes above fifth standard were formed from 1907, in the extended upstairs building. Mr. Wapchi Marikar was the Manager from 1893 to 1921, excepting for a short period in 1906.1907, when Advocate M.C. Abdul Cader acted on his behalf. During the period of litigation over the Trusteeship of the Mosque (Maradana), trouble was also brewing at the Kuppiyawatte Burial Grounds.


The Independent”, of September 7, 1908 reported:-



Dissatisfaction with the present Trustees

Largely attended meeting of Mohammedans

New Trustees proposed


For the past few months there has been strong feelings of dissatisfaction among the Mohammedan community in Colombo over the management of he Kupiyawatte Burial Grounds, by the Trustees appointed. With the object of ascertaining the true extent of this feeling, the Hon. W.M. Abdul Rahman MLC, as leader of the Mohammedan Community, conveyed a meeting of his co-religionists, yesterday, at the Maradana Mosque. The meeting began at about 4 pm, with the Hon. gentleman in the Chair, and was largely attended, the following being the more prominent of those present:-


Messers AM Wapchi Marikar, Carimjee Jafferjee, M Sahib Durai Hajiar, AR Hashim Hajiar, OCM Sulaiman Lebbe, Proctor ZN Mantara, YG Aboo Haniffa, Yousoof Lebbe Hajiar Abdul Wahab, M Ismail Abdul Rahman Mudaliyar (Trustee of the Maradana Mosque), IG Marikar, Sekadi Marikar Mathicham Bastami Lebbe, PF Uduma Lebbe Marikar, Katuh Abdul Raheem ibn Ajmaeen, AT Samsideen, SL Idroos, Syed Hashim ibn Syed Alavi Maulana, MCM Abubacker Hajiar, MLM Muhammad Mohideen, SLM Aboosali Hajiar, SM Jabir, AR Razik, MA Azeez, JB Meedin, OLM Sheriff, Ibrahim Lebbe, AR Nagoor Meera, Ajji Marikar Abdul Rahaman, NM Abdul Hameed, PT Ahmed Ali Marikar, Srai Lebbe Mahmood, LM Muhammad Haniffa, MLA Majeed, ILM Abdul Raheem, OLM Abdul Careem, AL Ahamed Lebbe, AT Kobi Lebbe Hajiar, SLM Mohideen, MA Latiff, PYM Aboobacker, MM Yousoof, AL Abdul Rahiman Hajiar, ALM Meera Lebbe Marikar, and Sinne Lebbe Idroos Lebbe.




After the notice convening the meeting had been read.

“Brethren in the faith. You have just heard, and read, the notice convening the meeting. I have invited you to speak on the question of Trustees for the Kupiyawatte Burial Ground, and, to ascertain from you whether you are satisfied with the present Trustee, or whether you would like others appointed. The decision depends entirely on you. I have to tell you that this procedure is necessary, on this occasion, because of a division in our camp.


There is, as you know, a dispute about the Trusteeship of this Mosque. I have nothing to say or do with that dispute. That is the concern of the congregation. I would refer you the question of the Kupiyawatte Burial Ground only. The is land given to the Mohammedan Community of Colombo, by the Government, t be had on trust, on certain conditions. If those conditions are not observed, the Government is a liberty to take away the land from us. Just now some of you are of opinion that THE GROUND IS NEGLECTED and hat affairs are mismanaged. Some of you have petitioned for new Trustees to be appointed. I want, at this meeting, to find out whether you, who ask for a new Trustee, are in he majority or not. It is important hat, in these matters, the opinion of the majority should be upheld. You have a slip of paper given you on which to put down your vote. If you are in favor of the Trustees now in charge of the Burial Ground you can signify your opinion on one portion of the paper, in which heir names appear. You may depend upon it that your opinion in that case s just as good, and will receive just as much weight, as any other man’s votes for the other side. Those who want new Trustees, as asked by the other party, can give their opinion on the other half of the paper, in which the names of the proposed Trustees appear. When you give me your votes, I shall submit the result to Government.” (Applause).


Slips were handed in on all sides and the ballot occupied a good half hour after which the CHAIRMAN announced the result as follows:-


For the present Trustees (Messers Sulaiman Lebbe Noohu Lebbe, Hassana Lebbe Sagoe Lebbe, Sinne Marikar Levana Marikar Hajiar), three votes.


For the proposed Trustees (Messers Muhammad Ismail Abdul Raheman Mdaliyar, Ismail Lebbe Ahmed Lebbe, Muhammad Lebbe Marikar Samsudeen), seven hundred and one votes”


A announcement which was received with applause.


The meeting terminated with prayer offered by Hassan ibn Seyedue Alavi Maulana.


It may be stated that among the absentees was, Mr. M.I. Muhammad Ali Persian Consul, who wrote regretting his inability t attend through indisposition, but voting for the proposed Trustees.


THE CEYLON INDEPENDENT - 12 September, 1908


The dispute over the Kupiyawatte Burial Ground

Another Meeting of Mohammedans


Present to notice, a lately attended meeting of Mohammedans in Colombo was held at the Hameediah School Room, yesterday, at 1.30 pm. The following were the more prominent Moorish gentlemen present:-


Messers Proctor NHM Abdul Cader, CM Meera Lebbe Marikar (Chairman of the Mohammedan Association),  UM Abdul Jabbar, CLM Noordeen Hajiar, ILM Noordeen Hajiar, AL Abdul Careem, SL Naina-Marikar Hajiar, AMA Careem, NDH Abdul Caffoor, SM Abdul Kuddus Moulavi, OLM Ahmado Lebbe Marikar Alim, ILM Muhammad Abdul Cader, ALM Ibrahim Lebbe (Chairman of the Muhammadan Assembly), SL Hadjie Muhammad, ALM Uduma Lebbe Marikar, HNH Jalaldeen, NDH Abdul Careem, AM Hameed, OLM Omar Lebbe Marikar, ACM Odman Hajiar (Trustee of the Maligawatte Burial Ground, and son of the late Turkish Consul), ALMA Abdul Majeed, SM Hajie Cassim, LM Othaman (Editor, Islam Mittiran), NM Mahamood, WM Abdul Rahiem, MLM Muhammad Sheriff, ST Samsudeen Hajiar, CLM Packeer Bawa, ALM Abdul Cader Marikar, CLS Marikar, CM Yousoof, MAM Zainudeen, WM Abdul Majeed, WM Abdul Caffoor, SL Hamid, AL Muhammad Salie Hajiar, LM Abdullah, ALMH Muhammad Haniffa, Syed Ahmed ibn Alavi, Syed Ahmed ibn Syed Ibrahim, NDH Abdul Hameed, WM Abdul Rahman, ABLIL Marikar, ABL Muhammad Thawfeek, OLM Omar Lebbe Marikar, ACA Latiff, ML Abdul Marikar Hajiar, and ma others.


On the motion of Mr. OLM Ahamed Lebbe Marikar Alim Sahib, seconded by Mr. ILM Muhammad Usoof Alim, Mr. NHM Abdul Cader Proctor, MMC, was voted to the Chair, and, on motion of Mr. HNH Jalaldeen, seconded by Mr. ALM Mahamood Marikar, Mr. CM Meera Lebbe Marikar was elected Secretary.


The Secretary read the notice calling the meeting.


The Chairman then explained the object of the meeting in a short speech. The present Trustees of the Kupiyawatte Burial Ground, he said, were respectable members of their community, duly appointed by the Mussalmans’ United Assembly, and confirmed by the Governor. No charge of misconduct was ever preferred or proved against them. There was, therefore, no necessity whatever to supersede them with new Trustees. They should protect, from the calumny of  jealous people, those who served them, and should be grateful to them for the service they had rendered to the community. He then called upon r. ILM Abdul Azeez to move the firs resolution.




Mr. Azeez, accordingly rising (Applause) addressed those present. He said, it was necessary that he should tell them, in a few words, the history of the squabble connected with the Kupiyawatte Cemetery., before moving the resolution placed in his hands.


The reforms made at the Maradana Mosque affected certain people who had been misusing the extended premises of the said Mosque for committing nuisances, grazing their cattle and playing cricket and other games without the slightest thought that they wee polluting and desecrating a place covered with graves.


Though they were disconnected with the Mosque authority they would no have become aggressive if not for the encouragement they received subsequently. Mr. A.M. Wapchi Marikar the father of our Member in Council, was a wealthy gentleman, for whose munificence, in the education of their boys, their community would be ever grateful to him.


The discontented people, referred to before, became VERY MUCH ENCOUAGED, and their hostile acts in respect of the Mosque and the Mussalmans’ United Assembly culminated in a action instituted against some of  them in the District Court of Colombo. But their activity did not cease with that. On or about the 28th June last, a body of them went to the Kupiyawatte Burial Grounds and took wrongful charge of it, evidently and erroneously believing hat Mr. SL Noohu Lebbe, who was Assistant Trustee of the Maradana Mosque at a meeting of the 5th June held at the Mosque and referred to above, was Trustee of the Kupiyawatte Burial Grounds. They were mistaken, for Mr. Noohu Lebbe was Trustee of the Kupiyawatte Burial Ground under a separate appointment made in 1900, and not by his virtue of appointment as Assistant Trustee of the Maradana Mosque, which he was made in 1903. They, to whom this fact was not hen known, brought he keeper of the place, one Noor Dayan, who had been appointed by Mr. Noohu Lebbe, under their influence, who since then took orders from he new controllers, and refused to obey the orders of Mr. Noohu Lebbe. The latter, at once dismissed him and appointed another person as keeper of the Burial Ground, and, having reported his name to the Chairman The Municipal Council gave him charge of the place, with the help of the Police, and brought the place, again, under control.


That it only offended his enemies, but also entailed them very great shame, and, it was not surprising that ever since that time hey wee making attempts to disgrace Mr. Noohu Lebbe and the other Trustees, and thereby retrieve their lost prestige.


After the sad experience, they petitioned the Hon., the Colonial Secretary and the Hon., the Government Agent W.P., saying hat the present Trustees of the Kupiyawatte Mohammedan Burial Ground have been superseded by three other Trustees, whose names they submitted. After due inquiry made by the Atapattu Mudaliyar, the Government, it was said, refused to grant heir prayer.


Those people, smarting under a sense of disappointment, then prevailed upon the Hon. Abdul Rahman to hold a meeting at the Mosque and record votes. And he (the Speaker) regretted very much that the Hon. gentleman, to whom all acts connected with the dispute ought to have known, should comply with their request. In a matter like that every sensible man would admit that, the quality and not the quantity of votes should be considered. He (the Speaker) urged that most of the people who clamoured for the discontinuance of the present Trustees, were respectable men (one of them being the Chief Priest of the Maradana Mosque), and had no right whatsoever to make such a request, but granting, for the sake of argument, ha they had the right, he submitted that there was no necessity whatsoever to record their votes, when no specific charge had been brought against the present Trustees and proved conclusively. It would be a very injudicious policy for them to g to the people whenever they heard that some of them were displeased with men holding positions of trust among them, and ask them whether they like or whether they would have others on their stead, as did the other day the Hon. Abdul Raheman. If heir public men, holding positions of trust, wee subjected to such ignominy, when they had not been adjudged guilty of an offense, he (the Speaker) asked, whether any an of self-respect would come forward to save them. The alleged charge that the present Trustees mismanaged the Burial Ground, fell t the ground, in so much as the Burial Ground in question is in such a condition that would reflect credit on them. Had the land bee neglected, the Municipal Council which now supervises and controls all burial grounds, would have presented charges and fined the Trustees. But the fact that no such prosecution had ever been made, proved beyond all doubt, hat the allegations made by the enemies of the present Trustee, that the neglected the place, was totally unfounded. With these remarks, he (the Speaker), had the pleasure of moving the following resolution:-


“That a petition signed by some respectable Muslims, on behalf of the Mohammedan Community of Colombo, are satisfied with the present Trustees of the Kuppiyawatte Mohammedan Burial Ground, who are respectable gentlemen, duly elected for Life, by the Mussalmans’ United Assembly, representing the Mohammedan Community and confirmed by the Government, and who are discharging their duties satisfactorily, and declaring as uncalled for, the meeting convened at the Maradana Mosque on Sunday, 6 September, 1908, by the Hon. W.M. Abdul Rahman for electing new Trustees to supersede the afore-said Trustees, when no charge that would warrant dismissal had been proved against them, and praying that the present Trustees be retained in their office.”


Mr. N.D.H. Abdul Caffoor seconded, which was supported by Mr. A.B.L.I.L. Marikar and carried.


Mr. N.D.H. Abdul Careem moved that the reports of these proceedings be forwarded to His Excellency the Governor, the Hon., Colonial Secretary. Mr. S.M. Hadjie Cassim seconded and the motion was carried.


The meeting terminated with a vote of thanks to the Chair, proposed by Mr. C.M. Packeer and seconded by Mr. A.L.M. Abdul Majeed.


On November 5, 1911, at a mass meeting of Muslims at the Maradana Mosque grounds, Hon. W.M. Abdul Rahman presided at the meeting to protest the Italian invasion of Tripoli. The meeting was conducted by the congregation of Maradana Mosque and New Moor Street Grand Mosque.


In 1918, a block of land facing Darley Road was leased by the Trustee to one M.L.M. Abdul Hameed in order to erect a shed. Mr. Hameed erected a large “Takgaran” shed and used it for showing of bioscope. Vehement protests were made by the Muslims, as the land was the Muslim burial grounds. Attempts to cancel the lease failed. However, the bioscope business too was a failure. The lessee then sub-leased the shed to others. Mr. Abraham Gardiner and Mr. A.L. Thambyah also endeavored to run the said cinema business on these premises. The Tin shed called “The Olympia” was, needless to say, infernally hot inside. The shed was then leased to Messers Noorbhai, and he too attempted the same business and failed. In 1924, action was filed against Mr. T.A.J. Noorbhai for rent and ejectment from the bioscope premises. The rent for the premises was Rs. 1,500.00 per month, and the Mosque finally obtained possession of it. Several other Cinema enthusiasts took the land on lease but were unsuccessful in carrying out their business therein. By this the Mosque lost large amounts of rents due to them. In 1917, on the death of Mr. A.L.M. Ibrahim Lebbe Marikar, Mr. N.H.M. Abdul Cader was elected President and Mr. C.M. Meera Lebbe Marikar was elected Vice President. On the death of Mr. C.M. Meera Lebbe Marikar, Mr. A.H.M. Ismail was elected Vice President.


The congregation of the Maradana Mosque supported the marriage Registration Ordinance, enacted sometime in 1886, and all the Khateebs of the Maradana Mosque were Registrars of Muslim Marriages.


In 1907 the Congregation attempted to make Registration compulsory, on account of representations made by the Government Agent of the Eastern Province. This was opposed by the Congregation of the New Moor Street Grand Mosque.


The “Crescent” reports on a meeting as follows:-


A General Meeting was held on 12 July, 1907 at 8 pm, at New Moor Street Mosque, to discuss the subject of introducing Registration of Mohammedan Marriages. Mr. Muhammad Ismail Muhammad Ali Khan Bahadur - Persian Consul, and Justice of the Peace (father of Muhammad Ali Muhammad Hussain) - presided, and, among the respectable assembly of some of the leading Mohammedans, including Alims and Mullahs, Mr. A.K. Uduman acted as Secretary. It was unanimously resolved that this Registration Ordinance should not be introduced, as it is against the Mohammedan Religion, and useless. There was an assembly of about 5,000 people.


The affairs of the Maradana Mosque were governed, in the remote past, by “customary law”. The members of the congregation were of a limited number. Those who lived close to the Mosque attended the five daily prayers, but the Jumma service on Fridays was attended by all the members of the congregation, and a note was taken of the absentees, and continued absence brought about a censure by the Mosque authorities. The members living in Colombo permanently would travel out of Colombo, particularly to the Central Province, and always sought service of the Khateebs for all heir religious requirements.


There were in Colombo, Malays, Shammankaras (Coast Moors of Indian origin), and members of the New Moor Street Grand Mosque, and, to distinguish their members, the elders referred to their Jama’at Members as, “those belonging to the Maradana Mosque”, and continued to call them as “their Members”. They did not accept that all Muslims are members of the Maradana Mosque. The elders and officials of the Mosque knew “their members”, and only those so recognized were be permitted to take part in the deliberations of the Mosque Management. None other than their members would dare to be present when the Mosque meetings were in progress. Fourteen Managers were elected from their members, and, from among these, one Chairman, Vice Chairman, and Secretary were elected for five years, to form the Mussalmans’ United Assembly.


There was a great influx of Indian Muslims into Ceylon about the year 1910, and it was becoming difficult to choose members from “THEIR MEMBERS”. The Rules & Regulations of the existing procedure together with qualifications of members and the interpretation f the rules were all defined and adopted at a meeting of the Congregation on June 6, 1913, presided by A.L.M. Ibrahim Lebbe and Muhammad Sameer acting as Secretary. These Rules & Regulations have been incorporated, with amendments, in 1924, as The Maradana Mosque Ordinance No. 22/1924. This Ordinance has so far preserved the Mosque for the successors of the pioneers, donors, managers, upholders, builders and guardians, for the Worship of the One and Only Allah by all Muslims. The officials of the Mosque were elected under the new rules. C.L.M. Abdul Jabbar was elected Trustee for five years.


A.L.M. Arasy Marikar Hajiar, had donated by his last Will, premises No. 74 (then No. 134) to the Maradana Mosque. In 1914, his son, A.M. Izzadeen, delivered possession of the premises to the Mosque, and rent was collected from that year onwards.


In 1914, possession of half of the premises No. 211 (now No. 345), Trincomalee Street, Kandy, was gifted by Thambirasa Idroos. The premises was given by his brother-in-law, Sinne Lebbe Marikar Alim to the Maradana Mosque. The other half was gifted to the Khalifa of the Zaviathus-Fasiyathus-Shazuliya Thareeqa.





One Thambi Rasa Idroos, a member of the Maradana Mosque, Colombo, an ardent follower of the Fasiyathus-Shazuliyya Thareeq, living in Kandy, married Zulaiha, the daughter of Ahmed Lebbe Hajiar and Rahmah Umma - sister of MAM Zainudeen, Secretary of the Maradana Mosque Management Committee around the year 1900 - Ahmed Lebbe Hajiar was the maternal uncle of SM Hasheem of Messers Assena Marikar & Co., Colombo. Zulaiha expired shortly after marriage. Idroos so loved his wife that he decided to donate his land and house, No. 211 (later No. 345), Trincomalee Street, Kandy, in the way of his religion and Thareeq, in order to derive merit for his wife’s soul in he next world. In his last will, he devised half the property of No. 211 to he Maradana Mosque and the other half to his Thareeq at Makkah, represented in Ceylon by the Ummu Zaviyya at Messenger Street, Colombo. Sinne Lebbe Marikar Alim, brother-in-law of Idroos, came down to Colombo and met C.M. Meera Lebbe Marikar (Member of the Maradana Mosque Committee) at his shop, at Main Street, Colombo.


A meeting was held. CM Meera Lebbe Marikar, L Abdul Hamid Alim, SDHM Saeed, and Khalifathus Shazuliyya, SLM Ismail Lebbe Marikar Alim represented the Thareeq. On behalf of the Maradana Mosque, Trustee, ILM Abdul Azeez, CLM Abdul Jabbar and Muhammad Sameer represented. Sinne Lebbe Marikar Alim, brother-in-law of the deceased Idroos, explained the terms of the last will.


It was agreed to draw up the Title Deed in terms of the last will. Deed No. 429, dated December 15, 1914 - was drawn up by NHM Abdul Cader, Notary Public.  SLM Ismail Lebbe Marikar Alim urged hat he be permitted to deal with half the property that had been donated to the Thareeq. CM Meera Lebbe Marikar, a member of the Thareeq as well as the Maradana Mosque Committee, suggested that the Maradana Mosque be allowed to deal with the entire property by recovering rents, paying taxes, maintenance etc. and paying half the balance to the Thareeq on a periodical basis.


The suggestion of CM Meera Lebbe Marikar was agreed to, after much discussion. In terms of this agreement, rents due to the Thareeq were paid to Ismail Lebbe Marikar Alim, and, later to his successor, WL Abdul Hameed Alim (Khalifathus Shazuliyya).


The affairs of the Maradana Mosque Management, on the collection and accounting of the rents in the books, were getting into a irregular state. The rents collected have not been shown in the accounts, and therefore, the dues (ie; the half share due to the Thareeq) could not be accurately calculated. SDHM Saeed and the succeeding Khalifa, Fassy Alim, requested the Maradana Mosque Trustee for the arrears of the rents de to the Thareeq.


In 1908, a branch of Zahira School was opened at Layards Broadway. In 1910, a school at Thihariya was taken by Zahira School under its management.


In 1914, another property, King’s Street, Kandy, was given possession to the Maradana Mosque. This was a property that was donated, in 1871, by Omar Lebbe Marikar Uduma Lebbe Marikar (ancestor of ILM Sathuk - “Wellapulla”), to the Maradana Mosque.


During the Coffee Boom days, the Colombo Moors had established their businesses at Kandy, and these gifts of property were made t the Maradana Mosque during those times of great prosperity.


CLM Abdul Jabbar resigned from the Trusteeship on January 31, 1915, and was succeeded by his nephew, Hajie Cassim.


According to the regulations. whenever the funds of the Mosque reached an amount of Rs. 5,000.00 it was to be invested in immovable property. Premises No. 47 and 31/33, Darley Road were purchased in 1920. In 1917, a lean-to boutique was built at No. 123, Darley Road.


The Indian Muslims built Mosques at Gampola and at Kandy - on he route of a regular Buddhist Perahera procession - and hence objected to the beating of the drums during the Perahera.

The Hon. Sir Ponnambalam Ramanathan, Kt, CMG, KC, MLC, writes:-


Riots and Martial Law in Ceylon, 1915 - page 2

..... but unlike the Moors, who have learnt in the course of centuries, the necessity of living in peace with their Sinhalese fellow subjects and being tolerant to their religious observances, the Hambayas (Coast Moors of Indian origin) sought, for their Mosque in the Kandy territory, greater respect from the Kandyan Buddhists than the Moors have been in the habit of claiming for their own Mosques.


On may 26, 1915, the Indian Muslims objected to the Perahera passing their new Mosque at castle Hill Street and riots broke out in Kandy and even spread to Colombo.


The Sinhalese, in error, attacked the Ceylon Moors (Marakkala or Yonaka people) who suffered immensely.


The Maradana Mosque, School, and vast grounds were given to the Muslim refugees. Sheds were erected and the administration of the medical Service was conducted by the Colombo Nursing Division of the St. John’s Ambulance Association.


Mr. David writes:-




In the heart of Colombo and at the point of confluence of its main arteries of traffic, may be discerned, shrouded in monastic peace and isolated by the amplitude of its grounds, the Maradana Mosque.


The history of its existence, traced in musty temple records, moldered in undisturbed obscurity, until drawn out into sudden and startling vividness b the fierce alchemy of sorrow and suffering, recently witnessed within its peaceful precincts.


The lurid incidents connected with the late disturbances are fresh in the public mind and need no recapitulation. What has escaped notice, however, is the beneficent part played, in that period of stress, by agencies in their religious retreat. It served as a haven of refuge from the storms that raged without, and furnished facilities for gentle ministrations that went far to assuage the grief of stricken hearts.


The history of the riots, and of their suppression, is an illustration of the Aphorism, “The mills of God grind slowly, but the grind exceedingly small”.


Although the mob had he start of, the authorities machinery for the preservation of law and order was slowly, but effectually, se in  motion until, in due time, absolute security was restored, but, not before lives had been lost, much and irreparable damage done, and thousands of Moors rendered homeless. The hospitable grounds of the Mosque were therefore utilized for providing these refugees with temporary shelters until ways and means for adequately meeting the situation had been advised....


Rows of cadjan sheds were quickly run up while a number f canvas tents, lent by sympathizers, were also utilized for the accommodation of families. The religious uses of the Mosque were temporarily suspended and it was transformed into a huge caravanserai, where, men and children, with characteristic oriental adaptability, made themselves at home as comfortable as circumstances would permit. Numbers more found shelter in the school building on the premises. In all 4,000 people were estimated to have availed themselves of the relief provided. A visit from tent to tent was an unforgettable experience, rendered impressive by the tense and tearless suffering noticeable on each and every face. The Mosque presented a pathetic picture with groups of men, women and children huddled together and occupying every inch of available space.


As if elements were wanting to complete the transformation of a house of prayer into a pavilion of pain, secluded corners had been screened off to ensure what privacy possible for a domestic event of the interesting character..... “ (Times of Ceylon - Christmas Number, 1915).


Mr. Wapchi Marikar


A link with a generation, which is fast disappearing, has been removed by the death of Mr. A.M. Wapchi Marikar, on Thursday, May 14, 1925, at “Razeendale”, Bambalapitiya. The late Mr. Wapchi Marikar is the father of the Hon. W.M. Abdul Raheman and grandfather of Mr. A.R.A. Razik, (later known as Sir Razik Fareed), landed proprietor.


The deceased was 96 years at the time of his death and had been in, apparently, very good health right up to this time.


In his day, Mr. Wapchi Marikar was a prominent member of the Moorish Community and took a leading part in the various activities calculated to secure the advancement of the Ceylon Moors.


So long as bricks and mortar endure, his name will be remembered as the builder of the General Post Office in Fort, the Colombo Museum at Maitland Crescent, the Colombo Town Hall, the Galle Face Hotel, Victoria Arcade, Finlay Moir Building, the Clock Tower etc. he was also one of the pioneers of the educational movement amongst his co-religionists, having, at his own expense, built and founded more than one Arabic School in Colombo, for the purpose of disseminating the Knowledge of Arabic and the study of the Quran. His endowments to the Zahira College, alone, from time to time, exceeded a lakh and a half of Rupees. It has been said of the deceased, that, his life history is the history of Zahira College. In recognition of his massive contribution towards education and as a mark of respect to the deceased, this institution and the several other smaller schools were all closed. The funeral procession, which passed via the Alexandra Place Mosque, was joined by a vast concourse of Mohammedans, including several hundred school boys.


Mr. Wapchi Marikar belongs to a very ancient family of Arab descent. According to the documents in the possession of the family, which includes one dated 1735 during the Dutch period, written in ha language, it would appear that he was descended from the celebrated Sheikh Fareed who arrived in Ceylon with his followers in the year 1060.


It is understood that, arrangements are being made to perpetuate his memory by the founding of a scholarship at Zahira College associated with his name.


A writer in the Celon Daily News of November 10, 1937, speaks of the piety of the late Mr. A.M. Wapchi Marikar, and says:-


I wonder how many people, who have not been able to spend that off afternoon, examining the exhibits a the Colombo Museum, know the reason why this institution is closed on Fridays. The contractor who was responsible for the building was, it seems, a devout follower of the Prophet Muhammad. When he ha completed his work, S ir William Gregory, who was then Governor of Ceylon, asked this man what he would wish for, in recognition of his services. Being a humble man who was not a social creeper, his simple request was that the Colombo Museum be closed on Fridays, and his request was order, on 1 January 1877 of the Governor honored ever after. Not many people would limit their claims to so a simple request.”


The Malays had their Mosque and burial grounds in Slave Island from 1706. Pandan Ballie, a free Java, gifted to the Muslims, a garden of extent 383 square roods and 48 square feet, purchased from the Moor, Jaynudeen Marikar Sinne Cassim. This land is the Wekanda Mosque and burial ground. In 1874, the Trustees of the Pensioners and General Fund for building Mosques, purchased, from Mayedeen Natchia and Nayna Marikar, (who relinquished a part of the price of the land), land for the Mosque, Masjidul Jamiya. The Trustees of the Mosque were Abdul Bahar, Subar, Subadar Adjutant Jumat, Baba Deen Borham, Baba Joonus Saldin, and Ahamat Sabar Adjutant Sumoon, Miskin Soonoo and Subedar Osman Odeen. The Mosque was vested on Khateef Baba Abdul Hameed and the eldest male heir of his body, lawfully begotten, as his eldest male descendant.


In 1876, the same Pensioners Fund bought, in the name of Subadar Amit Veera, the garden called Jawawatte, for Rs. 2,500, for burial, and also to build a Mosque.


In 1921/1923, the Colombo Muslim Educational Society leased the right of Management of Zahira College to the Executive Committee of the Maradana Mosque, for a limited period, under very strict conditions.


An extension of the building of the College was made and Mr. NDH Abdul Caffoor defrayed the cost. This section was the science block, adjoining the two-storeyed building of the first extension by Mr. A.M. Wapchi Marikar in 1907.


In 1923, Hon. Mr. NHM Abdul Cader, MLC, appealed to the Government for a lump sum grant to widen the scope of the Zahira College education activities. A the Government would only provide grants to recognized bodies, if incorporated only, Abdul Cader moved, in the Legislative Council, a Bill to incorporate the body of the Maradana Mosque Congregation which managed the School. This incorporation and the Ordinance, as proposed by Abdl Cader, was opposed and led by the Hon. W.M. Abdul Raheman MLC. A section of the Malays led by Tuan A. Abdul Raheem, also joined the opposition. Lengthy discussions took place in the Council, and a Committee of the Council Members was formed to hear the views of the opposition and to report to Council. Several of Hon. Abdul Raheman’s suggestions were embodied in the enactment. The Committee’s report was debated, and the Ordinance was adopted. The report was as follows:-


In the debate fully reported in the Hansard the question of the Management of the Mosque to be in the hands of the Ceylon Moors, Sonagars*, was fully discussed and finally settled, with a concession to the Non-Moors of Colombo, permanent residents of the Islamic Faith, who get the service of the Khateebs of the Maradana Mosque in their religious ceremonies, to be elected managing congregation members, if the congregation approves.”


* The Hon. Sir Ponnambalam Ramanathan, MLC (in the Legislative Council):-


The name is a very valuable one, Sir, for this reason. Those who style themselves Moors were originally, and are still, called Sonagars. The Portuguese came here, and they were the fist Europeans to arrive in the Island. They knew the importance of the Moors who had flocked into Spain and Portugal from Morocco and met Charlemagne on the Plains of France. They came here and wanted to know who these people were. They were told that they were Sonagars. Well, they tried to learn and understand heir habits and customs, and they applied to the Sonagar the name with which they were familiar, namely, Moors. Fr more than four centuries the Sonagars have got used to that name ad they like that name. Why should we deprive them of the pleasure and the honour of that name? It is no doubt sentimental; but everyone is full of sentiment on certain points a least, and it does not seem to me right that a body of gentlemen who are interested in the Maradana Mosque, who have had the management of that Mosque from the beginning, and who have come to the Legislative Council asking for the incorporation of themselves, should be flung out violently by objection being taken to the name which they deeply love.  I SAY THAT THE NAME CEYLON MOOR IS VALUABLE TO THE CEYLON SONAGAR. LET US NOT DEPRIVE THEM OF THE PLEASURE AND HONOUR OF THAT NAME”


The Sonagars referred to by Sir P. Ramanathan, are, according to Mr. J.R. Sinnatamby, the retired deputy Surveyor General, in his book “Ceylon in Ptolemy’s Geography”, as per extracts at the pages mentioned below, as follows:-



According to Pliny (23-79AD) number of Arabs in Malabar coast and Ceylon so great that they could be treated as masters of the coast (p 10, Souvenir MICH). According to p-22 in this publication, Ayrton has observed that Yonas in Mahavamsa, settled by King Pandukabhaya (437 BC).




            I identify this with the Moors. The name for Moors in Tamil is Soani, or Sonagar.


            This denotes the Puttalam area, which even today, is identified with Moors.


The Arabs, who are now called Moors, have bee in Ceylon from the pre-Christian era. My identifications of Iogana and Nubartha give some data to confirm the identification of Soani with the Moors. Other reasons are as follows:-


Prilaux, in a contribution to J R A S Great Britain Vol. 18 (1861) quotes Pliny as saying, in reference to Ceylon and the second embassy to Rome, “king wears robe like Bachchus; the people dress Arab fashion”.



According to the Indian Antiquary, Vol IV - 1875 - p 171, “The name Sonagars by which Muhammedans of Arab descent are sometimes called in Tamil, is merely a corruption of the Sanskrit Yavannas”.


Geiger says (Culture of Ceylon - In Medieval Times - p-209), “In Anuradhapura there was in he 4th Century BC a suburb near the western gate, called ‘ground set apart for the Yona’s (Mahavamsa 10,90)’. It is very probable that here Yona is a name for Arab traders who used to visit Ceylon and stay there for a longer or shorter time”.



See Arabic map of Ceylon - “Serendib”


The Mosques, as in other parts of the world, is open to all Muslims to pray, but are managed by a body with vested interest in the Mosque.


The Malays settled in Slave Island and built their Mosques and cemeteries, and ‘as constant alarm’ was caused to the inhabitants by Malays running amok, registration of all Malays not in Military Service was made compulsory. Two years later, Governor North settled a colony of Malays at Hambantota (The history of the Ceylon Police, page 3). The Malays built their Mosques and cemeteries there too.


The Indian Muslims have their Mosques in Pettah, and they managed them well. As Muslims, all Muslims worship in all the Mosques.


Having settled the rights of the Maradana Mosque congregation, Mr. Cader se about to collect subscriptions for Zahira College.


The general Muslim public subscribed Rs. 25,000.00 and Government paid a grant of Rs. 35,000.00 (in two installments of Rs. 25,000.00 and Rs. 10,000.00).



The gentlemen, of the general Muslim public, who subscribed the Rs. 25,000.00 are as follows:-


Messers MHM Mohideen, AM Nagoora Meera and Sons, the Hon. Mr. WM Abdul Raheman, AK Hasheem, Abdul Rahman,  AMHM Sheriff, MI Muhammad Ali JP., OL Ibrahim, YM Usoof, CL Marikar Bawa, Hon. Mr. HM Macan Markar, WMA Wahid, WM Usoof, WM Abdul Majeed, SLMM Sheriff, ILMM Avoo Lebbe Marikar, ILM Meera Lebbe Marikar, SL Naina Marikar Hadjiar, AMH Muhammad Haniffa, MC Zainudeen, ULMM Mohideen, AR Abdul Majeed, WM Hassim, AL Abdul Latiff, ALM issadeen Hadjiar, ILM Edris, AM Hameed, SLM Hasheem, AM Cassim, CLMM Muheeth, ALM Mohideen Bawa, TR Abdul Majeed, MLM Jaward, MLM Junaid and Idroos Bros.


The erection of the building cost more than a lakh of rupees, and Mr. NDH Abdul Caffoor paid the balance.


At the laying of the foundation stone of the building, and class-rooms of Umbichy, His Excellency, the Governor, Sir Herbert Stanley, said:-


Now Mr. Abdul Cader is also a Member of the Legislative Council. To Mr. Abdul Cader is due a very large measure of your gratitude. As your Head Master has said today, he has, times without number, approached me and asked me to assist in all matters connected with Muslim Education. It is very largely due to his persistence that Government agreed, and Legislative Council confirmed he grant of Rs. 25,000.00 towards the College.”


Mr. A.L. Shaikh Lebbe and Mr. W.M. Abdul Raheman were stricken with age and hey honorably resigned from the posts of Khateeb. The Executive Committee appointed two Khateebs temporarily. They were I.L.M. Yousoof Alim and H.S.M. Izzadeen Haji.


Khateeb appointments were never unanimous. A section of the congregation opposed the election. Izzadeen was Registrar of Marriages from January 2, 1930 to March 10,1934. Yousoof Alim was Registrar of Marriages from April 24, 1930 to October 11, 1936. The elders of the congregation used to choose Khateebs for Mosques by selecting men of piety ad those from respectable families. At a later stage, applications were called for the posts of Khateeb. The ordinance required that Khateeb appointment should be approved by the congregation. In order to obtain this, the Executive Committee decided that a register of the congregation should be maintained, and registration cards issued to those members so registered;. A meeting of the congregation was held for approval. The opposing party did not seek registration.  Beeing of the congregation of the registered members was held and they approved the appointment of the Khateebs.


A large number of the unregistered members tried to enter the meeting in order to oppose the election of the Khateebs. hey were refused admission. The rejected party filed action against the election of the Khateebs and called for Balance Sheets of the Accounts of the Mosque required under the Ordinance, which was never before compiled and presented by the Trustees and Treasurers. The half-year monthly sheets were called for as it was alleged that large sums of compensation money paid by the Government for the acquisition of Mosque lands, in 1930, had not been accounted for by the Management.


The trial of the case lasted several days and the District Judge gave his findings against the Mosque. The Mosque appealed to the Supreme Court and the Privy Council without relief.


The allegation of mis-appropriation of the portion of the compensation received from the Government, for the land acquired, was commented on by the Privy Council as follows:-


Referring to certain monetary transactions which had bee dealt with in the Courts below, Lord Roche stated that there was one matter which their Lordships desired to make plain. Council for the appellants, he said, not naturally expressed concerned less in this matter the findings of the Courts below, that the appellants as a whole acted in concert, might be misunderstood as amounting to finding that they were implicated in the monetary transactions which were criticized, while it was true hat all the appellants are found to have combined in resolutions and actions in respect of the meeting of August 25th, 1929, which were irregular and illegal, there was no evidence and no finding involving any reflection upon he personal integrity of he defendants generally. The first defendant, and, to a lesser extent the fourth defendant were alone in the subject of criticism in this respect.


Mr. H.S.M. Izzadeen, teacher at the Zahira College, ad later, Khateeb of the Mosque, persuaded the late business magnate from Malabar, Haji Pootan Bootil Umbichy, JP., to donate a series of buildings, to the Zahira College, t be built on Mosque land. The buildings were constructed at a cost of Rs. 25,000 which was borne by Mr. Umbichy.


Mr. M.C. Zainudeen was Trustee from 1925 to 1927. For some years, Messers C.L. Marikar Bawa and W.M.A. Jabbar, contributed Rs. 75.00 each, to the Zahira College maintenance.


Arasi Marikar Hajiar Izzadeen was elected Trustee in 1928. In 1929, Government proposed to acquire two portions of the Mosque land, one abutting on Maradana Road and the other, a Car Park. Mr. N.H.M. Abdul Cader was the Chairman of the Executive Committee of the Maradana Mosque. He was also a Proctor and an expert Valuer, He had acted as Valuer and Proctor to several claimants. He offered his professional services to the Mosque on payment of his fees. There were two expert European Valuers in Colombo, and he consulted one of them, and was offered a much larger compensation than the sum offered. He submitted with the Managing Committee of the Mosque and the Committee agreed. He obtained Rs. 133,502.42 and was paid Rs. 23,323.76 as his fees. The appeal by the Managing Trustee to reduce his fees was disregarded.


The Premises No. 167, Norris Road, and Nos. 114, 116, 114A, Maliban Street, and some property a Darley Road were purchased with the compensation obtained. Two buildings were erected on premises Nos. 380 and 414, Maradana Road. The rest of the money was spent later, on litigation, about the appointments of Khateebs etc.


The grounds of the Maradana Mosque are consecrated lands. There were tombstones (one almost 40 feet in height) and sepulchers. Sometime in 1928, “Vandals”  removed many of the tombstones. A few graves between the Mosque and Maradana Road were spared. They included those of the descendants of many important families. The requests of their descendants to preserve this family ground was ignored and a Tamarind Tree which marked the spot was cut down.


Mr. A.R.M. Saeed was appointed Khateeb in 1934, and was appointed Registrar of Marriages from January 1, 1935. From 1933 to 1935, and from 1937 to 1941, C.L.M.A Hameed was the Trustee.


The Maligawatte Denham School, started by Mr. W.M. Hassim, was taken by over the Maradana Mosque management, and Mr. T.B. Jayah was appointed Manager. His tenure of office terminated when he left for Pakistan. The Management then came under Mr. Falil Abdl Caffoor Haji, MBE.


L.T.M.H. Saheed served as Khateeb and Registrar of Marriages from 1938 to 1943.


In the following evidence given b Mr. N.H.M. Abdul Cader, his efforts to get the Maradana Mosque the highest amount of compensation for the land acquired by the Government is given, as reported by the Ceylon Daily News of June 8, 1930:-


The Notice required the parties to appear before the Chairman on August 13, 1928, and he appeared before him. He had, in the meantime, retained Mr. Eastman and collected data in support of his claim of Rs. 400,000.00 per acre. On August 13, Mr. Izzadeen also was present. When witness asked for Rs. 400,000.00, the Chairman asked the Municipal Assessor what he thought would be the value. The Assessor offered valuation on a basis which yielded total compensation of Rs. 450,000.00. The Chairman wanted time to consider. He saw the Chairman next on August 26. In the meantime he had collected data, and had seen the Municipal Assessor to convince him that his valuation was too low. The meeting was postponed to the 28th, and he, with Mr. Izzadeen, saw the Chairman that day. The Chairman was willing t give at the rate of Rs. 300,000.00 for one block Rs. 75,000.00 for the other, and for the two boutiques, 16 2/3 years’ purchase. He did not accept but took time to consider; after consideration, he rejected the offer. The Chairman then told him hat he had referred the matter to the Government. He interviewed the Colonial Secretary and put the same data before him. He saw the Colonial Treasurer and the Attorney General as regards title of the Mosque grounds. He had more than one interview with the Colonial Secretary and the Treasurer. By the way of compromise, they were willing to fix compensation at the rate of Rs. 350,000 per acre for one block and Rs. 125,000 for the other, and 16 2/3 years’ purchase for the boutiques. This was accepted and the amount of compensation came to Rs. 119,954.10.”


The Bioscope exhibition shed was fast deteriorating and was not being patronized by the cinema goers during 1935. An attempt was made by Mr. M.C. Mohideen and a Chettiyar to revive the Cinema shows. N.H.M. Abdul Cader also tried to help them but failed. The shed was out-of-date and the buildings stood condemned by the Licensing Authorities. Mr. Abdul Cader obtained a temporary license and conducted the Cinema for a short time. He found that it would pay, only if a new building was erected. He obtained a lease of the property for 9 years, in the names of his two sons, and re-erected the cinema on modern lines.

 The building cost nearly a lakh. Deducting the cost of construction, the rent was paid, to the Mosque, monthly and at the close of the lease, he building became the property of the Maradana Mosque. It is the most valuable asset of the Mosque and yields the largest amount of rent.


A section of the congregation opposed the lease to Cader’s sons, and a special meeting of the congregation was called to oppose same.


At the meeting, on May 11, 1936, Mr. Abdul Cader is reported to have said, as reported by he Ceylon Daily News and the Times of Ceylon,


He was sorry to say, that,  at the instance of a rival company, certain people were opposed to the leasing of  the New Olympia Theater, the history of which went back man years. Recently an offer was made, by a rival Company, to lease the new Olympia Theater,  but the offer was declined as he intended to run it himself as a business and get his sons to enter that field of business. He hoped to spend the profit on improving the Mosque. He had invested a lakh of rupees in the business, having taken a lease for nine years”.


The congregation living in Maradana were concerned with the decreasing income of the Mosque from the rents due from the houses owned by the Mosque and a representation was made to the President. In 1936, a Committee was appointed to inquire into this matter.


A section of the congregation continued to represent, to the Government, that there had been fraudulent dealings in the matter of the disposal of the compensation obtained by the Mosque for the land acquisition in 1928, and, the Criminal Investigation Department held an inquiry on September 23, 1932, when Mr. N.D.H. Abdul Careem and Muhammad Sameer were called upon to explain. Mr. C.M. Meera Lebbe Marikar was Trustee from 1935 to 1937.


The Committee made the necessary investigations and recommended that the rents were in arrears from the tenants, who were non-Muslims, and the Committee also recommended that the houses should be let to Muslims. The congregation was not satisfied. They were fully aware that Abdul Cader was greatly interested in the welfare of the Maradana Mosque congregation living at Maradana and thus appealed to him to take the issue up personally. The District Judge refers to Abdul Cader’s attachment to the people of Maradana, according to the evidence in the case. He says,


There s no significant passage in the speech first defendant made on this occasion. It is reported thus (P-50): He Mr. N.H.M. Abdul Cader went to say that all heir lives had been devoted to work for the Zahira College and the Mosque, and it was work, not for their children and friends, but for the PEOPLE OF MARADANA”.


As the Privy Council confirmed the judgment of the Courts below and held that the meeting appointing the Khateebs was illegal, another meeting of the congregation was held and the same Khateebs were appointed. During the interim period, between 1929 and 1935, there were no legally appointed Khateebs of the Maradana Mosque for the congregation to get qualifications to be members of the Maradana Mosque under the terms of the Ordinance.


According to the Ceylon Observer of April 1, 1935, at a meeting of the congregation of the Maradana Mosque held on March 31, 1935, Mahmood Mudaliyar Muhammad Mahroof was elected a member of the Board of Trustees of Section C of the Maradana Mosque. The Board elected him as Vice President of the Executive Committee of the Mosque. Mr. Mahroof was a Barrister-at-Law, and has been married to the daughter of the President of the Management of the Maradana Mosque, N.H.M. Abdul Cader, Proctor.


In 1938, Abdul Cader died and his nephew, A.H.M. Ismail, was elected President of the Maradana Mosque and Manager of the Zahira College. The management was continued under the same policy till 1941, when new spirit was infused into the management by the election of Muhammad Sameer as Managing Trustee.


M.L.M. Reyal, proposing the name at the meeting of the Board of Trustees said that Sameer had given active service to the Mosque since 1913, performing the duties of the Secretary of the meeting which adopted the Rules and Regulations for its Management during that year. He also mentioned that Sameer had been Joint Treasurer for more than ten years. Further Mr. Reyal explained the hope that the vast experience gained by Sameer in public service, from which he had recently retired, would be at the disposal of the Mosque, and thus safeguard its trust and help to increase its revenue. He also stressed on Sameer’s strict religious principles and regular attendance for prayer at the Mosque al the more adding to his being proven fit to take up the onerous task as Trustee.


Sameer initiated a thorough re-organization of the finances and administration of the Mosque and the steady increase in the Mosques funds was visible from 1942 as per the following balance sheet:-


                        1942                            Rs.   4,025.00

                        1943                            Rs. 14,052.71

                        1944                            Rs. 32,556.40

                        1945                            Rs. 56,424.97

                        1946                            Rs. 64,182.28

                        1947                            Rs. 72,968.04

                        1948                            Rs. 74,240.00


In 1942, Mr. N.D.H. Abdul Caffoor Haji gave possession to the Mosque an estate, “Alubogahawatte” (about 20 acres), at Maharagama.


On June 1, 1943, a veteran member of the Executive Committee of the Maradana Mosque, N.D.H. Abdul Careem, wrote to Sameer as follows:-


It is really a pleasure to note the amount of interest you take in the working of the Mosque affairs in all its aspects.


In 1949, a sum of around Rs. 30,000 was spent for the purchase of science material and laboratory apparatus for Zahira College, and another sum of Rs. 65,000 was spent in the extension of the Mosque. The wide passage, the office room, kitchen, Khateeb’s room were all demolished and more space was added to the Mosque. A.M. Hamid donated Rs. 2,500 (where he wished to be anonymous) for fixing electric lamps to the extended portions. The Mihrab and Mimber were also set back in the precise style and appearance so as to form a replica of the old ones that were demolished.


In 1950 another extension to the Mosque was made between the Mosque and the toilets, through the munificence of ULMM Mohideen Haji.


The revenue of the Mosque was as follows:-


                        1903                            Rs.     726.00

1913                            Rs.  4,149.00

1923                            Rs.  1,793.62

1933/1934                   Rs.     479.55

1943                            Rs. 14,052.71


SUMH Careem, Khatheeb of Kollupitiya Mosque, was Registrar of Marriages from 1929. He was elected Khatheeb of Maradana Mosque from 1944 to 1949.


SDM Hassan served as Khatheeb of Maradana Mosque and Registrar of Marriages from 1944 to 1949. He continued to be Registrar of Marriages after 1949.


On account of the air raid by the Japanese in 1942, Zahira College had to reduce its roll of attendance, and branch schools were opened at Matale, Puttalam, Gampola, Alutgama, and Slave Island (now Kompannavidiya), all being under the same management, as no new schools were permitted to be opened. These branch schools contributed sums, periodically, to the Head College for the privilege of using the name.


Mr. HSM Salahudeen, who was the Khatheeb of the Modera Mosque and the Dehiwela Mosque, was elected Khatheeb of the Maradana Mosque in 1937. He passed away on January 19, 1970.


Mr. ULMM Mohideen also gifted premises No. 17, Clifton Lane, Dematagoda, to the Mosque.


There has always been an incorrect notion prevailing amongst a section of the public that the Maradana Mosque was the property of Zahira College which in turn belonged to the Colombo Muslim Educational Society. Describing the Mosques in Colombo, writing about the “Howdl” of the Maradana Mosque, Mr. R.H. Bassett states, “The “Howdl” or ablution place at Zahira College Mosque is extremely picturesque, seen through its low circular arches…” (Times of Ceylon, May 8, 1932). The government also considered the Mosque as a part of Zahira College.


When at a General Election, the Zahira College premises was required for a Polling Station, the Principal was communicated to, and the whole area was considered a Polling Station. When a contesting candidate obtained permission from the Chairman of the Executive Committee of the Maradana Mosque to place a table and chair on the grounds of the Mosque, the officers conducting the elections did not allow the candidate to utilize the grounds of the Mosque, even though he had been permitted by the Chief of the Mosque Management, stating that it was Zahira College which the Government had engaged for the elections, which included all the grounds too.


The total accommodation at Zahira College, in 1942, was 2,642 day scholars, and, at the Hostel, 100 boarders. There were 1,056 day scholars and 100 boarders before the air raid by the Japanese in 1942. Students on the roll, in May 1942, had dwindled down to 713 day scholars and 77 boarders. During World War II (1939-1945), in 1942, major portions of Zahira College along with other schools were requisitioned by the Armed Service; only the school hall and few class-rooms were exempted from their use.


Rent compensation was paid the Government at Rs. 1,035/- per month to the College from April 29, 1942. In 1945 a portion was released, and the rent was reduced to Rs. 725/- per month. A portion of the Mosque land was also requisitioned in 1945, and rent, at Rs. 160/- per month, was paid to the Trustee. Damage compensation was paid to the College in 1945 at Rs. 2,412/23, and, in 1949, at Rs. 16,130/-, and to the Mosque at Rs. 610/-.


The College had been one of the first to enter the Government Free scheme, and there was a great rush to enter the college by both Muslims and Non-Muslims, as it was turning out to becoming a Central School. The great Islamic ideal, envisaged by the pioneers of the Madarasa, was being gradually lost sight of. Even the children of the Manager’s, Executive members’, were not sent to their College. The College was moving towards an autonomous existence; the old boys trying to exert their influence within the Management.


The Warden of Zahira College Hostel, on a certain occasion, reported the Managing Trustee of the Maradana Mosque, to the Colombo Municipality, for failing to stop the flow of waste water from the house (premises No.29, Darley Road owned by the Mosque), bordering the College building, without complaining to the Mosque authorities in the first instance; thus maintaining the view that Zahira College was a separate entity from the Maradana Mosque.


The Principal of Zahira College ceased to send his monthly account to the Managing Committee of the Mosque. The general public were led to believe that the Maradana Mosque was the Mosque of Zahira College, and not that the College was of the Maradana Mosque. When the position of Principal of the College was falling vacant, on account of the late Mr. T.B. Jayah proceeding to Pakistan as Ceylon’s High Commissioner, a deputation of the congregation called on the Manager and suggested employing an European Principal based on the assumption that he will not be influenced by the local politics prevailing between the Muslims involved in the Management. However this did not materialize and ex Civil Servant, Mr. A.M.A. Azeez was appointed. He was, of course, not paid the same salary that was paid to Mr. T.B. JaYah. The Mosque also increased the contribution to the College to Rs. 1,000 per month.


The Death of a Muslim Benefactor - Mr. N.D.H. Abdul Caffoor


Mr. N.D.H. Abdul Caffoor, the well known gem merchant of Ceylon, died at his residence, “Icicle Hall”, Kollupitiya, on November 1, 1948. The funeral took place at the Maradana Mosque burial grounds on November 2, 1948. Mr. Caffoor was equally well known in many countries, across the globe, as a reliable and professional gem merchant.


He started his business in Colombo, in 1894, and his participation in a series of world exhibitions gave him the necessary integrity of reputation while also bringing fame and publicity to his country.


Some of the exhibitions in which he participated were those at St. Louis, USA, in 1903, All Ceylon Exhibition in 1912, The British Empire Exhibition in 1912 and the Philadelphia Exhibition in 1926.


His Philadelphia exhibits were considered some of the firmest collections to be exhibited in America. When he returned to Ceylon after the Wembley Exhibitions, the then Governor of Ceylon congratulated him on “the valuable work done”.


Among the many institutions which have been benefited by his philanthropy is Zahira College. He built and equipped, for Zahira College, a complete Science block in addition to building sixteen (16) classrooms, and, further, he donated a sum of money to inaugurate a building scheme, and also donated eighteen (18) acres of land, at Maharagama, to be utilized for practical and vocational training schools.


The branch of Zahira College, many Mosques throughout the Island, the Deaf & Blind School at Ratmalana, and the Boys’ Industrial School at Maharagama are some of the institutions that received his generous contributions and support.


He also established a Muslim Theological Institution known as the Caffooria Arabic College for the study of Arabic. He has endowed it with a premises at Grandpass valued at five (5) lakhs of Rupees in 1970. The Caffoor Trust has been established for the purpose of promoting education for Muslims in Sri Lanka. It is endowed with the Caffoor Building in the Fort, valued at Rs. 4 Million (1970).


Mr. Caffoor, who was 73 years of age, leaves behind four sons; Muhammad Faleel, Yusoof, Mohideen and Muhammad Rafee. His two daughters were Mrs. M.A.M. Hussain and Mrs. A.C.M. Sulaiman. Four of his brothers pre-deceased him, one of whom was the late Mr. N.H.M. Abdul Cader (father of Jabir A Cader), Member of the Legislative and Member of the Colombo Municipal Council for over 30 years. His only surviving brother was Mr. N.H.M. Abdul Wahab. His parents were the late Mr. & Mrs. C.L. Noordeen Hajiar. As a mark of respect to the late Al-Haj Abdul Caffoor all Jewelry shops in Colombo Fort were closed till 10:00 am on November 2, 1948.


In the debate at the Legislative Council, the late Mr. N.H.M. Abdul Cader, mover of Bill No.22 of 1924 and the Chief of the Maradana Mosque Management, said that the Moors of Colombo were divided into two sections; one belonging to the New Moor Street Grand Mosque, and the other to the Maradana Mosque. There were four qualifications for the members of the congregation of both the New Moor Street Grand Mosque and the Maradana Mosque which needed to be possessed by them during their lifetime as follows:-


1.       The member must be a Muslim and must attend the congregation of the respective Mosque.

2.       He must be a Ceylon Moor (Sonagar). Ie; a Muslim settled in Ceylon having lost all connections with the country of his origin, and known amongst the public as “Sonaghars”.

3.       He must be a permanent resident whose advent into Colombo is forgotten and unknown, and is generally referred to as a “Colombaan” (a Tamil word) meaning a citizen of Colombo. The Mosque authorities settled this question when an application came in for consideration from a person who married the grand-daughter of a prominent member of the New Moor Street Grand Mosque.

4.       The member should continue to get the service of the Khatheebs of the Mosque to which he belongs.


At the time the Ordinance was passed the Muslims were in the habit of conducting many religious rituals and ceremonies, some borrowed from other cultures, communities and religions, and even contrary to true Islamic faith. These were called Kanduries (feasts in the name of deceased Saints), Kathams (recital of Quran on specific days after the death of a person with the objective and belief that he or she will be benefited by it.), Fathihas (recital of Surah Al-Fatihah, The Opening Surah of the Quran for the dead), Mowloods & Thalai Fathihas (recital of poetry, praising and elaborately describing the life of the Prophet Muhammad sallalahu alaihi wa sallam and the events and wars during his lifetime) Kaduttams at Marriage, Nikah, and funeral recitations. Most of these ceremonies were celebrated or venerated in a grand scale accompanied by all sorts of pomp and pageantry and were officiated by the Khatheebs of these two Mosques. However, since of late, many Muslims, having “educated” themselves religiously, were performing many of these “religious” ceremonies without the aid of the Khatheebs. Only the Marriage (Nikah) ceremony was an exception. The Khatheebs, however, did enjoy the luxury of being invited to some of these ceremonies when they were held on a grand and luxurious scale by the rich and the famous amongst the community. The smaller ones confined their activity to the Imam or Muezin of the nearest Mosque. Those who invited a Khatheeb to attend these ceremonies from a different Mosque (one to whose congregation they did not qualify to belong) earned a disqualification of membership from their respective Mosque.


At the Colombo Maradana Mosque, Khatheebs were appointed for short durations with the result that when applications for congregation membership were submitted for consideration it was no longer possible to verify the members claims of qualification due to the absence of the respective Khatheeb whose references were mentioned. On some occasions the Khatheebs were not able to serve the multitude of religious ceremonies fixed at one particular “auspicious” (another un-Islamic practice prevailing amongst the Moors at that time)  time. The managing Committee of the Mosque was also in the habit of ordering the Khatheebs not to attend to the ceremonies of specific members of the congregation whom they felt had worked against the interest of the Mosque. In this way many important members of the congregation were denied the service of the Khatheebs of the Colombo Maradana Mosque.

In 1929, there was a case against the appointment of Khatheebs of the Maradana Mosque. The District Court held the appointment illegal. The Mosque appealed, and the Supreme Court and the Privy Council upheld the judgment of the District Court. The Privy Council judgment was made in 1935, and, all the religious ceremonies conducted by the Khatheebs of the Maradana Mosque, during this period, including the ones by which the Khatheebs approved qualifications of new members, were declared illegal. Of course, it is not possible to identify what the religious ceremonies conducted during this period were as no records of them were ever maintained by the Khatheebs or the Mosque. Only Marriage (Nikah) ceremonies contained any written records that could be reviewed and it was assumed that the Khatheeb was actually present at the occasion.

Mr. M.M. Muthuwappa, who passed away on August 5, 1970, was an Indian Merchant Prince. He was the tenant of the Medina Hotel, and had lent Rs. 15,000 to the Maradana Mosque in order to re-erect a portion of the hotel, which he was running for the past four years as a tenant of the Mosque. The addition, with an upper floor, brought the entire building into conforming to the style of the old building. This gentlemen also gifted an electric lamp to illuminate the facade of the Mosque building. The lighting of same was ceremoniously inaugurated, in 1952, by the President, Mr. A.H.M. Ismail, in the presence of the Committee Members and Congregation. The roof of the main building of the Maradana Mosque was removed and replaced with steel trusses, as the old woodwork were reported to be rotting.

Later on there was a southward extension of the Maradana Mosque building.

Zahira College was vested in the Government, in 1981, by Government Gazette No. 12792/2.12.1961, for educational purposes, and later released by Privy Council.


December 10, 1970                           Muhammad Sameer bin Haji Ismail Effendi bin Sahib Dorai

For more particulars, see Souvenirs of the Moors’ Islamic Cultural Home (MICH) of 1965 and 1969, and also “Life of Sir Razik Fareed”