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Sir Razik Fareed - the humanist statesman in Saville Row outfit

by M. P. M. Saheed

Sir Razik Fareed, the humanist statesman in Saville Row outfit was born on December 29th, 1893, at Layards Broadway, Colombo as the son of Wapche Marikar Abdul Raheman having read his first letters at Agnes Ferdinand's Infant School, Bambalapitiya, later had his education at O.E. Martinus School and at Royal College then located at St. Sebestian Hill Colombo.

He played cricket for Royal College 2nd Eleven and passed the Cambridge Junior Examination of the London University in 1911. In 1912 he married Ameena Binthu, the only daughter of Pedler Prince Haj Ibrahim Bin Ahamed in 1912 and had a daughter Sithy Hajara.

In the proverbial the duck taking to water his mindset was in community welfare and promotion. In order to achieve these ideals he formed in 1913, at the age of 20, Central Muslim Young Men's Association and in 1915 he joined Moorish Section of the Colombo Town Guard in the rank of a Corporal and gained promotion to the rank of lieutenant in 1916.

In 1946 he donated lands, buildings and furniture to the value of Rupees three lakhs and founded the Muslim Ladies College, at Colombo, the first residential school for Muslim children. From 1952 onwards he was elected to the legislature and served as Senator and Minister as well.

He had a vision for Sri Lanka and in the State Council in 1945 he observed. "It is our political sanctity, if I may say so and a sense of justice, that made us to stand up and fight side by side with the Sinhalese in the course of obtaining Dominion Status".

To Sir Razik, ethnic and religious differences were just accidents of birth and he was a firm believer in Sinhala - Muslim co-existence. Though he was knighted, he had a life time commitment to enanicipate, the oppressed, suppressed, humiliated and exploited moiling and toiling masses of Sri Lanka, irrespective of any divides.

This mindset is borne by his presidential address at the opening of the new building of the Moor Islamic Cultural Home, in Colombo in 1965. He reiterated. "The island needs the close co-operation of all creeds and communities to develop its resources with patriotic zeal and if need be with sacrifice. This must transcend all other considerations.

Let me therefore appeal to you and to all right-thinking citizens to sink all differences in the national interest and strive to make Ceylon a happier place to live in and die for. I exhort my fellow compatriots to remember what the Prophet of Islam meant when he said, "Patriotism is part of the Faith".

Education was rooted in him and he fought for the progress of Moulavis, the Islam and Arabic teachers - who were at the mercy of mosque trustees, paid a pittance of just Rs. 30 or Rs. 40, as a monthly stipend. Sir Razik, through his own efforts brought these teachers on par with salaried Government service teachers.

To him this writer was just simply 'Dear Saheed' or 'Dear M. P. M.' Sir Razik was an ardent devotee of flora. His home at Fareed Place, Bambalapitiya had a mini - orchidarium, where trailing vandas and large clustered dendrobiums were in profusion, a botanical garden par excellence.

He always wore an orchid on the lapel of his coat. Eric Garth, the orchid maestro of Kundasale, at this writer's behest paying his adoration for Sir Razik's commitment to orchids, named an orchid hybrid of his under Sir Razik's name and it is known as Sir Razik Fareed. This orchid gained international acceptance being registered with the Royal Horticultural Society of England, the controlling body, of horticulture on 15.11.1984.

In fact he could be called, without any fear of contradiction the 'Father of the Unani system of medicine in Sri Lanka which stands shoulder to shoulder with Ayurveda, Siddi and Allopathy schools of medicine, having completed his life's mission he passed away on August 23rd 1984.

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