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Tuesday, 31 August 2010

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Great national leader

Alhaj Sir Razik Fareed’s 26th death anniversary:

Sir Razik was a great revivalist and ardent campaigner for the rights of the Ceylon Moors. He was one of the few Statesmen with the rare distinction of having served in the Supreme Legislative assemblies of the land Al Haj M C A Cader

Sir Razik was eloquent in his speeches. He was a picture of elegance being immaculately dressed complete with the red fez cap and the orchid adorning his coat buttonhole. Sir Razik Fareed was a man well ahead of his times. His greatest achievement is that while he spent his entire life fostering the distinct identity of the Ceylon Moor, an ethnic community second to none in our country. He ensured that they were equitably benefitted without prejudice to the right of the other communities.


Alhaj Sir Razik Fareed’s

Sir Razik Fareed was born with a silver spoon in his mouth as a grandson of great Muslim leader Wappache Marikar and son of another leader M S Abdul Rahman. Wappache Marikar was the heir to the wealth of noble lady in the line of an Arab parsonage named Sheik Fareed migrated to Ceylon in the year 1060 with a number of his followers.

In 1893, W M Abdul Raheman was resident at Layard’s Broadway. On the 10th day of Muharramme 1312 i.e. December 29, 1893, was born young Razik. His mother was Hajara Umma, elder daughter of Esubu Lebbe Marikar Hajiar. His mother passed away when he was only three years old, barely 27th day after birth of his young sister, Ummu Rakeeba. He received his early education along with sister Ummu Razeena at Ferdinand’s school at Bambalapitiya.

English knowledge

As Islam required good grounding in Arabic, so as to be able to recite and understand the Holy Quaran, Sir Razik attended Al Madrasathul Zahira (The Maradana Mohammedan Boys’ School). In keeping with his grandfather’s wish that Moor children must have a good knowledge of English, he attended once again the school conducted by O E Martinus.

At the age of 11 he gained entrance to Royal College. His grandfather and father had done distinguished service to the brethren in Islam. It was fitting that only male in the third generation should follow. Sir Razik, an illustrious son of Sri Lanka was a great Statesman and an indefatigable social worker. He was in the forefront of the religious, social and cultural movement of the Muslim community and Sri Lanka in general and his contributions were very valuable.

Sir Razik Fareed was a strong believer in a united Sri Lanka. Of him the late Prime Minister S W R D Bandaranaike said in 1948: “I regard Razik not only as the leader of the Ceylon Moors but also as one of the greatest Ceylonese leaders.” To this end he served all communities without discrimination, striving to integrate them as common citizens in one country.

In him the Moors of Ceylon have the most spirited champion. He worked assiduously in the Moor cause. A bold imaginative man, he was full of forethought and foresight. He was not one to be paralysed by large fears and small aims. A keen observer of man and matters, he knew fully well the limitations of men.

Gift of expression

He had political sagacity. He had an acute sense of the beauty of his life. His greatest gift was the God (Allah) given power to inspire others to great and noble deed. What endeared him to all was a tint of humor and gift of expression. Although inclined to be blunt and outspoken at times, the finer nature of him brought about the best.

He was also a freedom fighter who championed the cause of free Ceylon and free education. Sir Razik played many important roles in the political arena of his day as a Municipal Councillor, Senator, Parliamentarian and a Cabinet Minister and later as Sri Lanka’s Ambassador to Pakistan and Iran. In 1953, he attended the Coronation of Her Majesty the Queen Elizabeth II at the Westminster Abbey, accompanied by Lady Fareed.

Sir Razik will always be remembered as a prominent personality among the contemporary leaders of Sri Lanka. He was honoured by the State which released a postage stamp depicting him as a great national leader. He eschewed violence as means of satisfying the legitimate aspirations of his people.

We are proud of this great son of Sri Lanka and we do hope the people of all communities will emulate his example in striving to create a country in which peace and harmony will prevail among all people with discrimination towards none. He led the Moor community on the correct path.

Ceylon Moors

He gave up his life and ease and comfort and girdled himself to serve his country and community. He contested and won the New Bazaar Ward of the Colombo Municipal Council in 1931. On March 17, 1936 he was nominated to the State Council as an accredited representative of the Ceylon Moors.

On October 1947 he was selected a Senator. Even though the Senate enjoyed precedence, it was no place for a popular leader who commands and respect and admiration of the community. Thereafter he resigned from the Senate on April 25, 1952 and contested the Colombo Central Seat in Parliament and won. He retained the Seat at the election held in 1956 and July 1960. In 1965, he was nominated to Parliament.

In recognition of his service to his country and community was appointed a Justice of the Peace and Unofficial Magistrate in 1932. Sir Razik was conferred the Imperial Honour of MBE in 1948 and made a Knight Bachelor in 1951. He was not only a Senator and Parliamentarian but he was also the Deputy Speaker, Minister and an Ambassador

Services rendered
* Establishment of Government Muslim Schools
*Establishment of Muslim Training Colleges
* Appointment of Muslim Teachers, Moulavis and Inspectors of Schools for Arabic
* Introduced the first Muslim reader for primary classes and declaration of Meelad-un-Nabi Prophet’s Birthday as a National Holiday
* Obtained ratio for Ceylon Moors in matter of appointments to Government Service
* He also obtained recognition to the Unani system of medicine

Sir Razik’s contribution to education was remarkable. He spent his wealth on education and donated a building for the Muslim Ladies College at Bambalapitiya, Colombo. He worked hard to establish Government Muslim Schools throughout the island, set up Muslim Training Colleges and a separate unit for the education of Muslims. It was due to his efforts the Moulavis and Inspectors of Arabic were appointed to Muslim schools. Sir Razik’s name will always be remembered as the Father of Government Muslim Schools.

To give political leadership to Muslims he made use of the All-Ceylon Moors’ Association of which he was the lifetime President till his demise in the year 1984. He was able to open over 300 branches of the All-Ceylon Moors’ Association in every part of the island personally visiting these areas. In the year 1970, he donated a valuable piece of land to the All-Ceylon Moors’ Association at Aramaya Place, Baseline Road, Colombo.

The establishment of the Moors’ Islamic Cultural Home (MICH) is another landmark of his activities. He was one of the founding fathers along with W M Hassim, JP, A H Macan Markar, A I L Marikar and A L M Lafir, JP, on August 2, 1944. He was the President since the inauguration till his demise.

Freedom fighter

Sir Razik toiled hard for the emancipation of the common man irrespective of caste, creed or race. He was in the forefront of religious, social and cultural revival of Muslims in particular and Sri Lanka in general. He was also a freedom fighter.

Although Sir Razik was born with the proverbial silver spoon in his mouth this did not prevent him moving close to each and every individual. He was a strong believer in a united Sri Lanka. His sincere hope was to foster Yonaka-Sinhala Unity.

Great revivalist
* Born on December 29, 1893
* Worked for Moor cause
* Championed the cause of free Ceylon
* He won CMC New BazarWard in1931
* Nominated to State Council in 1936
* Became Senator in 1947
* Elected to Parliament in 1952
* Made MBE in 1948 and knighted in 1951
* He was also Deputy Speaker, Minister and Ambassador
* Donated building for Muslim Ladies College, Bambalapitiya

Sir Razik will remain a legend for all times in the history of the country. He was also known as the Uncrowned King of Ceylon Moors. Sir Razik had the privilege of seeing his grandparents and seeing his great great grandchildren. This is either a world record or a rare achievement.

Like his grandfather Wappache Marikar, a philanthropist Sir Razik followed his footsteps and there was nothing left for him when he breathed his last.

Even his wife’s property with a large extent and a building was donated to the MICH which runs the Lady Fareed Home for Elders at Makola, Kelaniya.

He was laid to rest on August 23,1984 at M.I.C.H. Pasha Vilal Dematagoda, Colombo which was nearest and dearest to his heart. Not a single Muslim could help but to shed a silent tear at the passing away of this colossus of a man. His janaza, after prayers at the Colombo Grand Mosque was carried to its last resting place at ‘Pasha Villa’, MICH, Dematagoda, by a mulltitude.

Thousands of students clad in white from Muslim schools lined up on either side of the road leading from Messenger Street to Dematagoda to pay homage to this great leader of the Ceylon Moors. Though Sir Razik Fareed is no more, his name will remain forever in the minds of generations yet to be born as the undisputed leader of the Ceylon Moors, whose entire life had been a saga devoted to the service of his community.

May his soul attain Jennathul Firedouse - Aameen!

(The writer is a member of the Board of Trustees of M. I. C. H. and Member of the Board of Directors Sir Razik Fareed Foundation)

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