Thursday, March 02, 2006

Al-Alim NAINA-MARIKAR Khaleefathul Khadiry

Yehiya Muhammad Naina-Marikar (known as YM Naina-Marikar and more affectionately as “YM”) was born on November 18, 1883. He was the third issue of Muhammad Yehiya, son of Alim Naina-Marikar Khaleefathul Khadiri, whose lineage is traced back to the early Arab settlers at Beruwela. He died on April 9, 1952.

Alim Naina-Marikar Khaleefathul Khadiry was a well known Alim who was highly respected for his Islamic knowledge and deep devotion. He held the exalted position of Chief of the Khadiriya Order in Ceylon up to his death.

Y.M. Naina-Marikar married Muhsina Abdul Majeed, the second daughter of A.R. Abdul Majeed who was the eldest son of the Hon. M.C. Abdul Rahman, Member of the Legislative Council, the first Muslim to be appointed a Legislative Councillor for the entire Muslims of Ceylon. He held this position until his death.

Muhsina was an aristocratic lady of noble parentage. A great-grand daughter of Qutub As-Sheikh Yahya Moulana Al-Yemani Al-Abasi Nasab Wa Siddiqui Hasab of Matara. Her motherly love for her children and others was par excellence. Her deep devotion to her husband often kept her sedately occupied with her pots and pans in order to turn out an unctuous and palate-soothing dish that would satiate his tired nerves. Devoid of any vanity she was frugal and possessed a fullness of heart to serve others. She did not mess up her home with China ornaments and female frivolities. She maintained a reasonably decent abode with its bare necessities only and abhorred a vainglorious life, being a righteous and pious lady. She spared her husband all those vexatious cares which exhaust a mans mind. In her company he found the cosy spot where body and soul are relaxed, where criticism becomes praise, and blame a caress. Her untimely demise, at the early age of 48, in 1944 caused a deep gap in his life. He missed her much when he needed her the most. Yet, he bore the calamity as expected of a true believer and adapted himself admirably to the changed circumstance, to live a further 8 years and 13 days. Many were the proposals that were offered to him for a second marriage, yet, he opted to remain single until his end. When he was ailing seriously he used to call out her name in the hope that she may hear him and respond to his overtures but had to resign to the fact that she was not there anymore knowing that she was gone.

During the early years of their life, Y.M. Naina-Marikar and his brother, Yousoof, lost their father and came under the care and guidance of of a close relative named Minna Marikar Lebbe Marikar who had no issue. They were defrauded, in their young years, of the sweet food of academic education and had to be content with whatever they could achieve within the circumstances that they were faced with. Thus, they were absorbed into the business of Minna Marikar who traded in laces and embroidery of local make. When Minna Marikar became ill and decrepit the two brothers became the custodian of the small business and after his death they ventured out into a business of their own which later became one of the most famous of Moor businesses titled Zitan Stores. It was established at No. 228, Main Street, Pettah.

Yousoof suffered a road accident, being knocked down by a cyclist, and suffered a leg injury which incapacitated and restricted the free use of his right leg. He retired from active business and handed over the entire management of Zitan Stores to his brother Y.M. Naina-Marikar. The business thrived and elevated YM to a very high social status amongst the Muslim community in Ceylon. Profiteering of an unscrupulous nature or taking advantage of a dearth of utility articles and goods in the market was not his way of life. He toiled from 8 am until 10 pm on a daily basis in carrying out his business successfully and fruitfully. He was a very strict disciplinarian and set a valuable example to his colleagues and employees. He was looked upon as a fair and just businessman and the popular name of Zitan Stores reached new heights amongst the communities in Ceylon.

He purchased premises 251, 253 at Main Street, Colombo in the Pettah and expanded his business importing a large variety of goods. His uncanny sense of sizing the market demands was unprecedented and un-parallelled.The ruling rates for his merchandise remained and advertisement throughout his business career. His was, indeed, a service purely motivated to serve the nation, primarily, and through this honorable objective he succeeded in earning the plaudits and praise of every customer he dealt with. He was, primarily, a Wholesaler and secondarily an accredited retailer.

YM was a very philanthropic and kind gentleman who spared no pains in alleviating the hardship and suffering of his community enjoying distinction and honor amongst the people. He was the only Muslim to be marked out for recognition on the occasion of the Coronation of King George VI, for his philanthropy and public spiritedness, as a Justice of Peace, Western Province.
The General Secretary of the Central YMCA, referring to Mr Naina Marikar’s investiture, said,
“your appointment has given satisfaction to all those who know you, as you have proved yourself as one of the leading public-spirited citizens of Colombo. All those, like you, who prize the interest of the public above their own, are surely the salt of this earth.”

The first Muslim Civil Servant in Ceylon, Mr AMA Azeez, commented,

“His career is an inspiration and a warning, particularly to those young Muslims who think that by virtue of the years they have spent in a secondary English School and by virtue of the little and imperfect English education thay have acquired, a business career does not suit their dignity or their achievements We should be proud of Mr Naina Marikar, especially at this time when the Muslim community is gradually losing its pre-eminent place in the commercial and trading world of Ceylon. His career reminds one that the days of business giants are not over for the Muslims of Ceylon.”

“Our lives are not worth living if we do not make it worthwhile for others to live, were the watchwords of Mr Naina Marikar’s life. Succinctly summed as a ‘simple, sincere man, unspoiled by riches’, by the first elected Mayor of Colombo, the late Sir Ratnajothi Saravanamuttu, he will ever be an example and inspiration not only to his community but also to the general public, who know too well the many acts of charity he has bestowed.”

Ceylon in Coronation Year May 1937, has this to say:

“As a philanthropist, Mr Naina Marikar has won pride of place among people of all classes in this country. He has the rare knack of being generous, and, by setting an excellent example, inducing the same generous impulses in others. And, with this bountiful benevolence towards noble and deserving causes, he combines a personal thoughtfulness, wholly unknown nowadays, which sheds, like his own ingratiating smile, a light on those around. When the earnest efforts of those selfless people to promote the welfare of our less fortunate brethren fall into historic perspective, his name will be enshrined in the lasting gratitude of generations to come. We are, perhaps, too near the canvas to assess correctly his many spontaneous acts of splendid self-sacrifice, but with the passage of time there is no doubt that he will receive full justice and ample appreciation at the hands of posterity. “

“His benefactions knew no limits of caste or creed. His purse strings remained opened for the amelioration of the poor and needy, and the cause of educational and social movements. His benevolence fell as the gentle rains from Heaven, profiting man, society and association. He was strongly of opinion that, ‘no man is great in the eye of God’. ‘Be happy and contended’ was his motto, and the keynote of his success was due to his powers of initiative, breadth of vision, sporting instincts, and practical mindedness, combined with magnitude of conception. His gentlemanly personality, innate nobility of character, understanding ways, simplicity, and kindly simplicity have won him the esteem, regard, affection and confidence, not only of his community, but everyone in the island. “

Being and ardent supporter of the Moors’ Sports Club, he furnished the entire building and provided all the sports goods needed for the opening of the new pavilion by His Excellency Sir Edward Stubbs. Subsequently, he ceiled the entire roof too. The Hon Gen Secy, commending hislively interest in sports in general, observed:

“If the other Moorish merchants would follow the example he has set, the level of efficiency of the community would be considerably raised. There is hardly any institution needing help that has not benifitted by Mr Naina Marikar’s generosity, and, he can justly claim to be one of the leading intelligent philanthropists in the country.”

He built a palatial home at No. 76, Rosmead Place, Colombo 7, using only imported Burmese Teak wood for the entire woodwork. He lived there with his wife, Muhsina until their death.
extracted from an article written by NMM Bishrul Hafi in the MICH Souvenir IV of 1977-1982 (20.2.1979)

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