Wednesday, March 01, 2006

ASSENA MARIKAR HAMID

Assena Marikar Hamid (1880-1952) hailed from an aristocratic family of Ceylon Moors and was raised in the lap of luxury. His father, S.M. Assena Marikar continued the crockeryware business at China Street in Pettah, which his forebearers Sultan Marikar and Aboo Lebbe Marikar had founded in 1840. Hamid, in association with S.M. Hashim built up the firm gaining international repute for integrity and honesty. This business house, “S.M. Assena Marikar & Co.”, is among the very few Ceylonese firms which had survived a century and still continues to maintain its high repute.

Hamid, after his primary education at gas Works Street, Pettah, entered St. Thomas’ College, then at Mutuwal. Among his contemporaries was the father of the Nation, Rt Hon D.S. Senanayake, his life long friend. Hamid was a blend of the occident and the Orient, imbibing the best of the cultures of both the East and the West, to emerge in later life as one deeply interested in learning. He was for long a member of that intellectual organization known widely as the Royal Asiatic Society (Ceylon). Besides, he was a respected member of the YMCA as well. By his quiet and unassuming ways he commanded respect and confidence.

He was a founder member of the All Ceylon Moors’ Association and was closely associated with its activities. He was also amember of the Deputation of the All Ceylon Moors’ Association led by Sir Razik fareed (then ARARazik) that appeared and gave evidence before the Lord Soulbury Royal Commission on Reforms of the Ceylon Constitution. He was also a member of the Executive Committee and Hon Joint Treasurer of the Maradana Mosque and was associated in its activities with the Moor leaders of the time, viz; Hon WM Abdul Rahman, Al Haj NDH Abdul Caffoor, ILM Abdul Azeez, NHM Abdul Cader and was also interacting with such intellectuals like Justice MT Akbar and chroniclers of Moor history like Muhammad Sameer.

Hamid was a founder member of the Moors’ Islamic Cultural Home and contributed in many ways for its growth. He held the position of Chairman of its Religious Committee and set an example to his colleagues by regular attendance at meetings, always punctual. His grandsons AN Ghouse, MI Azhar Ghouse BA, are carrying on the traditional business in their firm “A M Hamid”. His granddaughters are married to Dr Shuhaib Ghouse and Mehdi Hussain, both men of learning and erudition – one a doctor of Medicine and the other an able Barrister-at-Law.

His brother is Saheed A Marikar, Barrister-at-Law.

The short, pleasant faced man, wearing a sarong, with his umbrella and boots, was AM Hamid. Any child would know him at sight. He is no more but posterity wuill always remember him. He was a pious Muslim devoting most of his time, in the latter part of his life, to the promotion of Islamic affairs.

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