Wednesday, March 01, 2006


Auvuducandu Marikar Hassen (Ossen) Lebbe, a leader of the Muslim community in Sri Lanka, was one of the commissioner’s who drafted the "Muhammadan" Code of 1806, under which the Muslims were governed in respect of their persons and property. According to a census taken in 1824, there were 14,847 Moors or Muhammadans in Colombo (see Ceylon Daily News 20 February, 1953).

Avuducandu Marikar Hassen Lebbe took a very active part in the management of the Colombo Grand Mosque at new Moor Street. Under the sanitary ordinance imposed by the Municipality, the burial grounds adjacent to the Colombo Grand Mosque was ordered to be shut down from 21 October, 1874. In view of this, Hassen Lebbe set out to establsih a new burial grounds for the Muslims. He was assisted by several wealthy "Mathichams" (Managers) of the Mosque.

Funds were raised by this group and an extent of 37 Acres, 3 Roods and 13 Perches of land, depicted in Plan No. 1826 surveyed by S. G. Schneider, was purchased at Maligawatte (Title Deed No. 85, Notary C.H.Ahliph dated November 10, 1890). The land was vested in the Trustee for the burial of the dead bodies of Muslims.

Hassen Lebbe’s sons were, Othman Haji and Abdul Majeed. Hassan Lebbe Marikar Avuducandu Marikar, having been the First Honorary Turkish Consul was succeeded to this position by his grandson Abdul Majeed, the Second Honorary Turkish Consul..

Consul Abdul Majeed took an active part in the Silver Jubilee celebrations of the Sultan of Turkey in 1900. He also laid the foundation stone of the Hameedia School and the building of Ibrahim bin Ahmed’s shop at Main Street on this day.

He was succeeded as Consul by Mr. Muhammad Macan Markar of Galle who was the Vice Consul for Turkey.

Consul Abdul Majeed had two daughters, Mrs. M.A.C.Muhammad and Mrs. Zofi Abdul Azeez.
Hassen Lebbe’s other son, Othman Haji, and a cousin of his, Shamsi Lebbe Mathar Lebbe (father of M.L.M. Mackeen) succeeded him as trustee of the Maligawatte Muslim burial grounds. On the death of Mathar Lebbe, and, later of Othman Haji, Othman Haji’s sons, Noordeen and Sulaiman succeeded them in turn.

An unused portion of the Maligawatte Muslim burial ground was acquired by the Government and O.H.M. Sulaiman transferred all the right, title and interest in the trusteeship to the governing body of the Colombo Grand Mosque, New Moor Street, in 1875, on whose behalf the purchase was made.

A plaque at the Maligawatte Muslim burial ground commemorates the name of Hassen Lebbe. A photograph of him was published in the "Olde Ceylon" by John Capper in the year 1877.
It may be of interest to know that there were only two (2) mosques in Colombo in the year 1505
and there were seventeen (17) in 1824.


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