Saturday, March 04, 2006

CASSIM SHERIFF (1868-1964)

Cassim Sheriff of Mutuwal in Colombo North was popularly known as "Budda" Sheriff Nana amongs the Muslims. His father was a textile trader from Beruwela, who, during his early years, settled down in Mutuwal. The latter and Dr. M.C.M. Kaleel’s father, Casie Lebbe, were first cousins.

Cassim Sheriff was employed as a sorter of mail in the General Post Office, Colombo, where he served for 42 years and rose to the position of Accountant at the time of his retirement. During his period of office he indulged in living a very frugal life, and, with the monies saved, he invested in real estate in the area where he resided. These properties were valued at Rs. 75,000 at that time.

He maintained a very high standard of honesty and integrity and the people of the area loved and respected him. In his own way he made generous contributions towards many charitable causes and was very helpful to the people, especially his tenants who found him to be a very sympathetic landlord. He was elected President of the local Mosque congregation. He was also a pioneer in the cause of education for Muslim girls and ensured that his own daughters received their basic secondary education, which was not favourably looked upon by Muslims of that time.
Cassim Sheriff’s Father-In-Law, knwon as "Kochika" Shamee Nana hailed from Hambantota and was engaged as a transport contractor for the Government. He was the owner of real estate at dawson Street, Slave Island, opposite Colonial Motors. His eldest Brother-In-law was known as Shelton Saly Nana and he was a co-palintiff with H.A.B.M.Misbah in the famous Maradana Mosque case in which the late N.H.M.Abdul Cader was the respondent.

Cassim Sheriff died in 1934 at the age of 66 having been a Government Pensioner for almost 11 years. He had 14 children. His oldest son was also called Cassim Sheriff and was employed as a Probation Ofiicer in the department of Probation Services.

Cassim Sheriff served for three years in the Public Assistance Committee of the Colombo Municipal Council. He was also the Chief Trustee of the Old Mosque situated in Mutuwal and Vice President of the Mutuwal Mosque Congregation. He also held sevaral appointments in public organizations.

One of his sons, Anis Sheriff (1922) was the first Muslim to be the Deputy Mayor of Negombo Municipal Council and was also a member of the Western Provincial Council.

His youngest son, Aamir Arslan Sheriff is an Attorney-at-Law by profession, a Justice of the Peace, and a member of the Colombo Municipal Council since 1966, serving a predominantly Catholic Ward, which he won comfortably. He also served as City Coroner, Colombo, and proved a great asset to the Muslim community in expediting their deceased for immediate burial as per the Sunnah. Aamir Sheriff married Sithy Zehra, daughter of Mr. Hameem Dastakeer of Matara.


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