Wednesday, March 01, 2006

DHEEN ARACHCHIAR (1860 – 1915) of Negombo

Samsudheen Vithane Arachchiar (1860 - 1915) of Negombo

He was born in 1860 in Negombo. Both his father and paternal grandfather were Vidanes (Officers below that of an Arachchi but wielded considerable authority) in Negombo. After completing his studies (Cambridge Senior) he got involved in the family business. He was appointed as the Vithane Arachchiar for Negombo in 1896 and hence was popularly known as Dheen Arachchiar. He held this post until his death at the age of 55 on the 11th of December 1915.

He married Miss Hafsa Marikar (Whose father too was a Vidane) of Thihariya. Near his ancestral home (in the Eastern border of Negombo) he built his house “Yathreeb” (which was one of the landmark buildings in Negombo until it was demolished in 1992 due to the high cost of maintainace) along Mirigama Road (facing St Lazarus Road and bordering Jayaratne Road) in Negombo. As he was highly respected by all the communities this place became to be known as Dheen Junction as a mark of respect to him. Udayar Thoppuwa Mosque (Abalathadi Palli) at Mirigama Road, Dheen Junction, Negombo was built by him and is administrated by the family fund.

Proctor Ismail Dheen JP (1894 – 1968) of Negombo

The first Muslim to qualify as a Lawyer in Negombo and was also the first person to be appointed as the Quazi for Negombo. As the Trustee (1915–1968) of the Udhayar Masjidh, he took interest in putting up additional buildings with the contribution of the family members.

One of the founder members of the Board of Trustees of the Moors’ Islamic Cultural Home

Appointed as a Justice of the Peace for the whole Island by the British Government.

Proctor Abdul Raheeman JPUM (1896-1965) of Negombo

Only Muslim to be the Chairman of the then Negombo Urban Council He was a Crown Counsel and was also an Unofficial Magistrate . Raheemanabad at Periyamulla Negombo is named after him as a mark of respect to him.

One of the founder members of the Board of Trustees of the Moors’ Islamic Cultural Home.

Al Haj M.A.M.A.Hassen JP (1903-1997) of Weveldeniya

Donated his land to build Babul Hassen Central College of Warakapola. Also donated three shops each to Warakapola Grand Jumma Mosque, Town Mosque and two shops to Ganithapura Jumma Mosque in Warakapola.

In addition to this in 1993 he donated four acres of land in Ganithapura, Warakapola to needy Muslims and this area is now known as Hassenpura.

One of the founder members and president of the Muslim Ladies Arabic College of Kal-Eliya from the inception till his demise.

He played a leading role in promoting the improvements to the Warakapola town.

His children (Mrs Hafeela Cassim and Mr Abdul Raheeman Hassen JP) as per his wishes donated the property of Dharul Hassenath Academy of Warakapola under a deed of Trust (Wagf) in 2001

One of the founder members of the Board of Trustees of the Moors’ Islamic Cultural Home

Appointed as a Justice of the Peace for the whole Island by the British Government.

Mrs Safa Ismail (1914) of Puttalam

The first Muslim female to be enrolled at Newstead College Negombo.

Proctor Hameed Hussain Sheikha Ismail (1901-1974) of Puttalam

Born:19-May-1901. Educated at St. Andrew’s College, Puttalam, Wesley College, Colombo and Law College. Proctor 1925.

Member, UC, Puttalam 1933. Chairman UC Puttalam 1938.

First Muslim Speaker in the House of Representatives.. MP Putalam uncontested 1947. President Ceylon Muslim Scholarship Fund. Founder President Ceylon Baithul Mal Fund. Parliamentary Secretary, Ministry of Food & Co-op 1947-1952. Member Muslim League. MBE 01-Jan-1949 offered but refused.
Deputy Speaker 1952, Speaker 1956.


A member of the Puttalam Urban Council from 1928-1947 and was its chairman from 1942-1947.

The only uncontested member in the first Parliament. the Deputy minister of Food (1947-48) the Deputy Speaker of the House of Representatives (parliament) and subsequently was appointed as the Speaker in 1956 and held this post till 1959 and thereby became the first Muslim to be the Speaker of the House of Representatives.

As the founder President of the Ceylon Baithulmal fund, he served it until his death

One of the founder members of the Board of Trustees of the Moors’ Islamic Cultural Home. Was instrumental in setting up the Puttalam Zahira College.

Life and times of Alhaj H.S. Ismail
By Alhaj A. H. M. Azwer, MP, Minister of Parliamentary Affairs, President, H. S. Ismail Commemoration Committee. - Daily News Sat May 17 2003

H.S. Ismail is a distinguished product of Puttalam. According to eminent Greek, Roman and Arab historians, Puttalam, Manthota and Galle had Arab settlements several centuries before the birth of Christ. Ibn Batuta, the famous Arab traveller from Morocco, when he came to Sri Lanka in 1342 AD, he visited Puttalam. Therefore, Mr. Ismail's association with his ancient Arab settlement brings about a faint stir of historical memories.

Narrating the story of the Sinhalese, the Mahawansa records that Prince Wijaya landed in this region - North of Puttalam encircling the present Eluvankulam, Wanathavilluwa and Karaitivu areas and called it 'Thambapanni' (The Golden Plain) because of the golden colour of its sands.
The sands still retain its origin colour. Many persons ever since have come and gone leaving their footprints on the sands of time.

Alhaj H.S. Ismail was one such eminent personality. He belonged to a rare breed of great men, who are seldom seen in the public of this country. He led a exemplary life, displaying the highest standards of honesty, integrity and truthfulness. I might mention an incident, which eloquently illustrates the impeccable character of Mr. Ismail.

When coconuts were being plucked in his estate, he would patiently wait till the last coconut was plucked. If 2501 coconuts were plucked, he will record 2501. His honesty was such that he did not want even a single coconut that was plucked in his estates not to be included in his income tax estimates.

This was to enable the government to get his legitimate revenue.

In 1947, the first election for the first Independent Parliament of Ceylon has been announced. At the Puttalam Kachcheri the Government Agent Walwin A. de Silva accepted nominations from the sole contestant Mr. H.S. Ismail. After the nominations were closed, he waited for one more hour for objections and finding none, he declared H.S. Ismail as the winner uncontested and escorted him outside. His supporters adorned him with green garlands.

There were also people who waited outside with garlands for any other contestant. Having found no other, they put them on the G.A., whereupon for everyone's amusement Mr. Ismail said that Mr. Walwin A. de Silva is the other contestant. The G.A.'s little son who still bears witness to this event was hanging on to his father's hands. That child today is one of the the best-known senior journalists of this country and the Chief Editor of the Sunday Island, Mr. Manik de Silva.

Piety, humility and simplicity were the other noteworthy features of late H.S. Ismail. He held one of the highest positions in Sri Lanka as the Speaker of Parliament. There was no fanfare or ostentation about him despite his eminent position in the public life of this country. He led an exemplary Muslim life and his multi-faceted activities are an eloquent tribute to his desire to serve his fellow men.

Born in May 1901 in Puttalam to a well-respected family, young Ismail began his Qur'anic lessons in 1905. He had his primary education in St. Andrew's College, Puttalam and secondary education at Wesley College, Colombo. He then entered Law College, Colombo, passed his Proctor's Finals in 1925, carrying away the prizes for Law of Persons and Property, the Law of Contracts and Torts and for Conveyancing. He practised in Colombo only for a short period of time and decided to move to his hometown Puttalam.

He maintained the highest standard of legal ethics. When he wrote a land deed, its veracity was such that the Kachcheri, the Court of Law and everyone would accept it without question.
His briefs were few and far between. This was because he will not accept a case, unless he feels that it is morally correct to defend the client. If the client admitted his guilt to him he would take up the case and plead in mitigation for the offence committed before the judge.

The sight of Muslim women with infants in their arms prompted him to launch the Ceylon Baithulmal Fund (CBF). Ever since its inception, the CBF has contributed immensely for the welfare of poor Muslims. Many rich Muslims were able to make worthy use of their Zakat money by making contribution to the Baithulmal. He also addressed Muslim women on social service work and social reforms on various occasions.

He dealt with the social evils prevailing among the Muslims. He warned them that if they did not try to improve and remedy our social and economic life, we would find ourselves to be the depressed class of this Island. Everybody talks of evil but never work for the welfare of the Muslim society.

Mr. Ismail recalled the words of the late Justice M.T. Akabar who said, 'follow the religion and the rest will follow'. He took strong exception to liquor being served at public functions. He said he would not attend any occasion where liquor was being served. True to his stand, he refused publicly to attend Muslim embassy functions that served liquor.

Mr. Ismail was the prime mover of the Puttalam hospital extension project. He wanted something done for ante and post-natal care and a maternity home for deliveries. He was instrumental in making representations to the Radio Commission for a separate Muslim section. Ever since its inception, the Muslim section of the Radio Ceylon (now SLBC) has provided yeoman service to the Muslims of this country.

Mr. Ismail also pioneered the construction of a mosque at the Peradeniya University Campus.
When a school for the teaching of Arabic and Quranic reading was declared open by Mr. Ismail, a local Moulavi in his speech said that the Holy Prophet's saying about 'acquire knowledge' meant the acquiring religious knowledge.

Mr. Ismail hastened to add that it has a much wider meaning and that in this context it encompasses all forms of knowledge that is required for the benefit of mankind both in this world and in the hereafter - fiddunya wal a'khira!

Mr. Ismail maintained a diary of his public life, which is meticulously recorded by his biographer Dr. M. S. M. Anes, Senior Lecturer, department of Philosophy, University of Peadeniya. It gives an insight in to the contemporary life of his times. In it, he has mentioned about his association with the Tamil language despite not studying it beyond the 4th standard. After Sir Vaithyalingam Doraisamy in the State council, Mr. Ismail was the first Tamil speaking speaker in the Independent Parliament.

He was a source of inspiration and guide to all the Tamil speaking members. "If and when occasion arises I had always spoken in Tamil at public meetings. None is more conscious than I of my own limitations. I have to praise Allah for this state of affairs. He seems to be very kind and merciful to me," Mr. Ismail wrote.

Being a man of serene personality did not deter him from carrying out his duties to the letter, even during crisis situations. For instance, during the presentation of the 'Public Ordinance Bill,' he ordered the Sergeant-at-Arms to remove no fewer than 12 disputing MPs from the chambers, among whom were political giants of that era such as Dr. N. M. Perera, Dr. Colvin R. de Silva, Robert Goonawardene, Leslie Goonewardene etc.

Alhaj H. S. Ismail was a staunch follower of the Thabligh movement, the prime object of which is to enlist voluntary workers to enjoin Muslims to lead an Islamic life and to attend the daily prayers. His life was inspired by the highest religious ideals of Islam. As a Muslim he believed in the fundamental equality, dignity and fraternity of mankind. He was a man of PEACE, who was opposed to all forms of violence. In the pursuit of peace, we can draw tremendous inspiration from a person who was serene and tranquil. He made no distinction whatsoever on the basis of religion, race or class.

He had the unique distinction of becoming the first elected Member of Parliament in the first general election held for the Parliament of Independent Ceylon in 1947. He was elected uncontested on the nominations day. The people of Puttalam wanted Mr. H. S. Ismail to represent them and therefore no one else came forward to contest against him.

Such was the respect and admiration his they had for this illustrious son of Puttalam. Later on he also became the first Muslim Speaker in 1956 in the Bandaranayake Government.
Although he departed from us some thirty years ago in 1973, his memories have never faded away from us. On the contrary they always stay with us and act as a shining beacon to illumine the lives of all of us for generations.

The grateful people of Puttalam will be remembering him on his 102nd birth anniversary. As a tribute to his memory, the Philatelic Bureau will be issuing a stamp in his memory tomorrow (18th May, 2003) under the patronage of the Minister of Mass Communications, Imthiaz Bakeer Markar.

I had the honour to compile and edit a book containing his speeches made in Parliament, which is entitled 'The Golden Plain'. This is the third in a series of publications containing the speeches of eminent personalities made in Parliament.

The H. S. Ismail Commemoration Committee will also be launching a scholarship fund to assist poor students to pursue higher studies, worthy tribute to a man who strived hard to uplift the standard of his community.

Mr. Anis Sheriff JP (1922) of Negombo

The first Muslim to be the Deputy Mayor of Negombo Municipal Council and was also a member of the Western Provincial Council.

Dr. M.T.Abdulla (1926) of Negombo

He completed the MBBS Examination at the Colombo medical faculty in 1952 and thereby became first Muslim to qualify as a Doctor in Negombo. He was a Member of the District Committee.

Advocate Kaleel Raheeman (1933- 1998) of Negombo

As the Trustee (1981-1998) of the Udhayar Masjidh he expanded the Mosque and built a row of shops with the contribution of the family members as a source of income to the mosque.

He also served as the Quazi for Negombo.

He was a co-vice president of the Sri Lanka Bar Association in 1989/90 and 1990/91.
Proctor Mahroof JPUM (1919-1990) of Negombo

Crown Counsel, an unofficial Magistrate of the Gampaha Magistrate Court and also was a member of the Negombo Municipal Council.

Dr Rifdhy Dheen (1942) of USA

He donated a plot of land along Colombo-Chillaw Road in Negombo to the Negombo Grand Mosque in 2001 to build a Mosque.The Mosque has been named as Al Masjidhul Dheen

Mr.A.R.M.Rafeek JP (1927-1989) of Warakapola

Like his father ( Muhammed Lebbe Abdul Raheem of Marikar Villa Pasyala ) he too contributed to the development of his community by playing a leading role in promoting the improvements to the hospital, places of religious worship, schools, co-operatives in Warakapola and the road leading to the Warakapola Grand Jumma Mosque. He was also responsible in getting the road leading to the Warakapola Grand Jumma Mosque named as Masjid Mawatha in 1982.

Appointed as a Justice of the Peace for the whole Island in 1983.

Mr. Saleem Marikar (1925) of Negombo

The attributes of preparing the family tree and the family album of the Dheen Arachchiar’s family goes to him. It was he who took the pains to collect and compile details during his leisure time.

Proctor S.L.M.Cassim JPUM (1923-1985) of Kurunegala
Unofficial Magistrate of the Kurunegala Magistrate Court

Mr.S.M.Sabry FCA (1940) of Ratmalana

The first Muslim to be the Auditor General of Sri Lanka.

Mr.S.L.M.Farook (1937- 1996) of Mawanella

Member of the Sabaragamuwa Provincial Council at the time of his death.

Dr.M.S.M.Mihilar JP (1946) of Warakapola

Founder President of the Horagolla Mosque which is now known as Masjid Al Hudha in Horagolla, Warakapola. In 1975 when he was putting up his house in Horagolla Warakapola he had the intention of building a mosque as there wasn’t a mosque in that area. In order to accomplish his desire, with the generous contribution of the community a small plot of land was purchased in 1977 and the mosque was built in 1979.

Together with his brother he donated the property of Al-Madhrasathus-Shareefiyyah of Warakapola to the Warakapola Grand Jumma Mosque in December 1999 (21st Ramadhan 1420)

He was appointed as a Justice of the Peace for the Judicial District of Kegalle in 1983.
Mr. M.A.C.Reyan (1947) of Katugastota

Obained the highest number of preferential votes for the Pathadumbara Electorate during the local government elections held in 1991 and thereby became the first Muslim to be the Vice

Chairman of the Pathadumbara Pradeshiya Sabava.

Mr. Ajward Cassim (1955-1995) of Belgrade

Migrated to Yugoslavia and was appointed as the Honorary Counsel General of Sri Lanka for Yugoslavia and held this post until his death.

JPUM - Justice of Peace and Unofficial Magistrate.
JP - Justice of the Peace.
Dr - Doctor.
C. Eng - Chartered Engineer.
FCA - Fellow Chartered Accountant.
FCMA - Fellow Chartered Management Accountant
ACA - Associate Chartered Accountant.
ACMA - Associate Chartered Management Accountant
d. - Died.


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