Saturday, March 04, 2006

Hon. W.M. Abdul Rahman 1868-1933

W M Abdul Rahman, was born at Colombo on 26-Mar-1868, educated at the Government School at Gasworks Street and later on at Wesley College, Colombo. He was the only son of Arasi Marikar Wapchi Marikar and the apple of the old mans eye. To a few of Wapchi Marikar’s close friends, among the elite, who attended the naming ceremony of his beloved son, he whispered while he proudlytook the little infant – snug in the silk cushion – in his arms, “I expect him to carry on after me in my service to my people – Allah is Great!” A leader to follow his father was thus born in the lap of luxury and affluence. The fond father, imbued with an inherent zeal to ensure continuity of service towards the progress of the community, earmarked his beloved son for this noble purpose. His own son was a more certain guarantee to fulfil this mission rather than dependence on others, however cooperative. Though brought up with a silver spoon young Abdul Rahman had a flair to study in the “School of Life” rather than graduate in an academy of Instructions. He was admitted to the Government School at Gasworks Street, Pettah, for his early education. Here, he mixed freely with his colleagues who hailed from various strata of society – the rich and the poor, the strong and the weak. His free association with all classes of students, his inquiring disposition whenever he found a friend unhappy or distressed, and his ready willingness to extend his generous hand of fellowship when needed, drew towardsAbdul Rahman a large circle of friends. They rallied at his calls, knowing such calls were purposeful, though at times mirthful. The youngster Abdul Rahman grew up acquiring slowly but surely the knowledge of humanity – their joys and sorrows among his young company of students. Subsequently, he was moved to attend high school at Wesley College. Here, Abdul Rahman, came into direct and profitable contact with contemporaries of the time.

Abdul Rahman joined his father’s building enterprise in 1888, where at the young age of 20 was involved in the construction and management of such gigantic projects as the building of the GPO at Colombo Fort, the Colombo National Museum at Cinnamon Gardens and the Colombo Eye Hospital at Ward Place. These grandiose structures of cinstruction still stand tall in the new Millenium proving the caliber of the master builder and construction magnate of that ancient era. In 1900 Asbdul Rahman was nominated to the Legislative Council as the Muslim member.

In his honor the Moor’s Union hosted a dinner party presided over by Abdul Azeez. He died on 6-Apr-1933 and was buried at Kuppiyawatte Muslim Burial Grounds, Maradana.

On November 14, 1902 a Committee of the Legislative Council was appointed to consider the treatment of criminals. The committee comprised of Hon A.J. Lascelles, Attorney General, Hon Loos. Hon H.H.Cameron, Hon H.L. Crawford, Hon S. Bois, Hon W. M.Abdul Rahman. Another committee was appointed on January 23, 1903 to consider the Customs Duties Amendment Bill. composed of the Attorney General, Auditor General, the European Member, the Mercantile Member, the Principal Collector of Customs and the Muhammadan Member, the Hon. W.M.Abdul Rahman.

On February 10, 1943, Abdul Rahman supported the enlargement of the Executive Council in the Legisltive Council. On December 15, 1905 the Attorney General moved that the bill for the consideration of the Tariff amendments be undertaken by a committee consisting of the following:- Attorney General, Auditor General, PCC, Hon J.Ferguson, Hon M.F.Walker, Hon Abdul Rahman. On November 22, 1906 the hon Treasurer moved that the following sub-committee be appointed to reply His Excellency the Governor’s address: The Hon Treasurer, Hon Director of Works, Hon Registrar General, Hon Low Country Sinhalese Member, The Planting Member, The Hon General European Member, and the Hon W.M.Abdul Rahman, the Muhammadan Member.

On December 12, 1906, in the Legislative Council, The Hon member for the Muhammadan Community, Hon W.M.Abdul Rahman expressed the condolences of his community at the death of Sir Alexander Ashmore, the Colonal Secretary. On February 10, 1909, the Hon W.M.Abdul Rahman opposed the expenditure of large sums of money on the lake Scheme from Loans on account of many other urgent works that were of higher priority and were being kept in abeyance.

In the Legislative Council, on February 25, 1909, Hon W.M.Abdul Rahman desired that His Excellency the Governer should have the power to appoint deserving members in Government service to some of the higher posts without having to take competitive examinations. He claimed that it was unfair to expect senior Government servants to compete with boys fresh from school.

Abdul Rahman was a member of the Agricultural Society, Orient Club, Ceylon Turf Club and Liberal League. He was also the Vice President of the Social Reform Society and a keen supporter of sports. He was a member of the Executive Committee of the Maradana Mosque and the President of the Ceylon Muslim Educational Society Ltd., Muslim Spiritual Society and the Moor’s Sports Club.

In 1905 a massive public meeting was held at the Maradana mosque grounds to protest against the action of the Supreme Court in refusing to hear M.C.Abdul Cader address the court as an Advocate because he wore a Fez cap, the national headgear of the Ceylon Moors, on his head. The Hon W.M. Abdul Rahman presided at this meeting. Subsequently permission was granted by the Colonial Secretary for Muslims to wear the Fez cap in court provided they also wore the long black coat which they normally wore at ceremonies.

In 1912 Abdul Rahman presided at the mass meeting of Muslims to protest against the Italian invasion of Tripoli, then ruled by the Turkish Sultan.

At an interview by a news reporter of the "Ceylon Independent" in 1917 Abdul Rahman said,
"English education among the Muslims was at a low ebb and considering the population the percentage of really educated men was awfully small. We have the Zahira College, started about tenty six years ago by my father...."

"... and there is every possibility of enlarging the building, mproving the school by the addition of a Science Laboratory and employing a larger and more efficient staff of teachers ...."
Speaking on the conditions of the Ceylon Muslims, Abdul Rahman said,

".. it was deplorable. The apparent prosperity of the people was due to the fact that they possess ancestral property on which they live at ease. There was great competition in trade now and the trade that used to be in the hands of the Moors is now shared with others. For the past seven or eight years a revival was noticeable and young Muslims were taking to the professions and the Clerical Service and evincing a greater interest in English education. If that was not followed up with energy, the Muslims, he feared, would, in another twenty or thirty years, be only rawers of water and hewers of wood".

In 1924, N.H.M.Abdul Cader submitted a Bill to the Legislative Council for incorporating the body of the Maradana Mosque management. Abdul Rahman objected and suggested certain safe-guards for the congregation who are permanent residents of Maradana. his suggestions were included in the Bill.

Abdul Rahman passed away on April 6, 1933, leaving three children. One was Sir Razik Fareed and the other two were daughters, Mrs. Razeena Mohideen (wife of Ghouse Mohideen), manageress of the Muslim ladies College, Colombo and the first Ceylon Moor woman Justice of the Peace, and Mrs. Rakeeba Fuard (mother of M.F.A.Jaward, Private Secretary to Sir Razik Fareed).

According to a memo issued by the Department of Income Tax, Estate Duty & Stamps, dated Colombo, 29 january 1936, it is mentioned that an estate duty amounting to Rs 10,591.70 was paid in full on account of the estate of Abdul Rahman as per Estate No: ED/A 72 – DC Colombo Case No.6456 – Hon Mr Wapchi Marikar Abdul Rahman – Deceased

In the matter of the Last Will and Testament of the Hon Mr Wapchi Marikar Abdul Rahman of “Razeendale” Bambalapitiya South in Colombo, under Testamentart Jurisdiction No 6456, where Abdul Rahman Abdul Razik (son of Abdul Rahman and later referred to as Sir Razik Fareed), the inventory of the estate of WM Abdul Rahman was declared as follows:-

Amount in Imperial Bank of India Rs 69.52
Amount due on promissory note dated 14 December 1927 Rs 3,000.00
Household furniture etc. Rs 3,179.00
Rents outstanding at date of death Rs 914.00
Sub Total Rs 7,162.52

1. Premises bearing assessment No.423 (formerly No.54) Galle Road, Bambalapitiya being Lot B in Plan No.610 in extent 1A.1R.7.54P Rs 35,000.00

2. Lot B of premises bearing assessment No 24/1 Temple Road, Maradana in extent 0A.1R.9.11P Rs 5,000.00

3. Premises Nos.713D/54, 713C/55, 713B/56, Third Cross Street, Pettah, in extent 0A.)R.1.57P Rs 25,000.00

4. Premises bearing assessment No 483B/55 (being a divided portion of Lot 10 of No 55 Kensington Gardens) presently 6 Foenander Place, Wellawatte, in extent 0A.1R.0P Rs 15,000.00

5. Premises bearing assessment No 30/14, now No 3 Turner Road Wellawatte, in extent 0A.0R.12.75P Rs 7,000.00

6. Mylagama Estate situated at Mahagalboda Megoda Korale of Waudawili Hathpattu in the Kurunegala District, North Western Province:
Bearing coconut – 250 acres
Coconuit about to bear - 25 acres
Coconut young plantation - 100 acres
Paddy Field - 25 acres
Jungle - 75 acres Rs 87,000.00

7. Kahinda Kutikarambee Hena at Eriyagama in Yatinuwara, Central Province, in extent 3A.0R.25P Rs 1,000.00

8. Dandeniya and Dandeniyahena situated at Nugawela in Pannil Pattu of Atakalan Korale in the District of Ratnapura, Sabaragamuwa Province, in extent 14A.1R.4P Rs 700.00

9. An undivided half share of 80 acres at Meepitiya in the Hiryala Hatpattu of Ihala Visidekay Korale in the District of Kurunegala, North Western Province, value unknown Unknown

10. An undivided 5/6 share of 80 acres of land at Dompe in the Uda Pattu of Kuruwita Korale in the District of Ratnapura, Sabaragamuwa Province, value unknown Unknown

11. An undivided ¼ share of 777 acres 3R.23P at Kosgahakanda Atulugama Korale of Three Korales in the District of Kegalle, Sabaragamuwa Province Rs 1,000.00

12 An undivided 2/3 share of 0A.2R.29P Galapolakapalla Galapitiya situated at Bandarawela in the Mahapalata Pattu of Udakande in the District of Badulla Rs 1,000.00

13 Allotment of land in the Plan of David Dewapura in Wellawatte in the extent of 0A.2R.64P – to the value of Rs 12,000 (STRUCK OFF THE LIST)

14. An undivided 2/3 share of No 10 Temple Road, Maradana being lot No 10 Temple Road, Maradana beong lot No 8 in Plan of Chas Schwallie dated 25/9/1871 containing in extent 0A.0R.18.75P Rs 4,000.00

15 An undivided 2/3 share of No 38 Ward No 1306 Colpetty in extent of 0A.0R.6.15P according to Plan No 348 dated 30/7/1924 Rs 4,000.00

16 An allotment of land marked Lot 9 and bearing assessment No 17, 19th Lane A situated at Wellawatte in extent 0A.0R.77.85P as per plan No 4118 dated 25th July 1933 by MJ Theideman, Surveyor Rs 12,650.00
Total Rs204,632.52


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