Alhaj S. M. M. Hussain was born on the 19th of September 1916. Founder of The Colombo Picture Palace, he was a well known Industrialist, Educationist and Philanthropist. He married Hajiani Jeenath Ummah, daughter of Unani Dr. Abdul Cader of Galle in the year 1943 and the couple were blessed with a large family of twelve children; four sons, Nazeer, Dhahlan, Zameek and Rizvi and eight daughters, Zulfathul, Nawaziya, Laleeza. Nazlima, Fazeena, Nuwaiza, Raziya and Shannaz. Alhaj Hussain passed away on the 23rd of May 1991 at the family residence of forty years, 522 Galle Road, Colombo 3. After his death the family business was taken over by his sons, and it continues to be a leading business establishment today.
“Alhaj S. M. M. Hussain did not come to this world with the proverbial silver spoon in the mouth. He met the trials and tribulations of life like any other. He learnt the trade from his elder brother while attending a night school. In the year 1942 he started his own business of picture framing and sheet glass in a stall at Armour Street, Colombo. From then his business expanded to become one of the leading Glass Merchants and Printers in the country presently functioning from Prince Street, Pettah.
He also had a vision to start an industry, so he did by purchasing and developing four acres of marshy land in Grandpass, Colombo and setting up a Fully Automatic Mirror Manufacturing Industry, with full selfconfidence, practical wisdom and above all, common sense. It is not surprising to find such men are self made and selftaught. They learn in the school of life and end up as pioneers and path finders.
Neither a steady student or nor an advanced scholar, he realized the boon of education and the dearth of Muslim students in the pursuit of study, mainly because of financial difficulties among the underprivileged. Therefore he created the Alhaj S. M. M. Hussain Charitable Trust, bequeathing to it a four storeyed building on 13 perches in the heart of Pettah. This is an approved charity administered by the MICH to provide scholarships to deserving Muslim students.
As a Vice President of the MICH he closely associated with its activities. His assistance to complete the MICH Technical Training Centre at Demetagoda was so substantial that the Board of Trustees decided to name the reception hall in the building as the ‘Alhaj S. M. M Hussain Hall’. The Technical Training Centre provides the much needed technical skills to the youth of all communities.
‘Poverty is my Pride’ said the Holy Prophet (Sal).
Alhaj S. M. M. Hussain regarded his wealth as a trust to be utilized for the well being of the underprivileged section of the community. He made contributions to many charities. He built a Madrasa in Namuwawa, a mosque in Puwakpitiya, built shops to provide income to the mosques of Nanu Oya and Watawala. Other beneficiaries include several mosques, schools, orphanages, too numerous to mention.
Here then is a profile of a person – neither an intellectual nor a professional – the humanist who slowly but surely had risen up the ladder, built up an Enterprise that provides employment to several, and thus became a national asset to his country and community. He lived a multi faceted and eventful life.
Alhaj Hussain passed away peacefully on 23rd May 1991. His wife Hajiani Jeenath Ummah subsequently passed away on 18th November 1995. They leave behind a larger family of four sons and eight daughters, all of whom are married and well settled down in life.
The late A. I. L Marikar, Hony Secretary of the MICH, wrote on the passing away of Alhaj Hussain thus: “Rare indeed are men of his calibre. A Merchant Prince of Prince Street is no more, May the Liqa of Almighty Allah be with him”. “
(Source : Pamphlet published by MICH on the Unveiling of the Portrait of Alhaj S. M. M. Hussain, at the MICH Auditorium. 13th August 1996)