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Adopting Children in Islam

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As Sheikh Rikaz (Deeni)
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History of Masjid

The Wekande Jummah Masjid made history when it completed 232 years of its existence on 1st Muharram 1433 is the oldest Jummah Masjid in Slave Island as well as one of the oldest in Colombo. . This is in it itself a striking phenomenon- an unbroken history of service to the Muslims in a non-Muslims country but the circumstances surrounding its  founding are no less remarkable. The land on which the mosque was built was purchased in 1786 (A.H. 1201) from Jeynadien Marikar  Sinna Cassien by Pandan Bali, a Javanese noble man who had been exiled to Ceylon with his family and retinue. Pandan Bali purchased the land in extent 1 morgen 383 square perches & 48 square feet and donated it in 17th August 1786 (A.H.1201) to Sabu Latiff, the scion of a long line of priests from Java, for use as a Mosque and graveyard for Muslims.

What was most remarkable about the building of the Mosque was the fact that the Dutch were the rulers of Ceylon at the time they were also the colonial rulers of vast area of the Malay Archipelago. Colonial rulers have always shown themselves intolerant of indigenous cultures and religions. Pandan Balies and co-religionists therefore displayed considerable courage and boundless faith in their religion to have dared the planning of construction of a mosque and thereby propagate Islam.

Just as fortunate a circumstance was the presence of Sabu Latiff descended from a long line of priests, he was the natural choice to be entrusted with the building of Masjid and the performance of the priestly functions connected with the masjid.

A mosque is not just a place for worship. It is the focal point of Islamic activities. Around the masjid in Islamic countries, spring up ancillary activities to give meaning and purpose to the lives of the Muslims.  Thus it came about that a Madrasa was established for Koranic and Arabic Studies in honour of the donor. The building was named Pandan Bali Hall.

Deen Joonoos, one of the most energetic of trustees, evinced very great interest in the Masjid and sought out means to integrate the mosque into the life of Muslims.

He built a school hall, named Deen Joonoos Hall, which became the Wekande Government Bi-lingual school meeting an urgent need in respect of the education of the Muslim children in the area. This school was upgraded by Marhoom Dr. T.B. Jayah and converted it to a collegiate branch of Zahira College, Colombo, was named Zahira College Slave Island. Later, the school was renamed T.B. Jayah Maha Vidyalaya in memory of its Founder who was the greatest educationist the Muslim Community of Sri Lanka has produced.

As the congregation kept on increasing the Wekanda Jummah Masjid began to find itself overcrowded on Fridays. The then Chairman Alhaj M.D. Kitchilan and the Board of Trustees had to apply for funds to extend the Masjid. At that critical moment Mr. S.H. Moosajee acceded to the appeal and offered to have the extension carried out at his own expense. Through his generosity the right wing of the masjid was completed and ceremonially declared open by the late Hon. Dudley Senanayake, Prime Minister of Sri Lanka, in December 1966.

But the new wing gave only temporary relief. It was not long before the problem of overcrowding became once again acute. Faced with this problem the then Chairman and Board of Trustees appealed to Mr. S.H. Moosajee a second time. He responded with characteristic generosity and commissioned the construction of the upper storey once again at his own expense. This section was declared open formally by the Hon. Dr. Badiudin Mahmud, the then Minister of Education.

In 1986 the board of Trustees of Wekanda Jummah Masjid made elaborate arrangements to celebrate the Bi-Centenary of the Masjid (1786-1986) and to coincide with this event also arranged to lay the foundation stone for extending the Southern wing of the Masjid. Former Minister of Muslim Religious and Cultural Affairs Hon. M.H. Mohamed was the Chief Guest and laid the Foundation stone and a public meeting was held at which the building fund was inaugurated on 31st August, 1986. The construction was commenced in August 1987 with the donation of Rs. 135,000 received through His Excellency Sufri Jusuff, the Ambassador for Indonesia. When the anticipated massive donations from abroad were failed, some of the Trustees together with ulemas and the well wishers with the approval of the board went from house to house and collected a magnificent Rs. 245,000. Tickets were oriented and sold after Jummah prayers and also sent through members of the Jamaath, Ramadan Appeals were sent out and funds generated. Darwish Hadjiar came forward to build the concrete slab to connect the Northern and Southern wing of the masjid. Several members of the Jamaath appealed to the board to re-build a replica of the original member (pulpit) demolished in 1965 when Mr. S.H. Moosajee built the ground floor of the Northern wing at his own cost. However, at that stage the construction work including Madrasa came to a standstill due to lack of funds. However, well over US$ 5,300 donation from a businessman in Qatar Mr. Nasser Al Kaabi who happened to walk into the masjid for magrib prayers, Rs 97,774 donation from the High Commissioner from Pakistan and another donation of Rs.200,000 from a well wisher in the area immensely  helped to complete the balance work of the masjid and madrasa. Further, in the year 2000 due to the space constrains in the masjid the then Trustee Board built an upper floor over the ablution tank and was made ready for Ramadan 2001. With the completion of this, Alhamdulillah, the Trustee Board managed to complete the Bi-Centenary masjid expansion project commenced in 1986/87 and added 7,377 sq.ft. to the house Allah for the benefit of the worshippers.

 

DONOR

The masjid was donated by Pandan Bali a wealthy civilian who came with the Malays of Military contingent that arrived with the Dutch. He got married in Beruwala and longing for a child. Then he made a vow to build a mosque if he was blessed with a child. A baby girl was born and she was named as Sariya Umma (also known as Pallie Umma). Pandan Bali fulfilled his vow by donating a land with a masjid and a burial ground. He went back to Indonesia but the wife and the child opted to stay in Sri Lanka. His daughter Sariya Umma later got married to Alfaraz Nazar, a malay who was working in a Singapore ship that came to Sri Lanka. The descendants of Pandan Bali are currently known by the surname ‘Pallie’.

 

CHIEF PRIEST (KATHEEB)

For the past 232 years the position of Chief Katheeb is being held by the descendants of 1st Katheeb and the Trustee of the Wekande Jummah Masjid Katheeb Sabu Latiff.

As per the constitution of the Masjid the position of Chief Katheeb should be preferably held by a family member of either Katheeb Sabu Latiff or Katheeb M.T.T. Ameer who is also closely connected to the Latiff family.

The 1st Katheeb Sabu Latiff came to Sri Lanka in year 1772 with his father “Raden Framana” from Soonan Casar, West Borneo (Currently known as Indonesia). 

Katheeb Sabu Latiff was married to a daughter of Arufus Camaldeen a Captain of Malay Regiment.

The line of Katheebs since inception is as follows:

No

Name of Katheeb

Service (yrs)

Period

01

Sabu Latiff

53

1786 – 1839

02

Chinnan Latiff

50

1810 – 1860

03

Ariffin Latiff

06

1860 – 1866

04

Thaiff Latiff (Packir Bawa Latiff)

03

1866 – 1869

05

Thaiban Latiff

13

1869 – 1882

06

Noordeen Thaiff Latiff (also officiating Priest of Masjidul Akbar)

50

1870 – 1920

07

Buhary Noordeen Latiff

28

1903 – 1931

08

Sadiq Buhary Latiff

12

1934 – 1946

09

Muyinudeen Buhary Latiff

20

1946 - 1966

10

M.T.Thajudeen Ameer

50

 

11 M. Faiz Ameer 35  

12

Moulavi M. Muzni Ameer (Dheeni)

30

 

 

WEKANDE MA’AL MADRASA

Wekande Ma’al Madrasa, the Quran Madrasa of the Wekande Jummah Masjid was established in the year 1997. Over 100 students both males and females are attending regular Quran classes conducted after school. The masjid provides Kithabs (books), stationeries and uniforms to all students on free of charge. Many students who commenced their basic Quran lessons in Wekande Ma’al Madrasa have become Hafils and Moulavis.

 

LADIES PRAYER HALL

Slave Island is situated in a strategic location where thousands of people visit regularly for various needs such as employment, business and medical treatment. Among them there are quite a few Muslim ladies as well. In the past they were struggling to perform their afternoon prayers due to lack of or no facilities available in the Masjids. In order to fulfil this dire need, Weknade Jummah Masjid had put up a well equipped ladies prayer hall for the benefit of the Muslim ladies who visit the area for various purposes mentioned above.

 

SOCIAL ACTIVITIES

As mentioned above, a mosque is not just a place for worship. It should play a vital role in the society. In keeping with this theme Wekande Masjid, Its Board members and the Katheebs have played a key role in addressing the dire needs of the society at large. Some of the key social activities are as follows:

  1. Establishment of a school and a madrasa to provide both secular & religious education.
  2. Katheeb Haji B.N. Latiff helped Hon. H.L. De Mel and the Colombo Municipal Council in lending the Masjid School and his private room to be used as rice store and depot during the ‘Rice Crisis’ which emerged during the 1st World War.
  3. In 1920’s Katheeb Haji B.N. Latiff instrumental in establishing the Malay Political Association and served as the Chairman of the Association.
  4. Also, Katheeb Haji B.N. Latiff helped the temperance workers and worked along with Hon. H.L. De Mel during the ‘Armistice day’ celebration in feeding the poor and entertained the poor children in the masjid premises.
  5. Former Trustee Board President Marhoom M.D. Kitchilan served as a senate and Deputy Mayor of Colombo Municipal Council.
  6. Sri Lankan National Hero Marhoom T.B. Jayah closely associated with the Wekande Jummah Masjid. Former President of the Trustee Board Marhoom M.D. Kitchilan was the Secretary of the ‘All Ceylon Malay League’ headed by Marhoom T.B. Jayah.
  7. Wekande Jummah Masjid offered scholarships to few students to pursue their higher education on both religious studies and University studies. Under this program 2 Moulavi’s completed their studies and 2 University students and a GCE (A/L) student are currently following their studies.
  8. Financial assistance was provided to T.B. Jayah Mahavidyalaya and Holy Rosary College to employ voluntary teachers to conduct extra classes for G.C.E. (O/L) students.
  9. Wekande Jummah Masjid plays a key role in the ‘Kompeniweediya Masjid Federation’. Financial assistance was provided for many projects of the Federation.

 

NOTE OF APPRECIATION

The Board of Trustees wish to pay tribute all those who contributed immensely to build, develop and maintain the Wekande Jummah Masjid for more than 2 centuries. Some of the key donors for the masjid were,

  1. Pandan Bali – Founder of the masjid
  2. Indonesian Embassy
  3. Pakistan High Commission
  4. Mr. S.H. Moosajee
  5. Darwish Hadjiar
  6. Mr. Nasser Al Kaabi – Qatar
  7. Sheikah Layla Mohamed Althani & Sheikh Jassim bin Mohamed Althani - Qatar
  8. Well wishers and the members of the congregation.

May Allah shower his choichest blessings upon his obedient servants and their families who contributed lavishly towards development of the "House of Allah".

 

This historical masjid launched its own website www.wekandamasjid.com on 27th November 2011 which coincides with its 232 years celebration (Hijri 1201 Muharram 1st – 1433 Muharram 1st) under the patronage of His Excellency Djafar Husein, Ambassador of Indonesia. The 3rd Secretary of High Commission of Malaysia Mr. Azzezul Hakeem represented the Guest of Honour His Excellency Azmi Zainudeen, the High Commissioner of Malaysia . A special lecture was delivered by As Sheikh Arkam Nooramith (Darul Uloom – South Africa, Chairman – Darul Hasanath Foundation and the President of Hambantota Jammiyathul Ulama).

Among the other distinguished Guests who participated in this historic moment were the 1st Secretary of Pakistan High Commission, the Officials of Malay and Other Muslims organisations.

The Website of the masjid is the brain child of Trustee Nazeer Latiff who is a direct descendant of Katheeb Sabu Latiff. Janab Nazeer Latiff made a speech titled ' Wekande Jummah Masjid in Retrospect'.

Long standing service award was conferred on both the Chief Katheeb Moulavi M. Muzni Ameer and Assistant Muazzin Janab T.H. Faleel , who served the masjid well over 30 years.

 

You may view the photographs captured at this historic event in the ‘Photo Gallery’ in the media page of this website.

 

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