Sir Razik Fareed always stood for Sinhala - Muslim unity

By AL Haj A. C. M. Shafeek,
Past President, A.C.M.A..
All followers of the Islamic faith, the Muslims will remember today with great respect and admiration, an undisputed leader who relentlessly strove for the cause of Muslim community in Sri Lanka. Today is the 18th death anniversary of none other than their overwhelmingly dedicated compatriot Sir Razik Fareed who passed away on August 23, 1984 at the age of 81.

At a time when the entire nation is engulfed in deliberation of resolving the ethnic crisis, the wisdom of this great leader come to our mind. The role played by him in placing the community before self looking not for position but the future of next generation should be the guiding principle in finding a lasting solution to the ethnic problem that has continued for almost two decades.

It is no secret that Sir Razik worked relentlessly for the resurgence of the Moors whose cause was so near and dear to him. The unremitting services of "The Father of Ceylon Moors" as fondly called by Moors of Sri Lanka, brought them from the wilderness into limelight of political and social activities of this country. Sir Razik started his school career at Bernadet School in Bambalapitiya and then at Madrasathul Zahira in Maradana,, and thereafter at Royal College Colombo.

Sir Razik is one of the few with the distinction of having served in the supreme administrative institutions in the country. He had been the City Father in the Colombo Municipal Council, State Counsellor, Member of the War Council, Senator, Parliamentarian and Minister. He had been in the forefront from 1913 when he inaugurated the Central Muslim Youth Conference, served and worked relentlessly for the emancipation of the downtrodden Moors who had hitherto been given stepmotherly treatment by the then colonial masters.

Following the footsteps of his grandfather, late Wapichchi Marikar of Zahira College fame an equally illustrious father W. M. Abdul Rahuman, Sir Razik continued that traditional policy on education maintained by them.

Sir Razik Fareed contested the New Bazaar ward of the Colombo Municipal Council and defeated the strongman "Lion of New Bazaar" late proctor, N. Sarawanamuttu in 1931. As a Municipal Councillor, Sir Razik took keen interest in the welfare of the people, he spurned vested interest and it was his initiative that electricity and electrical lighting of Colombo streets came to being. In recognition of his service to the community he was made a Justice of Peace and an Unofficial Magistrate in the Year 1932. He was nominated to the State Council on March 17 in the year 1936 as an accredited representative of Ceylon Moors. In same year he was appointed as member of the Local Administration Committee headed by late S. W. R. D Bandaranaike and in 1942 as a Member of the Education Committee with late C. W. W. Kannangara as chairman, who was the first Minister of Education of Independent Ceylon then.

At the first Senate Meeting of the first Parliament held in November 1947 Sir Razik was elected by Parliament as Senator. He resigned from the Senate and contested the Colombo Central Seat in Parliament in 1952 and thereafter retained the seat the general elections of 1956 and 1960. He also held the Ministerial Portfolio of Trade under the late W. Dahanayake as Prime Minister of the Caretaker Government in 1960. In addition to the achievements he had the distinction being conferred the imperial honour as Member of British Empire (M.B.E.) in 1948 and as Knight Bachelor (K.B.E) in 1951.

The establishment of a Training college in Aluthgama was the first training school for the Moors followed by another at Addlachchenai and many more islandwide. He pioneered the establishment of educational institutions for Moor girls and introduction of Arabic as a subject into the curriculum of education appointment of Moulavis in Muslim schools, Inspector of Schools for Arabic, approval of English as a medium instruction for Moor students, founding of a Chair for Arabic in the University of Peradeniya, retention of Unani system of medicine for the benefit of Moors, setting up of Municipal dispensaries and maternity homes in Colombo and many other places.

Sir Razik Fareed identified with the national political parties and gave lead to his people against communal politics. He always advocated unity among all races without caste, creed and religion. He always stood for the unity among Sinhala and Muslim people under the slogan "Sinhala Yonaka Ekamuthukama" and said that Muslims should identify with the national parties and stand by majority community in resolving common matters.

Sir Razik entered politics not to enhance wealth or to achieve positions as he was bestowed with wealth which he utilized for the benefit of the people whom he loved and was kind to anyone who went for help. Once former Prime Minister, late Dr. W. Dahanayake remarked "Sir Razik without doubt is the uncrowned king of the Moors and he is more concerned about the next generation than the next election, while many other politicians think otherwise and would like to remain in political power. Former Minister of Tourism and Aviation, late Dharmasiri Senanayake once quipped at the 106th Birth Anniversary as follows "the remembrance of Sir Razik brings to our mind the stance he took for a United Sri Lanka and the wisdom and statesmanship of this great leader should inspire the present day leaders especially at a time the country needs such people. In 1966 then Deputy Speaker, Shirley Corea remarked once Government may come and government may go, but Sir Razik Fareed goes on forever". When ever he made the political decision, it was in the best interest of the community. The guiding force behind him was not personal consideration, but in the best interest of the community whom he did not want to isolate from the mainstream of politics.

He gave political leadership to the Moors by founding the All Ceylon Moors Association with over 200 branches throughout the country and was the Life President till his demise in the year 1984. Establishment of the Moors Islamic Cultural Home in year 1944 is another landmark in his cultural and social activities and he was the President of M.I.C.H. till his demise. Sir Razik was born with a proverbial silver spoon in his mouth but this did no deter him from moving close to the common people.

Sir Razik Fareed’s life and wisdom should be emulated by not only the politicians of today but also those at higher echelons of our society in building united Sri Lanka.