Friday, June 15, 2012

Sri Lanka

A great venerated Muslim Saint by the name of Ash Sheik Usman Wali Allah whose blessings are invoked by millions of Muslims and Non-Muslims in Sri Lanka and abroad. This Shrine which has been in existence for several centuries, is a place of great significance and veneration by Muslims as well as large number of Buddhists, Hindus and Christians. 

This is manifestly clear and can be evidenced by the large crowds that throng the Dharga on Thursdays and Sundays, to invoke the blessings of the great Saint, who accordingly to many sources and their personal experiences have received success from Allah, by this Saints intercession. The Shrine is a monument to this Saint, and has been maintained as a place of veneration for several centuries.

Some Dargahs & Important Ziyarat Places in Srilanka.

1) Prophet Hazrat Syedina Azam Alaihis salatus salaam’s Peak ( Famous as Adam’s Peak ) – The First Foot Mark on Earth by Prophet Hazrat Adam (Alaihis Salaam)
2) Mazars Shareef of Sahabi-e-Rasool Sal-lal-lahu Alaihi Wa Sallam in Osanagoda
3) Dafther Jailany, at the edge of the Balangoda plateau in the Ratnapura district
4) Dargah Shareef of Hazrat Syed Jabbar Ali Shah (RA) in Kathirkamam
5) Dargah Shareef of Qutub- us-Sailan : the Muslim Patron Saint of Lanka Syedina as-Sheikh Hazrat Usman Siddique (RA) Ibn Hazrat Ahdurrahman (RA) in Colombo

Jutting sharply skyward from the lush jungles of southwestern Sri Lanka is the 7362 foot (2243 meter) peak of Sri Pada, the 'Holy Footprint'. Also called Adam’s Peak, the mountain has the unique distinction of being sacred to the followers of four of the world's major religions: Hinduism, Buddhism, Christianity and Islam. Long before the development of these religions, however, the mountain was worshipped by the aboriginal inhabitants of Sri Lanka, the Veddas. Their name for the peak was Samanala Kanda; Saman being one of the four guardian deities of the island. For Hindus, the name of the mountain is Sivan Adi Padham, because it was the world-creative dance of the god Shiva that left the giant footprint (5 feet 7 inches by 2 feet 6 inches). According to Buddhist traditions from as early as 300 BC, the real print is actually beneath this larger marking. Imprinted on a huge sapphire, it was left by the Buddha during the third and final of his legendary visits to Sri Lanka. When Portuguese Christians came to the island in the 16th century they claimed the impression to be the footprint of St. Thomas who, according to legend, first brought Christianity to Sri Lanka.

But in fact, it is the footprint of Prophet Adam (A.S) where he stood for a thousand years of penance on one foot. When Prophet Adam (A.S) was expelled from heaven, God put him on the peak to make the shock less terrible - Ceylon being that place on earth closest to and most like heaven.

The mountain is more easily seen from the sea than from land, and also more impressive. Early Arab seafarers fascinated with the pyramidal peak wrote of it as "the highest mountain in the world" (it is not even the highest in Sri Lanka), and "visible from three days sail". The ancient Sinhalese also believed it to be of great height and a native legend tells "from Seyllan to Paradise is forty miles, and the sound of the fountains of Paradise is heard here". Visited by many early world travelers, among them the Arab Ibn Batuta (1304-1368) and the Venetian Marco Polo (1254-1324), Adam’s Peak attained a legendary status as a mystic pilgrimage destination. Today the pilgrimage season commences in December and continues until the beginning of the monsoon rains in April (from May to October the mountain is obscurred by clouds). Certain parts of the path leading up the mountain are extremely steep and the climbing chains secured in these sections are said to have been placed by Alexander the Great (365-323 BC), though there is no evidence that he made it this far south on his Asia travels. Atop the peak is an oblong platform (74 x 24 feet) where stands a small Buddhist temple and the shrine of Saman with the strange footprint. Votive offerings are made here, especially of a coil of silver as long as the donor is tall, for recovery from sickness; and rain-water taken from the footprint is known to have a wonderful healing power. Adam’s Peak is also called Samanalakande or the 'butterfly mountain' because of the myriads of small butterflies that fly from all over the island to die upon the sacred mountain.

Foot mark of Hazrat Adam ( A.S ) in Sri Lanka first footmark on Earth in Srilanka

Adam's Peak (Sri Pada) & Peak Wilderness Sanctuary
Horton Plains national Park borders the Peak Wilderness Sanctuary, a crescent, 40 km (25 mile) swathe of montane forest that can be approached from Dalhousie, 25 km (15miles) west of Nuwara Eliya - Colmbo road, or from Carney, 8km (5 miles) north of Ratnapura.

 Mazar-e-Shareefs of Sahabis
( Campanions of Beloved Prophet Sal-lal-lahu Alaihi Wa Sallam ) in Srilanka.
Mazars Jang-e-Badr Sahabas in Osanagoda-Galle-Srilanka
Dafthar Jailani ( Sacred Rock Cave & Masjid )
Dafther Jailany, at the edge of the Balangoda plateau in the Ratnapura district of Sri Lanka, is a mountain retreat on the ancient road from Galle to Ratnapura and Adam's Peak. The rock cave mosque at Dafther Jailany is associated with one of the greatest saints in Islamic history, namely Sheikh Muhiyadeen Abdul Qadir Gilani.

 The Saint and Dafter Jailany are linked by more than name: rock carvings, Arabic inscriptions, writings, tombstones and legend indicate that the saint meditated at Dafther Jailany for a period, and there are many stories about the saint's visit and his impact on Dafther Jailany.

Dewatagaha Mosque in Lipton’s Circus, Colombo, has become a byword in every Muslim home, and no Muslim passes the shrine of the saint without paying his respects.

The 150-year-old shrine the resting-place of the Muslim saint, His Holiness Hazrat Syedina as-Sheikh Usman Siddique Ibn Ahdurrahman (RA), who visited Ceylon from Arafat, Arabia and visited Adam’s Peak and Dafter Jailani shrine at Balangoda, and later resided in what was later known as Cinnamon Gardens, has an interesting history behind it.
In 1820 a Sinhalese woman oil monger, the sole wage-earner of the family, was going on her daily rounds, traveling from Bambalapitiya through the cinnamon jungle to Maradana.In this jungle she tripped over the root of a cadju tree and fell. Her clay pot was smashed to pieces. “Aiyo, aiyo!” she cried out, “My family will have no food today. My only means of earning has been destroyed.” She wept her eyes out in desperation and exhausted, fell fast asleep.

A voice awakened her. It asked her not to despair and bade her rise, assuring her that everything would be well soon. She looked up and found no one in sight and in de speration burst into tears again.

Again the voice repeated the reassuring words. This was incredible as she had hardly seen any human being within earshot in that dense jungle. Suddenly she saw an old man in green garb and his holy mien was an inspiring sight to the stricken woman.
“You have nothing to fear,” he told her. “I shall give you back your oil. Only fetch me a pot.”

The woman started off towards Maradana to the house of a regular customer, a Muslim by the name of Mamma Lebbe and asked his mother to give her a new pot. When the latter queried this strange request the oil monger said: “I shall come back and tell you my story.”

She returned with the pot to the jungle to find the old man reclining against a ‘dawata’ or ‘devata’ tree. He directed her to place the pot where the first one was broken. He pressed his foot on the ground and, behold, oil bubbled up from the ground!

The woman was speechless with amazement. Picking some leaves from a cadju tree he asked her to scoop up the oil with them and fill her pot. “You can now earn your living,” he told her and also requested her to inform her Muslim customers and show them the spot where he appeared.

The grateful oil monger made obeisance to the saint and invoked his blessings.
She hurried to the house of Mamma Lebbe and related her story of the miracle to Mamma Lebbe’s mother. A party comprising Mamma Lebbe, Periya Pitche, Meera Kani and the oil monger left for the spot to investigate and found evidence of the miracle—the broken pot, the seeping oil, the cadju tree, the cadju leaves the davata tree (gaha), etc.

The party of Mushinis recited Yaseen and Fathiha and prayed: “Oh Vohiyullah (saint)! Praise be to Allah for having given us the opportunity to bear witness to your miracle. Almighty Allah, may You reveal to us the identity of this Voliyullah.”

They returned to Mamma Lebbe’s mother and vouched for the truth of the miracle and the accuracy of the woman’s report. They bought up the rest of the woman’s oil after she had finished her rounds and dismissed her after giving her a good meal.
The Muslims of the area appointed Maniina Lebbe as their leader, and Trustee of the shrine. The identity of the saint was still unknown.

In 1847, twenty-seven years after the miracle, there came from Maghrib to this Island a divine, Hazrat Sheikh Ali Jahbarooth Moulana, who took up his residence at the Maradana Mosque, Colombo. He was informed of the Dawatagaha miracle and on an appointed Friday, after Jumma prayers, a party of Muslims headed by Jabbarooth Moulana and including Katheeb Assena Lebbe, Sheikh Abdul Quadir and others proceeded to the shrine and recited Kaththam Fathiha.

Hazrat Jabbarooth Moulana identified the grave of the saint. He shrouded himself with his 'jubba' (robe), knelt by the grave and sought communion with the saint. When he finally emerged from the shroud his face seemed ablaze with divine light. He announced to the assembled Muslims:

“Oh, Almighty Allah, this is a most venerable saint. His name is Seyed Usman Siddiq Ibn Abdurahman, one who came to this Island on a pilgrimage to Adam’s Peak and after living in the vicinity for some time, died here.”
He then turned to Katheeb Thambi Lebbe and said, “What month is this?”
Katheeb Thambi Lebbe said, “Today is the fourth day of the Muslim month of Zulqadha.’

Hazrat Jabbarooth Moulana then told those assembled, “We shall recite Kaththam Fathiha for the ten days of this month every year in the saint’s memory and distribute “niyath.”

He gave a sovereign to the Trustee, Mamma Lebbe, and asked him to prepare ghee rice for the pilgrims. He also asked the Muslims to find a flagpole. A bamboo stalk was found near Mamma Lebbe’s house and handed over to Jabbarooth Moulana who exclaimed “Marhaba! Marhaba!” and tearing a portion of his white turban, made a flag of it, and planted the flagpole at the head of the grave.


Arab tomb-stone in Ceylon
Khalid Ibn abu Bakaya was a learned & pious Arab whom sent by Caliph of Baghdad on a missionary to Ceylon. It is said that he was responsible to build the first and largest mosque in Colombo, which was said to be in Galle Buck.And it is said that he died in Colombo and buried in this mosque ground.

And a tomb-stone was erected over his grave in the 10th century A.D or 377 Hijiira, the inscription on the tomb-stone was sent by the Caliph him self.

Over 800 years it had remained undisturbed over the grave. It was removed by the Dutch Dissave of Colombo and later it was used at the door-step of one of the officers.

During the time of British reign, the officials had discovered this tomb-stone, sent it to a very clever erudite Arabic scholar at Cambridge. After many attempts, got the inscription translated. The script contained a prayer to Allah for the repose of the soul of Khalid Ibn Abu Bakaya.


Kechimalai Mosque – Beruwala - One of the oldest mosques in Sri Lanka. It is believed to be the site where the first Arab Muslims landed in Sri Lanka

The Kechimalai Mosque Is the oldest Mosque in Sri Lanka. It is believed the site of the mosque is where the first Muslims landed in Sri Lanka.


Kataragama - The Timeless Shrine
According to Islamic tradition our forefather Hazrat Adam (alaihis salaam ) first descended to earth in Serendib (modern Sri Lanka) upon Adam's Peak. From the very beginning it seems that Serendib was the nearest of all places on earth to heavenly Paradise. And a great deal of this divine endowment is still preserved in Serendib to this day.

Islamic Kathirkamam is one of the foremost living examples. Its fabulous wealth -- still largely untapped -- is amply testified by the thousands of Muslim pilgrims who go there annually even from distant places far beyond the shores of blessed Serendib. A simple yet powerful Mosque & Shrine there are intimately associated in quranic and pre-quranic lore with Hazarat Khizr (alai), 'The Green Man', identified with the mysterious servant of Allah and holy teacher of prophet Musa (Moses) spoken of in the Holy Quran (Sura Khalf 'The Cave'), is believed to be the discoverer of the Ma'ul Hayat or Water of Life.

In olden days, people held this place in such reverence that a Muslim traversing the wilds in the entire Eastern Province and parts of the Northern Province shuddered to refer to Kataragama by name. If one were to inquire from another as to where he was going the latter's answer often was "to the Khizr region". The surrounding hamlets were listed as places receiving the patronage and blessings of Hazarat Khizr.

A parallel testimony is found in the 1870 report by the Government Agent, Hambantota, Mr. Hudson who certified that:
Mohammadans of the Village of Hambantota and the nearby villages come in vast numbers to Kataragama in search of a secret subterranean spring, the waters of which, if drunk are said to endow a person with the blessings of perpetual immortality.

The heart of the 'Khizr region' of Serendib, therefore is none other than Kathirkamam or Khizr-gama as the place is also known among Sri Lankan Muslims, many of whom, remarkably, claim to have seen the ancient living prophet Hayat Nabi (Arabic: 'living prophet') or Khizr himself. To this day, the reputed site of the Ma'ul Hayat in Kathirkamam is occupied by an old Islamic house of prayer also known as Khizr Maqaam or 'the (spiritual) station of al-Khizr.'
Zikr or Rembrance
Originally a humble wattle-and-daub hut, the 'Khizr Room' as it was called was occupied by pious recluses who came to live a life of undisturbed prayer and poverty. They were faqirs or 'impoverished ones' in the genuine sense of being endowed with the ornament of spiritual poverty. The tradition also survives to this day.
Muslims believe that there are certain times and certain places that yield a rich return to those steadfast ones wisely engaged in profitable undertakings. The holy month of Ramazan, for instance, represents an exceptional opportunity for believers to please Almighty Allah with offerings of prayer, fasting, charity (zakat), and 'remembrance' or zikr.
What exactly is it, however, that Sufis or Islamic mystics are keen on 'remembering'? And who indeed is the mysterious figure of al-Khizr that so many claim to have drawn inspiration and blessings from -- and even to have met? And what connection has Kathirkamam with a body of lore originating from far beyond the shores of Serendib?
Often associated with the biblical prophet Elijah and St. George the patron saint of England, al-Khizr in the traditions of Islam is identified with an unknown servant of Allah who was blessed by God 'out of His own knowledge' (min ladunni ilma) with exceptional wisdom and the gift of perpetual life -- the Water of Life in other words. Prophet Moses (alai), commanded by God to learn of the higher mysteries from this servant of Allah, found Khizr (alai) 'at the place where two currents meet and merge into the sea (majma'ul-bahrain). Local tradition maintains that the two currents are the visible Menik Ganga or River of Gems and the hidden or underground current of grace (Tamil: arul) and wisdom that issues from this site on the left bank of the Menik Ganga -- al-Khidr's Fountain of Life.
Even prophet Moses himself, however, could not bear patiently with Khizr's baffling lessons into the paradoxes of life. With his third failure, Moses was obliged to part company with his strange teacher.
According to the commentator Husain, al-Khizr was a general in the army of Zul- Qarnain (Alexander the Great) while some legends maintain that he was Alexander's cook. Either way, the association of al-Khizr with Iskandar or Alexander the Great has persisted from pre-Islamic times and is amply testified over much of south, central, and western Asia. To this very day, encounters with al-Khidr by pious believers continue to occur, particularly at Khidr-gamam.
In Serendib, for instance, the principal Khizr shrine at Kathirkamam is situated a scant three hundred meters from that of the ancient war god Skanda or Iskandar deified. The two -- Iskandar and Khidr -- are said to have come together in search of the Fountain of Life; Khizr (alai) alone discovered and tasted the divine elixir. What Iskandar doggedly sought, Khidr found without seeking, they say.
As recently as the sixteenth century, so many mainland Sufis continued to cross by way of Jaffna en route to Kathirkamam that the Portuguese authorities feared a native plot to infiltrate a mufti-clad army in to expel the colonialists. The old Jaffna pilgrimage route, ordered to be sealed off, fell into relative disuse thereafter. Yet many Sufi descendants still carry on the tradition of pilgrimage to Kathirkamam to this day.

In 1845 Seyed Jabbar Ali Shah came from Bakhara in central Asia to Kathirkamam in response to a divine summons. The saint lived a long life of solitude, prayer, remembrance, and voluntary poverty in Kathirkamam. His mausoleum today is a prominent feature of the sacred premises that are said to contain at least sixty unmarked graves of Muslim pilgrims.
The annual 15-day Kataragama festival in July is a spirited occasion for Muslims no less than others. The colourful festival, dating from antiquity, officially begins only with the kodi-yetrum or ritual hoisting of an Islamic flag at the mosque, signifying to Muslims the primacy or preeminent position of Islam. Although pious Muslims keep strictly apart from non-Muslim practices, the Kathirkamam Mosque & Shrine remains open to all humble seekers of truth and admits pilgrims of every confession. Kathirkamam, it is rightly said, is a place where every pilgrim is respected and people of all religions may mingle openly, sharing freely with others the spiritual food of their resective traditions.
Anticipating a growing stream of Muslim pilgrims to Kathirkamam, the Mosque & Shrine under the even-handed stewardship of M.H.A. Gaffar of Galle has undertaken an ambitious and well thought-out programme of building restoration and expansion.
Under al-Haj Gaffar's personal direction, the old mosque has been restored and improved to meet the needs of pilgrims while also preserving and protecting the sacred character of the site. A separate Muslim pilgrims' rest house with spacious facilities is also under construction in the New Town with the support of many Muslim donors.
And yet among modern Muslims there are some who declare that it is shirk (idolatry) for believers to resort to the shrines of saints, although even the Holy Prophet Muhammad (sal) himself also did so.
In practice, however, many believers have found that the intercession of Allah's beloved servants -- the awliya -- yields an astonishing return in the divine grace, wisdom and peace of soul that, in the final reckoning, is the best insurance and the only abiding asset on Judgment Day.

This article was first published as in The Sunday Observer (Colombo) of April 7, 1991.
Shahabuddin or Patrick Harrigan has been acting editor of the Kataragama Research Publications Project since 1989