Adam’s Peak and Muslim Saints and Shrines in Sri Lanka
It is a belief among Muslims world-wide that when Adam (AS) was banished from Paradise on account of his disobedience to God, he set foot on the peak where the foot print of Adam remains to this day. Muslims attribute the luscious growth and beauty of natural vegetation in our spicy island, and it being immune from major natural calamities to the fact that Adam stepped down on this island and that it has been hallowed by the visit of innumerable Muslims Saints down the centuries to our fair isle.
It is recorded that for centuries Muslim saints from Iraq , Iran , Morocco , Yemen , Egypt , Arafat, Arabia and India visited Sri Lanka on pilgrimage to Adam’s Peak . Some of them returned home, some tarried in the island due to the heavenly salubrious climate and a few of them died and were buried here.
For it’s small size, Sri Lanka is unique in its number of shrines or resting places called ziyaraths of Muslims saints both local and foreign. Many other ziyaraths are believed to be undiscovered in jungles and mountain retreats. Many of the legends, stories and traditions behind the visits of foreign saints have been lost or forgotten. The trustees of shrines, the officiating ulemas(scholars) and even the caretakers could relate colourful stories and legends of the life styles, the miracles (karamat) and the history of the saints. However that generation who could relate vivid accounts of the pious life styles of the saints is gone and no more.
A few of these were recorded in melodious songs(qaseedas) or recitations about the saints and these were sung or recited at the birth anniversary of the saints to honour them. A couple of more stories lingered with the elderly members of the Muslim community, but they too are dead.
The present trustees of most of these shrines appear to know only the days when the feasts of the saint occur. On these days “mowloods” are recited, panegyrics read and “niyyath” or gift offerings made towards the feast, which may occur on one day or run for a whole week. The whole village near the shrine is enlivened and there is an absolute feeling of camaraderie, brother-hood and fellowship. These occasions brought a culture and ethos which promoted Muslim brother-hood and unity, they attributed this to the blessings of the saints who interceded with God to bestow peace and goodwill in that community.
No Muslim except the followers of the deviant heretic Mohammad Ibn Abdul Wahab passes by a shrine or resting place of a saint without reciting a “faithiha” in his honour and asking for the saint to intercede with God for the fulfillment of a wish, for the attainment of an ambition, for the success of an enterprise. The Holy Quran unequivocally permits intercession by saints although the followers of the Wahabi sect refute this practice as polytheism.
The minorities Wahabi sect in Sri Lanka by their intense campaign have tried very hard to discourage the practice of appealing to saints for intercession, among local Muslims, but they have failed miserably. If one were to visit the Devatagaha mosque in Town Hall on Thursday night where his Holiness Seyedina as-Sheik Usman Siddique Voliullah is interned, one can witness the huge crowds that visit this shrine from afternoon onwards till late in the night. The crowds are growing every year as many appeals for intercession by this saint are being fulfilled. It is of interest to know that even hundreds of non-Muslims visit this shrine.
With this over-view of Adam’s Peak and the visit of Muslim saints and also the shrines of the saints local and foreign that around this serene island, it is no wonder that Sri Lanka has been referred to as the jewel of the east, the pearl of the Indian ocean and named Serendib by the Arabs. Even when there is a calamity like the tsunami it caused minimum damage, the bloody revolutions of the J.V.P and the insurgency of the Tamil Tigers too did not last for too long.
Muslims believe that God in this infinite mercy will protect this our island from permanent harm on account of Adam’s descent here and also for the sake of those saints whose shrines abound the whole of Sri Lanka .
The intercession by the saints of this island will only occur if we visit their shrines and in their name feed the poor or fund building utilities like wells, build schools and care for orphans widows and those struck by poverty. Such acts in the name of the saints will make God to bless our island with peace and prosperity