ABDUL SAMAD ASHRAFF
COLOMBO :The past and present pupils and well-wishers of Maharagama Gaffooriya Arabic College staged a peaceful demonstration in front of the land belonging to the old Sulaiman Nursing Home in Granpass after Jumu’ah prayer on Friday, December 2..
The Sulaiman Nursing Home, a land of about three acres was endowed for Arabic College by Gaffoor Hajiar, who was a well-known philanthropist some 90 years ago.
It was alleged that the Trustees of the endowments are now planning to sell these properties for their own benefit which is an illegal transaction that would affect the income of the school where there are 80 children in the school.
The college has produced thousands of Islamic scholars with the help of these endowments.
Maharagama Gaffooriya Arabic College has a history spanning over 90 years and is considered to be one of the leading Arabic Colleges in Sri Lanka. It is noteworthy that Gaffooriya Arabic College is registered with the Department of Muslim Religious and Cultural Affairs and the relevant charges have been paid to the Wakf Board as well. A member of the Gaffoor family, belonging to the fourth generation of Al-Haj N. D. H. Abdul Gaffoor has claimed that the Gaffooriya Arabic College and its property i.e., the nursing home land in Grandpass are their family assets, contrary to the same being donated as endowments.
A statement issued for the occasion, says : “ The old pupils sought a decision from the Wakf Tribunal on this matter. The said matter has now evolved into many matters of contention in various forums such as the Court of Appeal, High Court, District Court etc. In one of such cases, an Enjoining Order was granted by the District Court of Colombo, granting permission to the Board of Trustees to appoint a new Principal and a Management Committee and it was further ordered that the former principal and/or his agents and/or his assigns should not be interfering in any affairs of the college.
In order to obtain the said Enjoining Order, which is temporary and supported by only his party, a member of the Gaffoor family and his associates have alleged to have fraudulently intimated that the principal and the members of the management committee of the college had taught the students using books that preach extremism. The truth is that they have misled the community by spreading a fraudulent allegation of extremism.”
Former Governor Azath Salley who was one of the protesters told Colombo Times that The Old Pupils’ Association request Muslim parliamentarians, Muslim representatives in local government authorities, the Department of Muslim Religious and Cultural Affairs, Wakf Board of Sri Lanka, All Ceylon Jamiyyathul Ulama to pay increased attention and importance to protect these two traditional wakf , endowed properties.
“ Once a property is endowed, it is prohibited to claim ownership at any costs since it becomes a public trust” Salley said appealing the President to intervene in this matter to help the college to retain its endowed properties meant for charitable work.