M.H.M. Ashraff the heart of muslim politics
10 years sounds quite a long period, but not when it comes to Ashraff. It seems only yesterday that he took off without bidding us farewell. He vehemently believed that unity amongst the Muslims in Sri Lanka is the stepping stone of a long walk ahead, towards the identity with dignity of the minority Muslims of the country.
In the late 1986 the SLMC was declared as a political party At this historic meeting Mr. Ashraff publicly declared that the party “wishes to function as a national political party to achieve its objectives and to participate more effectively in the political affairs of Sri Lanka”.
The ideology of the SLMC was built on the call for unification of Muslims in Sri Lanka and influences them to adapt to laws of Shariah. Articulating the vision of the SLMC Mr. Ashraff said a true Muslims cannot be part of different political entities. As long as Muslims are divided, he argued, unity was a distant dream. He asserted that that Muslims had two options: To serve the majority parties and face humiliation or join hands with a Muslim party and strengthen it. If the Muslim chooses the latter option, he claimed, twin objective could be achieved. Muslims would have an independent political representation and such an entity could guide the Muslims towards the tenets of Islam and also win them political rights
The tree of the Sri Lanka Muslim Congress which registered as a political party in 1986 should be wide and full to shelter all his people; he believed. He took meticulous care in designing it. Detailed scrutiny was done of many a picture of trees before the final Congress Symbol satisfied the founder of the party, Ashraff. So fervent was he on his cause to unite his people under the shade of one tree, before taking the long walk ahead. United we march and thus we achieve heights, was the secret motto. And he indeed achieved it as all know. Ashraff was born on 23 October 1948 in the south-eastern town of Sammanthurai in present day Ampara District He was the grandson of M. S. Kariapper, a leading Muslim politician. He studied at the Al Azhar School, Fathima School and Kalmunai Wesley High School (1961-1966). He studied at the Colombo Law College between 1969 and 1974, graduating with first class honours. Afterwards he practiced law in Kalmunai and Batticaloa, specialising in criminal law. Ashraff received a Bachelor’s degree and a Master’s degree (1995) in law from the University of Colombo later. He was appointed President’s Counsel in 1997.Ashraff was killed on 16 September 2000 when Sri Lanka Air Force MI-17 helicopter he was traveling in crashed into the Urakanda mountain range near Aranayake, Kegalle District under mysterious circumstances.14 others in the helicopter were also killed. Ashraff was buried the same day at Colombo’s Jawatta Muslim burial ground.
Mr. Ashraff tenure in Parliament as an MP was interesting and productive. Volume of speeches he made as an MP on variety of subjects was so amazing. He used Parliament as a forum to speak out on issues affecting the country and Muslims. Mr. Ashraff also lobbied very hard and managed to get office premises for SLMC inside Parliament building.
The year 1990 was a black year for Muslims. LTTE had indulged in some senseless violence against Muslims. Killing of Hajj pilgrims returning home and massacres at mosques had left a profound negative impact on Muslims. The most horrendous crime LTTE committed was the ethnic cleansing of more than 15,000 Muslim families from the North. Violence against Muslims continued unabated and more innocent Muslims were massacred in the East and also interior villages in the Polonnaruwa district. An exacerbated Mr. Ashraff demanded weapons from the government for self defense. When things became intolerable Mr. Ashraff vented his feelings in Parliament and said’ I will be the happiest if I can die in battle at the time of slitting the neck of this bloody Prabakharan.” he stands like a legend in the hearts of sri lankan muslims