Extracted and revised from an account written by MIL Muhammad Nuhman in 1959, an old boy of Hameedia Boys’English School in 1905, which was presented to the Colombo Grand Mosque Committee of Management on July 25, 1959
The Colombo Grand Mosque occupies a unique place in the life of the Muslim community in Ceylon from the times of ancient Sinhalese Kings. Its early origins are hidden in the dim past where legend and tradition are interwoven with history. Its significance and position for the Muslim community has been such that even today it takes a leading role in all the religious activities of the community. The decisions made by the Mosque committee on various religious issues based on the consensus, deliberations and agreement of the various Trustees, Imams of the many Jummah Mosques in Colombo, and the Ulama, held regularly within its auspices and premises have, generally, been accepted by most of the Muslims in the whole Island.
The origin of the Mosque can be traced to the adventurous and pious Arab traders who used to carry on a lucrative trade between the Orient and the European ports in the Mediterranean in elephants, pearls, gemstones and spices during the period between the first and sixteenth centuries. This was a period when the Arabs had established lucrative trading posts on the Western coastal belt of Ceylon from Puttalam, in the North West, to Hambantota, in the South, as evidenced by the large number of Ceylon Moors, descended from them, living in these parts of the Island. It is hardly necessary to mention that the Arabs of that era were pioneers, not only in trade, commerce and accounting but also as skilful navigators and geographers, carrying this vast knowledge to the then known parts of the civilized world.