M. H. M. Ashraff
Mohammed Hussain Mohammed Ashraff was a Sri Lanka
Sri Lanka
Sri Lanka, officially the Democratic Socialist Republic of Sri Lanka is a country off the southern coast of the Indian subcontinent. Known until 1972 as Ceylon , Sri Lanka is an island surrounded by the Indian Ocean, the Gulf of Mannar and the Palk Strait, and lies in the vicinity of India and the...

n politician and founder/leader of the Sri Lanka Muslim Congress
Sri Lanka Muslim Congress
The Sri Lanka Muslim Congress is a political party in Sri Lanka. The party was formed at a meeting held at Kattankudy in 1981 by a small study group of local Eastern Province political leaders....

 political party.

Early life

Ashraff was born on 23 October 1948 in the south-eastern town of Sammanthurai in present day Ampara District
Ampara District
Ampara district is one of the 25 administrative districts of Sri Lanka. The district is administered by a District Secretariat headed by a District Secretary appointed by the central government of Sri Lanka. The headquarters is located in Ampara town...

. He was the son of Mohammed Meera Lebbe Hussain, a village headman, and Matheena Ummah. He was a member of the powerful Kariapper family of Kalmunai
Kalmunai is a municipality within the Ampara District of Eastern Province of Sri Lanka. It had a total population of 91,457 as of 2001. And It is the one and only Muslim majority municipality in the country. There were Sri Lankan Muslims, Sri Lankan Tamils, Sinhalese, and Burghers with the Moors...

. 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
Kalmunai is a municipality within the Ampara District of Eastern Province of Sri Lanka. It had a total population of 91,457 as of 2001. And It is the one and only Muslim majority municipality in the country. There were Sri Lankan Muslims, Sri Lankan Tamils, Sinhalese, and Burghers with the Moors...

 and Batticaloa
Batticaloa is a city in the Eastern province of Sri Lanka. It is the seat of the Eastern University of Sri Lanka. It is on the east coast, south by south east of Trincomalee, and is situated on an island.-Etymology:...

, specialising in criminal law. Ashraff received a Bachelor's degree
Bachelor's degree
A bachelor's degree is usually an academic degree awarded for an undergraduate course or major that generally lasts for three or four years, but can range anywhere from two to six years depending on the region of the world...

 and a Master's degree
Master's degree
A master's is an academic degree granted to individuals who have undergone study demonstrating a mastery or high-order overview of a specific field of study or area of professional practice...

 (1995) in law from the University of Colombo
University of Colombo
The University of Colombo is a public research university located primarily in Colombo, Sri Lanka...

 later. He was appointed President's Counsel
President's Counsel (Sri Lanka)
President's Counsel is a professional rank, as their status is conferred by the president, recognised by the courts and wear silk gowns of a special design...

 in 1997.

Ashraff married Ferial
Ferial Ismail Ashraff
Ferial Ismail Ashraff is a Sri Lankan politician. She was the wife of M. H. M. Ashraff, the deceased leader of the Sri Lanka Muslim Congress and the National Unity Alliance. She was the Minister of Housing and Common Amenities under President Chandrika Kumaratunga...

 in 1977. They had one son: Aman Ashraff.

Sri Lanka Muslim Congress

In 1977 Ashraff and others formed the Muslim United Liberation Front (MULF) political party to represent Sri Lanka's Moors (Muslims)
Sri Lankan Moors
The Sri Lankan Moors are the third largest ethnic group in Sri Lanka comprising 8% of the country's total population . They are predominantly followers of Islam. The Moors trace their ancestry to Arab traders who settled in Sri Lanka some time between the 8th and 15th centuries...

. The MULF formed an alliance with the Tamil United Liberation Front
Tamil United Liberation Front
The Tamil United Liberation Front is a political party in Sri Lanka which seeks independence for the Tamil-populated areas of Sri Lanka.-Formation:...

 (TULF) to contest the 1977 parliamentary election
Sri Lankan parliamentary election, 1977
The 1977 Sri Lankan election heralded the beginning of a new period of Sri Lanka's history - a period of unprecedented violence.-Background:Prime Minister Sirimavo Bandaranaike had become extraordinarily unpopular. Her economic policies had led to industrial growth and self-reliance, but was...

 under the TULF ticket. The MULF fielded three candidates but all performed badly. The MULF subsequently merged with the Sri Lanka Freedom Party
Sri Lanka Freedom Party
The Sri Lanka Freedom Party is one of the major political parties in Sri Lanka. It was founded by S.W.R.D Bandaranaike in 1951 and, since then, has been one of the two largest parties in the Sri Lankan political arena. It first came to power in 1956 and since then has been the predominant party in...

 against Ashraff's wishes.

In September 1981 Ashraff and other leading Muslim politicians established the Sri Lanka Muslim Congress (SLMC) at Kattankudy
Kattankudy or Kattankudi is a small city in Eastern province of Sri Lanka. It was the site of the Kattankudy mosque massacre of 1990.With over 40,000 inhabitants, Kattankudi is one of the few cities in Sri Lanka where ethnic Moors form the over all majority of the population...

. Ashraff was the SLMC's president. The SLMC was formally inaugurated as a political party in November 1986 at a meeting in Colombo
Colombo is the largest city of Sri Lanka. It is located on the west coast of the island and adjacent to Sri Jayawardenapura Kotte, the capital of Sri Lanka. Colombo is often referred to as the capital of the country, since Sri Jayawardenapura Kotte is a satellite city of Colombo...

, Ashraff being its leader.

Political career

Ashraff was elected to Parliament
Parliament of Sri Lanka
The Parliament of Sri Lanka is the 225-member unicameral legislature of Sri Lanka. The members of Parliament are elected by proportional representation for six-year terms, with universal suffrage. Parliament reserves the power to make all laws...

 at the 1989 parliamentary election
Sri Lankan parliamentary election, 1989
Sri Lanka had not had a parliamentary election since 1977. The elections that should normally have been held by 1983 had been cancelled by the 1982 referendum.President Ranasinghe Premadasa called the election for February 15.-Electoral District:...

 to represent Ampara District
Ampara Electoral District
Ampara Electoral District was an electoral district of Sri Lanka between March 1960 and February 1989. The district was named after the town of Ampara in Ampara District, Eastern Province. The 1978 Constitution of Sri Lanka introduced the proportional representation electoral system for electing...

. He was re-elected at the 1994 parliamentary election
Sri Lankan parliamentary election, 1994
The Sri Lankan parliamentary election of 1994 marked the decisive end of 17 years of UNP rule and a revival of Sri Lankan democracy.-Background:Democracy in Sri Lanka had seemed doomed as the presidencies of J.R...

. The SLMC joined the new People's Alliance
People's Alliance (Sri Lanka)
The People's Alliance is a front of political parties in Sri Lanka, formed in 1994.It comprises the following parties:* Sri Lanka Freedom Party* Lanka Sama Samaja Party* Communist Party of Sri Lanka* Sri Lanka Mahajana Party...

 (PA) government in 1994 and Ashraff was appointed Minister of Ports Development, Rehabilitation & Reconstruction. By 2000 relations between the SLMC and PA had become strained and just before Ashraff died he had decided to sever all ties with the PA.


Ashraff was killed on 16 September 2000 when Sri Lanka Air Force MI-17
Mil Mi-17
The Mil Mi-17 is a Russian helicopter currently in production at two factories in Kazan and Ulan-Ude...

 helicopter he was traveling in crashed into the Urakanda mountain range near Aranayake, Kegalle District
Kegalle District
Kegalle is a district in Sabaragamuwa Province, Sri Lanka. Its area is 1,663 km². It was a former Dissavani of Sri Lanka. Has a population of 785,524 according to census 2001.-Physical Information:...

 under mysterious circumstances. 14 others in the helicopter were also killed. Ashraff was buried the same day at Colombo's Jawatta Muslim burial ground.

The government immediately ordered an inquiry into the crash and in January 2001 President Kumaratunga
Chandrika Kumaratunga
Chandrika Bandaranaike Kumaratunga born June 29, 1945) was the 4th Executive president of Sri Lanka, serving from November 12, 1994 to November 19, 2005. The daughter of two former Prime Ministers, she was also the leader of the Sri Lanka Freedom Party until end of 2005...

 appointed a Presidential Commission to inquire into the crash. However, neither found any conclusive evidence for the crash's cause.


Ashraff was a writer of short stories, poems and newspaper/magazine articles. He had a book of poems called Naan Enum Nee published. He worked as a part-time journalist on the Thinapathy daily newspaper whilst studying at Colombo Law College. Later he published a left-wing magazine called Samathuvam (Equality).
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