Lankan Muslim female writers | Sunday Observer

Lankan Muslim female writers

Book review:

An in-depth study of Lankan Muslim Women writers had been compiled by Noorul Ain Najmul Hussain of Simaak Mahal, No.3, Richard de Zoysa Media Housing Complex, Battaramulla. This 460-page book is priced at Rs 100 per copy. The writer is bilingual (Tamil and Sinhala). Titled “Minnum Thaaraikaikal” (Shining Stars), the book is a near-perfect biographical data of outstanding 140 writers spread out in various parts of Lanka. The writer has been collecting material through various researches and interviews for more than 10 years. She is indefatigable. Her purpose had been to document all the information she could gather so that it could be a resource book for further studies. She deserves to be praised because no such primary work is available for students of Literature.

The author herself is an illuminating and well-known writer in both Tamil and Sinhala.

She started her career as a journalist at Dinapathi and Chintamani newspapers, now defunct, and was trained by the late S.T. Sivanayagam, the doyen of contemporary Tamil journalism in the country. She and her husband Hussein, a well-known poet, worked for the newspapers at Hulftsdorp for 10 years. Her writing includes – short stories, poems, articles, lyrics, poetry recitation, radio programs and the like.

For more than 40 years she had been engaged in the media. She is a licensed government translator and has translated books of Thillai Nadarajah into Sinhala, and is now writing for Sinhala newspapers.

Having worked as an officer at the Information Department, she is now retired. When she worked for the Colombo District Secretariat, she brought out a quarterly, Kolomba Puvath in Sinhala and was co-editor of a Tamil journal, Thingal at the Information Department. At present she is an advisor at a popular magazine, Oli Arasi. One other component in this book is the 11- page Introduction to the book, by Prof M S M Annes, where he analyses Muslim Women’s Contribution to Literature all over the world, including in Lanka. It is worth reading and re-reading. The author’s 12- page account is how she identified individual talents of reawakened and educated Muslim women as capable writers. The feminist views of some of them are also mentioned in her note.

Noorul Aiyin Najmul Husain hails from the hill country. She was born in Ududeniya in the Hewahetta electorate. She has several diplomas in Journalism, Mass Media Communication, Public Relations and so on. From 1975, she has contributed a variety of programs over the SLBC. Dr, M L M Jalaldeen, Senior Lecturer, Arabic, gives additional information about the author. She was a sub editor at Janani published by the Independent Newspaper and chief editor of Pothole published by the Information Department. She was a special feature writer in the Department’s Sinhala journal Desathiya. She is a juror and a J P. Her thesis papers and two other books were published, and she has received no less than 20 awards of recognition for her services. She has been invited to Bangkok, India and Saudi Arabia.

In her collection of featured people, the oldest Muslim woman writer is 88 year old Maimoona Seinul Abdeen from Ninthavoor. The next is Shapunnisha, (85) from Peradeniya. Some Muslim women, Kekirawa Sulaiha, Zarina Huq, Vazeera Jawra, Zaniba Zavir are competent to write in many languages. Weligama Rimza Mohammed edits Poongavanam for the past seven years. The first Muslim woman who wrote a novel in Thamil is Siddi Junaida Begum.

What the academics have not done Noorul Aiyin Najmiul Hussain has successfully completed in this valuable resource book. My congratulations to her.

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