In the days gone by and before its recognition as a World Heritage Site, Galle Fort was considered a unique enclave with a majority Muslim population. Unique in terms of the many wealthy and educated families and in a sense westernised. Although the Fort abounded with many places of Islamic religious worship, few of the Muslims were sincere faithful. Although many were considered non-practising, they were nevertheless ardent supporters of the two mainstream tariqas: Qadiriyya and Shazuliyya. The diehards of the two sects could be found constantly at loggerhead over the most trivial matters. It was in this backdrop of misunderstood religious values and dissension that the urgent need for religious awakening and unity inspired a group of well-meaning and God fearing Muslim youth to set up the Galle Muslim Cultural Association (GMCA) in the year 1962.
The main objective of the Association was to promote the true ideals of Islam and promote unity whilst taking meaningful measures to sponsor useful socio-cultural activities. Although at the outset there was vehement opposition from some extreme elements, soon they too came to understand its value and within a few years membership swelled from an initial 20 to over 200. The enthusiasm and fervour displayed by some founder members such as Marhoom Riaz Ismail and pioneer patron M.M. Ibrahim ensured the rapid rise of GMCA as a vibrant and active Muslim organisation in Srilanka.
In the past half-century, GMCA has spearheaded Islamic religious, cultural and socio-economic activities in the Galle district. It has also played a pivotal role in promoting goodwill and racial amity amongst the various communities. Some GMCA members who had migrated to other countries such as the United Kingdom, United States and Australia have continued to maintain their ties formed their own overseas units to support the noble causes undertaken by GMCA such as the Share & Care and Scholarship programmes.
GMCA is a household name in the Galle district and is fondly referred to by members and the people of Galle as the ‘asso’ (short for association). The year 2013 marked the Golden Jubilee of the Association which was celebrated on a grand scale, and included the issuance of a commemorative stamp.
By the Grace of Almighty Allah GMCA has matured into a formidable and towering organisation in Sri Lanka, engaged in helping those in need and promoting unity not only within the Muslim community but all communities in Sri Lanka. GMCA expresses its gratitude to each and every person who has helped us in our endeavours with special thanks to our present patron Hanif Yusuf for his wise counsel and active participation which has greatly inspired our members. May Almighty Allah bless all those who sacrificed their time, money and energy in achieving GMCA’s various endeavours.