Arabic Stone Inscription Found in Ceylon by Sir Alexander Johnston (949 AD)

cufic inscription ceylon

1. Facsmile of Cufic Inscription & Translation (1827)
2. Description about Cufic Inscription by Sir Alexander Johnston (1827)
3. Translation & Commentary by Rev. SAMUEL LEE (1827)

1. Facsmile of Cufic Inscription & Translation (1827)

Transactions of the Royal Asiatic Society of Great Britain and Ireland




with an English Translation by 


Professor of Arabic in the University of Cambridge


In the name of the Compassionate and Merciful God. There is no god but God. Muhammad is the prophet of God. May the Blessing and Peace of God be upon him. O God pardon, have mercy upon the and pass away from (the sins of) thy servant, the son of thy servant, Khalid Ibn Abu Bakaya (takaya or Nakaya) (who) has left the world and (who) was dependent on Thee; but Thou wast sufficient without him (who) has departed to Thee, and Thou art his best place of departure. O God, pardon his sin, and his piety may remain and grant him his last (reward) and that he may be justified. And Protect Thou and multiply favor and security to him. And may He (God) appoint our excellent prophet supreme that he may afford to us and show us the truth clearly; for he has admonished with the established word and his decision has obtained, and his resistance is (as) the depth (lake) of reproach. Amen! Lord of the Worlds!

It was written on the second day (of the week) five nights taken out of (the month) Rajab (5th of Rajab) in the year 337 (Hijra). And in the vicinity he completed a security for religion with (other) conveniences in the year 317 (Hijra). May God Give Blessings and Peace upon his Prophet Muhammad.

2. Description by Sir Alexander Johnston (1827)

Below is description about this Cufic (Arabic) Inscription by Sir Alexander Johnston. It is extracted from a his presentation to the Royal Asiatic Society of Great Britain and Ireland in 1827.

“In 1806, while collecting, as I have already mentioned, the various usages and customs of the Mohammedan inhabitants of Ceylon, I directed my inquiries particularly to those customs and usages which could throw any light on the history of their early settlements and former commercial prosperity on that island, and their intimate connection and constant communication with the Caliphs of Baghdad, during the eleventh and twelfth centuries; and I was referred by all the Mohammedan priests, merchants, and mariners, by whom I was assisted in my inquiries, to the Cufic inscription of which the accompanying is the facsimile, as the oldest record on the Island which alluded to the intercourse that had subsisted in former days between the Caliphs of Baghdad and the Mohammedans of Ceylon.

“The following is the tradition which prevails in Ceylon as to this inscription. That it is supposed to be the most ancient Mohammedan inscription on the island. That the Caliph of Baghdad, in the beginning of the tenth century, hearing that the Mohammedans, then established as traders at Colombo, were ignorant of and inattentive to the real tenets of their religion, sent a learned and pious priest from Baghdad to Colombo, with instructions to reform the Mohammedans of that place, by explaining to them the nature of their religion, and by making such establishments and erecting such a mosque at Colombo, as were likely to ensure for the future, their strict observance of the real spirit of Mohammedan worship. That this learned and pious man, after having erected a very extensive mosque at Colombo, and accomplished the object of his mission, died, and was buried at Colombo, close to the mosque he had erected. That after his death some learned persons were sent from Baghdad to Colombo by the Caliph, for the express purpose of engraving this inscription on his tomb-stone, and that this stone had remained on his grave undisturbed for nearly eight hundred years, till the Dutch Dissawa, or collector of Colombo, about forty years ago, removed it, along with some other stones, from the Moorish burying-ground near Colombo, to the spot where he was building a house, and placed it, where it now stands, as one of the steps to his house. The English of it was made by the Rev Samuel Lee AM, professor of Arabic at Cambridge, who is so celebrated all over Europe for the profound knowledge he possesses of the Hebrew, the Arabic, and other Oriental languages.”

I remain


To the Secretary of
The Royal Asiatic Society

3. Translation & Commentary by Rev. SAMUEL LEE

A Cufic Inscription Found in Ceylon

Samuel Lee
Transactions of the Royal Asiatic Society of Great Britain and Ireland
Vol. 1, No. 2 (1826), pp. 545-548
Published by: Cambridge University Press
Stable URL:
Page Count: 8


1. Photo Gallery 12 – Sri Lanka Geneology Website by Fazli Sameer

2. See APPENDIX A of A Criticism of Mr Ramanathan’s “Ethnology of the ‘Moors’ of Ceylon” by I L M Abdul Azeez

3. JOURNAL ARTICLE: A Cufic Inscription Found in Ceylon by Samuel Lee

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