Dr. T. B. Jayah
Son of Police Sergeant Cassim Jayah and Nona Jayah, Tuan Buranudeen
Jayah was born on January 1, 1890 in Galagedara and was a legend in his
time. A man of multifaceted career, he was a patriot, educationist,
benefactor, principal, freedom fighter, Minister and diplomat.
He received his primary education at SPG School, Kotahena and won a
scholarship to St. Thomas College, Modara in the year 1904.
Dr. T. B.
Having passed the Cambridge Junior and the Cambridge Senior in flying
colours, he entered the London University’s Matriculation class at the
age of 18 years; at the age of 20, he served as assistant teacher with a
monthly salary of Rs.40 at Dharmaraja College, Kandy for a brief period
and thereafter taught Classics at Prince of Wales College until 1917, he
joined Ananda College, Colombo where he taught Classics and History.
He was appointed Principal of Zahira College, Colombo, in 1921 when
it was in a poor state with a few students and teachers and lack of
buildings to house classrooms. Undoubted, he took up the challenge and
worked with zeal and zest for the betterment of Muslim education. An
indefatigable educationist, he emphasised the need of English education
for the Muslims to forge ahead in the society.
He held the reins of principal-ship for over a quarter century and
during this period he was instrumental in opening several branches of
the school. In 1942, Zahira College, Aluthgama was opened on 7th May,
and Zahira College, Gampola on 15th May; in 1944 and 1945 three other
branches were opened in Matale and Puttalam and Slave Island
After relinquishing his duties as principal, he took up a diplomatic
post as High Commissioner of Ceylon in Pakistan.
During the world war the country was facing a period of turmoil and
uncertainty, when the Japanese bombed the city of Colombo on April 5,
Coincidently, two weddings took place on that fateful day - one that
of A.M. Marikar Bawa’s daughter and the other of my late father M.Y.
Mohamed Faleel, popularly known as Faleel Master of Zahira. In the midst
of this tension, Jayah attended these two weddings on that bomb revenged
day at 11 a.m. and 4.30 p.m. respectively.
T.B. Jayah was a colossus among men and his name lives in the pages
for history, remembered by a grateful nation for his sterling, selfless
He breathed his last at the age of 70 while on Haj Pilgrimage.
Inna Lillahi Wa Inna Ilaihi Rajioon. His mortal remains were laid to
rest in the sacred burial ground in Medinaa.