TRIBUTES | Sunday Observer


 Dr. T.B. Jayah: A national hero

January 1, 2020 marked the 130th commemoration of late Dr. T.B. Jayah whose renowned name has found an honoured place in the annals of the country. He was an educationist, politician, statesman, diplomat and a national hero who did so much for the Muslim Community and to our country as well.

Born at Galagedera in 1890 to humble parents, he chose teaching as a career, first at Dharmaraja College, Kandy at the age of 20, and later joined the staff of Prince of Wales College, Moratuwa as Classics Master. While being a teacher, he pursued higher studies to arm himself with a degree in English, Latin and Greek from the University of London. He went over to Ananda College, and in 1917 enrolled as a student at the Law College to persue his legal studies.

He believed that an English education was imperative for all Muslim children. His thinking was that the only means in which the community could move forward in society was to impart English education to all Muslim children. At every opportunity, Dr. T.B. Jayah made it a point. Realising the shortcomings and predicament of the Muslim community, he thought the remedy was to educate their children. He believed in an education based on Islamic precepts.

Playing the role of a crusader, a torch bearer and as a missionary in his youthful prime, the budding teacher started to devote his time, effort and knowledge to realize his life’s aspirations.

Appointed as Principal of Zahira College, Colombo in 1921, Dr. T.B. Jayah, by sheer dint of hard work, steered the school to enviable heights, so much so that name, Jayah and Zahira became synonymous. During his stewardship of nearly 27 years, the name of Zahira became a firmament of education in the country.

As a political figure, Dr. T.B. Jayah entered the first Parliament and became the Minister of Labour and Social Services in the cabinet of late D.S. Senanayake, Sri Lanka’s first Prime Minister. As a Minister, he excelled in his portfolio and introduced new reforms in the fields of social and labour to benefit the masses and the working people.

When one thinks of Dr. Jayah, one automatically remembers the work he had accomplished in the field of education and of the important role he had played in the political life of the country, struggling for independence from British rule. He was in the thick of politics as a member of Legislative Council, in the State Council and then House of Representatives.

His foreign sojourn as a diplomat came when the then Prime Minister chose him as the first Muslim High Commissioner to Pakistan and justified D.S. Senanayake’s confidence by building cordial and harmonious relationship with Pakistan. Dr. Jayah’s contribution was appreciated by the Pakistani Government and the people.

He served there for more than 5 years and cultivated a harvest of friends.

In appreciation of his services, a prestigious institution, the Punjab University conferred on him a Doctorate of Literature.

The Late Dr. T.B. Jayah adorned the public and political life of the country for nearly four decades with his sincere and dedicated services to the countrymen.

The highlight of his illustrious career was that he put the cause of his community and the country above all other personal considerations.

His work and life have been admired and praised by the people of all communities in Sri Lanka.

Dr. Tuan Buranudeen Jayah was a gentleman with sterling and noble qualities. God fearing and religiously inclined, Dr. T.B. Jayah breathed his last on May 31, 1960 in the Holiy city of Al Madina Al Munawwarah when he was on a pilgrimage, Inna Lillahi Wa Inna Ilaihi Rajioon. It is on record that he was buried within two hours of his death at Jennathul Baqi, the resting place of the Ashabies and members of the Holy Prophet’s (Sal’s) family. With his demise, Sri Lanka lost a noble son and the community, a great leader.

“May he enter Jennathul Firdouse” Aameen.

M. Faisal Faleel,
General Secretary,
Dr. T.B. Jayah