The Muslim community during 1920’s was subjected to a period of ignorance and degradation. A community that was lost in finding its place in society. There was no educationists to impress upon the value of education, no politicians to guide them, no leaders of integrity and honesty to show what the community’s position and role in life in Sri Lanka.
It was during this critical period in the history of the Muslim community that the community was fortunate in having a person of great caliber and outstanding ability in Tuan Burhanudeen Jayah. He gave up a lucrative legal career for the sake of the community and took up the principal-ship of Zahira College in the year 1921. A school that started with just 6 teachers and 59 students rapidly increased to 30 and 450 respectively. His impact as a leader of great personality was soon shown in the Institution as it started to throb with life and passion for success. During his period Muslims from all over the country was trying to seek admission into the school. Zahira soon not only became a household name in the house of common Muslims in Sri Lanka but also for some in the regions of the Maldives, Middle East and South Africa where students eyed in seeking admission into Zahira. He then by touching right places of the hearts of the great philanthropists namely, Al-Haj N.D.H Abdul Gafoor and Al-Haj P.B. Umbichy for us today to witness two the magnificent buildings Gaffor Hall and the Umbichy Block.
Mr. T.B.Jayah was not only interested in Muslim education but also was determined to see that Muslims received an adequate share in the administration of the country. Thus he plunged into politics and became a member of the legislative council and later the state council. He was a member of the committee that decided on free education. If Dr. C.W.W. Kannangara is the father of free education. Dr. T.B.Jayah can be considered as the architect who shaped and nurtured it to its true state today. The gratitude of a thousand poor parents will go to him for this act. The yesteryear’s and today’s great personalities in various professions are sprinkled with the names of Muslims, it is solely due to the great and far sighted efforts of Dr. T.B.Jayah.
In the latter stages of his life he spent his time creating cordial relationships between other Muslim countries and Sri Lanka. It was fitting to see that his mortal was buried in the holy land of the sacred soil where the Prophet’s tomb stands. He had been given a state funeral in Medina and the Saudi Arabian flag and the Sri Lankan flag flew with pride as a great personality ceased. A special janaza was prayer was offered in the offered in the Prophet’s mosque and the kabatullah in which a million pilgrims participated. May his soul rest in peace and tranquility.