History of Zahira College

History of Zahira College

132 Years of Excellence

Zahira College Colombo, with a legacy spanning over 130 years, holds the distinction of being the first Private Muslim School in Sri Lanka. Established on August 22, 1892, as Al-Madrasathuz Zahira, it became a reality under the patronage of Ahamed Orabi Pasha, an Egyptian exile in Ceylon, along with I.L.M. Abdul Aziz and A.M. Wappitchi Marikar, realizing the dream of the visionary M.C. Siddhi Lebbe.
Recognizing the paramount importance of alumni engagement, Mr. A.M. Wapche Marikkar laid the foundation for the Old Boys’ Association (OBA). In its inauguration on July 11, 1914, Mr. J.C. Mecheyzer, the Principal, assumed the role of its first president.A.M. Wapche Marikkar succinctly defined the OBA’s purpose as supporting school authorities in aligning Zahira with standards set by other schools.

It is interesting to note that when Dr. T.B. Jayah was the High Commissioner in Pakistan, the first overseas branch of the Old Boys’ Association was formed in Pakistan.

There have been many milestones achieved by the OBA in its effort to contribute to the development and progress of Zahira. A few milestones are detailed below:

The OBA, in its century-long history, has been a driving force for Zahira’s development, rallying Zahirians to be stakeholders. Notably, its historical campaign against government control in 1961, led by President A. C. M. Ameer (QC), secured Zahira’s private status after a legal battle up to the Privy Council (UK).Once again, Zahira College became a private school and restored to the Muslim community on 1st January 1967.

Until 1982, the school’s management was under the Maradana Mosque. Under A.C.M. Ameer’s guidance, the OBA played a pivotal role in amending the Maradana Mosque Ordinance and enacting the Zahira College Colombo, Board of Governors (Incorporation) Act (No. 18 of 1982), addressing property transfer to the Board.
As Zahira approaches its momentous 100th year, the OBA has meticulously crafted a Master Plan for the school’s development. This initiative signifies a crucial milestone, emblematic of Zahira’s illustrious legacy. The centenary year stands as a powerful testament to resilience, progress, and an unwavering commitment to molding future generations.
Zahira has experienced various highs and lows in its journey. Just as every cloud has a silver lining, a shining star emerged in the form of Fouzul Hameed.

Since Mr. M. Fouzul Hameed became the Chairman of the Board of Governors in 2006, a well-coordinated and systematic program to improve infrastructure development, as well as uplift the standards of education, sports, and extracurricular activities, has been methodically executed with commendable success.

The OBA was instrumental in procuring two school buses for the College. It was also an initiative by the Old Boys’ Association under the theme “Let’s Pool,” which paved the way for the construction of the present swimming pool in a three-story building, including an auditorium. Zahira College achieved this after 120 years.

At present, phase I of our state-of-the-art Sports Complex is nearing its completion, with phase II making steady progress. The OBA is tirelessly working towards securing an estimated sum exceeding 130 million from well-wishers and affiliated groups to successfully realize this ambitious project. Once finalized, the Sports Complex is poised to become a crowning jewel in Zahira’s legacy.

A particularly commendable effort comes from the Batch of ’87, who have generously contributed LKR 15 million towards the Sports Complex Project. This serves as a shining example of the unwavering support demonstrated by affiliated members of the OBA, illustrating theirsteadfast dedication to enhancing our Alma Mater.
The OBA has added another feather to its cap. On the eve of the 100th iconic AGM, OBA unveiled an impactful and commemorative 136-page souvenir titled “Marking a Centennial Journey – 100th AGM.”

On January 15, 2023, OBA orchestrated a historic moment to celebrate the 130 years of Zahira’s existence. The event, a dazzling “Crescent Night Dinner 2023,” took place at the Shangri-La Ballroom, where the Saudi Ambassador graced the occasion as the Chief Guest.

Presently, there are over 40 affiliated old boys’ groups, including overseas branches, rallying around to support the college in every possible way, aiming to regain its pristine glory.

The OBA is not only proactive but also keenly interested in training and grooming the younger generation to become stakeholders. To this end, the OBA has organized a variety of events such as the annual Sports Day for fellowship, Zahira Walk, Connected Leadership, Zahira Enable – a talk show featuring well-known Zahirians who have succeeded in business, CEO Breakfast – a gathering with distinguished and prominent Zahirians, TEDx Zahira College talk, serving as a platform for youth to showcase their talent and ideas, and more.

Under the guidance of the OBA, on the eve of the “100-Year Rugby Celebration at Zahira,” rugby chairman Aufer Johar and the director of the centenary rugby committee, Saabir Cader, have established a pioneering partnership with the Leicester Tigers, a distinguished English Premiership rugby club. This collaboration is dedicated to fostering a long-term relationship aimed at promoting rugby at Zahira.

Reflecting on the 132-year journey of Zahira College, the OBA takes pride in the realization that the visions and aspirations of the founders were not in vain. We are witnessing the emergence of an educational renaissance at Zahira.

The love for our Alma Mater is the golden bond that connects the great brotherhood of Zahirians, past and present, keeping us grounded.

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