DR. T.B. JAYAH – A TRIBUTE

The tribute by the Principal, A.M.A. Azeez, at a Special Assembly summoned on 1st June, 1960 at Zahira College on hearing of the demise of Dr. T.B. Jayah.

The late Al-Hajj Dr. Tuan Brahanudeen Jayah, D.Litt. (Punjab), B.A. (Lond.), Zahira’s Principal 1921–1948, the Honourable the Minister of Labour and Social Services 1947-1950, His Excellency the High Commissioner for Ceylon in Pakistan 1950-1957, Honourable Member of the Legislative Council 1924-1931, Member of the State Council 1936-1947 to place him properly in the history of Ceylon, of which the story of the Muslim Community is an integral part, is not possible in our present circumstances, when we are so stricken with grief, not having quite recovered from the sudden shock of the poignantly sorrowful news of his sad demise some hours back in the City that gave asylum to our Holy Prophet (on whom be peace) from his infuriated kinsmen and earned thereby the name of THE CITY – the city of the Prophet.

In this mournful mood, we can only say in the words of the Holy Quran, “To Allah we belong and to Him we return”, and derive comfort from the thought that those who die in the Way of Allah are not dead but living.

To use his own words on a different occasion, Dr. T.B. Jayah belonged to that class among the English educated Muslims who “were prepared to scorn delights and live laborious ways, not for the sake of filthy lucre, nor even for mere vanity of name and fame, but for the greater ideal of service”. Thus to us of Zahira, Dr. T.B. Jayah is always an unfailing source of inspiration to pattern our lives for the public good. What was said of Sir Seyed Ahmed Khan by Poet Hali in his elergy may be truly said of Dr. T.B. Jayah,

     “To be treated cruelly by your brethren, but to live for their good;

      To be pierced by the arrow and to remain fond of the arrow;

      To live anxious to serve your nation,

      And to die with that anxiety in your heart”.

And we on our part could aspire to be a Jayah if we can live up to his ideal of life.

To write of his role in the history of Ceylon may be difficult for his contemporaries and colleagues. It will be the task of a future historian, to attempt a comprehensive and critical appraisement of every important event during his life and times. We can yet state with confidence and without fear of contradiction that his name will in history. The name of JAYAH will live in the traditions of the New Zahira of which he was the Architect; his name will be cherished in the memory of the Muslim Community for whose regeneration he strove so hard; his name will live in the annals of our Land to whose new won freedom he gave so much.

Dr. Jayah found Zahira a mere elementary school in1921 and made it the “Radiating Centre of Muslim Thought and Activity”, and Zahira will therefore ever remain an imperishable monument to him which neither “wearing rains nor tearing winds shall e’er demolish”. He skillfully diagnosed the ills of the Muslim Community and prescribed a complete treatment for the dire disease that then afflicted the Muslim Community with the unmistakable symptoms of educational backwardness, political apathy, economic stagnation and cultural isolation. He envisioned the political freedom of the country at a time when his co-religionists were thinking of Ceylon in no terms other than of Britain’s Premier Crown Colony. He thus pioneeringly prepared the Community to play a worthy part in the attainment of that freedom. By precept and practice, he encouraged the Muslims to place Society above Self, Country above Community and Fitness above Friendship or Family.

On the occasion of the adoption of the Soulbury Scheme of Reforms, Dr. T.B. Jayah stated in unequivocal terms, on the floor of the State Council, how the Muslims of Ceylon shared the surging national aspirations of the country.

These are his words:- “Where the Muslims are concerned it has been the practice, in fact, it has been considered the duty of Muslims, wherever they may find themselves that they should be first and foremost in any movement that is intended to secure for the people of the country a full measure of freedom. If the fight is for full freedom the Muslim Community as far as it is concerned will be prepared to work without any safeguards because they know the spell of freedom can obliterate any differences”.

So great is his achievement, so vast his contribution and so rich his bequest that we shall ever mourn him deeply, revere him feelingly, and imitate him intelligently.

Leave a Reply