68 years on, Marhoom Dr. A.M.A. Azeez’s vision for Muslim education

The most prominent principal of Zahira College, Aboobucker Mohamed Abdul Azeez was born in Vannarponnai, Jaffna on October 4, 1911. His education in the Hindu schools R.K.M. Vaidyeshwara Vidyalayam and Jaffna Hindu College, and his training under distinguished teachers had stood in good stead in his later life particularly for his invaluable contribution to education of the Muslims.

Azeez graduated from the University of London with Honours in History and proceeded to Cambridge University on being awarded the Government Arts Scholarship. On his success in the Ceylon Civil Service Examination as the first Muslim Civil Servant, he abandoned his post-graduate studies and returned home to embark on an administrative career.

In his speech delivered at the Ceylon Muslim League felicitation dinner at the Galle Face Hotel on 13.4.1935 on becoming the first Muslim Civil Servant, Azeez said, “The fact that I am the only Muslim in the Ceylon Civil Service should at once make us ask ourselves the question why it is so, and remind ourselves of the general backwardness of our community in the sphere of education. And in this context a discussion of some of the educational problems will not be out of place even on an occasion like this”. He elaborated on the need for education of the Muslims and cited the Zahira College Hostel Majlis and Muslim League Senate as the only known organisations to spearhead the discussion. Soon after graduation Azeez was the resident tutor and active member of these organisations.

It was also emphasized that for the progress in all spheres of life top priority should be given to education of Muslim students, otherwise their talents will be lost to the community.

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