Excerpts from an address delivered by Judge of the Supreme Court, Justice Saleem Marsoof at the Islamic Day held at Zahira College, Colombo, Sri Lanka:
In Sura Al Asr, Allah swears by the token of time, which is so precious that it is a crime to waste it. Every day, nay every minute, of our school life is precious, and unless we add value to it by maximising its use we will be at a loss.
Ibnu Sina, one of the most learned men the Islamic world has ever produced, was an illustrious practitioner of time management. By the age of 10, Ibnu Sina memorised the Holy Qur’an and went on to study medicine. By the age of 16, he had mastered the study of medicine, but he had simultaneously studied philosophy, and by the age of 21, Ibnu Sina had become accomplished in all branches of formal learning, and started to serve as a jurist, physician, doctor and administrator.
Coming back to Sura Al Asr, where Allah swears by the token of time, to say that: Innal Insana Lafi khusr “Verily, man is in loss”, Illallazina amanu wa amilussalihathi wathawasaw bilhakki wathawasaw bissabr, “Except such as have faith, and do righteous deeds, and join together in mutual teaching of truth, and of patience and consistency.” So, if we do not have strong iman, if we do not perform salah on time, if we do not fast during the month of Ramadhan, if we do not give zakath, if those of us who are able do not perform hadj, and generally if we do not practice thakwa or piety, we are definitely at a loss, and we will regret in our later life and hereafter.
Our Holy Prophet, practiced time management so effectively that while he was busy leading his ummah from the front, so to speak, from a suppressed minority in Mecca to a powerful nation, he had time not only to perform the 17 compulsory rakaths per day, but he actually performed about 60 rakaths per day. As you know, salah helps us to keep our body fit and the mind clean, teaches us punctuality, puts into practice notions of equality and brotherhood, makes us remember our creator five times a day, and keeps us away from all sin and helps us to meditate and gain peace of mind, so necessary to keep us in the straight path.
Indeed, it was the need to preserve the Islamic way of life and maintain Islamic values, which brought Zahira College into existence more than a century ago. Zahira really blossomed during what has been described as its ‘golden era’ under Marhoom Dr. T.B. Jayah, Marhoom Senator A.M.A. Azeez, and Marhoom Shafie Marikar. Not only did Zahira become the premier educational institution of the Muslims of Sri Lanka but it was one of the best schools in Sri Lanka.Inspired by this success Zahira Colleges were established in not only Gampola, Aluthgama, Slave Island and Matale but practically in every nook and corner of Sri Lanka.
It is unfortunate that after this golden era, Zahira had a long period of turmoil, but we are now in the wake of a great reawakening, what the present Chairman of the Board of Governors, Al Haj Fouzul Hameed calls the “Renaissance of Zahira.” The Group of 60 is in the process of procuring a vehicle for our teams to travel for their matches.
Apart from the properties in Maradana itself, there are two other properties, one in Maharagama and the other in Sagara Road, Bambalapitiya which could be developed as branch schools or as source of income for the college, which unless we do something now may be taken over by squatters or unscrupulous persons and will be lost to Zahira forever.
So, there is a great deal more that can be done, not only by the Board of Governors and the constituent bodies such as the Trustees of the Maradana Mosque, the Welfare Association, the Parent Teachers Association and the Old Boys Association and various groups such as the Group of 60 and the Group of 80 but by every one of you present here today whether as a teacher, a parent, or a student. We can rally around the college successfully only if we act in unison and not in confrontation, and if all concerned follow Islamic values and practice thakwa and fear Allah the Almighty.
Islam places a great deal of emphasis on education. Nurtured in the Islamic spirit, every one of us too should be willing to face any challenge to develop Zahira to be the best school of all.