Zahira College, Gampola

Zahira College, Gampola (commonly known as Zahira College or simply as Zahira) Arabic: Zahira means “Excellence”) is a co-educational college in Gampola, Central Province, Sri Lanka.

Being a mixed school, the school has given the opportunity for students to study in any of the three official languages. At present there are around 94 classes from grade 1 to A/L’s with around 3,500 students doing their studies. Zahira College, Gampola which has proved its prowess in educational and extra curricular activities has placed a fine example on how to promote harmony among different nationalities in the country by respecting the cultural differences of each other as a multi-ethnic and multi-religious school. The school has produced many intellectuals and reputed politicians who are vital to the development of any country. The reputation of this outstanding school has now spread all over the country being evident in the fact that many students and parents from all over the country now select this school as their path to a bright future.


The Japanese bombed Colombo in year 1942 and there was pandemonium everywhere. All work came to standstill. All school were closed and people started running away from Colombo seeking safer heaven. The Muslim business fraternity sought refuge in central hill country.

Zahira College Colombo was the prime Muslim institution in existences where religious education was imparted. The Muslim parents who sought refuge in hill country were in dilemma as at the period there was no Muslim School in the central province where religious Knowledge was imparted. But as has often been pointed out as education… Religious Knowledge is not worth being. It might be objected that there are already good schools in existence, under the control of other denominations to which our Muslim boys and girls may have recourse. The problem was to evolve a system of education which would be in harmony with the traditions of our religion and at the same time respond to modern conditions and meet modern needs. It is also admittedly necessary for the Muslims to have their own seat of learning so that they may contribute to the Islamic culture and play a worthy part as worthy of the land.

Tuan Burhanudeen Jayah communicated with M. S. Seyed Mohamed the main trustee of Gampola town masjidh and M. S. N. Omer Batcha to open a branch of Zahira in Gampola. Result of their talk’s land of 8.5 acres (34,000 m2) in Gampola was bought under the guidance of Jayah and a small thatched roof hut was built for the education of children of Muslim parents. This became Zahira College, Gampola on 15 May 1942 with 185 students and four teachers. Rauff Pasha was the first vice principal of the school. After the end of the war the students from Colombo went back and the number of the students at the school fell to 67. The College was run by the T. B Jayah along with the tow trustees of the Gampola Musjidh.

The first Vice principal was professor Seyed Rauf pasha who was transferred from Zahira College, Colombo, along with Maulavi Y. M Haneef Nadavi to teach Arabic and Mr. Kanagasabapathy Pillai to teach Tamil. Meera Saibo a trained teacher was added to the staff. Professor Rauf Batcha on weekends used to take a few senior students and go round village canvassing new students and the student population increased.

Zahira started as a private managed school with humble beginnings and with students increasing more classrooms with permanent buildings were needed. It was the constant opinion of the managing committee that a permanent managing body should be formed to assist and collect founds to put up permanent building to run the college. Then on 10 March 1946 a general meeting was held at Zahira Gampola with the M. A.S Marikkar presiding.

The Society went into action with immediate effort; N. S. Dawood promised and put up the present day Dawood Block with number of Classrooms. Aid promised by the Hajee N. D. H Abdul Caffor and S. Mohamde Macan Marikar to construct a science block, was received and executed to add strength to the existing staff. B. Mahmood enlisted the few enthusiastic volunteers Viz. A. L. M. Hashim, Justice Abdul Cader, and M. Sultan to teach special subjects and instill discipline in the College.

The great impetus was given to sports, games, literary and athletic activities. The students excelled in all activities and thus Gampola Zahira College blossomed and Vision Become a reality and a vacuum in the Muslim community was filled.

It was at this crucial moment that the Al-Haj Dr. Badi-ud-din Mahmud was appointed as vice principal of the school. Being appointed as principal of the school in 1945, he laid the foundation for the educational institution which is Zahira College today. His tenure was 16 years until he became Education Minister in 1970.

The upgrades with his support as Education Minister included increasing the land extent of the school to 26 acres (110,000 m2) and 26 new buildings including a three storied building, auditorium, dental clinic, Advance Level (A/L) science and home science laboratories and a Muslim cultural center.

Being a mixed school, the school has given the opportunity for students to study in any of the three official languages. At present there are around 94 classes from grade 1 to A/L’s with around 3,200 students doing their studies.

The school was promoted to the level of a national school on the 19 February 1988. School celebrated its 75th Anniversary on 15 May 2017.


Zahira College Colombo, Orabi Pasha Street, Maradana, Colombo 10, Sri Lanka

Postal Address

Zahira College Colombo, Post Box No:861, Maradana, Colombo 10, Sri Lanka

Phone : +(94) 11 2695062

Fax      : +(94) 11 2687415   |  +(94) 11 2678301




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