M. C. Siddi Lebbe

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M. C. Siddhi lebbe
Born11 June 1838
DiedFebruary 5, 1898(1898-02-05) (aged 59)
NationalitySri Lankan
Known forSri Lankan independence movement,
revival of Islam
Parent(s)Muhammed Lebbe

Muhammad Cassim Siddi Lebbe was born on 11 June 1838 in Kandy was a Ceylonese Lawyer, educationist, scholar, philosopher, Divination, writer, publisher, social reformer, proctor, visionary and Muslim community leader. First Muslim lawyer of Sri Lanka.


The ancestors of Siddi Lebbe were Arabs who settled in coastal Tamil Nadu and later penetrated into the Kandyan District. His father, Muhammad Lebbe Siddi Lebbe, was one of the first Ceylonese Proctors and was also the Head Moorman in 1833. Muhammad Cassim was also known as Siddi Lebbe.

Early life[edit]

Siddi Lebbe had an older brother named Muhammad Lebbe, an Arabic-educated Alim, under whose care he learnt to read Qur'an and study Tamil and English. Later he was admitted to the 'General Schooling' and educated in English.

Establishments and services[edit]

  • In 1884, he pioneered the first Anglo-Mohammedan school at Colombo with the assistance of Orabi Pasha and Wapichie Marikkar.
  • In 1882, he introduced a madrasa called 'Madrasatul Zahira' in maradana,colombo. later in 1892 the 'madrasatul zahira 'became a school under the name of Zahira College.
  • Established schools in Kandy, Gampola, Polgahawela and Kurunegala.
  • Founded a Girls' school in Kandy.
  • Published the first Muslim journal Muslim Nesan in Tamil language on 12 December 1882.[citation needed]
  • Printed school text books and distributed them for free to students.
  • Established Siddhi Lebbe Maha Vidyalaya, Kandy

His wide scheme of educating the Muslim community resulted in the establishment of Zahira College, patronized by the cream of the community due to the munificence of Wapchi Marikar. He also established many Tamil and Arabic Schools in many parts of the Central Province, some of which he himself managed and financed. In kandy, he founded a Girls' School where his sister was the Head-Teacher. He studied the Arabic language to perfection and read many significant works of Islamic scholars and thereby excelled in religious knowledge surpassing that of the local Ulema of the time. The educational movement in Colombo, which he began with Wapchi Marikar, constantly required his presence in Colombo and thus he was compelled to live in Colombo paying occasional visits to his hometown in Kandy.

Journals and Works[edit]

  • Muslim Friend, Muslim Nesan in English and Tamil, in order to educate his fellow Muslim community members.
  • Torch of Wishdom He also published a monthly journal called the "torch of Wisdom". He clamored to teach the Muslims their religion through these two journals where he urged the community to study the Arabic language.
  • Gjana Theepan in 1892
  • Assembly Udaya Kadhai, a Tamil novel published in 1885.
  • He also wrote and published Hidayathul Cassimiya.
  • Tuhuwathul Nahwa (key to grammar)
  • Shurut As Salat (observance of Prayer), Arabic Study Book Part I & II
  • His Tamil works were Tamil Primer, a novel story of Hassen Bey.
  • History of the Turkish and Greek War
  • History of the Moors of Ceylon

He used the medium of newspaper articles, books, and speeches to induce the Muslim community to make an attempt to uplift themselves from the backward condition they were in. Though numerous were his friends and admirers he did have his share of opponents too, who were not convinced of his understanding of the interpretation and philosophical understanding of Islam.


The late M.C.Siddhi Lebbe who was the Father of Muslim education in Ceylon, a dynamic social worker and one who sacrificed everything he possessed to uplift the Muslim community culturally. Through Siddi Lebbe's writings, we are able even to this date, to have a glimpse of his character and capacity, his pious spirit and his penetrating intellect.

Due to the inspiring life and work of the late Siddhi Lebbe as one of the greatest sons of Lanka, Central Government named him among the National Heroes.