Shaikh Yahya bin Ahmed Afifi



Shaikh Yahya bin Ahmed Afifi (b. 1891, Mecca–d. 1940, July 12, Singapore1) was a municipal commissioner representing the Singapore Ratepayers’ Association.2 A resident on Race Course Road,3 he was also made a justice of the peace for his active involvement in the Arab community.4

Early life
Shaikh Yahya’s father was of Turkish descent and had held a senior post in the government in Mecca. Brought to Singapore at the age of six, Shaikh Yahya studied at Kampong Glam Malay School and Raffles Institution. His early education was bilingual,5 and his knowledge of English put him in good stead for positions representing the community.6


Accomplishments
Despite not being a British subject, Shaikh Yahya helped raise funds to support the British war efforts for World War I.7 He was highly esteemed by the British authorities for his loyalty and was made a British subject in 1928.8

In 1912, Shaikh Yahya was employed by the prominent real estate firm, Alkaff and Company.9 Starting out as an assistant, he rose through the ranks to become general manager by 1932. He was later appointed as one of four attorneys representing the company’s proprietors. Shaikh Yahya was known to work up to 14 hours daily.10

Shaikh Yahya was active in the local Muslim community, serving as president of the Persenangan Stia Club for many years. He also established the Muslim Students’ Aid Society in 1925 to assist in providing education to impoverished Muslim children.11 In 1932, he helped solicit funding from the Alkaff family for a mosque to be built at Bidadari. The land and the new mosque costing about $40,000 was paid for by Syed Abdulrahman bin Shaikh Alkaff.12 In 1932, Shaikh Yahya was made a justice of the peace for his contributions to public service.13

 In 1936, the Singapore Ratepayers’ Association nominated Shaikh Yahya as municipal commissioner.14 During his term as municipal commissioner, Afifi opposed the monopoly of transport and sought to have the order for the demolition of houses along Malay Street rescinded.15

Timeline
1912: Joins Alkaff and Company.16
Mar 1924: Goes on pilgrimage to Mecca.17
1925: Helps to establish the Muslim Students' Aid Society18
Feb 1928: Becomes a naturalised British subject.19
8 Jun 1932: Becomes a justice of the peace.20
1936: Appointed municipal commissioner as representative of the Singapore Ratepayers’ Association, of which he is also vice-president.
1940: Appointed trustee of the Singapore Improvement Trust.21

Other appointments
President, Arab Association22

President, Persenangan Stia Club23
Vice-president, Clerical Union24
Vice-president, Muslim Association
Director, Europe Hotel25
Charter member, Singapore Rotary Club26
Member, Association of British Malaya27
Member, Straits Settlements (Singapore) Association28



Author

Bonny Tan




References
1. Funeral of Shaikh Yahya Afifi. (1940, July 15). The Straits Times, p. 8. Retrieved from NewspaperSG.
2. Shaikh Afifi dead. (1940, July 13). The Straits Times, p. 10. Retrieved from NewspaperSG.
3. Shaikh Afifi dead. (1940, July 13). The Straits Times, p. 10. Retrieved from NewspaperSG.
4. Mr. Yahya Afifi honoured. (1932, June 16). The Straits Times, p. 12. Retrieved from NewspaperSG.
5. Shaikh Afifi dead. (1940, July 13). The Straits Times, p. 10. Retrieved from NewspaperSG.
6. Mainly about Malayans. (1932, June 19). The Straits Times, p. 4. Retrieved from NewspaperSG.
7. Mr. Yahya Afifi honoured. (1932, June 16). The Straits Times, p. 12. Retrieved from NewspaperSG.
8. Social and personal. (1928, February 17). The Straits Times, p. 8. Retrieved from NewspaperSG.
9. Mr. Yahya Afifi honoured. (1932, June 16). The Straits Times, p. 12. Retrieved from NewspaperSG.
10. Shaikh Afifi dead. (1940, July 13). The Straits Times, p. 10. Retrieved from NewspaperSG.
11. Mr. Yahya Afifi honoured. (1932, June 16). The Straits Times, p. 12. Retrieved from NewspaperSG.
12. New mosque. (1932, June 27). The Straits Times, p. 16. Retrieved from NewspaperSG.
13. Mr. Yahya Afifi honoured. (1932, June 16). The Straits Times, p. 12. Retrieved from NewspaperSG.
14. Ratepayers’ control over Commission nominee. (1936, December 11). The Straits Times, p. 13. Retrieved from NewspaperSG.
15. Shaikh Afifi dead. (1940, July 13). The Straits Times, p. 10. Retrieved from NewspaperSG.
16. Mr. Yahya Afifi honoured. (1932, June 16). The Straits Times, p. 12. Retrieved from NewspaperSG.
17. Untitled. (1924, March 26). The Straits Times, p. 8. Retrieved from NewspaperSG.
18. Mr. Yahya Afifi honoured. (1932, June 16). The Straits Times, p. 12. Retrieved from NewspaperSG.
19. Social and personal. (1928, February 17). The Straits Times, p. 8. Retrieved from NewspaperSG.
20. Untitled. (1932, June 9). The Straits Times, p. 12. Retrieved from NewspaperSG.
21. Shaikh Afifi dead. (1940, July 13). The Straits Times, p. 10. Retrieved from NewspaperSG.
22. Shaikh Afifi dead. (1940, July 13). The Straits Times, p. 10. Retrieved from NewspaperSG.
23. Mr. Yahya Afifi honoured. (1932, June 16). The Straits Times, p. 12. Retrieved from NewspaperSG.
24. Shaikh Afifi dead. (1940, July 13). The Straits Times, p. 10. Retrieved from NewspaperSG.
25. Mr. Yahya Afifi honoured. (1932, June 16). The Straits Times, p. 12. Retrieved from NewspaperSG.
26. Shaikh Afifi dead. (1940, July 13). The Straits Times, p. 10. Retrieved from NewspaperSG.
27. Town and country. (1928, February 17). The Straits Times, p. 10. Retrieved from NewspaperSG.
28. Shaikh Afifi dead. (1940, July 13). The Straits Times, p. 10. Retrieved from NewspaperSG.



The information in this article is valid as at 2016 and correct as far as we are able to ascertain from our sources. It is not intended to be an exhaustive or complete history of the subject. Please contact the Library for further reading materials on the topic.

 

Subject
Civic leaders--Singapore--Biography
Community leaders
Personalities>>Biographies>>Community Leaders
People and communities>>Social groups and communities
Ethnic Communities
Shaikh Yahya Ahmed Afifi, 1891-1940
Heritage and Culture