Syed Ibrahim bin Omar Alsagoff



Syed Ibrahim bin Omar Alsagoff (Dato) (b. 28 April 1899, Meccad. 20 July 1975, Singapore),1 popularly known as S. I. O. Alsagoff,2 was the head of local Arab companies – Alsagoff & Co. and S. O. Alsagoff.3 He was also the consul for several Arabic countries, as well as a community leader appointed by the British government in Singapore. A key member of the local Muslim community, he helped bridge the community’s relations with Arabic and British leaders.4

Early life
Syed Ibrahim’s Singapore-born father, Syed Omar bin Mohamed Alsagoff,5 was well known in the local Arab and Islamic communities, particularly for the lavish parties held at his Bukit Tunggal residence.6


Syed Ibrahim was born in Mecca, where he grew up and received his formal education.7 He was closely associated with the royalty and nobles of Arabia, particularly King Hussain of the Hedjaz and his successor, King Abdul Aziz bin Saud.8 Syed Ibrahim served as a member of the Legislative Council of the Hedjaz twice – first in 1923 when he was appointed by King Hussain and then in 1926 by King Abdul Aziz bin Saud.9 In appreciation of his services, Syed Ibrahim was conferred the Order of the Rising of the Arabs by King Hussain.10

Family business
By end 1926, Syed Omar sent Syed Ibrahim to Singapore to assist in their family-owned company, S. O. Alsagoff, a Muslim pilgrim agency with a branch office in Jeddah.11


After his father’s death in 1927, Syed Ibrahim assumed responsibility for the family business. He became the company’s senior partner, but by 1955 was taking charge of it.12 Being in the business of sending Muslim pilgrims from the region to Mecca, Syed Ibrahim’s good connections in Arabia went a long way in enhancing business relations. He once said that he had performed the haj, or pilgrimage, at least 17 times.13

In addition, Syed Ibrahim was the sole proprietor of another family business, Alsagoff & Co.14

Properties
Well known as a landowner, Syed Ibrahim’s properties included islands. In 1931, he purchased Pulau Bulang (also known as Poelau Boelan). The transaction included all the assets of Pulau Bulang Rubber Co. Ltd., which had been under the Dutch company, Naamlooze Vennootschap Exploitatio Maatschappy.15 As the estate owner, Syed Ibrahim turned the faltering company around.16

Syed Ibrahim also owned the Sungei Samah Estates in Rhio, and reportedly sold a Straits isle to Baron Empain, a rich Belgian financier.17

Community and religious contributions
A respected spokesman for the local Muslim community, Syed Ibrahim held numerous positions in various social and religious organisations, including chairman of the Singapore Muslim Advisory Board from 1947 to 1964 and president of the All-Malaya Muslim Missionary Society.18 He contributed financially to the construction of various mosques and buildings such as the Abdul Alim Mosque, the Muslim College and the premises of the All-Malaya Muslim Missionary Society.19


Passionate about improving education for local Muslims, Syed Ibrahim sought to further Islamic education in Malaya through the establishment of a Muslim college.20 To set up the college, he chaired a committee, which completed its report in September 1949.21 The Muslim College was completed in 1954, and Syed Ibrahim headed its first council from 1954 to 1958.22

From 1936 to 1939, Syed Ibrahim published the monthly journal, Genuine Islam, with Khalil Anwari as editor. They aimed to use profits from the journal to fund the missionary activities of the All Malaya Muslim Missionary Society. First published in January 1936, the journal served as a platform for the exchange of Eastern and Western thoughts on Islam, highlighting news on Islam and particularly the challenges facing Muslim Palestinians. The publication, however, had a short print run due to a shortage of funds.23

As a voice for the local Muslim community, Syed Ibrahim’s letters were frequently featured in The Straits Times as he spoke up on behalf of the community.24

Besides serving as a vital link between Malayan Muslims and their religious centre in Arabia, Syed Ibrahim was also appointed to various positions in the colonial government, including justice of the peace (1936) and municipal commissioner (1940). He continued in the latter role after World War II.25

Appointed by the King of Iraq, Syed Ibrahim was the consul for Iraq in Singapore in 1950.26 In 1952, the state of Johor conferred on Syed Ibrahim the Family Order of Johor.27

Residences in Singapore
Syed Ibrahim had several residences. In the 1920s, he stayed at 11 Chancery Lane in a mansion known as Omaran.28 During the 1930s, he resided at 41 Chancery Lane, which was known as Darul Salam.29

Death
Syed Ibrahim died on 20 July 1975 and was buried in Changi at the Ayer Gemoroh Muslim cemetery.30

Appointments
Government
1923: Appointed by King Hussein as a member of the Legislative Council of Hejaz

1926: Appointed as member of the Legislative Assembly of Saudi Arabia31
1936: Appointed as justice of the peace, Singapore32

1941–1954: Municipal commissioner and later city councillor, Singapore33
1946: Member, Advisory Council, British Military Administration34
1950: Appointed as first honorary consul for Iraq in Singapore35
1960: Appointed as honorary consul for Tunisia and accorded the High Order of the Republic of Tunisia, Class II36
1963: Appointed as honorary consul for Turkey in Singapore37
1965: Appointed as consul-general for Saudi Arabia for Federation of Malaysia38

Social, community and religious organisations
1928: Appointed as president, Hadhramaut Welfare Congress39
19331957: President, All-Malaya Muslim Missionary Society (Jamiyah)40
19471964: Chairman, Muslim Advisory Board (formerly known as the Mohammedan Advisory Board).41 He became a member of the Mohammedan Advisory Board in 1928 and later served as its first president.42
President, Arabic Social and Literary Club.43
Committee member, After Care Association44
Committee member, Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals45
President, Inter-religious Organisation of Singapore and Johore for three terms, and then served as a council member46
Permanent committee adviser, the General Young Muslim Association of Cairo47
Member, Singapore Rotary Club48



Author

Bonny Tan



References
1. Muslim office bearers. (1952, April 20). The Straits Times, p. 5; Saudi envoy Alsagoff dies, 76. (1975, July 21). The Straits Times, p. 14. Retrieved from NewspaperSG; Who’s who in Malaya, 1939: A biographical record of prominent members of Malaya’s community in official, professional and commercial circles. (1939). Singapore: Fishers, p. 30. (Call no.: RCLOS 920.9595 WHO-[RFL])
2. Mr. S. I. O. Alsagoff. (1936, July 13). Malaya Tribune, p. 10. Retrieved from NewspaperSG.
3. More colony trade with Middle East sought. (1956, November 2). The Straits Times, p. 14; Leaders of business in Malaya. (1953, April 2). The Straits Times, p. 10. Retrieved from NewspaperSG.
4. Syed Muhd Khairudin Aljunied. (2007). The role of Hadramis in post-Second World War Singapore – A reinterpretation. Immigrants & Minorities, 25(2), 163–183, p. 169. Retrieved 2017, February 27 from http://profile.nus.edu.sg/fass/mlsasmk/Hadramis%20in%20Singapore_Aljunied.pdf; Local Arab leader’s tribute to Britain. (1936, August 17). The Straits Times, p. 13. Retrieved from NewspaperSG.
5. Leaders of business in Malaya. (1953, April 2). The Straits Times, p. 10. Retrieved from NewspaperSG.
6. Syed Mohsen Alsagoff. (1963). The Alsagoff family in Malaysia: A.H. 1240 (A.D. 1824)–A.H. 1382 (A.D. 1962). Singapore: Author, p. 15. (Call no.: RCLOS 929.2095957 ALS); At Bukit Tunggal. (1916, January 4). Malaya Tribune, p. 5. Retrieved from NewspaperSG.
7. Envoy heads religious council in Republic. (1966, September 18). The Straits Times, p. 14. Retrieved from NewspaperSG.
8. Local Arab leader’s tribute to Britain. (1936, August 17). The Straits Times, p. 13. Retrieved from NewspaperSG; Syed Mohsen Alsagoff. (1963). The Alsagoff family in Malaysia: A.H. 1240 (A.D. 1824)–A.H. 1382 (A.D. 1962). Singapore: Author, p. 29. (Call no.: RCLOS 929.2095957 ALS)
9. The Onlooker. (1937, September 26). Mainly about Malayans. The Straits Times, p. 9. Retrieved from NewspaperSG.
10. Leaders of business in Malaya. (1953, April 2). The Straits Times, p. 10. Retrieved from NewspaperSG.
11. Envoy heads religious council in Republic. (1966, September 18). The Straits Times, p. 14. Retrieved from NewspaperSG; Syed Mohsen Alsagoff. (1963). The Alsagoff family in Malaysia: A.H. 1240 (A.D. 1824)–A.H. 1382 (A.D. 1962). Singapore: Author, p. 15. (Call no.: RCLOS 929.2095957 ALS)
12. Supreme court. (1927, November 17). Malaya Tribune, p. 7. Retrieved from NewspaperSG; Syed Mohsen Alsagoff. (1963). The Alsagoff family in Malaysia: A.H. 1240 (A.D. 1824)–A.H. 1382 (A.D. 1962). Singapore: Author, p. 29. (Call no.: RCLOS 929.2095957 ALS)
13. More colony trade with Middle East sought. (1956, November 2). The Straits Times, p. 14; Seventeen times to Mecca. (1936, July 18). The Straits Times, p. 13. Retrieved from NewspaperSG.
14. Who’s who in Malaya, 1939: A biographical record of prominent members of Malaya’s community in official, professional and commercial circles. (1939). Singapore: Fishers, p. 30. (Call no.: RCLOS 920.9595 WHO-[RFL])
15. The Pulau Bulang company. (1931, July 9). The Straits Times, p. 12. Retrieved from NewspaperSG; Who’s who in Malaya, 1939: A biographical record of prominent members of Malaya’s community in official, professional and commercial circles. (1939). Singapore: Fishers, p. 30. (Call no.: RCLOS 920.9595 WHO-[RFL])
16. Pulau Bulang. (1934, January 17). The Straits Times, p. 12. Retrieved from NewspaperSG.
17. Who’s who in Malaya, 1939: A biographical record of prominent members of Malaya’s community in official, professional and commercial circles. (1939). Singapore: Fishers, p. 30. (Call no.: RCLOS 920.9595 WHO-[RFL]); The Onlooker. (1937, September 26). Mainly about Malayans. The Straits Times, p. 9. Retrieved from NewspaperSG.
18. Envoy heads religious council in Republic. (1966, September 18). The Straits Times, p. 14. Retrieved from NewspaperSG; Syed Mohsen Alsagoff. (1963). The Alsagoff family in Malaysia: A.H. 1240 (A.D. 1824)–A.H. 1382 (A.D. 1962). Singapore: Author, p. 29. (Call no.: RCLOS 929.2095957 ALS)
19. Syed Mohsen Alsagoff. (1963). The Alsagoff family in Malaysia: A.H. 1240 (A.D. 1824)–A.H. 1382 (A.D. 1962). Singapore: Author, pp. 30–31. (Call no.: RCLOS 929.2095957 ALS)
20. New Muslim college may be up in 3 years. (1950, March 5). Sunday Tribune (Singapore), p. 3. Retrieved from NewspaperSG.
21. Syed Mohsen Alsagoff. (1963). The Alsagoff family in Malaysia: A.H. 1240 (A.D. 1824)–A.H. 1382 (A.D. 1962). Singapore: Author, p. 30. (Call no.: RCLOS 929.2095957 ALS)
22. Syed Mohsen Alsagoff. (1963). The Alsagoff family in Malaysia: A.H. 1240 (A.D. 1824)–A.H. 1382 (A.D. 1962). Singapore: Author, p. 30. (Call no.: RCLOS 929.2095957 ALS)
23. ‘Genuine Islam’. (1936, January 23). The Straits Times, p. 10. Retrieved from NewspaperSG; Syed Muhd Khairudin Aljunied. (2007). The role of Hadramis in post-Second World War Singapore – A reinterpretation. Immigrants & Minorities, 25(2), 163–183, p. 172. Retrieved 2017, February 27 from http://profile.nus.edu.sg/fass/mlsasmk/Hadramis%20in%20Singapore_Aljunied.pdf
24. S. I. O. Alsagoff. (1957, February 14). General will of Muslims. The Straits Times, p. 6. Retrieved from NewspaperSG.
25. ‘Britain and Egypt allies for over century’. (1936, October 4). Sunday Tribune (Singapore), p. 2; Local Arab leader’s tribute to Britain. (1936, August 17). The Straits Times, p. 13; Envoy heads religious council in Republic. (1966, September 18). The Straits Times, p. 14. Retrieved from NewspaperSG.
26. Alsagoff to be consul. (1950, November 22). The Straits Times, p. 9. Retrieved from NewspaperSG.
27. Johore honours a Singapore man. (1952, March 2). The Straits Times, p. 13. Retrieved from NewspaperSG.
28. Untitled. (1923, September 20). The Straits Times, p. 8. Retrieved from NewspaperSG.
29. Celebration by Moslems. (1934, June 9). The Singapore Free Press and Mercantile Advertiser (1884–1942), p. 2. Retrieved from NewspaperSG.
30. Saudi envoy Alsagoff dies, 76. (1975, July 21). The Straits Times, p. 14. Retrieved from NewspaperSG.
31. Envoy heads religious council in Republic. (1966, September 18). The Straits Times, p. 14. Retrieved from NewspaperSG.
32. Who’s who in Malaya, 1939: A biographical record of prominent members of Malaya’s community in official, professional and commercial circles. (1939). Singapore: Fishers, p. 30. (Call no.: RCLOS 920.9595 WHO-[RFL]); Mr. S. I. O. Alsagoff. (1936, July 13). Malaya Tribune, p. 10. Retrieved from NewspaperSG.
33. New Municipal Commissioner. (1941, February 2). Sunday Tribune (Singapore), p. 7; Alsagoff to be consul. (1950, November 22). The Straits Times, p. 9; Envoy heads religious council in Republic. (1966, September 18). The Straits Times, p. 14. Retrieved from NewspaperSG.
34. Envoy heads religious council in Republic. (1966, September 18). The Straits Times, p. 14. Retrieved from NewspaperSG.
35. Alsagoff to be consul. (1950, November 22). The Straits Times, p. 9. Retrieved from NewspaperSG.
36. Syed Mohsen Alsagoff. (1963). The Alsagoff family in Malaysia: A.H. 1240 (A.D. 1824)–A.H. 1382 (A.D. 1962). Singapore: Author, p. 30. (Call no.: RCLOS 929.2095957 ALS)
37. Consul for Iraq. (1963, January 17). The Straits Times, p. 18. Retrieved from NewspaperSG.
38. Consul-General for Arabia. (1965, February 10). The Straits Times, p. 5. Retrieved from NewspaperSG.
39. Chong, E. (1951, May 20). Seven men who speak for strangers in the colony. Sunday Standard, p. 11. Retrieved from NewspaperSG.
40. Envoy heads religious council in Republic. (1966, September 18). The Straits Times, p. 14. Retrieved from NewspaperSG; Syed Muhd Khairudin Aljunied. (2007). The role of Hadramis in post-second world war Singapore – A reinterpretation. Immigrants & Minorities, 25(2), 163–183, p. 169. Retrieved 2017, February 27 from http://profile.nus.edu.sg/fass/mlsasmk/Hadramis%20in%20Singapore_Aljunied.pdf
41. N. Mamat. (1947, October 6). First Muslim chairman of Muslim Advisory Board. Malaya Tribune, p. 5; Envoy heads religious council in Republic. (1966, September 18). The Straits Times, p. 14. Retrieved from NewspaperSG.
42. N. Mamat. (1947, October 6). First Muslim chairman of Muslim Advisory Board. Malaya Tribune, p. 5. Retrieved from NewspaperSG; Syed Muhd Khairudin Aljunied. (2007). The role of Hadramis in post-Second World War Singapore – A reinterpretation. Immigrants & Minorities, 25(2), 163–183, p. 169. Retrieved 2017, February 27 from National University of Singapore website: http://profile.nus.edu.sg/fass/mlsasmk/Hadramis%20in%20Singapore_Aljunied.pdf
43. Celebration by Moslems. (1934, June 9). The Singapore Free Press and Mercantile Advertiser (1884–1942), p. 2. Retrieved from NewspaperSG.
44. Syed Mohsen Alsagoff. (1963). The Alsagoff family in Malaysia: A.H. 1240 (A.D. 1824)–A.H. 1382 (A.D. 1962). Singapore: Author, p. 29. (Call no.: RCLOS 929.2095957 ALS)
45. N. Mamat. (1947, October 6). First Muslim chairman of Muslim Advisory Board. The Malaya Tribune, p. 5. Retrieved from NewspaperSG.
46. Syed Mohsen Alsagoff. (1963). The Alsagoff family in Malaysia: A.H. 1240 (A.D. 1824)–A.H. 1382 (A.D. 1962). Singapore: Author, p. 30. (Call no.: RCLOS 929.2095957 ALS)
47. Who’s who in Malaya, 1939: A biographical record of prominent members of Malaya’s community in official, professional and commercial circles. (1939). Singapore: Fishers, p. 30. (Call no.: RCLOS 920.9595 WHO -[RFL])
48. Leaders of business in Malaya. (1953, April 2). The Straits Times, p. 10. Retrieved from NewspaperSG.



Further resource
Arab support for patriotic fund. (1939, September 19). The Straits Times, p. 12. Retrieved from NewspaperSG.



The information in this article is valid as at 2017 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
Business, finance and industry>>Industry>>Services
Personalities>>Biographies>>Community Leaders
Philanthropists--Singapore--Biography
People and communities>>Social groups and communities
Philosophy, psychology and religion>>Religion>>Islam
Community leaders
Ibrahim bin Omar Alsagoff, Dato Syed, 1899-1975
Muslim businesspeople--Singapore--Biography