hISTORY

Madrasah Irsyad Zuhri Al-Islamiah

Mahadul Irsyad (1947–1990)

Madrasah Irsyad Zuhri Al-Islamiah was founded as Mahadul Irsyad at Hindhede Road (off Upper Bukit Timah Road) where the village called Kampong Quarry used to be. It was a small village school with an enrolment of about 50 students and was set up to provide basic Quran and Islamic knowledge to the villagers. Its education system was adopted from Johor, Malaysia, but starting from 1965, upon the suggestion of the then President of Singapore Mr Yusof Ishak, it was changed gradually to suit its needs.Unlike other madrasahs such as Aljunied and Alsagoff, Irsyad was not funded by wealthy Arabs and thus had to struggle to raise funds for the maintenance of the school ever since its founding. According to Ustaz Idris Bin Hj Ahmad, the Principal of Mahadul Irsyad in the 1950s and 1960s, teachers and villagers used to raise funds by selling paper flowers from door to door at Malay areas such as Geylang, Jalan Tempeh and Race Course.

Main gate of Madrasah Al-Irsyad Al-Islamiah at Windstedt Road

Madrasah Al-Irsyad Al-Islamiah, Woodlands Road campus (1991–1996)

In 1991, many villages, including the village Irsyad was in, were affected by urban redevelopment projects. The madrasah was shifted to an old, unused government school at Woodlands Road and renamed Madrasah Al-Irsyad Al-Islamiah. It focussing on primary school education and increased its enrolment to around 400 students, though it remained a single-session school. By then, it had also come under the management of the Majlis Ugama Islam Singapura (MUIS), also known as Islamic Religious Council of Singapore. MUIS is a statutory board in charge of handling Muslim affairs.

It was at this campus that the madrasah accomplished some firsts. For instance, although 50% of the curriculum was still dedicated to religious subjects, the General Curriculum from the Ministry of Education (MOE) was adopted for the secular subjects such that the students could sit for the PSLE.  Ustaz Ahmad Sonhadji Mohamad, the then Chairman of Irsyad, contributed significantly to the Muslim population in Singapore by introducing Iqra’. Iqra’ is a methodology of learning to read the Quran rapidly.

Madrasah Al-Irsyad Al-Islamiah, Windstedt Road (1996–2008)

In 1996, just when Irsyad was settling down in its Woodlands campus, the construction of the MRT system entailed the widening of Woodlands Road, and forced Irsyad to shift yet again. This time, it was relocated to one of the two old buildings at Windstedt road. Madrasah Aljunied Al-Islamiah was then occupying the other building. The change in location caused a switch to double-sessions due to space constraints and the introduction of a standardised school uniforms to differentiate between Irsyad and Aljunied students. 

In 1998, Irsyad had its first batch of Secondary 1 students due to increased demand for madrasah education. This increased the enrolment to 900 students. Previously, most of Irsyad’s graduates continued their secondary school education at Madrasah Aljunied Al-Islamiah.  The curriculum for secondary school students was designed such that they would sit for the Secondary Four Certificate examination (more commonly known as Sijil Thanawi Empat (STE)) conducted by MUIS, and the General Certificate of Education ‘O’Level (GCE ‘O’Level) at the end of Secondary 5. 

In 1999, further changes to the primary level curriculum were made with Islamic subjects at lower primary level being taught in Malay rather than Arabic.

In 2003, MOE implemented the Compulsory Education (CE) Act. Under this act, all children, regardless of those attending national schools or madrasahs, have to sit for the PSLE.  To better prepare for that eventuality, Irsyad was the first madrasah to introduce a new integrated religious curriculum for the primary school. It was developed and produced by MUIS and uses English as the medium of instruction.

Madrasah Irsyad Zuhri Al-Islamiah, Singapore Islamic Hub (2009–present)

In 2009, Irsyad has moved to the Singapore Islamic Hub. It has many improvements like: new science lab, library, computer lab, a canteen and a football field.