My journey with Ibrahimieh college
The journey was by all measures neither a short nor an easy one. On the contrary, it extended over many decades. We then had a set goal and we were adamantly determined to meet it regardless of any obstacles or hardships we might encounter on the way. That set goal was simply the construction of the college.
Ibrahimieh College was initially established in the academic year 1931/1932 as a small elementary school the consisted of three classes housed in a small humble building at Al-Musrarah Quarter on Jerusalem.
It was founded by three Hebronites: Sheikh Rashed Qawasmi, Sheikh Izziddin As-Sharif and Ibrahim Abdulmu’ti Bader. Those three founders gave it the name of “Ibrahimieh National School”. They chose that designation for it as a good omen after Prophet Abraham (“Ibrahim” in Arabic) who lies buried in their home city which locally carries his name. (Hebron is known in Arabic as Al-Khalil which literally means in Arabic: the close friend” because prophet Ibrahim is termed in the holy Quran as the “the close friend of God”.)
In 1932 Sheikh Izziddin As-Sharif, one of the three founders, decided to withdraw from the partnership and to sell his share. I, Nihad Ulayyan Abu-Gharbieh, was then a teacher at that school. I expressed my readiness to buy Sheikh Sharif’s share and he did sell it to me. Consequently, I became a partner owning one third of the school.
In the school year 1932/1933, the school moved to an independent neighbourless building in the same quarter. That building consisted then of six rooms with an internal hall and an external courtyard.
In 1933/1934, the school was expanded to include five grades. It had then 125 pupils, seven teachers and a janitor.
In 1934, some misunderstanding took place between Sheikh Rashed Qawasmi and Mr. Ibrahim Bader who sold his share to Sheikh Rashed Qawasmi and thus I became the owner of 50% of the school, whereas Sheikh Qawasmi owned the other 50%.
One of the teachers who was then actively working at the school was a physical-training teacher called Ahmad Ali Al-Eisawi. At the end of 1934, he organized a sports celebration that was greatly admired by those who attended it and by the residents of Jerusalem at large. That activity secured both a good name and reputation for Ibrahimieh National School.
Sheikh Rashed suggested selling Mr. Ahmad Eisawi one of the four shares we owned together so that we could guarantee the permanent presence of Mr. Eisawi with us. I unhesitatingly agreed to that and we made the offer to a partner at the school possessing one share out of four in it.
In 1936, the Palestinian revolution against the British mandate forces intensified. The revolution leaders had taken a decision that the attacks should be launched directly against the British forces. Their vision was that their victory over the British forces would lead to their eviction from Palestine and would, in that case, enable them to seclude the Jews and win victory over them.
Mr. Ahmad Eisawi joined the revolutionists and consequently stopped attending the school. As for Sheikh Qawasmi, he had by then got a degree in religious law and became a religious advocate. This new development made him neglect coming to the school too because he became preoccupied with his new profession as a religious advocate, and the legal proceedings took him away from the school altogether.
I, therefore, called my two partners for a meeting to discuss the new situation which they had both put me in and left mw alone with the endeavor of running the school and solving all its problems. During that meeting, I left them with the choice of either returning to work as before, to purchase my share of the school, or to sell me theirs. They both chose the latter alternative and thus I became the sole proprietor of Ibrahimieh National School.
Personally, I consider the year 1936 as the true year for the establishment if Ibrahimieh School. Right from the beginning of1936, I vehemently started to work very hard for the expansion for the school so as to become a full secondary school.
In the year 1936, my brother Bahjat (Abu-Sami) joined the staff of the school and taught many subjects, mainly physical training. He excelled in teaching the latter subject and, at the end of each school year, he used to hold a sports festival in which all the school students took part without exception. The school students used to perform different sporting exercises that were performed along with the tunes played by the musical band the Industrial Islamic Orphanage in Jerusalem. Therefore, those remarkable annual festivals used to attract hundreds of the residents of Jerusalem who always rushed to the school playground to view those activities. In addition to the different exercises the school students performed, there were other various sporting games performed during such festivals.
To fulfill my goal of expanding the school. I hired in 1937/1938 a large building in the vicinity of Herod’s Gate Quarter (in Arabic Bab As-Sahirah Quarter) which precisely lies in what is called today Salahiddin Street. the building I hired was previously occupied by the locally famous Arab Collage which had by then moved to its newly-constructed building on Al-Mukabber Mount specially built for it by the Palestinian Education Administration.
In that new school building, I promptly and diligently started to develop the school. From that moment, onwards I have totally bound all my life and future with it. In 1938, the school became a full elementary one. I also began the ceaseless work towards achieving what I had envisaged and planned for it; i.e. to become a full secondary school as a first step.
In 1944/1945, my dream was fulfilled and the school became a full secondary school. Furthermore, in that year its students sat for the Palestinians Matriculation Examination and excelled in it. Their success was 100%. Congratulation on that result arrived to me from far and near. To celebrate that great achievement, I invited all the school staff and students for a party held on that occasion during which many speeches were delivered. When I talked at the end, I congratulated all the students and their teacher and gave a special word of thanks to the teaching staff whose conscientious efforts greatly contributed to that remarkable success. Moreover, I published the good news in the local newspapers in which I reiterated my congratulations to the successful students, to their parents and to their instructors.
It is worth mentioning that in those days every full secondary school was entitled to change its name into “a college”. Therefore, Ibrahimieh Secondary School seized that privilege and changed its designation into “Ibrahimieh College” and has maintained that name ever since that time.
After the remarkable success of Ibrahimieh College students in the Palestinian Matriculation Certificate, the college acquired a wide fame. Consequently, a stream of applications to study at it started to arrive.
In response to such a new development, it became essential to open a boarding section at the college. I inaugurated that boarding section in1945 and 80 students resided in it. That section was later expanded and I hired an adjoining building specially for that purpose.
In 1945, the college confidently continued its progress. Instruction at Ibrahimieh College was carried out by well-qualified teachers who were all holders of high university degrees. The number of the College students continuously increased and I was then really confounded about what to do to cope with that increasing number of students. That situation is particular made me more determined than ever before to starts thinking of establishing a large, modern and beautiful building for the College. I, therefore, bought a lot of land at As-suwwaneh Quarter in Jerusalem, halfway up the hill to the Mount of Olives (at-Tour) with a total area of 10 donums for having the college building constructed on it.
The idea of having the building constructed never left my mind. On the contrary, it was incessantly haunting me. Fortunately, that idea was ultimately fulfilled in 1983 and my dream became true. In that year, the college lofty, beautiful building was erected and Ibrahimieh College moved into it.
During the building process, I was so excited that I had hardly felt tranquil and had sometimes scarcely got asleep while was beholding my dream materially taking shape day after day. My dear wife Nadeera Abu-Ghazaleh, was always with me and never left me alone during that process. She was sharing me my pleasure and the broad smile never left her face. Her ecstasy was quite apparent when we entered the College building together hand in hand for the first time after its construction had been completed and it had become ready for receiving Ibrahimieh students. She was then pressing my hand and saying, “thank God. Oh Nihad! We have succeeded and your dream has become true!”
What I have narrated above is merely a scanty account of what had happened after the school has become totally mine since 1936.