Khan Bahadur Ahsanullah


One of the pioneers of Muslim renaissance in Bengal. A quite revolutionary and one of the pioneers of the renaissance in Bengal, Khan Bahadur Ahsanullah played a notable role in advancing and upgrading Muslim society in undivided province during the British ruled period in India. A renowned educationist, a high government official of Bengal, one of the most enlightened personalities of his time, and a social reformer of undivided Bengal and Assam, Khan Bahadur Ahsanullah was also a philanthropist, remarkable literary figure, humanitarian philosopher, religious thinker and a spiritual guide to his people. Khan Bahadur Ahsanullah reformed system of education for Muslims. He introduced the system of writing the roll numbers of the students instead of their names in examination papers. In the schools and colleges, he readjusted the ratio of stipends for the Muslim students and made provisions so that increasing number of poor but meritorious students could study free of cost. Known for founding Ahsania Mission, Khan Bahadur Ahsanullah, in 1935, founded a non-political and service-oriented organisation. The motto of Ahsania Mission is 'Divine and Humanitarian Service.' There are now 138 branches of the Mission at home and abroad. Ahsania Mission is the outward manifestation of his faith and ideals. He was also instrumental in establishing many madrasas and Muslim high schools, and the Islamia College for Muslim students in Kolkata. He made valuable contributions to the establishment of the Baker Hostel, Taylor Hostel, Carmichael Hostel, Muslim Institute of Kolkata and the Fuller Hostel in Rajshahi. He was elected a member of the Senate and the Syndicate of the Kolkata University. He had a significant contribution in the formation of the University of Dhaka (1921). He was elected a member of Royal Society of London, vice-president of the Literary Association of the Muslims of Bengal and an official member of the Muhammadan Educational Advisory Committee. He was conferred the title of 'Khan Bahadur' by the government, in 1911, by British ruled India. He wrote more than one hundred books on Muslim traditions, thoughts on Islam, philosophy of Sufism and various aspects of Islamic history. His book, History of Muslim World, was a recommended book in the syllabus of Oxford University. Now, Sufi is a recommended book in the department of Islamic Studies in University of Dhaka and National University in Bangladesh. In order to encourage writers he established the Makhdumi Library and the Empire Book House at Kolkata. The Islamic Foundation Bangladesh award was bestowed on him posthumously in 1405 Hizri of the Arabic calendar. Bangla Academy also awarded him an honorary fellowship in 1960 for his valuable contributions in the field of Bengali literature. Born into a respectable family of Nalta Sharif village—under Satkhira district, Khan Bahadur Ahsanullah had his education career throughout, in Kolkata, right up to M.A., in Philosophy, from Presidency College in 1895. He spent major part of his time in teaching at various levels and places, apart from various activities.

Compiler: M. Nauman Khan

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