IOS Kolkata Chapter organises discussion on “Contribution of Muslims in the Development of Bengla Language, Literature and Culture”

January 22, 2019 at Kolkata

The Institute of Objective Studies, Kolkata Chapter, organised a discussion on “Contribution of Muslims in the Development of Bengla Language, Literature and Culture with Mr Abdur Rauf, eminent Bengali journalist and writer and participated by many eminent scholars of the city on 22nd January, 2019 at Kolkata.

Bengal is one of the latest lands to come into political contact with Islam. It is also one of the earliest to fall a victim to European colonial expansion in the mid-eighteenth century. Between these two events there elapsed a period of more than five hundred years, during which the land turned out to be the habitat of one of the largest Muslim populations in the world. And ever since the coming of the Muslims the course of the socio-political and cultural development of the land has been deeply influenced by Islam.

Bengal is one of those Islamic lands of which history still continues to be in need of thorough investigation and intensive research. It is a land in which the sun of Islam once shone resplendently, guiding its people to the true path, providing good governance and spreading through it the benefits of justice and stability.

Bengali Muslims are the second largest Muslim ethnic group in the world (after Arab Muslims). Bengla was an official court language of the Sultanate of Bengal. Muslim rulers promoted the literary development of the language, which became the most-spoken vernacular language in the Sultanate. This period saw borrowing of Perso-Arabic terms into Bengla vocabulary.

It is seriously felt that the Bengali Muslims must be reminded of their contribution to the development of the language, literature and culture so that 1) they earn their lost self-confidence and capacity, 2) actively and confidently participate in the development of the language and region along with the mainstream, 3) contributions of Bengali Muslims can be brought to light and 4) the tradition of Hindu-Muslim brotherhood can be highlighted as practised during Muslim rule in Bengal.

The discussion began with a recitation from Quran by Noor Muhammad Nadvi, member Rabta Adab e Islami Alami, followed by a formal welcome by Mr Afnan Akhzar.

Mr Abdur Rauf presented the details of the contributions of Muslim rulers and literary figures in the development of Bengla language and literature. He said that the real development and formation of Bengali language took place under the patronage of Muslim rulers, especially under Sultan Hussain Shah. He also spoke about the unfortunate divide among Muslims of West Bengal on the basis of Bengla and Urdu language. He lamented that in present time the contribution of Muslims has shrunk when it comes to mainstream Bengla literature. He also felt that the contributions of Muslim litterateurs should be researched and brought to light.

After the speech of Mr Abdur Rauf, other participants, including Dr Sayeedur Rahman, Naushin Baba Khan, Sk Hafizur Rahman and Manzar Jamil presented their queries related to the subject, which were answered by the speaker.

The discussion session was presided over by Dr. Amzed Hussein, head, deptt. of English, Aliah University. Mr Hussein in his presidential address beautifully spoke on the topic with all relevant details and references.

The session was moderated by A Basit Ismail, acting coordinator, IOS Kolakta Chapter. He thanked the participants and informed that the Kolkata Chapter was soon going to translate and publish a good number of books in Bengla for the benefit of the Bengali-speaking people.

Mr Ismail also said that the IOS Kolkata Chapter had published several books on Hindu-Muslim understanding. With this discussion it hoped to begin to work with a broader group of people to spread the message of understanding and togetherness in society at a larger scale by organising seminars and symposiums.

The participants in the discussion included Prof G Sarwar, ex. professor, Calcutta University, Dr Sayeedur Rahman, professor, deptt. of Arabic, Aliah University, Naushin Baba Khan, research scholar, Rabindra Bharti University, Kazi Md Habib, educational consultant, Mr Ekramul Haque Shaikh of Al Ameen Mission and others.

The discussants made the following suggestions to IOS Kolkata Chapter:

1. To organise discussions on a regular basis

2. IOS Kolkata Chapter needs to engage with Bengla-speaking community, both Muslims and non-Muslims

3. To carry forward this important discussion, an international seminar needs to be organised

4. To translate IOS publications in Bengla language

5. To publish a research project on the said topic of discussion

6. To organise a symposium on an eminent Bengali Islamic scholar

7. To do a research project on “Important Muslim Organisations in Bengal”

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