DEBATING NATIONALISM IN BANGLADESH: A CRITICAL ANALYSIS OF POLITICAL IDEOLOGY OF
SHEIKH MUJIBUR RAHMAN
ATIQUR RAHMAN MUJAHID
A dissertation submitted in fulfilment of the requirement for the degree of Master of Human Sciences in History and
Kulliyyah of Islamic Revealed Knowledge and Human Science
International Islamic University Malaysia
Sheikh Mujibur Rahman has been the central role player in the movement of Bangladeshi independence. His dominant role and presence has earned him the title
“Father of the nation.” However, his political ideology has been debated intensely.
Sheikh Mujib being the most towering figure in Bangladeshi politics, has been explained, claimed and counter claimed by political parties and intellectuals as a secular, a Bengali and a socialist or a mix of all. This thesis argues that such understanding about Sheikh Mujib is only partial, and is conditioned by two factors:
firstly, looking at only half of Sheikh Mujib’s entire political career, that is post-1947 Sheikh Mujib in Pakistan politics; and secondly, looking at Sheikh Mujib in the context of independence movement alone as an anti-Pakistan politician. The thesis argues that the true political ideology of Sheikh Mujib should be constructed based on the context of nationalism-debate, political psychology and political trend that he inherited, oriented with and practiced in his entire political career spanning during the last two decades of British India and the first two decades of united Pakistan. In analyzing his entire political career the research found that Sheikh Mujib and his political ideology are embodiment of the spirit of independence and Muslim identity consciousness inherited from Wahhabi-Farayezi-Deobandi anti-British Islamic movements, modernist Aligarh movement, Muslim League and Pakistan movement. Sheikh Mujib was a blend of universal Muslim identity and ethnic Bengali nationalism.
يديارلا هرود للاخ نم نحمرلا بيمج خيشلبا قلعتت ةييخرتا ةقيقح نايب ىلع ثحبلا اذه زكري روحمتتو .)يشيدلاغنبلا بعشلا وبأ( :بقل هلحم نم اًقلاطنا ةلقتسلما شيدلاغنب ةكرح في في اًزورب رثكا ةيصخش بيمج خيشلا ناك دقل .قيمعلا يسايسلا هركف لوح ثحبلا ةلكشم بازحلأا لبق نم اهئاعداو اهحرش تم ثيح ،لدجلل اًراثمو ةيشيدلاجنبلا ةسايسلا ةحاي سلا
ينفقثلماو ةيسايسلا كلت نإ ثيح .اهلك اهنم جيزم هنأ وأ يكاترشاو لياغنبو نياملع هنأ ىلع
فصن لىإ طقف رظني ام ًلًوأ :ينلماعب اًّيئزج قلعتت بيمج خيشلا ةيصخشل مهنيب ةقباسلا ةركفلا ةايح تاونس دعب بيمج خيشلا وهو ،بيمج خيشلل ةلماكلا ةيسايسلا 1947
ةسايسلا في ،م
ا ،اًينثاو .ةيناتسكابلا اًيسايس هفصوب اهدحو للاقتسلًا ةكرح قايس في بيمج خيشلا لىإ رظنل
بيج بيمج خيشلل يقيقلحا يسايسلا ركفلا نأ ىلع ثحبلا اذه زكري امك .ناتسكابل ًياداعم ىلع هؤانب متي نأ يذلا يسايسلا هاتجلًاو ،يسايسلا سفنلا ملعو ،ةينطولا ةركفلا مهف قايس
جولما اهلمكبأ هتايحو ،هثرو نم نييرخلأا نيدقعلا للاخ تدتما يذلا يسايسلا لمعلا لىإ ةه
مهأ زاربإ للاخ نم ثحبلا تبثأ دقو .ةدحولما ناتسكبا نم ينلولأا نيدقعلاو ،ةيناطيبرلا دنلها خيشلا نأ جئاتنلا ةيملاسلإا ةيولها يعوو ،للاقتسلًا حورل نادستج ةيسايسلا هتيجولويديأو بيمج
لإا تاكرلحا نم ةثورولما ةيباهولا ةيملاس
- ةيزئارفلا - هارغيلع ةكرحو ،ايناطيبرلا دض ةيدنبويدلا
ةيملاسلإا ةيولهبا اًبمح بيمج خيشلا ناكف .ةيناتسكابلا ةكرلحاو ،يملاسلإا بزلحا ةكرحو ،ةثيدلحا
ةيللمحا ةيشيدلاغنبلا ةينطولبا اًقشاع ناك امك ةيلماع لا
I certify that I have supervised and read this study and that in my opinion, it conforms to acceptable standards of scholarly presentation and is fully adequate, in scope and quality, as a thesis for the degree of Master of History and Civilization.
M. Moniruzzaman Supervisor
Arshad Islam Co-Supervisor
I certify that I have read this study and that in my opinion it conforms to acceptable standards of scholarly presentation and is fully adequate, in scope and quality, as a thesis for the degree of Master of History and Civilization.
Fauziah Fathil Internal Examiner
This thesis was submitted to the Department of Islamic Revealed Knowledge and Human Science and is accepted as a fulfilment of the requirement for the degree of Master of History and Civilization.
Head, Department of History and Civilization
This thesis was submitted to the Kulliyyah of Islamic Revealed Knowledge and Human Science and is accepted as a fulfilment of the requirement for the degree of Master of History and Civilization.
Mohammad A. Quayum Dean, Kulliyyah of Islamic Revealed Knowledge and Human Science
I hereby declare that this dissertation is the result of my own investigation, except otherwise I stated. I also declare that it has not been previously or concurrently submitted as a whole for any other degrees at IIUM or other institutions
Atiqur Rahman Mujahid
Signature ... Date ...
INTERNATIONAL ISLAMIC UNIVERSITY MALAYSIA
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DEBATING NATIONALISM IN BANLADESH: A CRITICAL ANALAYSIS OF POLITICAL IDEOLOGY OF SHEIKH
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Copyright © 2018 Atiqur Rahman Mujahid and International Islamic University Malaysia. All rights reserved.
No part of this unpublished research may be reproduced, stored in a retrieval system, or transmitted, in any form or by any means, electronic, mechanical, photocopying, recording or otherwise without prior written permission of the copyright holder except as provided below
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By signing this form, I acknowledged that I have read and understand the IIUM Intellectual Property Right and Commercialization policy.
Affirmed by Atiqur Rahman Mujahid
This thesis is dedicated to
My loving parents Amjad Hossain and Arjuna Begum Whose compassion for me flow like a waterfall
That continually nourishes my soul
All praises are due to Allah, who is most merciful and the most compassionate, without his grace and blessings we are helpless. I must confess that without His mercy I could not have completed this task.
My very sincere gratitude and prayer goes to Associate Professor Dr. M Moniruzzaman, my supervisor, for his patience, encouragement, invaluable suggestions, acute observations and useful criticisms, all of which contributed to making this dissertation possible. His words always give me a hope, especially the sentence inspired me a lot “you are on the right track and doing well.” I would like to express my heartiest gratitude to Associate Professor Dr. Arshad Islam, my co- supervisor, for his awesome support during this journey. It would be incomplete without giving thanks to Professors, Doctors and Lecturers of the Department of History and Civilization in IIUM, who have taught me invaluable knowledge like Professor Abdullah Al Ahsan, a man of integrity, Assoc. Prof. Hafiz Zakaria, Dr. Fauziah Fathil, Dr. Elmira Akhmetova, and Dr. Helmi.
I also wish to extend my gratitude to those brothers and friends whose generous help and encouragement allowed me to complete my research, especially my young brother Ashikur Rahman, Br. Muhibbullah, Young poet Abdul Kader Zilani, S. A Masud, Mahmudul Hasan, Md. Saifullah. My special thanks to AB Noman for his help in translation.
In particular, I want to acknowledge International Institute of Islamic Thought (IIIT) for sponsoring my studies. Without their help this task would have been impossible. I also must thank to my parents and relatives who have always assisted me and wished my success. Finally, I would like to thank my unnamed friends who helped me much during the process of document collections, proof reading, translating and editing.
TABLE OF CONTENTS
Abstract ... ii
Approval page ... iv
Declaration ... v
Copyright ... vi
Dedication ... vi
Acknowledgements ... viii
Table of contents ... ix
CHAPTER ONE: INTRODUCTION ... 1
1.1 Background of the Study ... 1
1.2 Statement of the Problem... 5
1.3 Research Questions ... 7
1.4 Objectives of the Study ... 7
1.5 Significance of the Study ... 8
1.6 Literature Review ... 8
1.7 Theoretical Framework ... 17
1.7.1 Concept of Nationalism ... 17
1.7.2 Historical Development of Nationalism ... 20
1.8 Methodology of the Study ... 22
1.9 Outline of the Study ... 24
CHAPTER TWO: NATIONALISM IN THE INDIAN SUB-CONTINENT: A HISTORICAL CONTEXT ... 25
2.1 Introduction... 25
2.2 The Contending Theories of Indian Sub-Continental Nationalism ... 25
2.3 Muslim Resistance to Colonialism: The Origin of Indian Nationalism ... 31
2.4 Development of Indian Sub-Continental Nationalism ... 32
2.5 Emergence of Religious Nationalism ... 38
2.5.1 Hindu Nationalism ... 40
2.5.2 Muslim Nationalism ... 45
2.6 Bengali Muslim Nationalism ... 50
2.6.1 Emergence of Bengali Community Consciousness ... 53
2.6.2 Development of Bengali Muslim Nationalism ... 56
2.7 Chapter Summary ... 64
CHAPTER THREE: SHEIKH MUJIB IN CONTEMPORARY BANGLADESHI POLITICAL DISCOURSE ... 65
3.1 Introduction... 65
3.2 Secular and Non-Communal Sheikh Mujib ... 66
3.2.1 History, Heritage and Sheikh Mujib’s Secular Portrayal ... 67
3.2.2 Sheikh Mujib and Tagore’s Aspiration ... 69
3.2.3 Sub-continental Non-Communal Trends and Sheikh Mujib ... 70
3.2.4 Sheikh Mujib and Implementation of Secular Ideals ... 71
3.2.5 Secularism, Constitution and Sheikh Mujib ... 72
3.2.6 Secular Bengali Nationalist ... 75
3.3 Pro-Indian and anti-Islamic secular Sheikh Mujib ... 77
3.3.1 Constitution ... 78
3.3.2 Education sector ... 79
3.3.3 Political Arena and Secularism ... 80
3.3.4 Socio-cultural Arena ... 81
3.4 Socialist Sheikh Mujibur Rahman ... 81
3.5 Communalist Sheikh Mujib ... 84
3.6 Bengali Sheikh Mujib ... 86
3.7 Sheikh Mujib’s Ideology in the Eyes of Diplomats... 87
3.7.1 Secular Sheikh Mujib ... 88
3.7.2 Anti-Communist and Pro-Pakistani Sheikh Mujib ... 88
3.7.3 Bengali Nationalist Sheikh Mujib ... 89
3.7.4 Social Democrat Sheikh Mujib ... 90
3.8 Sheikh Mujib in the Eyes of Political Parties ... 90
3.8.1 Awami League and Sheikh Mujib ... 90
3.8.2 BNP’s Perceptions on Sheikh Mujib ... 93
3.8.3 JI and Sheikh Mujib ... 94
3.9 Summary of the Chapter ... 96
CHAPTER FOUR: PAST MUSLIM AND ISLAMIC POLITICAL LEGACIES IN SHAPING SHEIKH MUJIB’S POLITICAL IDEOLOGY .... 97
4.1 Introduction... 97
4.2 Family Legacy and Sheikh Mujib ... 98
4.3 Historical Legacy in Political Career ... 100
4.3.1 Wahabi-Farayezi Legacy ... 100
4.3.2 Deobandi Legacy or Azadi Hind Legacy ... 102
4.3.3 Aligarh Legacy ... 103
4.4 The Muslim League Legacy ... 106
4.4.1 Aims and Objectives of Muslim League ... 107
4.4.2 Mujib and Muslim League ... 108
4.5 Pakistan Movement and Sheikh Mujib ... 113
4.6 Awami League or Awami Muslim League and Mujib ... 116
4.6.1 Party Manifesto ... 117
4.6.2 Awami League’s First Manifesto on Islamic State ... 118
4.7 Islamic Personalities’ Legacy and Sheikh Mujib ... 120
4.8 Sheikh Mujib in Pakistan Politics ... 124
4.8.1 Islamic Constitution, Bengali Right and Sheikh Mujib ... 126
4.8.2 Six Points, Freedom Movement and Mujib ... 126
4.9 Post-independence Mujib’s ideological postmortem... 128
CHAPTER FIVE: CONCLUSION ... 131
BIBLIOGHRAPHY ... 138
APPENDIX: TRANSCTIPTION OF INTERVIEWS ... 149
CHAPTER ONE INTRODUCTION
1.1 BACKGROUND OF THE STUDY
Nationalism is a modern political ideology. Scholars consider nationalism as one of the determining or undeniable forces in the modern history.1 It emerged and flourished in the western-Europe in 18th century following the French Revolution. In 19th century, the idea of Nationalism spread all over the European countries; and by the first half of the 20th century, nationalism became a vibrant movement all over the world. Even though it has been a tremendous political force and ideology scholars have failed to agree upon a precise definition of the concept. Among many Hans Kohn’s definition is one of the most referred to. According to him nationalism “a state of mind, in which the supreme loyalty of the individual is felt to be due to the nation-state. A deep attachment to one’s native soil, to local traditions and to established territorial authority.”2
Towards the end of the colonial period, the Muslim world like any other colonized parts of the world started to experience the emergence of nationalism.
According to Ahsan, an expert on comparative civilization, the European idea of nationalism made the most profound impact on the Muslim world during the latter half of the 19th century.3 It is pertinent to note that the evolution and development of nationalism in Europe and the Afro-Asian continent, specially across the Muslim world, are not the same. There is a huge difference between the developments of nationalist
1 Hans Kohn, Nationalism: its meaning and history, (Florida: Robert E. Krieger Publishing Company, 1965), 4.
2 Ibid, 9.
3 Abdullah Al-Ahsan, The Muslim World: Colonialism to the clash of Civilization, (unpublished book), 23.
movements in these continents. As Ahsan states that “While in Europe nationalism emerged combating traditional Christian worldview and Christian structure of law, society and government; in the Muslim world Islam came in support of new national identities.”4 In other words, in Europe nationalism emerged to counter religious hegemony while the Afro-Asian nationalistic movements were inspired and triggered by religion.
In the Indian sub-continent, which was a British colony, the emergence of nationalism can be seen as a response to colonialism and colonial exploitation; and in the shaping of the nationalist movement in the sub-continent religion played a central role. The development of nationalism in Indian sub-continent was not monolithic, rather
“Nationalism in the Indian context demonstrated its complexity by taking two divergent political course and orientations.”5 One was de-colonial movement by the Muslim initially, and by the Hindu later; the second was secessionist nationalism developed by Indian Muslims and other ethnic groups. Both the nationalist groups used religious consciousness, identity, values and symbols in order to mobilize the masses.
Notably, in the germination of Muslim nationalistic movement in India, Bengali Muslims played a significant role as Khan observed- “From the unification of Bengal under the leadership of Sultan Shams al Din Iliays Shah in the mid-fourteenth century to the establishment of Pakistan in 1947, the Muslims of Bengal had played an influential role in the political history.”6 Indeed, anti-colonial sub-continental nationalist conscience eventually got divided into two streams of religious nationalism-
4 Ibid, 6.
5 Ross Mollick, Hindu Muslim Nationalism in colonial Bengal 1905-1947, (Master’s Thesis, Toronto:
York University, 1978), 9.
6 Muhammad Mojlum Khan, The Muslim Heritage of Bengal, (Mark field: United Kingdom, 2013), 7.
Hindu oriented Indian nationalism and Muslim oriented Pakistan nationalism, popularly known as the two-nation theory.
However, historical evidence proves that the Bengal part of the sub-continent enjoyed autonomy and independence before the advancement of colonial rule. This legacy created a strong sense of resistance to foreign political intruders which made the political and religious leaders contributed enormously to the development of anti- colonial nationalism. Arguably, the seeds of Bengali Muslim nationalism was planted by a prominent religious leader Haji Shariatullah (1781-1840)7 through his Farayezi Movement8 in Bengal during the first quarter of 19th century. Under the leadership of his son, famously known as Dudu Mian,9 Faraizi movement began to expand and proliferate rapidly in the Muslim Bengal. By the passage of time, it became a mass movement because of its agenda and the charismatic leadership. The tradition was carried forward by other religio-political leaders such as Mir Nesaruddin Titu known as Titu Mir (1782-1832). So, it is evident that Muslim nationalism in Bengal was not something a new experience to be felt only in the 20th century.
As the Sub-continent got divided into two nations, India and Pakistan, following the departure of the colonial occupiers, both the nations started to witness the emergence of sub-nationalism within their own territories. A number of regional insurgency movements throughout India and Pakistan emerged in demand of separate national
7Haji Shariatullah (1781-1840) was a prominent Islamic intellectual, reformer of Muslim Bengal. The district of Shariatpur is named after him. He was born in 1781 in a renowned Muslim family famously
known Talukder family at Faridpur district. See more
8 “Faraizi Movement 19th -century religious reform movement launched by haji shariatullah. The term Faraizi is derived from 'farz' meaning obligatory duties enjoined by Allah. The Faraizis are, therefore, those who aim at enforcing the obligatory religious duties”. See more http://en.banglapedia.org/index.php?title=Faraizi_Movement
9 Dudu Miyan (1819-1862) succeeded to the leadership of the faraizi movement at the death of his father, Haji Shariatullah, in 1840. Dudu Mia's real name was Muhsinuddin Ahmad, 'Dudu Miyan' being his 'fond name'. http://en.banglapedia.org/index.php?title=Dudu_Miyan
identity, autonomy and independence. Interestingly enough it is the same ideology of nationalism that guided their independence movements. A separate independent movement for Bangladesh is one of them. Today’s Bangladesh was East Pakistan during 1947-1971. During its East Pakistan decades, the local politics gradually shifted from the earlier religiously inspired Muslim nationalism to more ethnicity inspired Bengali nationalism which eventually brought its independence.
However, in independent Bangladesh there developed a confrontational dimension between two streams- religious nationalism and secular nationalism. It frequently triggered conflict between secularist and Islamist Bengalis, between Bengali Hindus and Bengali Muslims, even sometimes, between Indians and Bangladeshis.10
So, what we see in the history of the emergence of nationalism and its evolution in the sub-continent is that national identity has been shaped and reshaped constantly;
it took its shape according to the context and convenience. It descended from larger dimensions to fragmented narrower dimensions, and every time it is the same ideology of nationalism that has provided with legitimacy to a new identity. The independent Bangladeshi national identity is one such example. How can this phenomenon be explained?
In the context of Bangladesh, nationalism is inseparably associated with Sheikh Mujibur Rahman (1920-1975). In fact, in the South Asian political discourse Sheikh Mujibur Rahman was a ‘larger than life figure.11’ He is a ‘great phenomenon’ in the history of Bangladesh.12 Scholars project him as a man of courage, determination, steady fast towards his mission and goal. Sheikh Mujib was born on March 17 in 1920
10 Zillur Rahman Khan, Islam and Bengali Nationalism, Asian Survey, vol. xxv, No.8 (1985), 834.
11 S. A. Karim, Sheikh Mujib Triumph and Tragedy, (Dhaka: The University Press Limited, 2005), xv.
12 Moudud Ahmed, Bangladesh: Era of Sheikh Mujibur Rahman, (Dhaka: University press limited, 1983), 265.
at Tungipara, Gopalgonj district of Bangladesh. He is popularly known as Bangabandhu (friends of Bengal) and became a founding father of Bangladesh. Sheikh Mujib was raised up in a Bengali Muslim family and got formal education from Kolkata and Dhaka University. He started his political career by enjoining Muslim League politics before partition of India. After creation of Pakistan, Mujib officially started his politics in 1949 as a joint secretary of Awami League. He was killed in military coup on 15 August in 1975. He was the most dominant and popular leader in East Pakistan during 1960s, and led the nationalist movement. He ruled the independent Bangladesh during (1972- 1975).
1.2 STATEMENT OF THE PROBLEM
It is a historical fact that Sheikh Mujibur Rahman has been the central role player in the movement of independent Bangladesh. His dominant role and presence has earned him the title- father of the nation, and sometimes the ‘greatest Bengali’ ever.13 However, despite being an undisputed leader his political ideology is not beyond controversy.
In the independent Bangladesh, identity formation has been controversial. It revolves around three competing claims. The first claim is Bengali nationalism which is based on ethnicity, local indigenous culture and heritage, and language. This is subscribed by the political party of Sheikh Mujib. This claim is further associated with secularism. Political parties on the centre-left spectrum maintain this claim of identity arguing that Mujib maintained this ideology in his independence movement. The second claim is Bangladeshi nationalism which is based on ‘Bangladeshi’ territorial identity, separate from the Bengalis in the West Bengal part of India. This claim maintains
13 Reece Jones, Searching for the greatest Bengali: The BBC and shifting identity categories in South Asia, National Identities, Vol. 10, No. 2, (2008), 149-165.
political civic consciousness of universal membership rather than particularistic Bengali ethnic consciousness, it rejects the claim that Mujib’s independence movement was based on ‘Bengali’ consciousness and it leans towards Muslim identity and heritage due to their majority presence.
And the third claim is Islamic identity which argues that being a Muslim majority nation its identity should be aligned with the universal Islamic identity rather than narrow geographic and ethnic identities. So this third dimension of identity goes beyond the first two dimensions. Over the past one decade, the political and intellectual communities of the first claim in Bangladesh have systematically institutionalized their position making Mujib as an idol of Bengali secular nationalism.
However, there are numerous evidence that support that Sheikh Mujib never subscribed the so-called ‘Bengali’ nationalism. An analysis of his political career during the 1940s, 1950s, and 1960s may suggest that he advocated not Bengali nationalism but Bengali Muslim nationalism. A cursory reference to some of his beliefs reads ‘‘we Bengali Muslims have two sides. One is our belief that we are ‘Muslim’ and the other that we are ‘Bengalis;’’14 “I am a Bengali, I am a human, and I am a Muslim;’’15 “I was aware of how the ‘British’ had snatched away power from the Muslims and how almost Muslims overnight were deprived of their wealth and how ‘Hindus’ flourished at their expense. I knew too how Muslims were driven out of their estates, businesses, the army and jobs and how Hindus took their places;”16 and ‘‘I would narrate these events and highlight ‘Titu Mir’s rebellion and Haji Shariatullah’s Faraizi movement and then move on to the history of the movement for creating Pakistan.’’17
14Sheikh Mujibur Rahman, The Unfinished Memoirs, (Dhaka: the University Press limited, 2012), 51.
15Muktijoddha, “Return of Bangabandhu: Speech on January 10, 1972” YouTube, December 20, 2011, https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=__CHdKMmQfo, Retrieved on 20-5-2018
16 Rahman, 23.
These beliefs of Mujib indicate that the dominant Bengali-secular-identity narrative is challengeable, and his political ideology can be re-assessed. The aim of this research is to challenge the dominant narratives and to present a new Sheikh Mujib as a proponent and ideologue of Bengali Muslim nationalism. The research argues that this identity of Mujib can be discovered in his political career during the decades before Bangladesh got independence in 1971.
1.3 RESEARCH QUESTIONS
The study attempts to answer the following questions:
1. How was nationalism understood and debated in the context of British sub- continental politics?
2. In what ways the nationalist political ideology of Sheikh Mujibur Rahman is articulated by the intellectual and political communities in Bangladeshi political discourse?
3. How did the Muslim league politics and the Pakistan movement in British India shape Sheikh Mujib’s political ideology?
1.4 OBJECTIVES OF THE STUDY
The objectives of the research are as follows:
1. To analyze the emergence of nationalism in sub-continental context especially focusing on Bengali/ Bangladeshi Nationalism.
2. To analyze the present political discourse of Bangladesh on Sheikh Mujib’s political ideology by intellectual and political communities.
3. To investigate the influence of Muslim League and Pakistan movement on Sheikh Mujib’s political ideology.
8 1.5 SIGNIFICANCE OF THE STUDY
This study is significant due to a number of reasons. Firstly, Bangladesh politics is heavily divided over the issue of national identity. The position of Sheikh Mujib in this identity debate is very important to determine the nature and direction of the debate.
Therefore, to know his political ideology from a different perspective can influence the debate enormously. Secondly, the contemporary political discourse on national identity is heavily dominated by one particular claim associating with Mujib which displaces Mujib from being a national leader to a party leader. An understanding of Mujib from a different perspective can potentially bring political and social harmony in the country.
And finally, the contemporary Bangladeshi history tends to start from 1971 in order to disassociate its identity from Pakistani legacy; however, exploring the political career of Mujib as a father of the nation is important to know his personality and political views. And this cannot be done without analyzing his past career days that lies in the days of Pakistan. In that sense, this study can present a balanced view of Mujib’s political ideology.
1.6 LITERATURE REVIEW
It is pertinent to keep in mind that the main approach of this study is to depict a comprehensive sketch on Bengali Muslim nationalism and Sheikh Mujibur Rahman based on available documents, literature, and speeches of Sheikh Mujibur Rahman as well as the works of selected scholars. A few research articles, books and thesis are approached on the proposed topic. However, a substantial number of studies have been conducted on his biography, views, philosophy, and his contribution. In addition, many scholars have studied Bengali nationalism, Bengalism, Bengal Muslim identity and the
nationalism in Bangladesh. In order to have an intelligible discussion, hence some of the valuable works will be reviewed here.
A very scholarly analysis of Bangladesh independence movement has been done by G.W Choudhury entitled The Last Days of the United Pakistan.18 This work narrates an overall description of Pakistan’s political development of nineteen sixties. The main focuses of the research is to describe and analyze the internal and external factors from the fall of Ayub Khan Regime to the separation of Pakistan. The author distinctly and objectively scrutinizes and figures out the rise of Bengali regionalism or sub- nationalism within Pakistan nationalism. This book depicts that the misconceptions of army general of Pakistan and the dubious roles played by two de facto leaders Sheikh Mujibur Rahman and Z.A. Bhutto caused the disintegration of Pakistan and the emergence of independent Bangladesh. The author shows that Sheikh Mujibur Rahman adopted a deceptive strategy to achieve his goal. It also demonstrates that Sheikh Mujibur Rahman was successful in using Bengalis nationalistic emotions against west- Pakistani counterpart. This study made a significant contribution to understanding Bengali sub-nationalistic movement and the role of Sheikh Mujib but this work does not highlight his political orientation during Pakistan.
Another valuable resource Bangladesh Today: an indictment and lament19 written by Matiur Rahman provides a critical assessment of Bengalis secessionist movement and external involvement. The central theme of the book is to show that the emergence of Bangladesh is a product of a foreign conspiracy. The author also indicates Sheikh Mujib’s role in the separation movement and its bad impact on the new state.
The book portraits Sheikh Mujib as an instrument of India. It is imperative to note that
18 G.W.Choudhury, The Last Days of the United Pakistan, (London: C, Hurst & Co. Ltd., 1974)
19 Matiur Rahman, Bangladesh Today: an indictment and lament, (London: News and Media Ltd, 1978).
this book continuously claims that there is no common Bengali Muslim and Hindus nationalism. The author shows Bengali Muslims are distinct from their counter religionist. According to Rahman, the so-called Bengali nationalism is a Myth, no reality in Bangladesh. It is a grand design of India and communist groups to dismember Pakistan. Although this works contains some valuable analysis related to Bengali nationalistic movement and Sheikh Mujib but it does not highlight Sheikh Mujib’s Muslim identical character.
Era of Sheikh Mujibur Rahman20 written by Moudud Ahmed, a veteran politician, scholar and former Deputy prime minister of Bangladesh, presents a comprehensive and balanced account of the political developments in Bangladesh during its initial years. The major focuses of this study is to depict an authentic picture and objective analysis of Sheikh Mujibur Rahman’s regime. Undoubtedly, this work made a significant contribution to the understanding of political dimensions of the newly independent states of Sub-continent and Africa. According to Ahmed, the present crisis of Bangladesh as the result of the socio-economic and political initiatives taken by Sheikh Mujibur Rahman and his government. The author spends a significant part of the book to highlight the law and order situations, constitution-making process, and amendments and so on. The book also reveals how privatization of government destroyed the concept of law and justice. The author devotes one chapter to show the undeniable/unforgettable contribution of Sheikh Mujib for the Bengali sovereign identity. Ahmed also considers Sheikh Mujibur Rahman as the ‘greatest phenomenon’
and symbol of Bengali Nationalism. Albeit, this study gives a critical analysis of Sheikh
20Moudud Ahmed, Bangladesh: Era of Sheikh Mujibur Rahman, (Dhaka: University Press Limited, 1983).
Mujib’s era but it does not focus enough on Sheikh Mujib’s sympathy towards Islam and Muslim community.
Zillur R. Khan has written an important article entitled Islam and Bengali Nationalism21 providing an important account of Bengali Muslim nationalism and its ambivalence. The main highlights of the paper are to analyze and show the development of the Bengali Muslim identity and how the leaders of Bangladesh try to exercise secularized politics within the Islamic traditions of the mass people. The paper shows the Bengali Muslim nationalism is not a product of single force rather many complex forces. The author argues that Bengali Muslims are culturally different from other parts of Indian Muslims. In the Bengali Muslim politics, religious and non-religious elements are mixed, according to Khan, Bengali Muslims have demonstrated significant pragmatism in their political culture. The paper devotes sizeable portions to illustrate Sheikh Mujib’s religious and secular exercise in politics. Although this paper noticeably highlights the impact of religion on Bengali Muslim nationalism it does not focus enough on Sheikh Mujib’s Muslim nationalistic affiliations.
An informative article has been written by M.G Kabir entitled Religion, Language and Nationalism in Bangladesh22 presenting an analytical observation on Bengali Muslim identity and developments of nationalism in Bangladesh. The author very objectively shows how religion shaped pre-Pakistan Bengali Muslim nationalism and how “Religion was replaced by language after the creation of Pakistan as the primary focus with the rise of militant Bengali nationalism.” The central focus of the article is to “analyze these shifts in the salience of religion and language in the different
21Zillur Rahman Khan, Islam and Bengali Nationalism, Asian Survey, Vol. XXV, No.8 (1985), 834- 851.
22 M.G. Kabir, Religion, language and Nationalism in Bangladesh, Journal of contemporary Asia, Vol.
17, No.4 (1987), 473-487.
stages of nationalist developments in Bangladesh.” This article demonstrates religion and language are the two most integral part of the Bengali Muslim identity. It is impossible to separate one from another. The author highlights Sheikh Mujib’s role in the Bengali nationalistic movement. This article also slightly shows Sheikh Mujib’s Islamic identity distinctively as Kabir states ‘he (Sheikh Mujib) categorically declared that he was a proud Muslim and his nation was the second largest Muslim nation.’ The author depicts Mujib’s pragmatism in dealing with religion. Overall, it is a valuable source to understand Bengali Muslim nationalism and Sheikh Mujibur Rahman.
The most reliable and academic resource on Bengali Muslim nationalism and Sheikh Mujibur Rahman is a compilation of various articles and essays entitled Religion, nationalism and politics in Bangladesh23 edited by Rafiuddin Ahmed, a renowned scholar and historian. This book contains ten chapters with ten different essays. The main focuses of this work are different aspects of the society and politics in Bangladesh, more specifically focus on religion as a political symbol. According to Rafiuddin Ahmed, Sheikh Mujibur Rahman and most of his fellow comrades were the products of communal politics of late 1930s and 1940s. In the preamble, the author also objectively shows that there is no difference between Jinnah’s secularism and Sheikh Mujib’s secularism. More importantly, it illustrates that Sheikh Mujibur Rahman never ignored the role of Islam as a pertinent factor in the political development of newly independent Bangladesh. The most significant part of the book is chapter three entitled
“Bangladesh politics secular and Islamic trends” by Talukder Maniruzzaman, a celebrated scholar and political scientist, which provides a comprehensive qualitative and quantitative analysis on the issue of Islam and politics of Bangladesh. In his essay,
23 Rafiuddin Ahmed, (eds.). Religion nationalism and politics in Bangladesh, (New Delhi: South Asian Publisher, 1990).
the author consistently shows that Sheikh Mujib‘s secularism does not exile Islam and Muslim identity. Maniruzzaman also shows that Sheikh Mujib adopted secularism because of internal leftist and external pressure as well as political pragmatism. This book is very useful for scholars and researchers to understand Islam’s role in the politics of Bangladesh.
An explanatory study on Sheikh Mujibur Rahman entitled Bangladesh: From Mujib to Ershad: an interpretive study24 written by Lawrence Ziring a renowned western scholar and political scientist, provides a comprehensive chronicle of Sheikh Mujib’s political biography that will enormously help the future researchers and scholars to discern about Sheikh Mujibur Rahman and his political identity. The author uses interpretive25 method and comparative analysis to get a clear picture of Sheikh Mujib’s contribution. Lawrence analytically scrutinizes numerous events of his life and depicts two opposite character of Sheikh Mujibur Rahman. In the beginning of the study, the author presents Sheikh Mujibur Rahman as an inheritor/product of Faraizi Movement, a Bengali Muslim nationalistic movement. Then the researcher also argues that Sheikh Mujibur Rahman is the key figure to represent Bengali interest.
This book provides Sheikh Mujib’s anti-Indian stand, pre-independence and pro-Indian stand in post-independent time. This book covers the role of Sheikh Mujibur Rahman to govern a newborn nation. The author demonstrates that Sheikh Mujib was not fully prepared to take up responsibility and lead the newly independent country. The book also provides a critical assessment of Mujibism and the regime of Awami League
24 Lawrence Ziring, Bangladesh: From Mujib to Ershad an interpretive study, (Dhaka: University Press Limited, 1992)
25 “Interpretive studies assume that people create and associate their own subjective and intersubjective meanings as they interact with the world around them. Interpretive researchers thus attempt to understand phenomena through accessing the meanings participants assign to them.” Orlikowski and Baroudi, 1991.
government. Lawrence considers Mujibism had no real impact on the masses, it is nothing more than ‘a cult of the personality.’ The author characterizes, on one hand, Sheikh Mujibur Rahman as a very poor prime minister and uncomfortable with the democratic values. He was not a charismatic leader. On the other hand, this book very smartly presses the distinctive personality of Sheikh Mujibur Rahman that he was extremely popular among his fellow countryman. The book also argues that albeit Sheikh Mujib was not a good administrator but he was quite fit as a Bangabandhu or friend of Bengal. Lawrence also thinks that the greatest mistake of Sheikh Mujibur Rahman was the fashioning of Bangladesh Krishak Sramik Awami League or BAKSHAL. The author also slightly highlights Sheikh Mujib’s Islamic identity by quoting his speech for the legislators….’Islam’s injunction that we must do well/good to humanity’.
A more informative and well-structured works covering a comprehensive discussion on Bengali Muslim Nationalism entitled The Separation of East Pakistan:
the rise and realization of Bengali Muslim nationalism26 written by Hasan Zaheer, an authority on Indo-Pakistan history, provides a scholarly narrative on the proposed notion. The author divided his works into two parts. In first part entitled ‘Muslim Bengal and Pakistan’ Hasan mainly analyzes the rise of Bengali Muslim Nationalism in three periods: 1. before partition, 2. Partition to 1969 and 3. 1969 to 1971. As he states ‘the emergence of Bangladesh was the culmination of the struggle of Bengali Muslim nationalism, launched in the mid-thirties, to establish a separate identity of its own; not only distinct from the Hindu Majority of the province but also from their coreligionists of the other regions in India’. And the second part of the study consists of eight chapters
26Hasan Zaheer, The Separation of East Pakistan: the rise and realization of Bengali Muslim nationalism, (Karachi: Oxford University Press, 1994)