Islam O Bangali Musalman Samaj by Asim Roy, Publisher - Dhrubapada, in 2017
Mahfuz Ul Hasib Chowdhury unveils the essence of a research work that connects history with socio-political orbits and theological perspectives
Asim Roy's book Islam O Bangali Musalman Samaj came to my hands a few weeks ago. As I started going through the book I found it quite substantially written and enriched with vital facts and figures related to the rise and expansion of Muslims in South Asia with special references to the Bengali-speaking communities of this region. This is a research-based book with bibliographic acknowledgements conveyed to different books and authors.
It shows that the writer Asim Roy has done a great deal of hard work for accomplishing this book. Textual and verbal discourses on Islamic theology and the spread of Islamic belief across South Asia have been all along emphatic points for clerics, intellectuals, writers and historians of this subcontinent and beyond.
Under the ongoing circumstances while we have been painfully observing the advent of radical religious wings and rifts between devotees of different religious ideologies, books like Islam O Bangali Musalman Samaj enable us to glance back at the bygone days in history and to seek answers to some questions that arise in our minds in present time regarding a number of geopolitical conflicts and polarizations.
This book casts in-depth look into the social standings of Muslims before the arrival of British colonial forces on the soil of this subcontinent. On the other hand, following the establishment of British governance across greater India a great deal of changes came to the socio-political and socio-economic circumference that encompassed the Muslims and Hindus of this vast region. Cultural identity is another distinctive angle on which this book emphasizes. The cultural individualism and traditional values of Hindus and Muslims of South Asia confronted a considerable magnitude of ups and downs when the British rulers started to govern the native inhabitants. It may be added that the imperial British authorities ruled and exploited the masses of Indian landscape for around two hundred years.
The evolution of middle class among Muslims particularly in the Bengali-speaking community is another remarkable topic which has been addressed in this book. The values and norms upheld by the middle class Bengali Muslims played significant roles in restructuring the visions and lifestyle of Muslims in our country according to historians and authors.
The most momentous incident in this subcontinent was the partition of 1947. It turned everything upside down. The separation of two communities on the basis of their religions led to heartbreaking clashes aggravated by communal bloodbath in 1947 and those deadly, nightmarish and traumatic remembrances still haunt the people of this region. Moreover, the partition of 1947 generated severe antagonism between Muslims and Hindus which triggered many more instances of communal violence in Bangladesh and India even so many years after 1947. Till today communalism is a grievous threat to peace and stability in South Asia and militant outfits have been utilizing communal venom for materializing their vicious motives. At the same time sectarian divides within Muslims in South Asia are reasons for some more problems for the ordinary people of South Asian countries.
The views presented by leaders like Mahatma Gandhi, Jawaharlal Nehru, Mawlana Abul Kalam Azad and some more prominent politicians regarding the partition of 1947 also have been highlighted in this book by Asim Roy. Points and counterpoints supporting and opposing the partition of the subcontinent arose back in the turbulent years that culminated into the historic events of 1947 and Indian subcontinent's partition is still addressed in academic and informal discussions.
The undulating political trajectories of South Asia after 1947 also have been illustrated by Asim Roy in his book Islam O Bangali Musalman Samaj. References have been made to the liberation of Bangladesh in 1971 and the regeneration of selfhood among the people of Bangladesh following the country's independence.
This book by Asim Roy persuades us to look around us in the middle of the prevailing circumstances while misinterpretations of religious codes are driving young people towards the dark alleys of militancy and extremism. For this reason Islam O Bangali Musalman Samaj deserves an attentive perusal. This book opens up a spacious door to the readers to know profoundly about the growth of Bengali-speaking inhabitants across the subcontinent with exclusive focus on their theological approach to life from the previous centuries till present era. In this way this book covers a wide horizon with thoughtful, referential and historic deliberations.
Religions have influenced people's thoughts, habits, traditions, social patterns and state mechanism since time immemorial. Therefore, while scrutinizing the history of a particular nation or community, knowing about their religious ideals is necessary too.
The author of the book Asim Roy is currently involved in Tasmania University of Australia as a Research Fellow. He has taught history in this university for a long time. He has penned a number of books about history. The reviewer is a literary analyst for The Asian Age
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