A man of versatile genius, Zemindar Alhaj Ahmadul Islam Chowdhury is a researcher, Islamic thinker, columnist, social activist, organiser, patron of learning and academic personality. He is a descendent of Hazrat Syed Abdur Rahman Siddiqi (R.) who arrived in the Indian Sub-continent from the holy land of Arabia with a mission to preach Islam in the 16th century, and settled in the then Gour of Bengal.
Birth: Ahmadul Islam Chowdhury was born at 5 PM on Wednesday, the 18th of January 1950. The day was 28th of Rabiul Awal of Hijri 1369 and 4th Magh of Bangla 1356. He was the second son among seven sons and daughters of Khan Bahadur Badi Ahmad Chowdhury and his second wife. Although his father Khan Bahadur Badi Ahmad Chowdhury was busy with politics and looking after his zemindary he was renowned for his social welfare activities and well-being of the common people. His mother was mistress of the household of his influential lemindar father. Ahmadul Islam was brought up in an austere family environment of his strong-minded mother. Yet he was so faithful to his beloved mother. Ahmadul Islam Chowdhury is said to have been born with a silver-spoon in his mouth. Months before his birth both his mother and father dreamt a sweet dream of Rasul Allah Hazrat Mohammad Mostafa (Sm). Till today, his plain and candid living filled with day-to-day activities has brought him fortune that he sees as the endless blessing of Allah.
Place of Birth: Ahmadul Islam Chowdhury was born in the aristocratic Khan Bahadur family at Boilchari village of Banskhali upazila (sub-district), 36 kilometres south from the heart of Chattogram (Chittagong) city. The Khan Bahadur Bari dwelling house is encircled on all sides by a 20-feet wide trench. At the very entrance of the house one will find a big pond, as old as over 100 years, with a huge bungalow from the pond bank. The bungalow faces a spacious lounge called Khan Bahadur's Boithak Khana (assembly hall), guests' room and separate rooms for teachers and Hujurs (Arabic teachers), followed by a wide internal courtyard and a huge granary (paddy godown). Thereafter stands the three-storey traditional old massive building wherein Ahmadul Islam Chowdhury was born.
Boundary area of the Khan Bahadur Bari starts right from the main road of Boilchari Khan Bahadur Bazaar. Alongside the Bazaar, there is a telephone exchange, school field, a school established by his father Khan Bahadur Badi Ahmad Chowdhury and the mosque, and thereafter the family graveyard within the inner compound of the house. Geographically, Boilchari village lies in the middle of the upazila. Our forefathers arrived and settled here from Mallick Sobhan area of neighbouring Satkania upazila some 300 years ago. Formerly, this house was known as Uzir Bari, meaning the house of a minister or advisor. Thereafter, they called it Meah Bari. Khan Bahadur Badi Ahmad Chowdhury, owner of a huge estate, or zemindary, enlightened the locality through his impeccable political activities, social services, health services, telecommunication services, agricultural development and academic advancement. He was the first man to construct the union council building on his family land in the southern region across the Karnaphuli River in the year 1922. And all these social welfare activities brought extensive popularity, name and fame to the Khan Bahadur Badi Ahmad Chowdhury Bari in the southern Chattogram region.
Childhood and Early Youth: Ahmadul Islam Chowdhury passed his childhood and adolescence in the Khan Bahadur Bari and completed his schooling up to the secondary education level in the school established by his father under the guidance of Arabic and General Education house tutors. He grew up in a family environment blended with stringent and watchful monitoring of his father and ardent love and fondness of his mother. There were playing and sporting facilities along with the school ground attached to their house. But he was rather less interested in sporting. He loved to be somewhere around his mother. Yet he loved to play badminton and riding bicycle in his childhood.
Youth: Ahmadul Islam Chowdhury was barely a school student when his father died. And his mother died when he was studying in the Satkania Government College. As soon as he completed his study he had to shoulder the responsibility of looking after and managing the paternal property and zemindary. It brought him a chance to get closer to the local people, and in this way he started working for welfare of the people alongside continuing religious activities. During his college life he was associated with setting up a religious welfare organisation called Darbar-E-Mohammadi (Sm). Initially, he was Joint Secretary of the organisation and later became General Secretary of the same. This was one of the most popular organisations, drawing huge support from the people of Banskhali. By the end of the Sixties of the 20th century people of the region started organising Milad-un-Nabi (Sm) processions in larger grounds. During those occasions Mr Chowdhury drafted and finalised the constitution of his organisation under the title "Kanun" and got it printed.
Family Lineage: The family lineage of Ahmadul Islam Chowdhury came down from his 13th forefather Hazrat Syed Abdur Rahman Siddiqi (R). He came to Gour of India from the holy Arabia to preach Islam and settled there. His descendant was Hazrat Syed Abdul Karim Siddiqi (R) and Karim's descendants were Hazrat Syed Ahmad Khan Siddiqi and Syed Mohammad Khan Siddiqi.
Hazrat Syed Ahmad Khan Siddiqi settled in village Mallick Sobhan of Satkania (now Lohagara upazila). He was 'Deputy Advisor' to Nawab Shayestha Khan. Till today, his three-dome Mughal style Jam-E-Mosjid, graveyard attached to the mosque and a big pond at Mallick Sobhan village still bear the tradition of the Mughal era. Naming of Uzir Bari of Boilchari also bears testimony of that history.
Syed Mohammad Khan Siddiqi had six sons and daughters. The eldest of them was Syed Abdur Razzak Siddiqi. He had five sons and daughters. The third son was Noor Mohammad. Noor Mohammad had four offsprings. His first son was Mohammad Rafi. Rafi had six sons and daughters and the fifth son was Mohammad Toki. Toki's younger son was Mohammad Hussain Chowdhury, better known as Ahmad Hussain Chowdhury.
The then zemindars of Chattogram region maintained a family title 'Syed' in the beginning of the name and 'Siddiqi' at the end of the name. Later on, the titles 'Syed' and 'Siddiqi' were dropped and replaced by 'Chowdhury' which is treated as a title of an aristocratic and wealthy family in the society.
Mohammad Hussain Chowdhury, popularly known as Ahmad Hussain Chowdhury, living in the 16th century, settled at Boilchari village of Banskhali from Mallick Sobhan village of Satkania (now Lohagara upazila). Boilchari village is located just in the middle of Banskhali upazila. Ahmad Hussain Chowdhury had two sons: Zafar Ali Chowdhury and Mohammad Ali Chowdhury. Mohammad Ali Chowdhury was a highly educated person and a pleader practising in the court in the Persian language. He established the family mosque which is still standing in front of the house. His elder brother Zafar Ali Chowdhury had one son named Mohammad Akmal Chowdhury. Akmal's son was Muzaherun Nabi Chowdhury. Muzaherun Nabi Chowdhury had three sons and two daughters. They were Mossammat Achiya Khatun Chowdhury, Amirrul Hajj Khan Bahadur Badi Ahmad Chowdhury, Alhaj Khan Saheb Rafiq Ahmad Chowdhury, Alhaj Kazi Aziz Ahmad Chowdhury and Mossammat Abeda Khatun Chowdhury.
Amirrul Hajj Khan Bahadur Badi Ahmad Chowdhury had two wives. They had six sons and four daughters. The first wife was Mosammat Nazmunnesa Begum Chowdhury who has a son and two daughters. They are Ayesha Siddiqua, Alhaj Nurul Islam Chowdhury and Rabeya Begum Chowdhury.
Khan Bahadur Badi Ahmad Chowdhury's second wife was Mosammat Rahima Begum Chowdhury. They have five sons and two daughters. They are Oliul Islam Chowdhury Sukku Meah, Alhaj Ahmadul Islam Chowdhury, Alhaj Mahmudul Islam Chowdhury, Alhaj Yasinul Islam Chowdhury (Manik Meah), Alhaj Raihanul Islam Chowdhury, Alhaj Ummul Khayer Begum Chowdhury and Alhaj Umme Safa Begum Chowdhury.
His Father's Credential
Name: Amirrul Hajj Khan Bahadur Badi Ahmad Chowdhury.
Birth: 23rd of March, 1886 AD
Death: 13th of April, 1962 (Friday).
He was Member of the Legislative Council (MLC) of Bengal in undivided India in 1929. His constituency was Greater Chittagong from Rangunia in the north to Teknaf in the south, (2) Member of Legislative Assembly (MLA) of undivided Bengal in India (as Representative of the Zemindars) from the constituency of Greater Chittagong, Greater Noakhali, Greater Tripura (now Cumilla) and Greater Sylhet in the year 1943, (3) President of the first Union Board formed by the British Government in 1922 and continued to be President of the Union Board for 30 years at a stretch, (4) Honoured with the rank of "Amirrul Hajj" by the British Government in 1935 for successfully leading the Hajj Pilgrimages in India, (5) Honoured with the title and status of "Khan Bahadur" by the Governor General of India in 1936 in recognition to his paramount services rendered to the common people, (6) Member of the Calcutta Port Hajj Committee for three consecutive terms, (7) Member of India Road Board Committee. (8) Member of Assam Bengal Railway Advisory Committee for three consecutive terms, (9) Member of Bengal Excise Standing Committee, (10) Member of Bengal Medical Standing Committee, (11) Member of Bengal Irrigation Standing Committee, (12) Member of Bengal Revenue Standing Committee, (13) Member of Bengal Agricultural Board, (14) Member of General Hospital and Medical School, (15) Member of Chittagong District Board for 15 years, (16) Commissioner of Chittagong Municipality for two years, (17) Member of School Board, Chittagong, (18) Member of Industry Board, Chittagong, (19) Managing Director of Patiya Tea Co Ltd, Calcutta, (20) Director of Deshapriya Sugar Mill, Calcutta, (21) Director of Cooperative Traders Bank, (22) Director of Indo-Burma Traders Bank, (23) Director of Mahalaksmi Bank, Chittagong, (24) Director of United Common Insurance Co Ltd., (25) Vice President of Bengal Library Association, Calcutta, (26) Secretary of Chittagong Divisional Zemindars' Association, (27) Secretary of Anti-Malarial Society, Chittagong and (28) Patron of Chittagong Moslem Society, Calcutta.
Besides, Khan Bahadur Badi Ahmad Chowdhury performed responsibility as Jail Visitor, Special Juror and Patron, President, Secretary and Member of many schools, Madrashas and clubs with utmost sincerity and honesty.
Matrimonial Life of Alhaj Ahmadul Islam Chowdhury: Ahmadul Islam Chowdhury's matrimonial life started on 8th April, 1973. He was married to Arifa khan, daughter of Alhaj Mohammed Yunus Khan of renowned Deputy Bari, Chunati under Lohagara Upazila of Chattogram.
1st Hajj Pilgrimage: He performed the first Hajj Pilgrimage in 1975.
Professional Life: Chowdhury Sahab in his long professional and practical life came forward with his helping hands to the assistance of the poor, welfare of the common people and established different religious, educational and voluntary organisations. Some of them are stated below: (1) Uzantia Khan Bahadur Road, Pekua, Cox's Bazaar (1973), (2) Banskhali Central Khankay-E-Hamidia Majidia, Chattogram (1974), (3) Chechuria Majidia Forkania Madrasha, Banskhali (1975), (4) Banskhali Hamidia Rahima Fazil Madrasha, Chattogram (1976), (5) Chechuria Rashidia Hefazkhana, Banskhali, Chattogram (1977), (6) Hamidia Rahima Etimkhana (Orphanage), Banskhali, Chattogram (1978), (7) Banskhali Jame Mosjid, Chattogram (1978), (8) Ujantia Khan Bahadur Jame Mosjid, Pekua, Cox's Bazaar (1979), (9) Banskhali Kathoria (Haliapara) Ebtedayi Madrasha, Chattogram (1979), (10) Boilchari Khan Bahadur Bazaar Jame Mosjid, Banskhali, Chattogram (1980), (11) Uzantia Khan Bahadur Ebtedayi Madrasha, Pekua, Cox's Bazaar (1981), (12) Rajakhali Rahima Begum Road, Pekua, Cox's Bazaar (2002), (13) Banskhali Khan Bahadur Library, Chattogram (2003), (14) Banskhali Rahima Academy, Chattogram (2005), (15) Shishu O Ganoshikhkha Kendra, Chechuria, Banskhali, Chattogram (2007), (16) Mohila Mosjid, Chechuria, Banskhali, Chattogram (2007), (17) Ujantia Khan Bahadur High School, Pekua, Cox's Bazaar (2013) and (18) Ujantia Khan Bahadur Primary School, Pekua, Cox's Bazaar (2017).
Alongside managing the family estate and zemindary he engaged himself in expanding religious, educational and benevolent services. Through these activities he got deeply involved in the development of religious and academic institutions.
He is a Life Member of some renowned Madrashas in Chattogram as per government rules and regulations. Some of them are: (1) Garangia Islamia Kamil Madrasha, Satkania, Chattogram, (2) Chattogram Darul Ulum Kamil Madrasha, (3) Chunati Hakimia Kamil Madrasha, Chattogram, (4) Garangia Islamia Rabbani Mohila Fazil Madrasha, Chattogram, (5) Mallick Sobhan Sufi Fateh Ali Waisi Mohila Madrasha, Lohagara, Chattogram, (6) Ujantia Ahmadia Sunniya Senior Alim Madrasha, Pekua, Cox's Bazaar and (7) Kamal S K Mostafa (Sm) Alim Madrasha, Bakolia, Chattogram.
He is the Founder Member of Boilchari Nazmunnesa High School established by his father in front of their house. He performed responsibility as President of the High School for long 25 years from 1988 and contributed a lot for development and smooth running of the school; especially taking initiatives to increase the number of the teaching staff by almost double during his tenure as President of the school. Considering the growing number of students rapidly in the school he took initiatives to purchase a land measuring 27 decimals (13.5 Ganda) adjacent to the school, which was very essential for extension of the co-education school. On the purchased land he initiated construction of the south-facing three-storey building to the north of the original school building with finance from the school fund and another two-storey west-facing building to the east with financial support of the government. The school now provides education to hundreds of students, both male and female, of the locality every year as its teaching staff and enrolment of students have multiplied by now. The school organised its golden jubilee under a three day programme and published a souvenir on the occasion of celebrating 50 years in the year 2002. His father also set up a primary school in front of the house, and Mr Chowdhury and his four brothers have donated a valuable land by a registered deed for construction of a government funded building for the school beside their family pond.
He is the Founder President of seven to eight religious and service-oriented organisations and also Life Member of multiple organisations and institutions in Chattogram.
Although Ahmadul Islam Chowdhury demonstrated his organisational capacity and skill in running and managing different institutions he was rather less interested in politics. There was no student politics during his school life in the 1960s. Students' political activities were there in practice in colleges at that time but he was away from such activities. Mr Chowdhury remained away from politics conciously, although people might consider it unwise of him because his father was a leading politician during the British rule in India. Till today, he did not get himself involved in politics, and he thinks he is fortunate for not doing politics in life.
So far, he has written as many as 32 books. The books on multiple areas are: (1) Tawaf and Zearah (1996), (16th publication in 2018), (2) Kalantare Dristipat - 1st and 2nd volume (1999), (3) Kalantare Dristipat - 3rd and 4th volume (2001), (4) Hajj O Zearah (2002), (5) Garangia Hazrat Baro Hujur (R) (2003), 3rd publication (2016), (6) Chattogramer Katha (2004), (7) Kalantare Dristipat (5th and 6th volume) (2004), (8) Maqtubat-E Hamedi Mojidi (2004), (9) Garangia Hazrat Chhota Hujur (R) (Seminar Memorial) (2004), (10) Mobarak Smriti (2005), (11) Mobarak Smriti, (2nd publication 2006), (12) Pak-Bharate Zearah O Bhraman (1st part 2005), (13) Shan-E Waisi (R) (2005), (14) Hazrat Shah Shaheb (R) Chunati (2007), (4th publication 2015), (15) Shan-E Waisi (published from India) (2007), (16) Bishwer Prachin Janapad Safar, 1st part (Egypt, Jordan, Iraq and Palestine) (2007), (17) Hajj: Omrah: Zearah (2007), (18) Kalantare Dristipat 7th volume (2009), (19) Dharmakatha 1st part (2009), (20) Aynay-E-Darbare Garangia (2011), (21) Usmania Shamrajyer Desh Turkey ((2011), (22) Shan-E Rahmatullil Alamin (published by Islamic Foundation) (2011), (2nd publication 2014), (23) Parashya Thekey Iran (2012), (24) Bharate Zearah O Bhraman (2nd part) (2012), (25) Turkey - An Osmanian Empire (2012), (26) Shan-E Waisi (published by Islamic Foundation) (2012), (27) Nishpran Bhusarga Kashmir (2012), (28) Chattogram Thekey Hajj-Jatri Paribahan: Itikatha, Odhikar, Dabi (2013), (29) Istanbul Konyar Pathey Prantare (2014), (30) In and Around Istanbul and Konya (2015), (31) Oitijyer Chattogram (2016), (32) Hajj Pilgrimage Through Chittagong Port (Arabic and English) (2018) and (33) Islamer Bikash Bishwamoy (2019).
The manuscripts of his other books waiting for publication are (1) Waisi Hoye Azamgari Silsila, (2) Bharat Mohasagoriyo Deshe Deshe, (3) Bishwer Prachin Janapad Safar (Yemen), (4) Dharmakatha (2nd part), (5) Kalantare Dristipat (8th part), (6) Chattogram O 43 Er Durbhikkha, (7) Manobota, (8), Europe Americay 68 Din.
The vastness of his area of writings has been accepted by the readers as very uncommon and rare. He has been writing different articles and columns in different regional and national dailies for the last 25 years. His articles and columns published so far are nearly 1400. His researchful and informative write-ups in simple and plain language bearing a totally different reading taste have unfolded a new horizon of food for thought in the mind of the new generation readers and writers, remarkably in the arena of Islam, morality, humanity and education.
He travelled extensively in different countries of Asia, Europe, America and Africa continents alongside performing Omrah and Hajj Pilgrimages. He toured Iran and Turkey as a state guest as well.
It may be mentioned here that Ahmadul Islam Chowdhury, along with four brothers - Oliul Islam Chowdhury, Alhaj Mahmudul Islam Chowdhury, Alhaj Yasinul Islam Chowdhury and Alhaj Raihanul Islam Chowdhury have been living in a joint family for long 40-45 years since 1972. So, it was easier for him to exert his whole efforts and capability to the well-being of the common people apart from looking after the family estate and zemindary. It was also possible for him to make extensive tours to different countries of the world with the wholehearted support of his brothers.
He is the father of two sons and a daughter. They are:
Kafil Uddin Mohammad Zubair Chowdhury
Masters in Business Management
Now living in Canada with his family.
Masters in Finance and C.A (Chartered Accountant)
Head of 'Top of Mind', Patron of Learning and a social activist.
Ishtiaque Uddin Chowdhury (Rifat)
B. Sc.Engineer (RUET), MBA (North-South University), PMP, CGMA
General Manager, Robi Axiata Ltd, Dhaka.