Barrister M. Amir-ul Islam: His Portrait Hangs In the Place of Honour | 2017-06-29 |

Barrister M. Amir-ul Islam: His Portrait Hangs In the Place of Honour

Anwar A. Khan

    29 June, 2017 12:00 AM printer

Barrister M. Amir-ul Islam: His Portrait
Hangs In the Place of Honour

Barrister Amir-ul-Islam

Barrister M. Amir-ul Islam, born on 2nd January, 1937,  was an elected Member of the National Assembly in the-then all Pakistan based National Elections held in 1970 where Bangabandhu-led Awami League won a landslide victory, a honourable Member of the drafting committee of Bangladesh Constitution, 1972; Minister for Food, 1973-1974, Honorary Secretary General, Bangladesh Institute of Law and International Affairs (BILIA), 1972, Chairman of Bangladesh Bar Council… and if we analyse his life, we are led to believe which was said by Henry Ward Beecher  “A law is valuable not because it is law, but because there is right in it.” A distinguished octogenarian lawyer, he was and is having allegiance to moral principles, an honour of bright school argot, Mr. Islam possesses all admirable qualities or attributes and an exclamation of our pledging honour to hold him in respect or esteem.

J.G. Holland says, “Laws are the very bulwarks’ of liberty; they define every man’s rights, and defend the individual liberties of all men.” Barrister Islam has taken up legal profession as his career and conforming to the standards of legal profession: A person following a profession, especially a learned profession; one who earns a living in a given or implied occupation engaged in one of the learned professions, as law and as a member of a profession, especially one of the learned professions; a professional whose work is consistently of high quality; and as a lawyer, he should be a consummated craftsman. Barrister Amir is no exception to these axioms. He is a person who is professionally engaged in the analysis and interpretation of works of legal issues; being an outstanding jurist, he is a professional person authorised to practice law; conducts lawsuits or gives legal advice; he is an authority on constitutional law; and one of the great framers of the Bangladesh’s first Constitution which came into being in 1972. “In matters of truth and justice, there is no difference between large and small problems, for issues concerning people are all the same” and Barrister Islam might have a firm conviction in these words of Albert Einstein.

A Barrister-at-Law from Honourable Society of Lincoln’s Inn, UK in 1961-1963, he is qualified, trained, skilled, white-collar professional belongs to legal community having or demonstrating a high degree of knowledge or skill; adept, expert, master, masterful, masterly, proficient, skilled, skilful… It sounds like he seeks some methods of making a living and aspires to become a professional breeder of mustela nigripes in legal profession. When I stop to think, it is much better that some of the great things we have gone through his life during and after our glorious Liberation War of 1971. His professional brethren, each for himself, adopted various hypotheses, more plausible, but all dressed out in a luminous intensity of phrase. He is a real professional harpooner and baleen. Maybe, Clarence S. Darrow’s words are appropriate to him:  “I have lived my life, and I have fought my battles, not against the weak and the poor – anybody can do that – but against power, against injustice, against oppression, and I have asked no odds from them, and I never shall.” This professional gentleman thus familiarly has pointed out, has been all the time standing near them, with nothing specific visible, to denote his gentlemanly rank on board. He is like the words of Thomas Jefferson: “The wisdom of our sages and the blood of our heroes have been devoted to their attainment. They should be the creed of our political faith.” He is probably an excellent illustration of the ability of a lawyer in this era to combine aspects of competence, honesty and dignity in the practice of law.
Seek justice for all . . . Champion the cause of those who deserve redress for injury to personal property . . . Promote the public good through concerted efforts to secure safe products, a safe work place, a clean environment, and quality healthcare . . . Further, the rule of law in a civil justice system, and protect the rights of the accused . . . Advance the common law and the finest traditions of jurisprudence . . . and uphold the honour and dignity of the legal profession and the highest standards of ethical conduct and integrity. He studied law and has been practicing it for so long years because “Law is the embodiment of the moral sentiment of the people” as said by William Blackstone. Since the earliest days, philosophers have dreamed of a country where the mind and spirit of man would be free; where there would be no limits to inquiry; where men would be free to explore the unknown and to challenge the most deeply rooted beliefs and principles. Our first Constitution was a bold effort to adopt this principle; to establish a country with no legal restrictions of any kind upon the subjects and people can investigate, discuss and deny. The framers like Barrister Amir knew, better perhaps than we do today, the risks they were taking. They knew that free speech might be the friend of change and revolution but they also knew that it is always the deadliest enemy of tyranny. With this knowledge, they still believe that the ultimate happiness and security of a nation lies in its ability to explore, to change, to grow and ceaselessly to adapt itself to new knowledge born of inquiry, free from any kind of governmental control over the mind and spirit of man. Loyalty comes from love of good government, not fear of a bad one. “The lawyers’ contribution to the civilising of humanity is evidenced in the capacity of lawyers to argue furiously in the courtroom, and then sit down as friends over a drink or dinner. This habit is often interpreted by the layman as a mark of their ultimate corruption. In my opinion, it is their greatest moral achievement: It is a characteristic of humane tolerance that is most desperately needed at the present time” John R. Silber thus reminds us.

“Let me not be thought as intending anything derogatory to the profession of the law, or to the distinguished members of that illustrious order. Well am I aware that we have in this country innumerable worthy gentlemen, who go about redressing wrongs and defending the defenceless, not for the love of filthy lucre, nor the selfish cravings of renown, but merely for the pleasure of doing good. Sooner would I throw this trusty pen into the flames and cork up my ink bottle forever, than infringe even for a nail’s breadth upon the dignity of these truly benevolent champions of the distressed. On the contrary, I allude merely to those caitiff scouts who, in these latter days of evil, infest the skirts of the profession, as did the recreant Cornish knights of yore the honourable order of chivalry who under its auspices, commit flagrant  wrongs, who thrive by quibbles, by quirks and chicanery, and like vermin increase the corruption in which they are engendered” and Washington Irving words are relevant here to remember Barrister Amir like a giant lawyer, a former politician and Minister for Food in Bangabandhu’s Cabinet in 1973-1974.

As we understand, lawyers must be orally articulate, have good written communication skills and also be good listeners. In order to argue convincingly in the courtroom before juries and judges, good public speaking skills are essential. Communication and speaking skills can be developed during studies by taking part in activities such as mooting or general public speaking. Lawyers must also be able to write clearly, persuasively and concisely, as they must produce a variety of legal documents. The ability to draw reasonable, logical conclusions or assumptions from limited information is essential for a lawyer. They must also be able to consider these judgments critically, so that you can anticipate potential areas of weakness in their argument that must be fortified against. Similarly, they must be able to spot points of weakness in an opposition’s argument. Decisiveness is also a part of judgment. There will be a lot of important judgment calls to make and little time for sitting on the fence. Both the study and practice of law involve absorbing large quantities of information, then having to distil it into something manageable and logical. At times, there will be more than one reasonable conclusion or more than one precedent applicable to resolving a situation. A lawyer must, therefore, have the evaluative skills in order to choose which is the most suitable. Similarly, being able to research quickly and effectively is essential to understanding your clients, their needs, and to preparing legal strategies. Preparing legal strategies requires absorbing and comprehending large amounts of information, then distilling them down into something manageable and useful. And Barrister Amir is a perfect epitome of all those attributes. Robert F. Kennedy described, “Each time a man stands up for an ideal, or acts to improve the lot of others, or strikes out against injustice, he sends forth a tiny ripple of hope, and crossing each other from a million different centres of energy and daring those ripples build a current which can sweep down the mightiest walls of oppression and resistance.”

Law is not an abstract practice. Irrelevant of how well someone does academically, at the end of the day, lawyers work with people, on behalf of people, and the decisions that are made affect peoples’ lives. They must be personable, persuasive and able to read others. This allows them to gauge juror’s reactions and the honesty of witnesses. This allows them to decide upon the best approach to take in order to achieve the desired outcome – either clients taking their advice or reaching a favourable negotiation with the opposition.

Perseverance is not a long race; it has many short races one after the other. Even studying to become a lawyer takes a great deal of perseverance and commitment. When working on a case, you must have the perseverance to complete the work necessary to drive it to a successful finish. The very top lawyers are not only logical and analytical, but they display a great deal of creativity in their problem solving. The best solution is not always the most obvious and in order to out manoeuvre your challenger it is often necessary to think outside the box. Lawyers help those who help themselves. “Justice is conscience, not a personal conscience but the conscience of the whole humanity. Those who clearly recognise the voice of their own conscience usually also recognise the voice of justice” and these words of Alexander Solzhenitsyn are equally tone-beginning for Mr. Islam.

Lawyers have existed since ancient times, developing rules in an attempt to maintain peace and order in communities. Today, lawyers can be found all over the world. Being a son of a giant lawyer during the British regime, I think some of the qualities top lawyers must include: A great lawyer has excellent analytical skills and is able to readily make sense of a large volume of information; a great lawyer is creative and able to think of reasonable solutions when problems and unique situations arise; preparing a legal strategy generally requires an extensive amount of research. Anyone involved in the legal profession should have excellent research skills to be able to find and comprehend pertinent information; great lawyers have excellent interpersonal skills and can develop trusting relationships with everyone they work with; a great lawyer is able to think logically and make reasonable judgments and assumptions based on information presented; and those working in the legal profession must have perseverance. Often, cases require many hours of work with heavy research and lots of writing. A good lawyer must be willing to put in the time it takes to get the job done; a great lawyer has excellent public speaking skills and is comfortable addressing a courtroom. They can also easily handle speaking in front of other groups; great lawyers stay on top of developments in the legal field and also pursue continuing training; lawyers, and other legal professionals should have strong reading comprehension skills to easily understand the complex information encountered in legal research and documents; and a great lawyer has excellent writing skills which are used in preparing compelling arguments, briefs, motions, and other legal documents. “The law is the last result of human wisdom acting upon human experience for the benefit of the public” has competently said by Samuel Johnson.

A Scottish proverb says, “He that loves the law will get his fill of it” and I believe Barrister Amir loves the law to get the fill of it. The first is credibility, the foundation of trust. Building a high level of trust with clients, judges, jurors and even opposing counsel is the cornerstone of effective representation. But it is a trait that is earned, not just learned. When a credible attorney tells a client he must be available on a certain day for a deposition with no exceptions, that client will listen. It’s simple: When you make a promise, you keep a promise. No exceptions. When that same attorney makes a promise to a judge or to opposing counsel, the promise is believed and kept. The time and cost of undoing agreements with any party is not only a time-consuming distraction, but it also diminishes the chances that anyone will believe the trial lawyer, no matter how experienced he is. The most effective lawyers are to protect their credibility, at all costs. They understand that every human interaction is a chance to build trust or destroy it. Barrister Islam stands on these lens nucleuses of basic truths, laws or premises.

We are in the know that dignity and respect of character are springing from probity, principle, or moral rectitude. In Bangladesh, all persons are equal in the eye of the law. The person who has a good grasp on the importance in acknowledging openly that it is the Creator who has blessed them is a person who stands directly beneath the brilliant light of His favour. That light can grow dim quickly if we start patting ourselves on the back for the accomplishments we are happy with. John J. Curtin, Jr. once said, “Anyone who believes a better day dawns when lawyers are eliminated bears the burden of explaining who will take their place. Who will protect the poor, the injured, the victims of negligence, and the victims of racial violence?” True honour is an attachment to honest and beneficent principles, and a good reputation; and prompts a man to do good to others, and indeed to all men and women, at his own cost, pains, or peril. False honour is a pretence to this character and destroys it. And the abuse of honour is called honour, by those who from that good word borrow credit to act basely, rashly, or foolishly. Honour is but an itch in youthful blood. “Of doing acts extravagantly good” is honour as correctly spelt out by Howard J. Wood. We will shine in more substantial honours. “And to be noble, we will be good” like the words of Thomas Percy.

Having said all above, Barrister M. Amir-ul Islam is a renowned politician and freedom fighter; he was one of the key figures in supervising and mandating Bangladesh’s Liberation War efforts in 1971; and initiated numerous diplomatic missions which toured world capitals advocating the Bangladesh cause to win international support and recognition of Bangladesh as a sovereign and independent nation. So, began the long, intense, arduous journey to the road to freedom filled with pain, sacrifice and ultimately joy on 16 December 1971. After Bangladesh came into being, like all other great leaders, he also took great pains to build up the new country a self-reliant and flourishing economy. He worked tirelessly with other Cabinet members of Bangabandhu-led government in rebuilding Bangladesh’s economy and infrastructure, especially in the countryside.  

Barrister M. Amir-ul Islam runs a law firm, Amir & Amir Law Associates which is one of the oldest and largest law firms in Bangladesh with a national and international presence. He is a senior most fine gentleman of the country who has never changed his principles or political principles and an ardent disciple of Bangabandhu Sheikh Mujibur Rahman. We may embellish him with the laurel wreaths like respect, value, esteem, and prize, appreciate, admire, worship, adore, revere, glorify, reverence, exalt, venerate… The government also may consider decorating this luminary figure, a part and parcel of our glorious history, lighted by the highest position of the country’s Presidentship in his crepuscule of life. Thus we can bestow our due honour on him at his twilight life, a close associate of Bangabandhu Mujib. We know very well that his portrait hangs in the place of honour.