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Nat’l Professor Rafiqul Islam passes away

  • Staff Correspondent
  • 1 December, 2021 12:00 AM
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Nat’l Professor Rafiqul Islam passes away

National Professor Rafiqul Islam, one of the most revered researchers on national poet Kazi Nazrul Islam, passed away at a hospital in the capital on Tuesday. He was 87.

The noted scholar and cultural activist breathed his last at Evercare Hospital Dhaka around 2:30pm, said family sources.

Prof Rafiqul Islam who had breathing complications was put on life support on November 26 after he was admitted to the hospital one week prior to that.

Earlier, he was admitted to Bangabandhu Sheikh Mujib Medical University (BSMMU) on October 7 with abdominal pain where doctors found that water had accumulated in his lungs.   President M Abdul Hamid and Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina expressed profound shock and sorrow at the death of Prof Rafiqul Islam.

In his message of condolence, the President said, “Prof Rafiqul Islam’s death is an irreparable loss to the education sector of the country.”

Recalling his active role as the President of Father of the Nation Bangabandhu Sheikh Mujibur Rahman’s Birth Centenary Celebration National Implementation Committee, the head of the state said, “The country and the nation will forever remember his contribution to the development of the spirit of independence and Liberation War.”

He also prayed for eternal peace of the departed soul and conveyed deep sympathy to the bereaved family members.

The Prime Minister in her message said, “He (Prof Rafiqul) will remain alive as a bright luminary in the field of Bangla literature and research.”

Stating about his outstanding memoirs, she said Prof Rafiqul Islam, being a participant and witness of the Language Movement and Liberation War, penned down the history of those events which are great assets for the Bangla literature.

Sheikh Hasina also said his contribution to the research on national poet Kazi Nazrul Islam is exceptional. “With his demise, I’ve lost my teacher and a guardian. Inspiration and guidance from my favourite teacher on nationally important matters have given me strength to go ahead,” she said.

Speaker Dr Shirin Sharmin Chaudhury also expressed deep shock and sorrow at his death.

Liberation War Affairs Minister AKM Mozammel Haque, Road Transport and Bridges Minister Obaidul Quader, Education Minister Dr Dipu Moni, Information and Broadcasting Minister Dr Hasan Mahmud, LGRD and Cooperatives Minister Md Tazul Islam, State Minister for Cultural Affairs KM Khalid, State Minister for Information and Broadcasting Murad Hasan, Dhaka University, Father of the Nation Bangabandhu Sheikh Mujibur Rahman’s Birth Centenary Celebration National Implementation Committee and University of Liberal Arts, among others, mourned the death of Prof Rafiqul Islam.

Rafiqul Islam was born on January 1, 1934 in Kalakanda village of Matlab Uttar upazila in Chandpur. He completed his undergraduate and postgraduate from the Bangla department of Dhaka University.

His luminous career in academia started with Dhaka University in 1957, as he taught Bengali and linguistics there over four decades. He has also published research papers in the USA’s Cornell University, Minessota University, Michigan Ann Arbor University and Hawaii University’s East West Centre.

The linguist actively participated in the Language Movement in 1952. He also captured rare photographs of that time and portrayed that history in his writings. He wrote about 30 books, including the first book on martyred intellectuals and the first book on the centenary history of Dhaka University.

One of the most respected Nazrul researchers in the world, Rafiqul Islam was the first Nazrul Professor at the Bangla department of Dhaka University and the first director of the Nazrul Research Centre.

He also served as the president and director general of Bangla Academy and vice-chancellor of University of Liberal Arts (ULAB).

Rafiqul Islam was made a National Professor in 2018 and president of the Father of the Nation Bangabandhu Sheikh Mujibur Rahman’s Birth Centenary Celebration National Implementation Committee the following year.

He received the Independence Award (2012), Ekushey Padak (2001), Bangla Academy Literary Award (1994) and International Mother Language Award (2021).

His first namaz-e-janaza was held at Uttara Sector-7 mosque after Isha prayers. His body will be taken to the Central Shaheed Minar at 2:00pm today so that people can pay their last respects to him.

Later, he will be laid to eternal rest at Azimpur graveyard after Asr prayers.