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Moniruzzaman, Mohammad

Moniruzzaman, Mohammad (1936-2008) educationist, poet, lyricist and researcher, was born on 15 August 1936 in the village of Khadki pada of Jessore district. His father's name was Muhammad Shahadat Ali and mother's name Rahela Khatun.

Mohammad Moniruzzaman did his BA (Hons) in 1958 and MA in 1959 from Dhaka University. He joined Bangla Department of Dhaka University as Teaching Fellow in 1959 and then as a Lecturer in 1962. He became a Professor in 1975 and served as chairman of the Bangla Department from 1978 to 1981 and retired from that department in 2004.

While a student of Dhaka University, Mohammad Moniruzzaman worked as literary editor of the daily Millat. It was his passion to conduct research in literature and write poems. For a while he showed interest in collecting and editing folk literature of Bangladesh but finally settled down to carrying on research in modern Bangla literature. His first research book is Adhunik Kahinikavye Muslim Jiban O Chitra (1962). In 1969 he got his PhD from Dhaka University on 'Hindu-Muslim relationship in modern Bengali poetry. In 1969-70 he did his post-doctoral research from 'School of Oriental and African Studies' of London University. While serving as a teacher of Dhaka University, he edited Sahitya Patrika for fifteen years. Under his supervision as many as forty researchers obtained PhD degrees.

Mohammad Moniruzzaman was a leading poet of the fifties and early sixties. In the sixties a new group of poets emerged through the Samakal. Muhammad Moniruzzaman was one of them. Some of his books of poems were Durlav Din (1961), Shabkito Aloke (1968), Bipanno Bishad (1968), Bhalobashar Hatey (1976), Bhumiheen Krishijibi Ichhe tar (1984), Muhammad Moniruzzaman Kavya Samgraha (1998) and Selected Poems (Honolulu, 1979). Love for nature, humanism, patriotism and complexities of urban life formed the main themes of his poems. His artistic mind coupled with his fellow-feeling made him a distinctive poet. This identity is also noticeable in his exquisitely written songs. He is one of those who carried the tradition of modern Bengali songs extending from rabindranath tagore to kazi nazrul islam. The songs written by him for cinemas and his patriotic songs brought him popularity and honour. It may be said that he will long be remembered for his songs in the arena of Bengali culture. Among his books of collected songs, Onirvan (1967) and Nirbachita Gan (1984) are well known.

Although Mohammad Moniruzzaman earned considerable fame as a poet and a lyricist, he contributed no less in such areas of literary activities as research and editing. Research books: Adhunik Bangla Sahitya (1965), Adhunik Bangla Kabye Hindu-Muslim Samparko (1970), Bangla Kavitar Chhando (1970), Bangla Sahitye Uchchatar Gabeshona (1978), Samoyikpatrey Sahitya Chinta: Saogat (1981), Dhaka Biswabidyalaya Bangla Bibhager Itihas (1981); edited books: Dhakar Lok-kahini (1965), Jessorer Lok kahini (1974), Mufazzal Haider Chaudhuri Rachanabali (1978), Muhammad Enamul Haq Smarakgrantha (1985), Syed Ali Ahsan Sangbardhona Grantha (1985) and Abdul Ghani Hazari Rachanabali (1994).

Mohammad Moniruzzaman joined the non-cooperation movement (1970) and hidden himself for a long time, as a result in 1971 he was abstained from service and sentenced to imprisonment for six months by a proclamation issued by Lt-Gen. Tikka Khan, Governor of East Pakistan and Martial Law Administrator of Zone B. Despite all this he was deeply committed to Bengali nationalism and the liberation war.

In recognition of his contribution to literature, Mohammad Moniruzzaman received a number of awards and prizes from home and abroad. In 1969 the 'International Who's Who in poetry' of London awarded him Certificate of Merit for Distinguished Contribution to Poetry, Bangla Academy prize (1972), Ekushey Padak (1987). Besides he was a fellow of the Royal Asiatic Society of London (1969), fellow of Bangla Academy (1972), president of Dhaka University Teachers Association (1982), Treasurer (1983) and general secretary (1984) of the Bangladesh Asiatic Society. He died in Dhaka on 3 September 2008. [Vishwadev Choudhury]