Hanafi, Munshi Azimuddin

Hanafi, Munshi Azimuddin (1838-1922) well-known writer of Bangla puthi literature and social reformer, was born in 1838 in the village of Gozadia in karimganj upazila of kishoreganj district, son of Munshi Borhan Ullah.

After studying at the local maktab up to the age of 11, Azimuddin became a disciple of the reformer Moulana karamat ali jaunpuri and later studied Arabic, Persian and Urdu in Kolkata and Mumbai. He started writing against social prejudices and with the hope of reopening the mosques which had been closed during the faraizi movement and restarting the juma prayers. He wanted to bring back people to what he believed was the true path of Islam and to unmask fraudulent pirs.

Azimuddin engaged in debates with Islamic scholars at different places. Twice he went to Makkah on foot, once with his wife, to perform hajj. His subjects include the victory of islam, religious issues, women's rights, romantic stories, sorrow, love, natural calamities etc. He composed a total of 45 puthis, among them, Asak Nama (1865), Kazi Nama (1865), Najatul Islam (1870), Gajab Nama (1897), 1300 Saner Akalnama, Bangla Bara Salar Mane, Kalir Dharma, Moulana Abdul Hai O Azimuddiner Bahachh, Rasuler Kursinama, Desher Shobha (1881) and Duhkher Sagar (1913). A number of the puthis were written in Arabic and Urdu. He also translated Fathushyam by the Arab historian Al Waqidi (747-822) into Bangla. The first part of this book was published in his name from Calcutta, but the second was published by Janab Ali, in his own name. Several of his puthis have been preserved at the India Office Library in London. Azimuddin was a skilled versifier, using a variety of metres in his compositions. [Muhammad Ashraful Islam]