Mohsin, Haji Muhammad

Mohsin, Haji Muhammad (1732-1812) a devout Muslim, a celibate, and a great philanthropist. In the government records of 1769-70 he is mentioned as setting up several langarkhanas (gruel houses) during the famine of 1769-70 and donating to the government famine fund. Born at Hughli in 1732, he was the son of Haji Faizullah and Zainab Khanam. It was Zainab's second marriage. Her first husband Aga Motahar, an Iranian merchant, had settled at Hughli and received a rich jagir at Hughli, Jessore, Murshidabad and Nadia. He had bequeathed a huge property to his only daughter Mannujan Khanam. Faizullah's father Aga Faizullah was also an Iranian and a jagir-holder.

So Mohsin was born to a rich family and Faizullah had given his son sufficient education available in those days. A house tutor taught Mohsin and his half-sister Mannujan and, endowed with a receptive mind, Mohsin earned profound knowledge in the Quran, Hadith and the Fiqh. Thereafter he went to Murshidabad, then the capital of Bengal subah, for higher studies. Soon Mohsin went on travels to see the world for he believed that travelling widens the horizon of one's perception. He travelled to different countries- Iran, Iraq, Arabia and Turkey and made pilgrimage to holy places like Makka, Madina, Kufa, Karbala etc.

In the meantime his parents died and his only sister was married to a responsible man, Mirza Salahuddin, naib-faujdar (deputy military governor) of Hughli. In her advancing years, childless widowed Mannujan strongly desired Haji Mohsin to look after the estate. Sister's entreating letters persuaded Mohsin to return home after 27 long years of travel. Mannujan entrusted her brother with the task of managing her estates, which he succeeded to after her death in 1803. He maintained the family tradition of holding the religious ceremonies and festivals in the most gorgeous manner. The ascetic man decided to create a deed of trust in 1806 and appointed two mutwallis to administer the income accruing from his property. He had apportioned his property into nine shares of which three were to be devoted to religious uses, four for amla, pensions, stipends and charity and the rest were to be used as remuneration for the mutwallis.

Mohsin led a very simple and pious life. This great man of Bengal died in 1812 and a tomb was erected over his grave within the imambara complex.

For embezzlements of the mutwallis the government took over the management of the Mohsin Fund in 1818. The surplus that accrued after government take-over was used in erecting new buildings - residences, school, college, madrasa, mosque, hospital, tombs and market-place - for the Imambara in the 1850s. [Muhammad Ansar Ali]