Shamsul ‘Ulema, Abu Nasar Waheed

Shamsul 'Ulema, Abu Nasar Waheed (1878-1953) educationist and initiator of madrasah reform, was born on 21 September 1878 in sylhet town. His father, Qari Javeed Bakth, was a renowned Alim and a Khalifa of Maulana karamat ali jaunpuri. After completing his primary education at home, Abu Nasar was admitted to Sylhet Government High School and passed the Entrance examination from here in 1892. After completing FA from mc college in 1895, he was admitted to presidency college, Calcutta. He completed his BA (Hons) and MA in Arabic in 1897, there being a provision at the time whereby students could appear at the MA examination six months after the BA. He was the first Bangali Muslim to pass BA (Hons) and MA in Arabic. Although he was never a student of any Madrasah, he successfully reformed Madrasah education.

Abu Nasar taught for some time at Sylhet Government School and Calcutta Alia Madrasah. He then joined Gauhati Cotton College as a professor of Arabic and Persian. In 1905 he came to Dhaka Madrasah as its Superintendent and continued working here till 1919. When he became its Principal, Dhaka Madrasah was upgraded to Islamic Intermediate College according to the New Scheme formula given by him. He worked at this post till his retirement in 1927. He discharged additional duties as Professor and first Head of the Department of Arabic and Islamic Studies of the university of dhaka when it came into existence in 1921.

Abu Nasar thus played a very important role in establishing the New Scheme Madrasah (1914), Islamic Intermediate College (1919), the Islamic Studies Department of Dhaka University (1921), and the University itself through his active participation as secretary or member of high-powered committees like Madrasah Reform Committee (1906), Earle Conference (1907), Sharf Committee (1909), Nathan Committee (1912) etc. Through the reformed Madrasah scheme, he successfully combined Islamic education with modern ideas. This helped to attract the Bangali Muslim community towards education and thus contributed towards the economic prosperity of this community.

Besides Bangla, Abu Nasar had a good command of Arabic, English, Urdu and Persian. He published several books on Arabic literature as well as a book in Bangla on religious education titled Diniyat Shiksha. He was awarded the title of 'Shamsul Ulema' (1909) and IES (1921) by the Government of India. He died on 31 May 1953 in Dhaka. [AKM Nurul Alam]