Shiraji, Ismail Hossain

Shiraji, Ismail Hossain (1880-1931) writer, orator and peasant leader. He was born in Sirajganj district (hence the title of 'Shiraji' he gave himself). His father Abdul Karim Khandkar (1856-1924) practised Unani (herbal medicine) and was not financially well off. Shiraji, though extremely bright, could not afford a college education. But lack of formal education did not deter him from making him enlightened intellectually.

Ismail Hossain Shiraji

He earned his living by writing and making public speeches. Reawakening the backward Bengal Muslim society was the main theme of his writing and speeches. He acquired a great reputation as an orator. He was an advocate of Muslim interests, but was not a communalist. Hindu-Muslim amity based on equal sharing of resources was his belief. He was active in many parties and organisations, such as, indian national congress, muslim league, anjuman-i-ulama-i-bangla, jamiut-e-ulamay-i-hind, swarajya party and krishak samiti.

Shibli Nomani (1857-1914) and Mohammad Iqbal (1876-1938) influenced Shiraji. Like them, he felt that it was necessary to harmonise religious and secular thought to awaken the Indian Muslim community, on the one hand, and arrest deteriorating Hindu-Muslim relations, on the other.

Shiraji wrote in contemporary journals such as Al-Eslam, Islam Pracharak, Prabasi, Pracharak, Kohinoor, Soltan, Mohammadi, Saogat, Nabajug and Nabanur. Most of his writings tended to glorify Islamic traditions, culture and heritage. He advocated modern education and true Islamic learning. Ismail Hossain Shiraji was actively involved in the peasant movement in Sirajganj. He mobilised the peasants on anti-zamindar and anti-mahajan lines. His books of verses include Anal Prabaha (1900), Akangkha (1906), Uchchhas (1907), Udbodhan (1907), Naba Uddipana (1907), Spain Bijoy Kabya (1914), Sangit Sanjibani (1916), Premanjali (1916). His notable novels are Ray Nandini (1915); Tara Bai (1916); Feroza Begum (1918) and Nooruddin (1919). [Rana Razzaq]