Mustafa Zaman Abbasi, a prominent musicologist, writer and television personality of the country, turns eighty today. He was born on December 8, 1937 in Cooch Bihar of West Bengal, and today is a guardian figure of the country's folk music genre. With a unique voice he is still ruling the folk music kingdom in our country. We try to discover more about him in an interview on his birthday.
First of all, congratulations and happy birthday! How are you going to celebrate the occasion?
MZA: Thank you so much. If I am still alive on my 80th birthday, I must be grateful to the Almighty. I would start my day with morning prayers. My fans have made arrangement for a programme at Sufia Kamal Auditorium to celebrate the day. I plan to be there.
Tell us a little about your childhood.
MZA: I was born in Bolorampur village in Cooch Bihar, the village that gave birth to my ancestors including my father Abbasuddin Ahmed and my grandfather Zafar Ali Ahmed. I used to swim in the river Kajiani with my playmates. I remember the vivid pictures of the village. I studied at The Jenkins School there, at Modern School in Kolkata and at Saint Gregory School in Dhaka.
What was the making of the Mustafa Zaman Abbasi that he is today?
MZA: This is because of the influence of my father obviously. I was 18 when he died. In his death bed he advised me not to go hither and thither, rather to concentrate on the teachings of Prophet Mohammad (PBUH) and Kazi Nazrul Islam. He wanted me to bear love for Allah and humanity. These are the commandments that I got from my father throughout my time with him. He worked hard to make what my siblings and I - Ferdousi Rahman and Mustafa Kamal - are today.
What are you presently up to?
MZA: I am working as a Senior Research Scholar at Independent University, Bangladesh (IUB) where I have established a center called “Kazi Nazrul Islam and Abbasuddin Ahmed Research and Study Center”. I teach there on Abbasuddin and Nazrul with 24 classes in a semester. This is the only university as far as my knowledge goes, that introduced courses on Abbasuddin and Nazrul.
What do you do during leisure?
MZA: My leisure is filled up with music and devotion to Allah. Allah has bestowed me with a longer years than my father - who died at 60. So I am grateful to Him and show my gratitude to Him. I write books, build relationships with people around me and with my students who are of my grandchildren's age. I am translating a book on the Holy Qura'n by Sahl al-Tustari, a Persian Muslim scholar. It will take three to four years, but I hope I can complete it. I practice singing regularly with digital tanpura on my phone.
Do you have a message for your fans and followers?
MZA: What I would like to say is: We have to search for meaning in life. It is neither wealth, nor career that we should look for. Rather purity is all we should crave for throughout life. Islam is not about bullying the other religions. We Muslims should love the believers of other religions too.