Litterateur Abul Mansur Ahmad was a strong critic of religious and social bigotry of both Muslims and Hindus and worked for recognition of identity of the Bangalee Muslims alongside their Hindu counterparts in the context of undivided Bengal, said academics and researchers yesterday.
They were speaking in a seminar organised to commemorate the publication of his most-famous satirical work -- “Aina”, written in 1929. Abul Mansur Ahmad Smriti Parishad organised the event at Dhaka University's Prof Muzaffar Ahmed auditorium.
“Abul Mansur Ahmad was a keen observer of the Muslim society of the 1920s and '30s and shed light on their prejudice and religious, social backwardness through political writing, especially his satires,” said National Professor Anisuzzaman.
“'Aina' is an extraordinary book that makes insightful critic of social norms. It shows how religious leaders would exploit the religiosity of ordinary people for communal end,” said Prof Anisuzzaman, who chaired the event.
The book, a compilation of seven satirical stories, is more about social than political aspects of the period, he said.
Rabindra University Vice Chancellor Prof Bishwajit Ghosh said the stories written 90 years ago appear to reflect present day social situations. They are as relevant today as they were then, he added.
The religious, social and political tensions and dilemmas of today are no different from those of the 1930s. “Abul Mansur Ahmad could speak his mind without fear, which is very difficult today,” Prof Bishwajit said.
He tirelessly worked for self-determination and identity of the Bangalee Muslims through his works, he added.
Poet and researcher Sumon Sajjad in his keynote presentation said besides the issues of identity of the Bangalee Muslims, "Aina" also brings out the issues of economic depravity suffered by Muslim educated youths who were without jobs and any prospect of ameliorating their economic status.
“Abul Mansur Ahmad wanted a pluralistic society where all ethnic and religious communities will have their identity and rights,” he said.
“One must read his seminal work 'Amar Dekha Rajnitir Panchash Bachor' to really understand the importance of 'Aina',” Sumon Sajjad said.
Poet and researcher Ashique Reja lamented that there is a lack of the sort of courageous writings that Abul Mansur Ahmad wrote in his time. “We all should read 'Aina' to get the real picture of our present day society,” he said.
Essayist Kudrat-E-Huda said Abul Mansur Ahmad, who grew up as a non-communal person from childhood and lived as such throughout his life, stood against the communal tendencies of his period and fought for the rights of all downtrodden people, especially the Bangalee Muslims.
Writer Mozaffar Hossain said Abul Mansur Ahmad used his writings as weapon for social reforms.
The Daily Star Editor and Publisher Mahfuz Anam, who is son of Abul Mansur Ahmad, thanked the panelists and participants at the discussion, moderated by writer Emran Mahfuz.