Protesting the US invasion of Iraq in 2003, Syed Abul Maksud started boycotting stitched clothes. Since then he wore two pieces of white cloth.
He died yesterday wearing the same attire.
He was 74.
The noted columnist, researcher, and writer breathed his last at Square Hospital in Dhaka.
His son Syed Nasif Maksud told The Daily Star that his father started to have breathing difficulties in the evening and they rushed him to the hospital where he was declared dead at 7:09pm.
Abul Maksud left behind his wife, son, daughter and a huge number of followers and well-wishers. He was a leading advocate for human rights, environment, and good governance.
As news of his death spread, many expressed their condolences in social media recalling his good deeds.
Rezaul Karim Chowdhury, executive director of a non-government organisation, wrote, "We have lost our Gandhi."
An RHD engineer wrote that he met Abul Maksud at his home a few days ago and that Maksud appeared to be suffering from a cold.
He posted that Abul Maksud virtually attended a discussion of Roads and Highways Department yesterday where he spoke about the life and works of Bangabandhu.
Abul Maksud was awarded the Bangla Academy Award in 1995 for his contribution to Bangla literature. He wrote many books and articles on politics, society, literature, and the culture of Bangladesh. He also wrote articles on the biographies and works of famous litterateurs and politicians.
The noted essayist has penned 40 books.
According to his family, Maksud, son of Syed Abul Mahmud and Saleha Begum, was born in Elachipur village in Shibalaya upazila of Manikganj on October 23, 1946. He started his journalism career at the weekly Nabajug in 1964. This paper was the mouthpiece of Pakistan Socialist Party.
Later, he worked at weekly Janata, supported by the National Awami Party, for some time.
He joined national news agency Bangladesh Sangbad Sangstha (BSS) after the merger of BPI with state-owned BSS in mid 1970s.
Maksud quit BSS in 2004.
He was a regular columnist for daily Prothom Alo and wrote pieces on society, politics, literature and culture.
Maksud's first poetry collection Bikelbela was published in 1981. The second one Dara Shikoh followed in 1987.
He conducted research on the work of authors, poets, and politicians such as Rabindranath Tagore, Buddhadeva Bose, Syed Waliullah, Mohandas Karamchand Gandhi, and Maulana Abdul Hamid Khan Bhasani.
His book "Germany's Journal" was highly praised at home and abroad.
He was the founding editor of Chattogram-based Dainik Suprobhat.
President Abdul Hamid and Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina yesterday expressed their profound shock and sorrow at the death of Syed Abul Maksud.
In a condolence message, the president said the death of Syed Abul Maksud is an irreparable loss to the Bangla literary arena.
In a message of condolence, the premier prayed for the salvation of the departed soul and conveyed profound sympathy to the bereaved family.
Road Transport and Bridges Minister Obaidul Quader, Finance Minister AHM Mustafa Kamal, Planning Minister MA Mannan, and Railway Minister Nurul Islam Sujan also expressed deep shock at the death of Syed Abul Maksud. They also conveyed deep sympathies to the family.
When The Daily Star called Maksud's home last night, a relative who picked up the phone said Maksud's daughter was abroad and that matters regarding his funeral would be decided after she returned home.