Salahuddin Ahmed obituary

My uncle, Salahuddin Ahmed, who has died aged 90, was a historian, a humanist and a rationalist – a uncommon blend in his native Bangladesh. He believed that such values are ingrained in all of us, but submerged under “learned prejudices”. In 2011 he was appointed National Professor of Bangladesh for his exceptional contribution to education.

Son of Abu Ahmed Faizul Mohi and Akefa Khatun, he was born in Faridpur, Bangladesh. His father and paternal grandfather were the two civil servants during the days of the British Raj and his maternal grandfather, Azizul Haq, carried out crucial perform on the classification of fingerprints. Salahuddin studied for a BA at Kolkata Presidency School, a master’s degree at Kolkata University and a PhD at the College of Oriental and African Studies, London. He taught at a variety of educational institutions in Bangladesh, and was a visiting lecturer at the universities of Chicago and Pennsylvania.

Salahuddin wrote a lot of books and posts. In Perspectives on History, Society and Politics, he argued that despite the political divisions that took spot in South Asia in 1947, the men and women of this vast region belong to “one indivisible civilisation which is the solution of above a thousand years of historical development” and that the destinies of the folks inhabiting the subcontinent are closely interlinked. They need to consequently find out to live with each other in peace, he explained, and this is important for their advancement and progress.

In his younger days, Salahuddin worked for the Red Cross, and was concerned with the radical humanist motion of MN Roy. He was concerned at the rise of fundamentalism and religion-based mostly politics. By his very own account, he had memorised the Qur’an at the age of eight, and recently in a conversation with me he talked about the need to have for tolerance of diversity of religious and political faiths. Salahuddin was also a fantastic admirer of the Hindu Bengali poet Rabindranath Tagore. He was warm, courteous and humble, tolerant of all opinions, and exuberantly pleasant.

In 1950 he married Hamida Khanom, an eminent educationist and longtime principal of Home Economics University in Dhaka, who supplied him with emotional help and loving companionship. She died in 2010.

He is survived by 3 sisters, a brother and a stepbrother.

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