In the sixth-seventh decades of the nineteenth century, the British began to suppress the Faraji and Wahhabi religious-political movements in our country. With the advent of the East India Company, the Christian clergy came to this country. Their purpose was to spread Christianity. But the English ruling class continued to use the preaching of the clergy for their own benefit. The ruler’s attacks were mainly on Muslims. As a result, the political and cultural movement of the Muslims of Bangladesh became lifeless for a long time. After the beginning of the British rule in Bangladesh, it started penetrating among the Muslims in the late nineteenth century. At this time some Muslims from different districts of Bangladesh became Christians. Illiteracy, weak faith in one’s own religion and financial and worldly fascination also inspired the Muslims to abandon their religion and adopt the then monarchy.
Rammohun saved Hindu society from such Christianity at the turn of the century. At the end of the century, the movement among the Muslims was started by the eloquent Munshi Meherullah, a resident of Jessore, and the initiated Munshi Mohammad Zamiruddin. Their main recourse was Waz. Munshi Meherullah achieved unexpected results by lecturing from village to village and district to district.
Munshi Meherullah’s contribution to the protection of the Bengali Muslim community was inexhaustible, but he and his follower Zamiruddin could not create consciousness in the Muslim community even after uniting. Inspired by their ideology, a special group converted the Bengali Muslims of this era to Islam. That party can be called ‘Sudhakar Dal’.
Among them are Maulvi Merajuddin Ahmed, a resident of Banshdaha in Satkhira, Khulna district and Professor of Arabic and Persian at Calcutta Xavier’s College, Sheikh Abidash, a resident of Charan in Tangail, Mymensingh. Munshi Mohammad Reyazuddin Ahmed, a resident of Rupsa in Tripura district.
The only way to save the Bengali Muslims from converting to Christianity in some areas due to financial and worldly temptations was to make them aware of the Islamic heritage and the national history of the Muslims. The only way to achieve this was to create national literature in the mother tongue, serve it to the public, and raise the profile of the Muslim masses by discussing religion and cultural issues through newspapers.
Inspired by this purpose, the aforesaid scholars formed a party in Calcutta and, due to lack of necessary funds and management, first translated some books on Muslim culture and Islamic theories and published them in pieces. Jamaluddin Afghani, a well-known and experienced scholar on Islam, translated the Persian book Nature and Nature and published the first volume under the title Islam Theory. Shortly afterwards, Maulana Abdul Haq published the second volume of ‘Islam Theory’, translating the precedents of Islam from the preface to Haqqani’s Tafsir Haqqani. The first volume of ‘Islam Theory’ [or Collection of Fertilizers of the Muslim Religion] was published in 1294, in the month of Ashwin i.e. 17 AD and the second volume was published in 1295-16 AD.
Many considered it to be a monthly magazine as ‘Islam Theory’ was published continuously in Khandakar. The theory of Islam did not last long. However, Sheikh Abdur Rahim and Munshi Mohammad Reyazuddin Ahmed published a weekly called ‘Sudhakar’ with the proceeds of the sale and with the financial support of Hafez Mahmud Ali Khan, Zamindar of Mymensingh Kortia and Munshi Mohammad Ibrahim, Zamindar of Kusum village in Burdwan. The first issue of Sudhakar was published in the month of Ashwin in 1928 .
Sudhakar magazine went through various disasters for some time. It was through this magazine that Bengali Muslims in Bengali became somewhat aware of the greatness, theory, information, national heritage and glory of their religion. In the old days, anti-Muslim writers like Bankim used to write anti-Muslim articles in Sudhakar.
It is not that none of the Bengali Muslims made any progress in the creation of modern Bengali literature before the Sudhakar Dal entered the field of literature. Mir Mosharraf Hossain devoted himself to the service of Bengali literature long before the beginning of the second half of the nineteenth century. Before that Shamsuddin Muhammad Siddiqui was seen. His ‘Bhabna’ and ‘Uchit Shravan’ were written and published before 185. But no one has been seen before them as they were intoxicated and devoted to the creation of Muslim national literature in Bengal. Moreover, such a conscious sense of nationalism has not been reflected in any of their earlier Muslim-written literature. They have translated from Arabic Persian literature, written biographies of the Caliphs of Hazrat Muhammad [pbuh] and other saints and his Companions and saints, composed the glorious verses of Islam, they explained the glory.
They had a keen sense that the hopes and aspirations of a nation were the vibrations of its psyche and the expression of its inner and outer life, which was indicative of its national characteristics. They were the ones who drove the Bengali Muslim nation home and helped them to recognize themselves. In a word, the national literature of Bengali Muslims has developed in the same way that this ‘Sudhakar’ party laid the foundation of Muslim national literature. In other words, the Muslim nation and the way of cultural life of this nation has been nurtured and enhanced by them. The role of the ‘Sudhakar’ party in Muslim Bengali literature has to be judged from this point of view. They have paved the way for later Muslim writers and that is why they have started a new chapter in our national life and a new glory by awakening confidence in the minds of Bengali Muslims. Whatever the value of the literature written by them, the importance of their historical role in Bengali literature in terms of space-time-vessel is immense.
Munshi Mohammad Meherullah’s name is not heard much nowadays, we do not give much space to his books even in the order of Bengali literature. Munshi Meherullah did not compose the kind of literature that we call literature in terms of genre. But what he has done is unique in terms of the social management of Muslims and religious purity. In the sense that Raja Rammohun Roy wanted to liberate the Bengali Hindu society from superstition and bring it into the modern way of life, in the sense that Ishwar Chandra Vidyasagar wanted to save the Hindu society from the misery of his thought, Munshi Mohammad Meherullah also came forward to protect the Bengali Muslims from the aggression of Christianity. He wrote about ten books in total. Almost all of his books are written to reveal the true nature of Islam. The Christian community at the time questioned the veracity of the Qur’an and argued that Christianity was the only religion for human salvation. Munshi Meherullah single-handedly refuted all criticism of Christians. In the midst of all these refutation processes, we discover Munshi Mohammad Meherullah as a very rational and extraordinary sage. He read deeply the Bible of the Christians, read the scriptures of the Hindus, and mastered the Islam, the Qur’an and the Hadith. But the biggest thing is that the way he refuted the various religious decisions of Christians with the help of logic is uniquely common even in the light of today. At that time, some Muslim Christians fell prey to the preaching of Jesus Christ. Not only did they become Christians, they also wrote for the Christian community and against the Muslims. If a person with a Muslim name converts to Christianity and says something against Islam, the common people will easily believe him, at least the uneducated people will.
Munshi Mohammad Zamiruddin was an educated Muslim. He came in contact with the Christian missionaries of old. He converted to Christianity on December 25, 18 AD. At that time, the Christian clergy published a magazine called ‘Bandhab’. The main purpose of the magazine was to campaign against Islam and to prove that conversion to Christianity was the only way for Muslims to be liberated. In 1892, Mohammad Zamiruddin wrote a series of articles in a series of Christian magazines entitled “Where is the original Qur’an?” Among these essays he raises six questions about the authenticity of the Qur’an. Munshi Mohammad Meherullah answered Zamiruddin’s question in a few issues of Sudhakar with strong arguments and without expressing any emotion or anger and proved that the language and style in which the Qur’an was first revealed still exists. But the ‘Bible’ of the Christians and the ‘Torah’ of the Jews have changed many times and now no one can say where the original ‘Torah’ and ‘Gospel’ are. Munshi Meherullah’s essay was called ‘Isa’i or Christian Deception’.
Munshi Zamiruddin became aware of his own faults by reading Munshi Meherullah’s essay. Defeated in the controversy over religion, he left Christianity, returned to Islam, and devoted himself to the propagation and protection of Islam as a faithful follower of Munshi Meherullah until the last day of his life. After returning to Islam, his first duty was to refute all that was written against Islam and at the same time to attract all the Hindu and Muslim Christian priests who had converted to Christianity. The title of his book is “Remarks of the major religions on the truth of Islam”. This book was first published in 1900 AD. Munshi Zamiruddin converted to Christianity and became known as John Zamiruddin, but later returned to Islam and returned as Munshi Zamiruddin.
Munshi Mohammad Meherullah wrote an essay called ‘Rejected Christian and Documentary Islam’. At one time its impact on Muslim society was immense. The book was written in retaliation for attacks on Christian clergy. The book introduces Munshi Mohammad Meherullah’s profound theology and practical intellect. The book was published in 1895. Another of his books against Christianity is called The Vainness of Christianity. This book was published in 18 AD. At that time, it was against the British law to attack any religion during the British rule. That is why Munshi Mohammad Meherullah had to establish the truth through various experiments. His argument was so irrefutable that the Christian community of the time did not appeal to the British government to confiscate the book. Another thing to keep in mind in this case is that the Christian society of that time did not hesitate to get into an argument with Muslims and Hindus due to their strong ego. The Christian clergy tried to prove their falsity by quoting various scholars from the Qur’an and Hadith. But when they met Munshi Meherullah, they realized that it was not possible to fight it.
Munshi Meherullah and his companion Munshi Zamiruddin proved the futility of Christianity and established the status of Islam, just as Raja Rammohun Roy once established the status of Bedokta Hinduism by refuting the arguments of the clergy. The names of the books written by Munshi Mohammad Meherullah: 1. The futility of Christianity ; 2. Meherul Islam ; 3. Widow Ganjana and Bishad Bhandar [3rd ed. 1900]; 4. Pandenama [2nd ed. 1908]; 5. Hindu Dharma Rahasya O Debalila ; . Christian-Muslim argument; . Canceled Christian and Documentary Islam ; . Babu Ishanchandra Mandal and Charles French’s ‘Acceptance of Islam’; 9. Stanza
In 1897, Munshi Mohammad Meherullah wrote an interpreting book called ‘Mehrul Islam’ with the aim of reforming the Muslim society. At the beginning of this book there is a long praise or naat for Rasool Karim. However, many today do not know who wrote this poem. But in Milad Mahfil, this naat is sung in the countryside. There is a place in this world:
Gaore fishermen, Nabigun Gaore ..
Filled with paran, everyone sang ‘ Chhalle Ala.
However, what has happened now has merged with the Naat of Mir Musharraf Hossain, written by Tahal Munshi Meherullah, and has merged with the Daruds written by Golam Mostafa. This shows how much influence Munshi Meherullah had and still has. The language of this book is very simple and can be enjoyed by all classes of educated and uneducated people. The language of the book has elegance and sweetness.
Munshi Mohammad Meherullah will be famous for his efforts to save Bengali Muslims from the clutches of Christianity. For a long time in Europe, Christian clergy have been misinterpreting Islam to the European public. They fabricated many stories against Islam. All these stories were so deeply believed by the people of the Christian community that they came up with the idea that the Qur’an was the work of Satan [Naujubillah]. The Christian clergy who came to India and Bengal to preach Christianity started attacking Islam from the negative point of view of the West. Munshi Mohammad Meherullah was the first to respond to their attack. Munshi Zamiruddin joined him. There is no comparison to the ideology they have set by presenting Islam to the people of this country. The fame of both of them should not be underestimated in any way. They had no wealth, no manpower, but they had devotion and deep faith in Islam. Only by adopting this belief did they accomplish an impossible thing in that era. This history must be known anew by the people of the present generation.