Ali, Syed Muztaba
(1904-1974) educationist and writer, was born on 13 September 1904 at his father's workplace
in Karimganj, sylhet. His ancestral residence
was in the village
father, Syed Sikandar Ali,
was a Sub-Registrar. Muztaba Ali studied at various
educational institutions because of his father's frequent transfers from one
place to another. He was finally admitted to Santiniketan
where he obtained his BA degree in 1926. He learned several languages at Visva-Bharati: Sanskrit, English, French, German,
Persian, Arabic, Italian, Hindi, and Gujrati. He
had learned Urdu at home. Apart from languages, he also studied Sangkhya and Vedanta at Visva-Bharati.
Since a diploma from Visva-Bharati
was then not recognised by other universities, Muztaba Ali proceeded to sit for the Entrance Examination
from Calcutta University as a private candidate in
1926. He studied Intermediate of Arts at Aligarh University
before leaving for Germany
on a scholarship to study Philosophy. In 1932 he was awarded a DPhil for his research on Comparative Religion. He also
studied at Al-Azhar University
from 1934 to 1935.
From 1927-1929, Muztaba
Ali was a professor of French and English at Agricultural
College, Kabul. In 1935, at the invitation of the
Maharaja of Baroda, he joined Baroda
College as a professor
of Comparative Religion. He was also Principal at azizul haq college, Bogra and part-time lecturer in the Department of Islamic
University. He was
Secretary of the Indian Council for Cultural Relations and also worked for
some time on All India Radio. He returned to teaching in 1961, joining the
Islamic Studies Department of Visva-Bharati as
Reader. He retired in 1965.
While Muztaba Ali
was studying at Santiniketan, some of his writings
were published in the Visva-Bharati, a
handwritten magazine. He wrote columns in different journals such as the Ananda Bazar, Desh, Satyayug, Shanibarer Chithi,
Basumati, Hindustan Standard, etc.
under different pseudonyms such as 'Satyapir', 'Rai Pithora', 'Omar Khaiyam', 'Tekchand', 'Priyadarshi'. He was also a regular contributor to the mohammadi, Chaturanga, Matrbhumi,
He has thirty books to his credit, in a
variety of genres: novels, short stories, essays and travelogues, etc. His
travelogues, Deshe-Bideshe (1949) and Jale-Danay (1960) were particularly well received.
His novels include Abishvasya (1954), Shabnam (1960) and Shahar-Iyar
(1969). Panchatantra (1952) and Mayurkanthi (1952) are humorous writings. His
short stories have been compiled in Chacha
Kahini (1952) and Tuni
Mem (1964). Bonn University
published his DPhil. dissertation
The Origin of Khojahs and Their Religious Life
Today (1936). He also wrote about the language issue in East
Pakistan in Purba-Pakistaner
As an intellectual, Muztaba
Ali was highly esteemed in both west bengal and Bangladesh.
His international exposure gave him a broadness of vision, which, together
with his style of writing, brought him considerable renown. His short
humorous writings have always been popular with readers. However, under the
guise of humour, he expressed deeply felt truths.
He died on 11 February
1974. [Nurur Rahman