May 24, 2013 | 01:20 PM (BD Time)
24 May, 2013 Friday
Munshi Meherullah - the spokesman of righteousness
M.Mizanur Rahman :
Islam is the code of conduct in life provided one follows it in accordance with its moral principles. It has its spiritual power to exert humanity irrespective of different creeds and colors among human beings. Without any stint of doubt it acknowledges equality in all respect among mankind. Irrefutably Islam is the only religion on earth that distinguishes none of the human beings on any futile brag of aristocracy or earthly riches of any kind. It never allows violence but retaliates with the immeasurable acts of tolerance and wisdom. KNOWLEDGE is the only weapon of ISLAM to combat the enemy IGNORANCE.
Munshi Meherullah (1861- 1907) was that standard bearer of Islam I mentioned above. He rose to the height as .a great personality that took the core of Islam in his life to do away with all material evils to lead the simplest life maintaining Islamic norms all along. Only within the forty-six years of his life he could enlighten the people with the shining light of Islam all around him in the then Bengal as a great person propounding Islamic thoughts.
Munshi Meherullah was born on Monday the 26th December 1861(B.S.10th Poush, 1268) in a village Ghope near Barobazar of Kaliganj police station, Jessore (now under Jhenaidha district) at the residence of his maternal uncle. His paternal home was at Chhatiantola, about five miles away northwest from Jessore town. His father Munshi Wareshuddin was a religious-minded Muslim. When he was only six month old his mother brought him home at Chhatiantola. His education started at the age of five in a local primary school (Pathsala). A few years later his father died. In spite of acute financial hardship his mother did not stop educating her son Meherullah. Later he stated that whatever he learnt in life his mother took care educating him until her death. At the age of fourteen he learnt Bengali, Arabic, Urdu,and Persian literature for consecutive six years from the experienced village teachers namely Moulovi Moshavuddin of Village Koyalkhali and Moulovi Mohammad Ismail of village Karachia. Meherullah had his optimum thirst for knowledge. He learnt Al-Koran and Hadith profusely. He read Gulista, Busta and Pandenama of Sheikh Saa'di and committed them to memory. At that time an Urdu weekly "Monsur Mohammadi" was published from Mysore that he bought and read regularly. Thus studying all these religious books, periodicals, and newspapers he made the basis of his religious knowledge strong and profound.
However, Meherullah could not prosecute further studies at the educational institutes rather he had to cut short his student life in order to eke out livelihood overcoming poverty at such early age. He applied for the post of a clerk in the Jessore District Board. But the head of the District Board, an English District Magistrate asked him in the interview as saying, "You are a minor aged boy, you got no experience and as such you cannot do the job, we want an experienced person." Meherullah promptly retorted with courage, "Excuse me sir, why can't I do this job? Had you any early experience before you joined your post, sir? So when you could do your job, similarly I shall do my job also". The interviewer became surprised but not annoyed. He said, "Yes, you can do." Meherullah became the clerk of the Jessore District Board.
As a matter of fact, freedom-loving man like Munshi Meherullah could not continue his job in the District Board of Jessore any more. After sometimes he left it and went to Khojar Hut where he started learning tailoring in a tailor-shop. And at leisure period he used to study Urdu and Persian from a learned teacher Munshi Taj Muhammad. He had profound zeal and earnestness to know Islam and its culture with unending inquisitiveness.
He opened a modern tailoring shop at Daratana, the heart of Jessore town. His dexterity in tailoring works and amiable behaviour attracted all educated customers of culture and tastes. He became popular overnight at home and abroad. Most of the intellectuals of the town used to meet each other at his shop and discussed matters of their mutual interests. His shop became the meeting place of the intellectuals of Jessore town. The District Magistrates of those days used to patronise him and make dresses from his tailoring shop.
However, Munshi Meherullah thought deeply about the sufferings of the Muslims under British rule. Since 1757, after the tragic fall of Siraj-ud-dowla, Muslim community had to face very hard life on innumerable reasons that brought them misfortune. British rulers created many hurdles socially, economically and politically against the former rulers (Muslims) of the land. They biased the Muslims and took others in their confidence depressing and depriving the Muslim in all walks of social and economic development. Despairingly Muslims were persecuted by the British administrators and Hindu landlords (Zamindar) as the condition created by the British Raj. During this period of crisis for the Muslims community along with intolerable poverty the Christian priests took the opportunity to convert poor Muslims into Christianity vilifying the religion of Islam by their false propaganda and publicity. A large number of them came from different parts of the European countries to convert poor and suffering people of this country into their religion alluring the poor of better life.
One day in front of his tailor's shop at Daratana Munshi Meherullah obcerved that a Padri (Christian clergyman) deliverrd false and malicious lecture on Islam, damaging the sacred character of the Prophet Muhammad (SM), and asked the people to shun Islam and join the religion of Jesus Christ where human emancipation ensured. Being erudite personality and knowledgeable one he got pain at heart. He felt that was the way that clergymen talking senseless and frustrating the simple poor and suffering people towards converting them. Then and there Meherullah took the mission to collect all types of their propaganda booklets and refute falsehood one after another and started delivering lecture on the magnanimity of Islam. Thus his doors and windows of truth against falsehood unveiled the machinations of the ecelestical missionaries in Bengal. To save his community from the evils of the clergymen he made every ground fertile to sow seeds of the exact seasons in order to harvest the seasonal fruits. He learned Islam and put forward arguments irrefutable to that opposed him. He could understand that to argue about any religion one has to know the scriptures of others believing different faiths. So he read very deeply the Veda, Upanishad, Geeta, Bible, Tripitok and Granthasaheb. He came to know about different faults of religion studying "Tohfatul Muktadi". He read three volumes of Solaiman Oarsy's books, "Why I forsook my parent religion?" "Why I put my belief in Islam?" and "Where is the real truth?" .He also collected the books of Hafiz Neamatullah "Frustration of the Christian religion" and the writings of Padri Ishan Chandra alias Munshi Muhammad Ehsanullah "There's note of Hazrat Muhammad in Ingil". Meherullah took notes from these books and argued the Christian clergymen wherever they deliver their lectures maligning Islam. He fought them with his sharp and eloquent oratory full of logical arguments that none could refute him.
The District Magistrate of Jessore was transferred to Darjeeling. He requested Meherullah to open his shop at Darjeeling. Meherullah went there and opened a tailoring shop. He found clergymen there also who were talking against Islam. It pained him because he was the protagonist of truth. He could not tolerate falsehood. He fought them well with his sharp oratory unveiling their malicious and false statements against Islam
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