Million flock to Ghulam Azam’s funeral

Dhaka, 25 October: Veteran Islamic Leader and former Chief of Bangladesh Jamaat-e-Islami Professor Ghulam Azam (92) received something a kin to a people’s state funeral. Dhaka became a sea of people and for once the security forces were also in their best of behavior. The funeral of this internationally reputed national leader was held in the national Mosque the Baitul Mukarram in Dhaka. Multitude of people soon filled this largest Mosque in the country than overflowing to the huge avenue outside as far as eye can see. At the end the man who some in the country tried to disgrace received the most dignified burial in utmost respect which no other Bangladeshi leader received since independence.

Professor Ghulam Azam died at Banglabandhu Medical University. He was days away to celebrate his 92nd birthday. His family members and lawyers confirmed that he had died at 10.30 PM of Thursday 23 October.

People from all walks of life along with leaders and activists of the Jamaat, Islami Chhatra Shibir and other associate bodies thronged Baitul Mukarram Mosque hours before the azan of Zuhr was called.

A white ambulance of carrying Azam’s body left his house at Moghbazar around the noon and was soon joined by scores of Jamaat-Shibir men who were waiting on both the sides of the road. With police and security forces keeping a dignified and watchful eye all along the funeral route.

After the funeral service, Azam’s body was taken to his family home in city’s Moghbazar district  for burial at his family graveyard next to his father’s grave.

Today (Saturday 25th October) Bangladeshi community in Britain held their own Gaibana Janaza (funeral prayer in absentia) in East London’s Altab Ali Park after Juhar prayer attended by a huge crowd. Similar prayers were held in other British cities including Birmingham. Manchester, Oldham, Glasgow and Luton.  Reports are coming in that such funeral prayers were held throughout the Muslim world. Only in Turkey funeral prayers were held in 81 cities and in Doha world’s most revered Islamic scholar Sheikh Yusuf Al Qardawi  led Prof. Azam’s funeral prayer.

Azam dedicated his life to preach the teaching of Islam and sacrificed any pursuit of material wealth, always living a plain and simple life. He left behind his wife, 6 sons,  a large number of grandchildren and great grandchildren, and of course  numerous  friends, supporters, followers, well-wishers across the globe.

At hospital since his arrest on January 11, 2012, Professor Azam was put on life support around 9.30 PM on Thursday the 23rd of October 2014.

A special tribunal on July 15 last year sentenced Azam to 90 years in prison on 61 largely fabricated charges of war crimes during the Bangladesh 1971 war of independence.

Salman al-Azami, Azam’s son, who spoke to Al Jazeera from London, said that the family had never been satisfied with the trial proceedings or the judgement.

“It is very difficult, we are mainly upset that he had been deprived of a dignified death,” he said.”At such a frail age, any human being deserves to be with his family in his last days.”

“The accusation of the involvement of my father and the party leaders in the [1971] atrocities is ridiculous,” al-Azami added.

“Our view has been to have a fair trial,” he said. “Those who are the real perpetrators should be brought to justice.”

Brigadier Amin Azami led the funeral prayers of his father.

A colorful life

Professor Ghulam Azam was the most discussed political leader of contemporary Bangladesh. He was an iconic figure to the millions of young men and women.  He was born in 7th November 1922 and had lived through three historical stages of the country. He received his Masters in political science from Dhaka University. He was elected General Secretary of Dhaka University Central Students Union for 1947-48 and 1948-49 terms.

Professor Ghulam Azam played a leading role in the Language Movement of the country. In November 1948, he submitted a memorandum to the then Prime Minister of Pakistan Mr Liaqat Ali Khan on behalf of the students of Dhaka University demanding state language status for Bengali. He played an active role in the language movement and was arrested twice, in 1952 and in 1955. He also lost his job as an assistant professor at Rangpur Carmichael College for his role in the language movement.

He became the Secretary General of Jamaat-e-Islami of East Pakistan in 1957. He was thrown to jail in 1964 by the military ruler Ayub Khan for his Jamaat activities. Professor Ghulam Azam played a key role in the formation of Pakistan Democratic Alliance (PDM) in 1967 of which Shekh Mujibur Rahman was also a member. He became the Ameer of East Pakistan Jamaat-e-Islami in 1969. During the liberation war, he continued to call for a united Pakistan, but was troubled by the increasing violence used against the Bangladeshi people by the Pakistani army.

After the liberation of Bangladesh, the then government of Bangladesh led by Shekh Mujuhur Rahman cancelled his Bangladeshi citizenship along with 82 others.  Ghulam Azam moved to London and spent his six years exile life there.

Professor Ghulam Azam returned to Bangladesh in July 1978 with a visitor visa as he did not have Bangladeshi citizenship. He repeatedly applied to subsequent Bangladesh governments to restore his citizenship, but never received a reply. He was sent to jail in March 1992 under the ‘Foreigner’s Act’ for overstaying his visit visa, after which he filed a case to the Supreme Court to restore his citizenship. He was released from jail 16 months later when the High Court restored his citizenship. Following an appeal from the government against the High Court ruling, Prof Azam citizenship ruling was upheld by a full-member Appellate Division Court in 1994, which ensured his full right as a citizen of Bangladesh.

Professor Ghulam Azam retired from active politics in 2000.

Share this post:

Related Posts

Leave a Comment

Print This Post