M Harunur Rashid

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M. Harunur Rashid
মোহাম্মদ হারুন-উর-রশিদ
Director General of Bangla Academy
In office
6 February 1991 – 19 March 1995
Preceded byMahmud Shah Qureshi[1]
Succeeded byAbul Mansur Muhammad Abu Musa
Personal details
Born (1939-12-28) 28 December 1939 (age 84)
Tinsukia, Assam Province, British Raj
EducationMA in English literature
OccupationTeacher, translator, essayist, critic, columnist

M Harunur Rashid (born 28 December 1939) is a professor, educational administrator, editor, and translator.[2][3] He is a noted writer of Sufism and Sufi literature[4] and a commentator of social, political, and literary texts.[5]

Early life and education[edit]

Rashid was born on 28 December 1939, to a Bengali Muslim family in Tinsukia district, Assam Province in British Raj.[5] On the eve of the Second World War, his father Rahimuddin Ahmed, an employee of the Assam Bengal Railway, was transferred to Chittagong. He spent his early childhood in the idyllic environment of the Pahartali and Chittagong hills. When the Japanese bombed Chittagong, his father sent them to his village home in Nabinagar, Brahmanbaria.

His family moved to Pahartali and he read in the Pahartali Railway High School in 1947. Next year the family moved to Chittagong and he got himself admitted to Chittagong Collegiate School.[6] Here he read up to class nine and on his father's retirement moved to Brahmanbaria town. He passed his matriculation examination from Annada Model High School in 1955. He got himself admitted to Brahmanbaria Government College, and passed his Intermediate in Arts examination (1957) under Dhaka University standing 5th in the merit list.

He did his BA honours (1960) and MA (1961) from Dhaka University. He later went to University of Cambridge (Fitzwilliam College), UK and obtained his B A honours (1966) and M A (1970).


During the interregnum of Justice Shahabuddin Ahmed he was appointed Director General of Bangla Academy[7] on 7 February 1991.[8] His appointment as the director general of the Bangla Academy[9] is a landmark in his career as an educational administrator. He insisted on its research activities – chiefly the dictionaries which needed editing and branding.[10] He published the Bangla Academy English–Bengali Dictionary (ed Z R Siddiqui)[11] and devised such marketing policies as made it an instant best seller. The cover design was made by artist and painter Qayyum Chowdhury and all the dictionaries had the same design with change of colour. He commissioned three dictionaries during his tenure and published them. He himself edited one pocket dictionary. The other thing he emphasized was the publication of complete works of literary celebrities including Dr Muhammad Shahidullah, Kaykobad, Farrukh Ahmed and most importantly the complete works of Kazi Nazrul Islam.[12][13]

After a stint of four years he went back to Jahangirnagar University. He went on voluntary retirement in 1998. He took a break from teaching and became the chief editor of Dhaka Courier, a national English-language newsweekly. But his journalistic career was short-lived and he joined North South University[14] as an adjunct professor of English. He taught there for 8 years and terminated his contract in December 2008. He then joined Darul Ihsan University as an adviser and professor of English. He taught at International Islamic University Chittagong at its Dhaka branch until 28 February 2015.

He was elected president of the Asiatic Society of Bangladesh in 1998 for two years. In February 2007, he was made the president of Bangla Academy for two years.[15][16] He was unanimously elected Chairman of Wild Team (Wild Life Trust of Bangladesh) on 5 August 2015.[17]

Personal life[edit]

Rashid married his cousin Murshida Begum when he was 24. He had two sons and a daughter by her. Murshida died of cancer in 1985. He married Shireen Yasmin Khan in the following year. He has no children by her.

A significant event in his life was his meeting a Sufi saint, Syed Rashid Ahmed Jaunpuri, the maternal grandson of Karamat Ali Jaunpuri,[18] who preached Islam in Bengal and Assam in the 19th century.[19] He accepted him as his murshid.[20] and followed him taking notes of his lectures. He learnt the principles of Sufism sitting at his feet[21] and practiced the basics of Ma'refat without which, the Guru emphasized, Islam could not be seen its wholeness, beauty and excellence. Later the notes came in handy in writing about his teachings. He wrote a total of five books on his lectures which were published during his lifetime. He was with him for 13 years until his passing away in 2001. He published his collected lectures under the title Sanglap Samagra (2003).[22] Nearly 12 years after his Shaykh's death he published a magnum opus Syed Rashid Ahmed Jaunpuri (RA) Smarak Grantha (2013).[23]


  1. ^ "Former Director General and Directors – Banglaacademy". 22 April 2019. Archived from the original on 22 April 2019. Retrieved 9 September 2023.
  2. ^ Mojumder, Abu Taher (2014). Bibidh Bikiron. Dhaka: Ankur Prakashani. pp. 106–109.
  3. ^ Sarker Amin (2006). Bangladesher Kobitaer Chitrokalapa. Dhaka: Bangla Academy.
  4. ^ M Harunur Rashid (1987). "The Sufi Dimension of Islam". The Jahangir Nagar Review. Vol. C (part C). Dhaka: Jahangir Nagar University.
  5. ^ a b Syed Mohammad Shahed, ed. (1998). Lekhok Avidhan (Dictionary of Writers). Dhaka: Bangla Academy. p. 330.
  6. ^ Dr. Nurul Amin, ed. (2011). 175th Commemorative Celebration of Chittagong Collegiate School. Chittagong: Chattagram Collegiates. pp. 50–52.
  7. ^ প্রাক্তন পরিচালক ও মহাপরিচালকগণ [Former Director and Director General]. Bangla Academy (in Bengali). Retrieved 25 January 2015.
  8. ^ Mohammad Ali; et al., eds. (1994). English Bengali Dictionary. Dhaka: Bangla Academy. p. introd.
  9. ^ Gazi Shamsur Rahman (1996). Subrata Barua (ed.). Bangla Academy Smarakgrantha. Dhaka: Bangla Academy. pp. 24, 461, 464.
  10. ^ "Bangla Academir Avidhanguccha Shamayapojogi Kore Tulte Gabeshana Cell Protishtha Kora Uchit (an Interview)". Daily Amar Desh. Dhaka. 25 June 2007.
  11. ^ Zillur Rahman Siddique, ed. (1993). English to Bengali Dictionary. Dhaka: Bangla Academy. pp. introd.
  12. ^ Selina Bahar Zaman, ed. (1994). Nazrul Pandulipi. Dhaka: Bangla Academy. pp. 10, 14.
  13. ^ Selina Bahar Zaman (prefaced by Anisuzzaman), ed. (1994). Nazrul Pandulipi. Dhaka: Bangla Academy. pp. preface.
  14. ^ Onu Hossain (2014). Abdul Manna Syed. Dhaka: Bangla Academy. pp. 121–123.
  15. ^ Bangla Academy Annual Report (Report). Bangla Academy. 2006–2007.
  16. ^ Bangla Academy Annual Report (Report). Bangla Academy. 2008–2009.
  17. ^ Wild Life Team
  18. ^ N. Hanif (2000). Biographical Encyclopaedia of Sufis (South Asia). New Delhi: Sarup & Sons.
  19. ^ Hoque, M Inamul (2012). "Jaunpuri, Karamat Ali". In Islam, Sirajul; Jamal, Ahmed A. (eds.). Banglapedia: National Encyclopedia of Bangladesh (Second ed.). Asiatic Society of Bangladesh.
  20. ^ Non-Muslims not to use the word ‘Allah’ by Prof Harunur Rashid
  21. ^ Prof Harunur Rashid’s vision of aesthetics and Islam - The Independent, 26 September 2014
  22. ^ M Harunur Rashid (2003). Sanglap Samagra. Dhaka: Lamisa Book.
  23. ^ M Harunur Rashid, ed. (2013). 'Syed Rashid Ahmed Jaunpuri (ra) Smarak Grantha' (Memorial Volume). Dhaka: Pathak Shamabesh. ISBN 978-9848866849.