Ameerul Hajj Khan Bahadur Badi Ahmad Chowdhury

AMEERUL HAJJ KHAN BAHADUR BADI AHMAD CHOWDHURY LIFE-SKETCH Ameerul Hajj Khan Bahadur Badi Ahmad Chowdhury, the Ex-M. L. C. and M. L. A. of the undivided Bengal during British regime, was renowned figure, prudent politician and social worker having a glorious record of social service in various development works in Chittagong and its neighboring areas.

Birth and Family Background: Born on 23rd. March, 1886 in an aristocratic Muslim family of famous Uzir Bari in the village of Bailchari of P. S. Banshkhali in the district of Chittagong, Bangladesh. His father’s name was Late Mozaharun Nabi Chowdhury and mother’s name was Late Tamizunnessa Chowdhury. His thirteenth forefather Syed Abdur Rahman Siddiqui came from Arabia and settled in Chittagong. 

His eleventh ancestor Mohammad Khan, it was known, served as Nayeb-e-Uzir (Secretary to Minister) of Nawab Shaysta Khan. The very name ‘Uzir Bari’ of his village home perhaps indicates to this fact. His fourth forefather Mohammad Hossain Chowdhury (also known as Ahmad Hossain Chowdhury) came to Bailchari of Banskhali from Mallik Sobhan area of Satkania (at present Lohagara) at sometimes in the sixteenth century. 

Khan Bahadur Badi Ahmad Chowdhury’s two sisters were Asia Khatun Chowdhury and Abeda Khatun Chowdhury and tow younger brothers Alhaj Rafiq Ahmad Chowdhury served as a divisional forest officer during the British regime and achieved ‘Khan Saheb’ title from the British government for his social works. Alhaj Aziz Ahmad Chowdhury also enjoyed the title ‘Quazi Saheb’. 

Marriage: Marriage twice. First marriage was with Nazmunnesa Begum Chowdhury. He had one son and two daughters by this wife. His second wife was Rahima Begum Chowdhury. This wife presented him five son two daughters. His two wives are of the same family and cousins to each other. 

Parliamentarian Life: Khan Bahadur Badi Ahmad Chowdhury had a busy political life afterwards. Politics was not fashion with him; he practiced it for the welfare of the people……its was his mission….. honest and great. In his political life whenever he was in power entrusted by the government he tried his best to do something for the well-being of the people. In June, 1929 he was elected as an M. L. C. (Member Legislative Council) for the first time with an overwhelming majority from a vast constituency covering 13 thanas (Police Stations) from Rangunia to Teknaf in South Chittagong. He retained this post and position for eight years till 1936. 

After this, on 15th December, 1943 Khan Bahadur Badi Ahmad Chowdhury was elected as an M. L. A. (Member Legislative Assembly) from zamindari constituency with a great majority as a representative of five districts – Chittagong. Chittagong Hill Tracts, Noakhali, Tripura (no Comilla) and Sylhet. In this election he defeated Congress backed candidate Advocate Probodh Kumar Das. While in Bengal Legislative Assembly he took part in discussions almost every day and presented proposals for the welfare of the people during the parliamentary sessions. He tried to avail all the chances to speak during such sessions; sometimes it happened to irritate and embarrass the speaker. Once it so happened that demanding the prompt transportation of rice to his area he threatening to give up his life for this, created such a fray in the assembly that he was ordered to leave the hall within 24 hours. But he did not pay heed to this. 

On that day of 7th June, 1944 he could accomplish his task and fulfill his demand by discussing the matter in the assembly. In this period he was committee member of many committees from time to time. Among those committees and institutions a few were as follows: India Road Board Committee, Asam-Bengal Railway Committee, Bengal Excise Standing Committee, Bengal Irrigation Standing Committee, Public Accounts Committee, Bengal Revenue Standing Committee, Bengal Agricultural Board etc. He was not mere a nominal member of those committees; active he was although. In this capacity he worked tirelessly and presented proposals and formulas for the welfare of his people. 

Social Service: Doing good to others was his prime mission in life; hence social service occupied most of his life. It was the brightest phase of his career. In fact, he will be remembered mainly form his social works-welfare-oriented activities. In different stages of his busy life he served as committee member of Calcutta Port Hajj Committee, Chittagong Divisional General Hospital and Medical School, Chittagong District Board, Chittagong Municipality, Chittagong School Board etc. 

Khan Bahadur Badi Ahmad Chowdhury had to render various service necessitated by the changing demands of the time. More than once he had to work as a director of some commercial enterprises including Calcutta’s Deshpriya Sugar Mill, Patya Tea Company, Hagging Bagan Co-operative Traders Bank, Indo-Burma Traders Bank and United Common Insurance Co. Ltd. Patya Tea Company (Patya Tea Estate) was under his supervision for long. He was one of the share-holders of State Bank of Pakistan, National Bank of Pakistan and National Cotton Mill etc. Khan Bahadur Badi Ahmad Chowdhury was owner of a vast estate (land property or Zamindari) spreading over different thanas of Chittagong. 

Later on, some portion of his estate was acquired as khas land by the government and still a great portion remains in Chakaria, Cox’s Bazar and Banskhali. The British government could evaluate his social service and honored him by giving the title ‘Khan Bahadur’. The then Viceroy of India Lord Linlithgow gave him this title. On that occasion he was accorded a big and hearty civic reception in the Chittagong Muslim Hall on 11th August, 1936. It was organized jointly be zamindars, talukdars and tenants associations along with the high officials and general mass of Chittagong. Such receptions were also held in Calcutta (India) and Rangoon (Bruma) (at present Yangoon-Mayenmar). 

Khan Bahadur Badi Ahmad Chowdhury performed Hajj twice in life… first time in 1919 at the age of 34 years and second time in 1935 as a member of the Indian Hajj Committee of Calcutta Port and leader of Bengalee Hajees. At this time he earned the title of ‘Ameerul Hajj’ and in that capacity, guided the Bengalee Hajees. This time it so happened that he had to bargain with the Saudi Arabian government in order to gain some facilities including the lessening of bus-fare from Mecca to Medina for the hajees (hajj pilgrims) and he was successful in this case. 

Khan Bahadur Badi Ahmad Chowdhury had a closer relation with many distinguished personalities of Indo-Bangla Subcontinent. Although Muslim interest and integrity were his main concern in his life, he maintained a good relation with the non-Muslims particularly with the Hindu community and its leaders. In fact, he cherished a liberal and non-communal mentality. 

Later Life: A Quranic verse goes- ‘Kullu nafsin Jaayekatul maut’…. ‘Every soul shell have a taste of death’…. all lives end in death. Khan Bahadur Badi Ahmad Chowdhury died on Friday, 13th April, 1962 at the age of 76. All mourned and prayed for this philanthropist. May Allah bless him with jannat (Paradise). Amen. He was buried with all honor and religious fervor in their family graveyard adjacent to a mosque which was reconstructed by him in artistically embellished mosaic, at his village home presently known as Khan Bahadur Bari. On his grave an epitaph was there to whisper a request: In English version it goes like this – ‘I am here alone in this grave, only with empty hands, Offer fatiha (Quranic verse) O’ pious and Pray (for my salvation). Khan Bahadur Badi Ahmad Chowdhury wrote this entreating couplet a few months before his death. 

Character: Khan Bahadur Badi Ahmad Chowdhury inherited all qualities of his pious parents. As a religious man he held high Islamic ideology and precepts in life. He was regular in performing prayer 5 times a day and fasting the two main compulsory religious rituals of Islam. Recitation of the Holy Qur’an with translation was his practice. There was a good combination of rare qualities and faculties in his character. His life showed a varied brilliance. He was a sincere social worker, politician, thinker and charitable man. Honest and religious he was, and he worked hard for the welfare of the nation. He took interest in memorizing the Qur’anic verse expressed eagerness to know the meaning and significance of the Qur’anic verse. 

He had a deep respect for religious and learned persons and was kind and polite to his friend and foe alike. Khan Bahadur Badi Ahmad Chowdhury was a man of charity with a great heart. He was very much open-handed in charity and this well-known to all. Every Friday he used to help the poor and needy people; it became a compulsory habit within. In fact, service to the suffering humanity was his motto in life. He contributed much in developing this country, particularly Chittagong Division and upheld the demands and wants of the people through his life. In This regard he emerged here as a rare personality. Conclusion: Khan Bahadur Badi Ahmad Chowdhury is no more on this earth, yet his sweet memory will ever remain fresh in the minds of the people only for the sake of his humanitarian works. Every year on 13th April his death anniversary is observed here in a befitting manner. He is remembered every year and will be remembered for long by different organizations. Thus the new generation is imbibed by his ideals. All murmur that Chittagong is now leaderless. It is true, so to say, Chittagong, the largest port of Bangladesh, needs an honest, courageous, patriotic and truthful leader like Badi Ahmad Chowdhury who can uphold the people’s demands, inspire them to work and help accelerate overall development activities. 

The people of Bangladesh want constructive, creative and dynamic leadership in all national affairs. Leaders like Badi Ahmad Chowdhury may be an example in this regard. May Allah fulfill the aspirations of our people. They want a happy and prosperous Bangladesh though an honest and able leadership as that of Khan Bahadur Badi Ahmad Chowdhury and all others like him.