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Wednesday, 3 September 2014

Nawab Abdul Latif

Nawab Abdul Latif

Abdul Latif (1828–1893) or Nawab Abdul Latif or Nawab Abdool Luteef(Bengali: নবাব আবদুল লতীফ) was a nineteenth-century educator and social worker in Bengal, later Bangladesh. His title, Nawab was awarded by the British in 1880. Abdul Lateef was one of the first Muslims in nineteenth century India to embrace the idea of modernization. He was a professor at Calcutta Madrassah (now the Aliah University). His achievements include working to turn Hindu College into Presidency College and thus open it for non-Hindus as well. He also established numerous educational institutes, including Rajshahi Madrasah.As a prominent personality of mid 19th century Bengal, Abdul Latif Khan was the pioneer of Muslim modernization and the architect of the Muslim Renaissance, was one of those great men who appeared as saviours of their frustrated, humiliated, demoralized and disorganised fellow countrymen under colonial rule His chief contribution was in the field of education. He was among the first to understand that young Bengali Muslims should receive modern education. He understood that the Muslims of Bengal had fallen behind in everything because of their prejudices against modern education. He devoted his whole life to removing this self-destructive prejudice from their minds.

Early life

Abdul Latif was born in 1828 at the village of Rajapur, Faridpur District (present Bangladesh). His father Fakir Mahmud was a lawyer in the civil court of Kolkata. Abdul Latif obtained the highest degree in Arabic, French and English language from Calcutta Madrassah (now the Aliah University).


Abdul Latif started his career as a teacher of Dhaka Collegiate School in 1846. By 1847, while still in his teens, he was appointed by the government as assistant to one of the Ameers of Sindh. He worked in this capacity for about a year. He was next appointed a teacher in the Dhaka Collegiate School. Here too he served for a brief period. In 1847, an Anglo-Arabic class in the Calcutta Madrassa was opened for imparting instruction in English. In 1848, Abdul Latif was appointed Anglo-Arabic professor in-charge of this class.

He joined government service in 1849 as a deputy magistrate and was promoted to the post of presidency magistrate in 1877. While serving as the deputy magistrate of Satkhira, Abdul Latif witnessed the repression and exploitation of the peasants by the English indigo planters. He encouraged the farmers there to become united and tell the government about their grievances. He himself took some initiative in this regard. Finally, the British government formed the Indigo Commission in 1860 due to his initiative with the goal of putting an end to the repressions of indigo planters.

Abdul Latif was nominated a member of the Bengal Management Council when it was constituted in 1862 during the rule of Lord Canning. In 1863, he was appointed a member of the examination board for civil and military services and a fellow of Kolkata University. He was appointed as ‘justice of the peace’ following the formation of Calcutta Corporation (Municipal Authority) in 1865. He remained in that position until 1875. When there was intense anger among the Muslim community following the adoption of a proposal by the Indian Management Council in 1865, Abdul Latif put forward arguments in favor of amending the bill through a memorandum submitted to the British government.

Mohammedan Literary Society

In 1863, Nawab Abdul Latif founded the Mohammedan Literary Society (also the Mohamadan Literary Society).

The Society gave a remarkable impetus to the cause of Muslim advancement throughout India. It attaracted the notice of successive administrations, the wants and grievances of the Indian Muslim community in regard to education, legislation and other cognate matters affecting the well-being of society. The Society was the precursor of similar institutions in other parts of India.


The British government, in recognition of his meritorious services, honoured him with titles and decorations from time to time. In 1877, at the Imperial Assemblage, at Delhi, Viceroy Lord Lytton conferred upon him the title of "Khan Bahadur" and presented him with an "Empress Medal." In April 1880, Lord Lytton conferred upon him the high title of "Nawab." In 1883, Viceroy Lord Ripon honoured him with a "Companionship of the Most Eminent Order of the Indian Empire." In 1887, on the occasion of Queen Victoria's Golden Jubilee, Viceroy Lord Dufferin conferred upon him the highest Mohamadan title of "Nawab Bahadur."

He received the title of ‘Order of the Majedi of Third Class’ from the Turkish government.


He died on 10 July, 1893.

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