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NAWABZADA ALTAF ALI, eldest son of Nawab Bahadur Sir Nawab Ali Choudhury (a founder of Dhaka University, for whom the Senate Bhaban is named) was an Honorary Magistrate and Justice of the Peace, in Barisal of British India in his twenties. On October 19, 1909 his eldest son, Mohammed Ali, was born -- later known as Mohammed Ali of Bogra (Prime Minister of Pakistan)

Nawabzada Altaf Ali and his sons were largely raised by their paternal grandfather, the Nawab, who maintained homes in Dhanbari, Bogra, where he married. Mr. Mohammed Ali did his early schooling at Hastings House in Calcutta, went on to Calcutta madrassah, and then to Presidency College of Calcutta University.

Syed Hamde Ali is the son of Mohammed Ali Bogra.

The first proposer of Bengali as the language for the people of undivided Bengal, now Bangladesh and West Bengal is Nawab Bahadur Syed Nawab Ali Choudhury. The 17th of April is the death anniversary of this illustrious son of Bengal.

Nawab Bahadur Syed Nawab Ali Choudhury was the Nawab of Dhanbari, Tangail. He was born in December 1863 and died in 1929 at the age of 66. He was a great advocate of Bengali nationalism and a litterateur of repute. He was the first to start a Bengali magazine in his time. He was an ardent believer in Bengali as the language of Bengal and he worked for its proper places in the society.

This luminous light of Bengal was born in the aristocratic family of Dhanbari, a well known place of Hazrat Mohammad Shah, a great saint and an ancestor of Syed Nawab Ali. Syed Nawab Ali married the daughter of Nawab Abdus Sobhan of Bogra. Syed Nawab Ali’s eldest son Nawabzada Altaf Ali Choudhury organized the Bogra Estate.

Mohammad Ali Bogra, the former Prime Minister of Pakistan, is his grandson. His second and youngest son is Nawabzada Syed Hasan Ali Choudhury, a former Minister of Commerce and Industry and a Member of Parliament. Nawab Bahadur turned his vast Zamindari estate in Dhanbari and other areas into a Waqf Estate.

He was the first Mutawalli followed by his youngest son Nawabzada Syed Hasan Ali Choudhury as the second Mutawalli. Nawabzada Hasan Ali Choudhury’s only daughter Syeda Ashiqua Akbar [a former Member of the Bangladesh Parliament having been directly elected from their ancestral Dhanbari home constituency] is the present Mutawalli. The entire family is well known in Bengal as a family of Zamindars, politicians, educationalists and philanthropists.

Nawab Bahadur Syed Nawab Ali Choudhury is well known to all. His ancestors descendants of Hazrat Ghausul Azam came first to Eastern Bengal from Baghdad and received the estate of Dhanbari at the time of the Moghul Emperor Jahangir over 350 years ago.

Dhanbari is situated now in the Tangail district, 7 miles from Modhupur. During his lifetime his Zamindari estate was extended and reputed to be one of the best managed in Bengal. He was a renowned Zamindar, a politician of outstanding status, educationist with the distinction of having set up 38 schools and madrasahs by denoting land, building etc. a philanthropist and a Sufi saint. To this day, Holy Quran is recited at his Mazar 24 hours a day non-stop for over 77 years. His Mazar is situated in a magnificent tower within the complex at Nawab Masjid.

The Nawab Bahadur was a Honoarary Magistrate, Municipal Commissioner and Member of District board. He held among others the responsible and honorable offices of Vice-President, Central National Muhammadan Association; Extraordinary Vice-President, All India Muslim League, London Branch, Trustee, Aligarh M.A.O College, Honorary Secretary, Provincial Muslim League of Eastern Bengal and Assam and later of Bengal, Secretary and subsequently Vice President of the Provincial Muhammadan Association, Member of the Standing Committee, All India Muhammadan Educational Conference of Eastern Bengal and Assam and later of Bengal Nawab Bahadur took leading part in Muhammadan social, educational and political movements of Bengal and India. He always aimed to promote concord and amity between Hindus and Muhammadan and always endeavored to maintain the rights of Muslim community.

At the close of the first Legislative Council of Bengal under Montagu Chelmsford Reforms, Syed Nawab Ali who was the only Muhammadan Minister in charge of Agriculture and Industries and Public Works portfolio, offered himself as the only Muhammadan candidate for the election. He served on the Calcutta University Committee, the governing body of the Presidency College, Kolkata, Muhammadan Educational Advisory Committee and various other Honorable and responsible positions in educational and social fields.

The above activities show the life long endeavor in public affairs equaled by few in India at his time and even now. He was awarded the title of Khan Bahadur, Nawab, Nawab Bahadur and C.I.E. Companion of the Most Eminent Order of the Indian Empire. The Nawab Ali Hasan Ali Smrity Sangsad has organized a month long program at all the educational institution in Dhanbari, Tangail and discussion meetings, Milad Mahfil, Quran Khawni and memorial lecture at the National Museum on April 29.

The Honorable president has sent a message on the occasion of his death anniversary and has recalled his great contribution to the society through his tireless efforts in establishing The Dhaka University and setting up 38 educational institutions by donating his personal land and buildings.

As a philosopher and social reformer his contribution is unparallel. As a politician and leader of outstanding ability his position is outstanding. As a mark of respect to the memory of Syed Nawab Ali, The University of Dhaka has named the recently constructed Senate Building as the Syed Nawab Ali Senate Bhaban. Nawab Bahadur’s palace, mosque and the entire complex has now been formed into the Nawab Ali Hasan Ali Royal Resort in the memory of the great Nawab and his illustrious son Syed Hasan Ali. Large number of tourists from home and abroad visit this heritage site and wonder at the architectural marvel of the mosque, palace and garden, antique furniture, books and appliances will maintained for posterity and a rich heritage.
[Writer: Akbaruddin Ahmad, IT and financial consultant]


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