A. K. Fazl-ul-Haq

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Popularly known as Sher-i-Bengal, A. K. Fazl-ul-Haq was a leader who, for more than half a century, was in the forefront of all political activities pertaining to the Pakistan Movement. He made valuable contributions towards the political, social and educational uplift of the Muslims of the Sub-continent.

He was born on October 26, 1873, and received his elementary and religious education at home. He learnt the Holy Quran, Arabic and Persian from well-known scholars. Fazl-ul-Haq excelled in his studies. He passed his BA securing honors in physics, chemistry and mathematics, and his MA with distinction from the University of Calcutta.

In 1900, he was enrolled as an advocate in the Calcutta High Court. While practicing law in his hometown, Barisal, he realized that the main cause of the backwardness of Muslims of Bengal was lack of education. Educational uplift and political advancement of the Muslims became the goal of his life.

He slowly began to emerge as a young political leader. Fazl-ul-Haq was one of the four members of the committee that drafted the constitution of the All India Muslim League in 1906. In 1912, he started the Central National Muhammadan Educational Association to help the poor and deserving Muslims. In 1914, he became the leader of the Muslims of Bengal. He attended the Lucknow Pact as the representative of the province. In 1920, he became the Minister of Education for Bengal. He devotedly worked for the educational advancement of the Muslims. During the Non-cooperation Movement of 1919-1921, he very wisely advised the Muslim students to single-mindedly pursue their studies and not to get involved in politics at that stage.

Fazl-ul-Haq was essentially a man of the masses. As a lawyer he defended thousands of Muslims who were accused of the riot cases before the Partition. He also looked after the interests of the peasantry of Bengal. He was also a delegate of the Round Table Conferences and pleaded the cause of the Muslims to have their proper share in the administrative affairs of the country. In 1937, he was elected as Chief Minister of Bengal. During the All India Muslim League session of March 23, 1940, which was presided over by Quaid-i-Azam, Fazl-ul-Haq rose to move the historic Pakistan Resolution and spoke of protecting the rights of the Muslims of India.

Fazl-ul-Haq migrated to Pakistan and accepted the Advocate Generalship of East Pakistan. At the age of 80, he toured East Pakistan from one end to another. In 1962, his health started deteriorating. He passed away on April 27, 1962 after dominating the political stage of the Sub-continent for half a century.

This article was last updated on Monday, Jan 02, 2012