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|Leader of Jamaat-e-Islami Bangladesh|
|Preceded by||Maulana Abdur Raheem|
|Succeeded by||Motiur Rahman Nizami|
|Born||7 November 1922
Dhaka, Bengal, British Raj (now Bangladesh)
|Nationality||Bangladeshi by birth|
|Alma mater||Dhaka University|
He was a permanent resident of England until 1978, and maintained Pakistani citizenship until 1994 due to the decision by the Bangladeshi government at the time to refuse him citizenship. From 1978 to 1994 he lived in Bangladesh illegally without any authorized Bangladeshi visa. In 1994, the Supreme Court upheld the decision to restore his citizenship of Bangladesh as a matter of birth-right. He was the leader of Jamaat-e-Islami Bangladesh until 2000.
Early political career
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Azam became the secretary of the Islamist political party, Jamaat-e-Islami Bangladesh, in 1957. Later, he became the Ameer (president) of the Jamaat in East Pakistan in 1969. He was also a participant in the formation of the Pakistan Democratic Alliance in 1967.
Fleeing from BangladeshGhulam Azam wrote some of his activities of 9 months of the war in his biography Jibone Ja Dekhlam (What I have seen in life). According to his book, Azam claims that he was on way to Dhaka from West Pakistan on 3 December when midway through the flight, the plane changed direction to Saudi Arabia because of the formation of India-Bangladesh joint force against Pakistan. A few weeks later East Pakistan emerged as newly independent country Bangladesh and Ghulam Azam along with his political party Jamaat-e-Islami was banned by new country's government and Azam's Bangladesh citizenship was cancelled. However, New York Times reported that Azam left East Pakistan due to his opposition to the independence movement.
Years in exileAfter the war, the Bangladesh government declared the newly independent country to be secular, and mandated separation of religion from the state, and therefore sought to remove the influence of religious fundamentalists from national life, and religion based political parties were banned. In addition, the Jamaat and its leaders, because they were seen as guilty of collaboration with the Pakistan occupation forces during the Bangladesh Liberation War, were similarly restricted from participation in the new country's political scenario. On 18 April 1973 the government revoked the citizenship of Ghulam Azam and thirty-eight other collaborators of Pakistan Army. Azam refused an offer of amnesty from the then Bangladesh Prime Minister Sheikh Mujibur Rahman to return to Bangladesh and renounce Jamaat politics, choosing to live in exile in Pakistan and England until 1978, when President Ziaur Rahman restored multi-party democratic system, Jamaat re-launched itself, seizing the opportunity, and soon Ghulam Azam returned to Bangladesh on a temporary visa. While in Pakistan, he was a leader of what was left of the Pakistani branch of the Jamaat.
Rehabilitation in independent Bangladesh
In 1978, then Bangladesh President Ziaur Rahman allowed Azam to return to Bangladesh. Ghulam Azam returned to Bangladesh on a temporary visa with a Pakistani passport. But he had been living in Bangladesh from 1978 to 1994 as a Pakistani national without any valid visa to stay in Bangladesh.
Azam became the unofficial Ameer of the party while remaining in Bangladesh illegally, as he was denied Bangladeshi citizenship and had overstayed his visitors visa on his Pakistani passport. However, no attempt was made to restrain him, and he moved around openly. His citizenship was granted in 1994 by a decision of the Supreme Court of Bangladesh, as the panel of Judges, with Muhammad Habibur Rahman as the Chief Justice (later chief of the Caretaker government of 1996), decreed that by virtue of his birth he had right to Bangladeshi citizenship.
Though the Jamaat fell out with the Bangladesh Nationalist Party in the run up to the 1996 elections, it re-established its alliance creating a coalition of 4 parties prior to the 2001 elections. In conjunction with the Islami Oikya Jote and a faction of the Jatiya Party, Jamaat again allied with the Bangladesh Nationalist Party and the coalition emerged as the winning power.
Ghulam Azam announced his retirement from active politics in late 2000. He was succeeded by Motiur Rahman Nizami.
Professor Ghulam Azam is the most highlighted political leader in Bangladesh. Highly revered by the Islam-loving people of the country, he has been the prime target of physical and intellectual assaults of the secular quarter of the society. He was the prime organiser of Jamaat-e-Islami Bangladesh and one of the key players of most of the historic events of the nation including the Language Movement, movement for democracy in the sixties and eighties. He presented the Caretaker Government formula which became a foundation stone of our democracy
He was born in November 7, 1922 at Lakxmi Bazar Shah Shaheb Bari in Dhaka, the house of his maternal grandfather, the late Shah Shaheb. He received his masters in political science from Dhaka University.
He was a popular student leader in his student life. He became an Assistant Secretary of East Pakistan Cultural Union for the term 1945-1946. He was elected Secretary General of the Hall Union of famous Fazlul Haque Muslim Hall of Dhaka University for the term 1946-47 and the Secretary General of Dhaka University Central Students Union for 1947-48 and 1948-49 terms.
Professor Ghulam Azam played a leading role in the Language Movement of the country. In November 1948, he submitted a memorandum to the Prime Minister of Pakistan on behalf of the students of Dhaka University demanding the state language status for Bangla. The movement continued, he was arrested in charge of the movement in 1952 and 1955, and at a stage the government had to declare Bangla as a state language of Pakistan.
Although educated in the general education, Professor Ghulam Azam was a practicing Muslim from his childhood. He came in touch with the political and cultural thinking of Islam through a cultural organisation named 'Tamaddun Mozlish'. While a teacher of Political Science in Rangpur Kermichle College, he founded a branch of 'Tamaddun Majlish' in Rangpur in 1952.
His quest for leading the life of a complete Muslim took him to Tablig Jamaat. He was the Ameer of Tablig Jamaat of Rangpur for the period of 1951-1954. His separate experiences with 'Tamaddun Majlish' and 'Tablig Jamaat' increased his longing for an organisation that covers both the spiritual and sociopolitical aspects of Islam. He found Jamaat-e-Islami at last.
He became the Secretary General of Jamaat-e-Islami of East Pakistan in 1957. He was thrown to jail in 1964 by the military rules Ayub Khan. He played a key role in the formation of Pakistan Democratic Alliance (PDM) in 1967. It was all party democratic resistance movement against the military rule of Ayub Khan. He was the Secretary General of the Executive Committee of East Pakistan Wing of PDM. He became the Ameer of East Pakistan Jamaat-e-Islami in 1969.
Like all other Islamic parties and groups, he did not support the Liberation War of Bangladesh. The reasons for not supporting the Liberation War of 1971 was - he did not believe that independence from Pakistan would solve our problem. He believed in self-rule or autonomy and continued to campaign in favour of that. His main opposition to the Liberation War was that it was fully surrounded by India and therefore, gaining independence with India's support would result in the country being indirectly controlled and ruled by India. He feared that India would become a bully and would do everything in its power to dominate the politics and economy of the country.
Soon after the liberation, the new government started its campaign of uprooting Islam and democracy from Bangladesh. The government deleted the word 'Muslim' and 'Islam' from names of educational institutes, banned Islam-based politics, arrested and tortured noted Islamic leaders and scholars. Professor Ghulam Azam's very citizenship was canceled and he had to spend his life in exile till 1978.
He was declared as the Ameer of Jamaat-e-Islami in 1991. He was sent to jail in 1992 and later released by the order of the court. The Supreme Court reinstated his citizenship in 1994.
He retired from active politics in 2000. Currently, he has engaged himself in original writings and providing guidance to the Islamic thinker and politicians of Bangladesh.
Contact Address and Telephone Number:
129/2 Kazi Office Lane
Dhaka - 1207
129/2 Kazi Office Lane
Dhaka - 1207