Abul Khair Nazmul Karim (August 1, 1922 –November 18, 1982) was a successful sociologist who as a professor of sociology guided others. He is the founding father of Sociology in Bangladesh. For his great contribution in this field, he was awarded the prestigious Ekushey Padak in 2012, three decades after his death.
His interest in sociology grew from his early days of the university life. He published a number of articles in his student life. That time, there was no separate department for the study of sociology at the university. He was a student of political science but he knew that the foundations of the state lie in the society, and to understand the state it is necessary to understand the society first. His approach to analyzing society was very scientific. He excelled in analyzing the very essence of society. Therefore, he wanted to pass his avid interest in social analysis to his students, colleagues, and readers.
There is a complacency in his writing, which increases the readers’ interest to read his writings more. However, the intelligibility of the author’s vision is above everything. His childhood friend Syed Waliullah’s ‘Lalsalu’ criticized society’s feudal system and its ideologies. Nazmul Karim wanted to do the same thing but with a different approach.
After Bangladesh became independent, he raised an important question in his speech in 1979 as the President of Bangladesh Sociology Association. He asked what could be the possible reason that the West progressed when the East remained behind in knowledge and technology. In the past, the East was visited by preachers and evangelists. They gave religious and spiritual teachings to the people. However, such teachings could not create the foundation needed for the progress of society.
He explained in one of his writings, ‘The concern of Greek philosophy was the examination of the relations between the individual and nature. The concern of Chinese philosophy was to find a proper relation between the individual and his neighbor; while the concern of Indian philosophy was to examine the relationship between the individual and the self.’
This great sociologist was born in Lakshmipur district (Noakhali District during the Pakistani regime and later Lakshmipur District in independent Bangladesh). He was born to Abu Rashid Nizamuddin Mahmood Ahmed and MossammatShamsun Neda Khatun and was the seventh child of his parents. His family members were educated and affluent.
He was married to Syeda Jahanara Begum, retired Principal of Begum Badrunnesa Government Girls` College. They had three daughters - Shehernaz Yasmin, Shahnaz Nasreen and Lamia Nazneen.
He graduated from the University of Dhaka in 1944 with a B.A. (Hons), and an M.A. in 1946 with distinction in Political Science. Later, he obtained master’s degrees in Government and Sociology from Columbia University in 1953. For his brilliant performances, he won a Rockefeller Scholarship to go to the London School of Economics & Political Science where he was awarded a doctorate in Sociology under the supervision of Professor T. B. Bottomore in 1964. His thesis title was, ‘The Modern Muslim Political Elite in Bengal’ which was later published in extended version under the title, "The Dynamics of Bangladesh Society" by Vikas Publishing House Private Ltd. in 1980.
He died on November 18, 1982 from complications brought on by diabetes. On his death anniversary, Bangla Insider remembers him with the utmost respect and prays for his departed soul.