|Shaheed Dr. Mohammed Fazle Rabbee-Image : pabna.net
The Legacy of the Jewels of Our Crown
Martyred intellectual day 2008 anniversary
Tuesday December 16 2008 18:10:19 PM BDT
Dr. Nusrat Rabbee
My father, Shaheed Dr. Mohammed Fazle Rabbee, was not a man of ordinary intellect. The remarkable combination of his intellect, personality and humanity were recognized by all those who knew him. When the news of Professor Rabbee’s assassination reached worldwide, Mrs. Rabbee received over 200 telegrams of personal condolences.
One of the messages was from Sir Francis Avery Jones, the most distinguished British surgeon of his era. It read, “Mrs. Rabbee, in the next 100 years, I doubt that the indo-pak subcontinent can recover from the loss of a physician of the magnitude of your husband”.
On my father’s 37th death anniversary today, I feel compelled to commemorate the vision of these legendary martyrs, in light of the recent attacks in Mumbai where a Bangladeshi national had allegedly played a role.
Dr. Rabbee did not believe that religion should be used to perpetrate violence and repression of ordinary people. In fact, he believed in humanism which is a philosophy which affirms the dignity and worth of all people. Humanism can be traced back to Greek, Islamic, Judaic and Roman roots where religious thinkers opened up to the ideas of equality, education (including music, poetry, dance and science) and human dignity for everyone.
The martyred intellectuals believed in the struggle for freedom, but their path forward was a non-violent one. Their conviction in truth and justice was more powerful than the massive military force of the Pakistani government, which was ultimately defeated.
Professor Rabbee was a captivating presence when lecturing his students on medicine, science or philosophy. He urged them to open their minds and hearts in compassion to the patient. He did not concern himself a great deal with life after death, nor did he count on supernatural interventions during one’s lifetime. He put great emphasis on the way we live our lives, here on earth, on a daily basis. He knew that no society can progress when so many people are left behind, as was the case with East Pakistan . He urged everyone to be self-reliant, but also help each other to get out of hopeless situations. So powerful were his lectures, that the Pakistani army took him into their headquarters one evening and questioned him about his incredible popularity in 1970. Professor Rabbee inquired whether he had committed a crime. They released him promptly then but such harassments from the army continued until the war finally began in 1971.
Professor Rabbee was completely engaged in the liberation war for its entire duration. Towards the end, he looked forward to building a country where the constitution would reflect the core values of all religions: equality, tolerance, secularism, human dignity and honor. He knew that the new government would need to prioritize education, nationalized health care, and poverty elimination at the top of its agenda. The Islamic fundamentalists were opposed to such progressive ideas. So strong was their hatred of Bangalees, they killed nearly 3,000,000 innocent people, in the name of Islam, within nine months.
Like the Nazis in Germany , the terrorists in east and west Pakistan, had a clear blueprint for methodically destroying the economic, intellectual, logistical infrastructure of East Pakistan prior to surrendering to India on December 16th, 1971. With the help of India , we soundly defeated Pakistan . Since that time, Bangladesh has been a sovereign nation for thirty seven years. The paramount sacrifices of 1971 have made this journey possible. Even though Bangladesh has waivered between military regimes and democracy over the years, most would agree that she has also made substantial progress; gaining international recognition in the export-oriented garment industry and the microloan programs of the Grameen bank.
At this critical time, we must clearly acknowledge that the same dark forces of 1971 continue to use the name of Islam to justify their actions of fear and violence in our region. In fact the history of terrorism dates back even farther to the repression of our language movement in the 50’s, to the assassination of Mahatma Gandhi in 1948 by a Hindu extremist, as well as to the violent partition between India and Pakistan in 1947.
We cannot honor the birth of Bangladesh and the supreme sacrifice of our martyred intellectuals without making these historical interconnections.
If Bangladesh is to continue her journey in the new era of global commerce, science and technology and regional stability, we will
need to be mindful to stop these dark forces before the cost is too dear to us once more. Should we just stop at merely condemning the
unconscionable acts of terrorists in the Mumbai attacks, including those of the Bangladeshi national who had allegedly participated in
them? I think not. Education and elimination of poverty need to rise to the top of the national agenda. Professor Rabbee dedicated his
life to truth and justice by tirelessly working towards eliminating the struggles of the common person. The lives of heroes like him
should inspire each of us to continue on the path of light. I end with a quote from the beloved Mahatma Gandhi, “When I despair, I remember that all through history the way of truth and love has always won. There have been tyrants and murderers and for a time they seem invincible, but in the end, they always fall — think of it, always.”
Dr. Nusrat Rabbee, PhD, is the daughter of Shaheed Dr. Mohammed Fazle Rabbee and Late Dr. Mrs. Jahan Ara Rabbee. She can be reached at E Mail : firstname.lastname@example.org .
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