When i see him in person and try to connect to what I had heard from Louis I. Kahn, there is a big difference between the two because the image that one has is of a wonderful, powerful person who can realise his goals. A strong man. And what I saw in him was the most sensitive, almost fragile person. Very, very gentle. A noble man.
Muzharul Islam's secular politics, intertwined with his sense of architectural grandeur, went into an articulate reassertion of the splendour of Bangladesh's societal historicity. That is his legacy. And that is how he will be remembered.
Muzharul Islam's contributions were concrete and symbolic of the heritage of this country. More importantly, he sought to combine the global with national tradition, a task he did to his and our immense satisfaction. Proof of the imagination working in him and then going out to give itself a tangible form is to be had in the numerous structures, in terms of academia and fine arts, he has left behind. In essence, Islam was truly a pioneer in reshaping the nation's artistic ethos. That said, there was the fundamentally patriotic in him, a trait he demonstrated so intensely through his involvement in the War of Liberation in 1971. It was always the country that mattered to him, not through a commonplace mouthing of meaningless nationalism but through a core belief in the responsibility of the state to ensure the welfare of all citizens. The base of that welfare could only be an assurance of equality for all.
Like most of us, Muzharul Islam had feet of clay, but unlike most of us, he lived a noble life straining to be the best he could be. He came into my life when I was most vulnerable to his unique brand of nobility and after decades of prolonged - mostly furious - debate about competing ideologies, he changed my life. Muz had that effect on others as well, but I felt it uniquely because he loved his countrymen more than any of the rest of us seemed to be capable of loving ours. He was a man of the people in every imaginable way, notably at times when such a posture didn't do him a lot of personal good.
We came from diametrically opposed socio-economic backgrounds, but over time, we bonded. Ara, Rafique, Tanna and Dalia came to be family and I share their grief in this most difficult time for them. Mr. Islam never sought respect, but it came naturally and inevitably. His ties to the most humble Bengali were unbreakable and his efforts to improve their lot in this life were heroic. He fought in unique ways for the freedom of his country and will be thusly honoured.
We all have lost a most moral man; one who spent his life struggling to better the lives of others. For we the living - his wife and children, and yes, even I - are left to make the most of our lives as we try to seek the nobility that is Muzharul Islam's legacy of trying to be the best one can be for the sake of ourselves; and by so doing for others less fortunate than we.
Mr. Islam has gone to a far better place and we wish him well as he continues on his noble journey.
Muzharul Islam was a philosopher, mentor and a great architect. Although with endless effort for three decades he bestowed greatness to the contemporary architecture of Bangladesh, he was almost jobless for the last three decades of his life. Muzharul Islam was a lonely tragic hero, pursuing a lonely quest. He was immortal long before his death, most of us realise it now long after his death.
Muzharul Islam was born on 25 December 1923 and died on 15 July 2012. I express with humility my respect to this noble man on his 90th birthday.
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