History of Islam in Bangladesh

on Thursday, July 25, 2013

Bangladesh is a small country in South Western Asia. It has India’s arm circling around its shoulder and shares its border with India on three sides. The fourth side is exposed to the Bay of Bengal. A small portion of its border is shared with Myanmar, Burma. Bangladesh declares itself a secular country by the constitution but according to numbers, it is indeed a largely Islamic country. Muslims make up more than 90% of the population, and the country is home to famous religious monuments as well as home to the City of Mosques, Dhaka.

Islam is believed to have been introduced into the country of Bangladesh in the 8th century by the Rashidun Caliphate. Shah Jalal was the saint responsible of the widespread conversion of Hindus and Buddhists to Islam. He, by far, has played the largest role in the spread of Islam in Bangladesh. As such, he is honored by a mazaar (mausoleum) built to his name. The mausoleum was initially a mosque built by him, and after his death, it was made into a mausoleum. The location of the mausoleum is in Sylhet and is visited by thousands of believers every day, both national and international. Although he remains central to the spread of Islam in Bangladesh, but there are a lot of other people who have played other vital roles, as well. For example, Syed Shah Nasiruddin, who traveled to Bangladesh all the way from Iraq just to spread the teachings of Islam. The land of Bangladesh was taken over by Muslim rulers mostly due to the Turkish conquests. The majority of the conversions was performed by the Sufis who graced the land. The rest of the spread may be attributed to the Muslim traders who traded along the Bay of Bengal.

Another one of the great preachers of Islam in this land was Bayezid Bostami, a famous saint hailing from the land of Iran. The mosque in which Bayezid Bostami used to worship Allah was later converted into a mausoleum for him. The location of this Mausoleum is in the port city of Chittagong. Other than being a place of worship for local people and Muslims from other parts of the country, it is also a very famous tourism site. This is mainly because of the gigantic turtles that grace the pool in front of Bayezid Bostami’s mazaar. There is a local myth that claims that the turtles are not really animals but that they are djinns. Many myths circle the area regarding these creatures.

The preaching of Islam was carried out by various other saints at various times who settled down at different areas of the country, sometimes peacefully, sometimes having to conquer the land. Some of the more important preachers are: Shah Muhammad Sultan Balkhi of Mohastangarh, Shah Muhammad Sultan Rumi of Netrokona, Baba Shah Adam of Bikrampur and Shah Makhdum Ruposh of Rajshahi.

The roots of Islam are buried deep in Bangladesh, and it has become a lifestyle of the people. While all other religions are freely practiced in Bangladesh, it is yet to become a truly secular country. Otherwise, it must reconsider its claim.

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