Professor Syeda Zakia Khatun Passes Away


The first woman to pass Dakhil, Alim, and Fazil examinations in the subcontinent, a pioneering educationist and Islamic scholar, Professor Syeda Zakia Khatun, passed away this morning, Thursday 21 May 2015, at United Hospital Dhaka. She was 86 years old and had been suffering from old age related health complications. Innalillah wa inna ilayhi rajiun.

Professor Zakia was the first lady in the then British India to pass the ‘Fazil’ examination of the Alia Madrasa system. She then became the first lady to complete the ‘Kamil’, also known as ‘Title’, examination of the Alia Madrasa system during the Pakistan period. The Kamil exam is the highest qualification offered by the Alia Madrasa education system, equivalent to a Masters degree. She then went on to completing two further Masters degrees, one in Arabic and one in Islamic Studies, from Dhaka University, the most respected university in Bangladesh. This made her the first lady of her country to earn Masters degrees from both madrasa education as well as from a mainstream institution. She went on to take up a career in teaching and worked for many years as a professor at Begum Badrunnessa Government College. In 1985 she retired as Principal of Shahid Swarwardi Government College. She was one of the main editors of “Manab Disari Quran Mazid” (“The Holy Quran, the Guidance for Mankind”).

Professor Syeda Zakia Khatun was the eldest daughter of Mawlana Mir Abdus Salam, the renowned Muffasir of the Holy Quran and the chief translator and editor of Al-Quran Ul-Karim, published by the Islamic Foundation. Her husband was the late horticulture officer, Safiur Rahman. She was a pious, dedicated and philanthropic woman in personal life. Her family have commented on her dedication to praying the night prayer (tahajjud) every night and her commitment to completing the Quran several times during Ramadan.

Widowed at the young age of 23 with two infant sons, she went on to pursue advanced education and established herself as a respected professor of her field while raising her two children to be leaders in their respective fields also. Her elder son, Professor Dr. Abul Lyes Haq, is the former Dean and Chairman of the Department of Computer Science and Engineering at North South University in Dhaka, Bangladesh. Her younger son, Dr Abu Sayeed Muhammad, is Director and Consultant General Surgeon of United Hospital. She is survived by her sons, daughter-in-laws, grandchildren and great grandchildren.

Her funeral prayer was held at Dhaka’s Gulshan Central Mosque, followed by her burial at Banani graveyard.

Source: Naya Diganta and Progress Bangladesh report