Khwaja Ahsanullah

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Nawab Khwaja Ahsanullah
Nawab of Dhaka
Nawab Khwaja Ahsanullah Khan Bahadur KCIE
Reign 1896 - 1901
Predecessor Nawab Khwaja Abdul Ghani
Successor Nawab Khwaja Salimullah
Born (1846-08-22)22 August 1846
Dacca, Bengal Presidency, British India
Died 16 December 1901(1901-12-16) (aged 55)
Dacca, Bengal Presidency, British India
Burial Begum Bazaar, Dhaka
House Dhaka Nawab Family
Father Nawab Khwaja Abdul Ghani
Mother Ismatun Nesa

Nawab Khwaja Ahsanullah (1846–1901), Khan Bahadur KCIE, was the Nawab of Dhaka. He was a renowned Urdu litterateur.

Early life[edit]

He was born in 1846 as the son of Khwaja Abdul Ghani and Ismatun Nesa. As a young child he learned Urdu, Arabic and Persian in addition to the Islamic education of Quran, Hadis and Fiqa. He was noted as being a very gifted child, and mastered the religious Islamic doctrine at a very young age.[1] By age 22, he handled the maintenance and expansion of the family estates.[2]


He wrote widely in Urdu under the pen name "Shaheen". Those around him noted that he had a talent for composing spontaneous poetry which generally evoked sunny imagery.[2] Much of his spare time was spent composing literature in Urdu and Persian. He published a book of Urdu poems Kulliyat-e-Shaheen which has been preserved at Dhaka University. He also published his diaries, titled Tariq-e-Kandan-e-Kashmiriya. In 1884, he started an Urdu magazine, Ahsanut Qasas, which was published in Dhaka.[1]


Ahsanullah was a noted philanthropist. He donated over 5 million rupees to various charitable projects. He spent over 50,000 rupees on famine relief in Barisal District, Mymensingh District and Dhaka District in 1896. He also was one of the chief backers for the building of Comilla. Many hospitals were funded and constructed by him, including: the Patuankali Begam Hospital, Lady Dufferin Women's Hospital, and the Mitford Hospital.[1] He also spend 40 thousand rupees on creating an Engineering College in Dhaka, which is now Bangladesh University of Engineering and Technology.[3]

Islamic activities[edit]

Ahsanullah was an ardent advocate for Muslims. He created a number of mosques and madrassahs including the Madaripur and Begambari mosques and madrassas. He also restored and rebuilt over 15 dargahs and mosques. He was a member of the Central Northern Muhammadan Association and this played a large role in his works.[1] He also was an ardent supporter of the Partition of Bengal (1905) which his son Khwaja Salimullah facilitated.[4]

Awards and titles[edit]

Khwaja Ahsanullah was awarded many titles for his social and philanthropic work. Both he and his father were noted allies of the British Raj.[5]


Khwaja Ahsanullah died on 16 December 1901 of heart failure.[1] The Nawab was buried in the family plot in Begumbazar.


  1. ^ a b c d e Ahsanullah, Khwaja - Banglapedia by Mohammad Alamgir
  2. ^ a b Salimullah: life and work Pakistan DAWN - 30 December 2006
  3. ^ Three pioneers who contributed most to Buet The Daily Star - 6 January 2008
  4. ^ Squaring the imperial circle The Daily Pioneer - 30 November 2007
  5. ^ Buckland 1902:1030


  • Buckland, C.E. (1902), Bengal Under the Lieutenant-Governors; Being a Narrative of the Principal Events and Public Measures During Their Periods of Office, From 1854 to 1898., Kedarnath Bose .
Khwaja Ahsanullah
Preceded by
Nawab Sir Khwaja Abdul Ghani Mian
Nawab of Dhaka
Succeeded by
Nawab Sir Khwaja Salimullah Bahadur