Mohammed Fazle Rabbee

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Mohammed Fazle Rabbee
Native name মোহাম্মদ ফজলে রাব্বী
Born (1932-09-21)21 September 1932
Pabna District, Bengal Presidency, British India (now Bangladesh)
Died December 15, 1971(1971-12-15) (aged 39)
Dhaka, Bangladesh
Nationality Bangladeshi
Alma mater Dhaka Medical College and Hospital
Occupation Physician, professor
Spouse(s) Jahan Ara Rabbee

Mohammed Fazle Rabbee (occasionally spelled Rabbi, Bengali: মোহাম্মদ ফজলে রাব্বী; 21 September 1932 – 15 December 1971) was a renowned cardiologist and a published medical researcher. He was the joint professor of Cardiology and Internal Medicine at Dhaka Medical College and Hospital. Rabbee was noted for his progressive thinking and unconventional beliefs for a modern Bengali society. Rabbee was murdered in the intellectual killing during the 1971 genocide in Bangladesh by Pakistani army and its local collaborators, the Jamaat-affiliated Al-Badr militia.

Life and education[edit]

Rabbee was born on 21 September 1932, in Pabna District, Bengal Presidency, British India. Mohammed Fazle Rabbee was an exceptional student. In 1948, he passed matriculation from Pabna Zila School and I.Sc from Dhaka College in 1950. Afterwards, Rabbee went to Dhaka Medical College and finished his MBBS in 1955. He received a gold medal for achieving highest marks on the examination in all of Pakistan. At Dhaka Medical College and Hospital, he became an assistant surgeon on 15 December 1956.

Fazle Rabbee with his wife Jahan Ara Rabbee (November 1971)

Mohammed Fazle Rabbee and Dr. Jahan Ara Rabbee were married on 8 January 1957. Jahan Ara Rabbee had been a student attending Dhaka Medical College at the time. They raised four children, but the youngest died soon after his birth.

Rabbee became Registrar of Medicine in 1959 at Dhaka Medical College. In March 1960, he travelled to England to earn higher education, where he earned an MRCP in cardiology and another one in internal medicine. Rabbee received these two post-graduate degrees in record time by 1962. In lieu of obtaining his MRCP from London, he worked at the Hammersmith Hospital. Upon graduation, he worked at Middlesex Hospital with Sir Francis Avery Jones, an eminent British gastroenterologist.[1] After Rabbee finished his studies, he returned to East Pakistan on 1 January 1963, where he became an associate professor of medicine at the Dhaka Medical College. He was soon promoted as Professor of Medicine and Cardiology in 1968 and was the youngest MRCP staff member to achieve this promotion in Dhaka Medical College at the age of 36.

Personal beliefs and political movements[edit]

Rabbee was a man of science with a progressive philosophy. The Language Movement in 1952 opened his eyes to the tyranny and repression of the Pakistani government against its Bengali speaking citizens. The Pakistani government used to suppress and deprive east Pakistan and used to neglect their enriched language, culture, and secular philosophy. The Bengali were used to be deprived in every sectors regarding promotions,ranks and benefits.Rabbee was against this wrongdoings and the violence and repression of ordinary people by Pakistan government. In fact, he believed in equality which affirms the dignity and worth of all people. The martyred intellectuals[2] believed in the struggle for freedom of Bengalis, 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.

Fazle Rabbee in the 1969 speech at PG hospital

Professor Rabbee, a humanitarian,[3] believed in Ganamukhi Chikitsha and provided free medical care to thousands of poor patients. In 1969, at the post-graduate Institute of Medicine in Dhaka, he laid out his vision for a classless society. He believed 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 to help each other out of helpless situations. The speech by Pakistan's topmost professor in medicine evoked strong emotions from the students and colleagues. The captivating speech inspired everyone to provide good medical care for free to those who couldn't afford it. The Pakistani government took him in for questioning after the speech. The army charged that Rabbee was too popular.

In 1970 when the repression of East Pakistanis reached a peak, Professor Rabbee received the Pakistan best professor award which he refused to accept. On 27 March 1971 he became very disturbed when he visited Dhaka medical college (his workplace) with his wife and saw the extent of the massacre committed by Pakistani army on innocent civilians and the faculty of Dhaka university. Both he and his wife became completely engaged in the liberation war. They helped and protected countless freedom fighters and their families from death and disaster. They provided medical care, surgery, money, shelter and transportation cost to refugee camps to families of those who were killed, as well as for survivors of torture and rape. They stood firm in Dhaka during the war (March 1971 – December 1971) and surrounded their friends of all religions who were artists, scientists, professors, bankers, and students. They believed in a progressive and secular society. Towards the end of the war, Rabbee's dream was to build a country where the constitution would reflect the core values of all religions: equality (gender, religion, class), tolerance, secularism, human dignity and honour.

Early December 1971, Fazle Rabbi cautioned Sufia Kamal to leave Dhaka but he himself did not leave and got caught in the hand of Pakistani Army. He proved his patriotism to his motherland by sacrificing his life.[4]


Professor Rabbee was an exceptional clinician, as well as a medical researcher. Throughout the subcontinent, people sought him out to diagnose difficult cases that could not be diagnosed or treated by local physicians. Rabbee combined a holistic approach towards health with cutting-edge science. For his poor patients, this popular doctor, gave free medical treatment, medicine, transportation and hospitalisation costs. He was extremely well liked by child and elderly patients, because he took the time to interact with them and to understand the root causes of their clinical symptoms.

Rabbee also did research on medicine, and has had his research-based articles published in the British Medical Journal and The Lancet. His publications include "A Case of Congenital Hyperbilirubinaemia (Dubin-Johnson Syndrome) in Pakistan"[5] and "Spirometry in Tropical Pulmonary Eosinophilia".[6]


On 15 December 1971, Mohammed Fazle Rabbee was brutally killed when the Bangladesh Liberation War was ending. The Pakistan occupation army and those that conspired with them took Rabbee from his home. He was taken to Mohammedpur Physical Training Institute and then to Rayer Bazar along with other intellectuals where they were martyred.

Late Jahan Ara Rabbee (Professor Rabbee's wife) talked about his death:

On 15 December the curfew was relaxed for two hours. Despite his wife's objection he had gone to see a non-Bengali patient in the old part of Dhaka. He had bought plenty of vegetables on his way back. Though his wife requested him repeatedly to move out from the house at 75, Shiddeshwari, he did not agree. On that fateful day he took some rest after lunch. In the afternoon, members of Pakistan army, Al Badar and Rajakars circled his house. They came in a microbus and a jeep. About six soldiers took him towards the jeep. As his wife came out running they pointed a gun at her and stopped her from advancing any further. Rabbee walked towards the jeep with his head held high. It was known that on 15 December midnight Rabbee along with some other intellectuals were taken in a truck from the Lalmatia Physical Training Institute to the Rayerbazar brickfield and murdered in a brutal manner. His dead body was identified on 18 December.[7]

The president of Pabna Drama Circle and a leading cultural activist, Gopal Sanyal, said, "When the occupation forces realized that Bangladesh was about to become independent, they killed off the intellectuals who were the greatest minds of the country. These great human beings never got to see the sun rise over the independent Bangladesh."[8]

On 3 November 2013, Chowdhury Mueen-Uddin, based in London, and Ashrafuz Zaman Khan, based in the US, were sentenced in absentia after the court found that they were involved in the abduction and murders of 18 people – nine Dhaka University teachers, six journalists and three physicians including Dr Fazle Rabbee – in December 1971.[9]


  1. ^ "Obituary: Sir Francis Avery Jones". The Independent. London. 13 May 1998. Retrieved 18 January 2009. 
  2. ^ Rabbee, Nusrat (16 December 2008). "The Legacy of the Jewels of Our Crown: Martyred intellectual day 2008 anniversary". News from Bangladesh. Archived from the original on 8 March 2012. Retrieved 11 January 2009. 
  3. ^ 14 December 2008 Intellectual Day Commemoration: Professor Fazle Rabbee, a humanitarian and physician by Dr. N. Rabbee Prothom Alo, leading Bangla newspaper, Retrieved on 9, 18 January 2009.
  4. ^ Hussain, Akbar (16 December 2004). "'I would rather die than sign any false statement'". Victory Day Special. The Daily Star. Retrieved 2 January 2014. 
  5. ^ Rabbee, MF; Choudhury, AR (April 1964). "A Case of Congenital Hyperbilirubinaemia (Dubin-Johnson Syndrome) in Pakistan". The Journal of Tropical Medicine and Hygiene. 67: 142–3. PMID 14157719. 
  6. ^ Azad Khan, AK; Patra, RW; Banu, SA; Rabbee, MF (April 1970). "Spirometry in Tropical Pulmonary Eosinophilia". British Journal of Diseases of the Chest. 64: 107–9. PMID 5432624. doi:10.1016/s0007-0971(70)80036-5. 
  7. ^ "Profiles of Martyred Intellectuals". Mukto-Mona. Retrieved 12 January 2009. 
  8. ^ Topu, Ahmed Humayun Kabir (2 December 2008). "Dr. Fazle Rabbi: Martyred Intellectual". Star Insight. The Daily Star. Retrieved 9 January 2009. 
  9. ^ Chowdhury, Syed Tashfin (3 November 2013). "UK Muslim leader Chowdhury Mueen Uddin sentenced to death in Bangladesh". The Independent. London. Retrieved 7 November 2013. 


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