Muhammed Zafar Iqbal

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Muhammed Zafar Iqbal
Book Fair 2015 Dhaka (16519100026).jpg
Iqbal at Ekushey Book Fair, Dhaka in 2015
Native nameমুহম্মদ জাফর ইকবাল
Born (1952-12-23) 23 December 1952 (age 65)
Sylhet, East Bengal, Dominion of Pakistan
EducationPhD in physics from University of Washington
Alma mater
OccupationPhysicist, writer, columnist
Yasmeen Haque (m. 1978)
  • Nabil Iqbal
  • Yeshim Iqbal
  • Faizur Rahman Ahmed
  • Ayesha Akhter Khatun
AwardsBangla Academy Literary Award (2004), National ICT Award (2017)

Muhammed Zafar Iqbal (pronounced [muɦɔmmɔd dʒafor ikbal]; born 23 December 1952) is a Bangladeshi science fiction author, physicist, academic and activist. He is a professor of computer science and engineering at Shahjalal University of Science and Technology (SUST).[1] As of January 2018, he is the head of Electrical and Electronic Engineering department.[2]

Early life and education[edit]

Iqbal was born on 23 December 1952 in Sylhet.[note 1][3][4] His father, Faizur Rahman Ahmed, was a police officer who was killed in the Liberation War of Bangladesh.[1] His mother was Ayesha Akhter Khatun.[1] He spent his childhood in different parts of Bangladesh because of the transferring nature of his father's job. His elder brother was the writer and filmmaker Humayun Ahmed.[5] His younger brother, Ahsan Habib, is a cartoonist who is serving as the editor of the satirical magazine, Unmad (Mad).[6] He has three sisters - Sufia Haider, Momtaz Shahid and Rukhsana Ahmed.[7]

Iqbal passed the SSC exam from Bogra Zilla School in 1968 and the HSC exam from Dhaka College in 1970.[8] He earned his BSc in Physics from the University of Dhaka in 1976 and then went to the University of Washington. He earned his PhD in 1982.[3]



After obtaining his PhD degree, Iqbal worked as a post-doctoral researcher at California Institute of Technology (Caltech) from 1983 to 1988. He then joined Bell Communications Research (Bellcore), a separate corporation from the Bell Labs (now Telcordia Technologies), as a research scientist. He left the institute in 1994.

Upon returning to Bangladesh, Iqbal joined the faculty of the CSE department at SUST.[3]

Iqbal serves as the vice president of Bangladesh Mathematical Olympiad committee. He played a leading role in founding the Bangladesh Mathematical Olympiad and popularized mathematics among Bangladeshi youths at local and international level. In 2011, he won the Rotary SEED Award for his contribution in the field of education.[9]

On 26 November 2013, Iqbal and his wife professor Haque applied for resignation soon after the university authority had postponed the combined admission test for the SUST and Jessore Science & Technology University.[10] However they withdrew their resignation letters on the next day after the authority decided to go on with holding combined admission tests.[11]


Iqbal started writing stories at a very early age. He wrote his first short story at the age of seven.[3] While studying at the University of Dhaka, Iqbal's story "Copotronic Bhalobasha" (Copotronic Love) was published in Weekly Bichitra. Later he rewrote the story and published it as a collection of stories titled Copotronic Sukh Dukho.[3]

Political stance[edit]

Iqbal is known for his stance against Jamaat-e-Islami Bangladesh and has spearheaded criticism of its leaders, several of whom were undergoing trial at the International Crimes Tribunal for their role in the Bangladesh liberation war in 1971.[12][13] Iqbal's father was allegedly killed by Jamaat leader Delwar Hossain Sayeedi.[14] He came down heavily on a section of the media for their stand against holding the 10th parliamentary elections in Bangladesh on 5 January 2013, amid a boycott by the main opposition party, alleging that those who were calling for halting the electoral process were actually trying to ensure the participation of Jamaat-e-Islami in the election.[15]

In support of the war crime trials carried out at the premises of the International Crimes Tribunal in Bangladesh, he participated and featured prominently at the 2013 Shahbag protests.[16]

Iqbal survived a stabbing attack in the head on 3 March 2018 in a prize giving ceremony in SUST campus in Sylhet.[17] The attacker, a 25-year old male, was arrested after he was beaten by the students.[18] The attacker claimed that he had tried to kill him because the attacker wrongly believed he was an "enemy of Islam".[19][20][21]


Iqbal is one of the pioneers of science fiction in the Bengali language.[22] He mainly writes for younger readers. He has also written several non-fiction books on physics and mathematics. He writes columns in mainstream newspapers regularly.[23]

Personal life[edit]

Iqbal with his wife, Yasmeen Haque

Iqbal married Yasmeen Haque in 1978.[24] She is currently the Dean of the Life Science Department and Professor of the Department of Physics at SUST.[25] They have two children – son Nabil and daughter Yeshim.


Iqbal at Borno Mela, Dhaka (February 2013)
  • Agrani Bank Shishu Shahitto Award (2001)
  • Quazi Mahbubulla Zebunnesa Award (2002)
  • Khalekdad Chowdhury Literary Award (2003)
  • Sheltech Literary Award (2003)
  • Uro Child Literary Award (2004)
  • Md. Mudabber-Husne ara literary Award (2005)
  • Marcantile Bank Ltd. Award (2005)
  • One of the 10 living Eminent Bengali (2005)
  • American Alumni Association Award (2005)
  • Dhaka University Alumni Association Award (2005)
  • Sylhet Naittamoncho Award (2005)
  • Bangla Academy Literary Award (2005)[26]
  • Best Playwright Meril Prothom Alo Awards (2005)
  • Uro Child Literary Award (2006)
  • Rotary SEED Award (2011)[9]
  • National ICT Award (2017)


  1. ^ Who's Who in Bangladesh 2000 give his place of birth as Mymensingh. Website online-dhaka says it was Sylhet.


  1. ^ a b c "Dr Muhammed Zafar Iqbal". Shahjalal University of Science & Technology. Retrieved 28 July 2018.
  2. ^ "Shahjalal University of Science & Technology". Retrieved 29 July 2018.
  3. ^ a b c d e "Information on Muhammad Zafar Iqbal". Online Dhaka. Retrieved 8 May 2013.
  4. ^ Manu Islam (2001). Who's Who in Bangladesh 2000. Dhaka: Centre for Bangladesh Culture. p. 128. OCLC 48517841.
  5. ^ "Humayun Ahmed dies". 19 July 2012. Archived from the original on 21 July 2012. Retrieved 23 July 2012.
  6. ^ "Homepage". Unmad Magazine. Retrieved 8 October 2018.
  7. ^ হুমায়ূনের কবরে স্বজনেরা [Relatives at Humayun's grave]. Prothom Alo (in Bengali). 24 August 2012. Retrieved 28 July 2018.
  8. ^ Md.Mahbur Rahman (5 August 2006). "From Bogra : A Successful Seat of knowledge". The Daily Star. Retrieved 29 December 2015.
  9. ^ a b "Zafar Iqbal gets Rotary SEED Award". The Daily Star. 6 October 2011. Retrieved 2 March 2013.
  10. ^ "Zafar Iqbal, Yasmeen Haque resign". The Daily Star. 27 November 2013. Retrieved 28 July 2018.
  11. ^ "Zafar Iqbal, Yasmeen Haque withdraw resignation". The Daily Star. Retrieved 29 November 2013.
  12. ^ "War crimes catch up with Jamaat". 25 March 2014. Retrieved 31 May 2014.
  13. ^ "IO testifies on al-Badr leader Mir Kashem's involvement in war crimes". Dhaka Tribune. 10 April 2014. Retrieved 29 July 2018.
  14. ^ "'War crimes investigator deceived court'". 29 November 2012. Retrieved 31 May 2014. That list had such names as Jewel Aich, a famous magician, Shahriar Kabir, a long-time advocate for war crimes trials and Muhammad Zafar Iqbal, a noted writer and university teacher whose father had allegedly been killed, in part due to Sayedee's connivance with the Pakistani Army in Pirojpur.
  15. ^ "Zafar Iqbal slams media". Daily Star. 5 January 2014. Retrieved 27 May 2014.
  16. ^ "Shahbag protesters versus the Butcher of Mirpur". The Guardian. 12 February 2013. Retrieved 27 May 2014.
  17. ^ "Popular science fiction writer Zafar Iqbal stabbed in Bangladesh". The Hindu. 3 March 2018. Retrieved 3 March 2018.
  18. ^ "Prof Zafar Iqbal stabbed, to be taken to Dhaka". The Daily Star. 3 March 2018. Retrieved 3 March 2018.
  19. ^ "'I attacked Zafar Iqbal because he is an enemy of Islam'". Dhaka Tribune. 4 March 2018. Retrieved 4 March 2018.
  20. ^ Faisal Mahmud. "Bangladesh: Why was science fiction writer Zafar Iqbal attacked?". Retrieved 15 March 2018.
  21. ^ "Attack on Zafar Iqbal: Who is Faizul?". Dhaka Tribune. 4 March 2018. Retrieved 28 July 2018.
  22. ^ "Winds of Change and some Change Makers". The Daily Star. 2 April 2010. Retrieved 28 July 2018.
  23. ^ Iqbal, Muhammed Zafar (21 February 2004). "Doing Science in Bangla". The Daily Star. Retrieved 28 July 2018.
  24. ^ Lovlu Ansar (7 July 2012). "Zafar Iqbal by Humayun's side". Retrieved 28 July 2018.
  25. ^ Rafi Hossain (17 July 2010). "Dr. Yasmeen Haque: A Voice of Strength". The Daily Star. Retrieved 28 July 2018.
  26. ^ "পুরস্কারপ্রাপ্তদের তালিকা" [Winners list] (in Bengali). Bangla Academy. Retrieved 23 August 2017.

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