Shamsunnahar Mahmud

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Shamsunnahar Mahmud
Born 1908
Feni District
Died 1964
Kolkata, West Bengal, India
Education Diocesan College of Calcutta
Occupation writer, politician and educator
Spouse(s) Dr Wahiduddin Mahmud

Shamsunnahar Mahmud (Bengali: শামসুন্নাহার মাহমুদ) (1908–1964) was a writer, politician and educator in Bengal during the early 20th century. She was a leader of Islamic feminism in Bengal after the death of Roquia Sakhawat Hussain.[1]

Early life[edit]

Her father, Mohammad Nurullah, was a Munsiff the son of Khan Bahadur Abdul Aziz and the father of Habibullah Bahar Chowdhury, who was Mahmud's brother. She was born in 1908 in Feni District.

Her childhood was spent in purdah in Chittagong. She had a male Hindu tutor, but a cloth wall was set between them during teaching[2] Shamsunnahar commenced her studies at Dr. Khastagir Government Girls' School in Chittagong, and matriculated in 1926 as an independent student. In 1927, she married Wahiuddin Mahmud, who pushed his wife to pursue further studies. She received her I.A. in 1928 and B.A. in 1932 at the Diocesan College of Calcutta. After receiving the B.A., her achievement was commemorated in a reception held for her at the Sakhawat Memorial High School. In this reception, Roquia Sakhawat Hussain herself extolled her achievements as both pioneering and honorable.[3] In 1942 she completed her M.A. in the Bengali language.[4] After her studies she joined a feminist movement pioneered by Roquia Sakhawat Hussain, a prominent social reformer.[5]


She was married to Dr. Wahiduddin Mahmud, the Surgeon General of then East Pakistan. She gave birth to two sons, the elder being Mamun Mahmud, a martyred freedom fighter during the 1971 Liberation war of Bangladesh, and Mainuddin Mahmud, an ex cricketer and sports enthusiast.


Her career began as she taught the Bengali language at Lady Brabourne College. While domiciled in Kolkatta, she became acquainted with Kazi Nazrul Islam, and the latter inspired to former to begin writing.

She worked as the secretary for the Nikhil Banga Muslim Mahila Samity ("All Bengal Muslim Women's Society"). She visited Turkey and the Middle East as a representative of East Pakistan in 1952. She led a delegation to the International Council of Women in Colombo and joined the International Friendship Organization as Asia's regional director and made visits to several Western countries, including the United States, England, France, and Italy. In 1961, she established a Center for Disabled children and was elected to the National Assembly in 1962.[4]



  • Angur (Grapes)
  • Naoroz (New Dawn)
  • Atmashakti(Self-strength[6])
  • Bulbul, 1933

Other works[edit]



  • Amin, Sonia. The World of Muslim Women in Colonial Bengal, 1876-1939. BRILL, 1996. ISBN 90-04-10642-1
  • Banu, U. A. B. Razia Akter.Islam in Bangladesh. BRILL, 1992. ISBN 90-04-09497-0
  • Papanek, Hanna.Sultana's Dream: And Selections from the Secluded Ones. Feminist Press, 1988. ISBN 0-935312-83-8