Biography Of Mohammad Abdul Hamid
(Former President Of Bangladesh)
(1 January, 1944 – Present)
Mohammad Abdul Hamid is a politician and former President of Bangladesh who has just recently (on 24th February, 2023) ended his 10 years of service to the nation as the President. He was in office from 2013 to 2023. The veteran politician Hamid is the 21st president of independent Bangladesh.
After the restoration of our parliamentary democracy following the fall of the ‘dictator’ Ershad regime in December 1990, Hamid is the seventh elected president. Globally, seven is considered a lucky number and therefore we can call Hamid a lucky president too because he got re-elected as the president for the second consecutive term without getting jolted with any major controversy and without any opposition to compete against him. Thus he has made a unique history in Bangladesh because till now, no other (Bangladeshi) president was selected twice consecutively. The re-selection of him shows how much he was admired by the country people and other political parties because of his simple yet charming and friendly behavior and attitude towards people.
Born in 1944, at Kishoreganj, he had started his political career since his student life, from 1959, by joining the then Chhatra League. At such a young age, he had taken many brave initiatives for the betterment of the then Bangladesh. He even took part in the liberation war and did some daring activities. His hard work paid off as he was selected as the youngest member in the National Assembly Election of 1970. He was also chosen as an MP for 6 times. He served the nation as Deputy Speaker, Acting president and finally as the President.
His journey from his grassroot to the top ranking of nations is truly inspirational. As a president, he has left some good impacts for the country by building many schools, colleges and madrasas to ensure at least the basic education to a great number of children. His contributions for the country gave him many rewards too. Not only with the country men but also with foreign leaders he had always kept a good diplomatic relationship. The legacy with which he retired is like a standard that his successor leaders should follow; the handover of power should be clean and of no controversy.
Life of “Mohammad Abdul Hamid” at a glance
Real Name: Mohammad Abdul Hamid
Date of Birth: 1 January, 1944
Father Name: Late Hazi Md. Tayebuddin
Mother Name: Late Tomiza khatun
Sibling: Abdul Hye
President of Bangladesh, from 24 April 2013 to 24 April 2023
Acting President on 14 March 2013
Speaker of the National Parliament, from January 2009 to April 2013
Acting president (after the death of President Zillur Rahman) in March 2013.
Deputy Speaker of the National Parliament of Bangladesh from 1996 to 2001.
Deputy Leader of the Opposition from 01 November 2001 to 27 October 2006.
Chairman of Kishoreganj District Relief & Rehabilitation Committee
Vice-President of Kishoreganj District Awami League in 1974
President of Kishoregonj District Awami League from 1978 to 2009
Founder president of Chhatra League at Gurudayal Government College, in 1959 and vice-president of the Chhatra League of Mymensingh District Unit, in 1966–67.
Lawyer; President of Kishoreganj District Bar Association for 5 times, 1990-96.
Place of Birth: Kamalpur village, Mithamain Upazila, Kishoreganj District, Bangladesh
Primary school in his village
Secondary school in Bhairab K.B. Pilot High School, Bhairab
Matriculation from Nikhli G.C. High School
I.A. and B.A. from Gurudayal Government College, Kishoreganj
LL.B. from Central Law College
Native Language: Bangla
Married to: Rashida Hamid, 1964 to Present
Children: Three sons and one daughter:
Rejwan Ahammad Taufiq
Favorite hobby: Reading books on history and constitutions of different countries and national, international political affairs.
Awards and achievements:
Life-time Member of: Kishoreganj District Shilpakala Academy, Kishoreganj District Public Library, Red Crescent Society of Kishoreganj Unit, Kishoreganj Rifle Club and Kishoreganj Press Club.
Member of Sustainable Development Committee of Inter Parliamentary Union (IPU) from 1997 to 2000 and member of the Executive Committee of IPU from 2011 to 2013,
Member of the Executive Committee for Commonwealth Parliamentary Association (CPA) from 1999 to 2001 and again from 2009 to 2012.
Honorary Member of Kishoreganj Press Club
Independence Award – 2013
On 1 January, 1944, the former president of Bangladesh Mohammad Abdul Hamid was born in the village named Kamalpur of Mithamoin Upazilla of Kishoreganj district. He was born in the house of Late Hazi Md. Tayebuddin and Late Tomiza khatun. Hamid had a younger brother, Abdul Hye, the Assistant Private Secretary (APS) to the President, who died due to Covid-19, in July 2020.
From his student life onwards, he was involved with politics. He was the founder president of Chhatra League in 1959. Then in 1961, he took the initiative at the anti-Ayub Movement and in 1962, he strongly opposed the report of Hamoodur Rahman Education Commission. Because of all the involvements, he even got arrested by the then Pakistani Government due to being a part of the student movement. He was later chosen to serve as the General Secretary of the Student Union in Gurudayal College of Kishoreganj in 1963 and as the Vice-President in 1965. Therefore, we can say that Hamid was a brave and young person possessing the quality of a ‘leader’ from such an early life.
Hamid started his primary education at his village. He had passed Matriculation (to be eligible to enter a certain educational institution by fulfilling certain academic requirements) from Nikhli G.C. High School. Then he moved to Bhairab for secondary education at Bhairab K.B. Pilot High School. Later, he completed his I.A. & B.A. from Gurudayal College, Kishoreganj and finally from Central Law College, an affiliated college of Dhaka University, he had done his LLB degree. He then decided to pursue his career in law. That is why, as an advocate, he joined the Kishorgonj Bar. Then, between the years 1990 and 1996, he served as the President of the Kishoreganj District Bar Association for five times. Since law and politics are deeply intertwined, this is no surprise why he was so engaged with politics or political movements from his earlier life. He could connect his study area with his passion, i.e., politics. He was later chosen to lead many important areas of the country due to his wise and discretionary power gained from the knowledge of law degree.
Since he completed LLB degree, he did pursue his career in Law. He had joined Kishoreganj Bar as an advocate. He was made the President of the Kishoreganj District Bar Association 5 times during 1990 to 1996. He also served as the president of Kishoreganj district AL from 1978 to 2009. However, we have already seen that Hamid had started his political life earlier from his childhood or student life. This shows his deep passion for politics. He has a notable journey from his grassroot to the Bangabhaban. Till 1965, he was involved in politics as a student. He had to go through tremendous hardship fighting for different movements and even experienced imprisonment by the Pakistani government. After that, at the end of 1969, he joined the Awami League party. After the independent Bangladesh was formed, Hamid became the Chairman of Kishoreganj District Relief & Rehabilitation Committee. In 1974, he was elected Vice-President of Kishoreganj District Awami League. Now to talk about his parliamentary life, it is quite exciting. He was elected as the youngest member, at the age of only 26 years old, from Mymensingh-18 Constituency in the National Assembly Election of 1970. In 1972, he became one of the members of the National Assembly. He was chosen as a member of parliament for Kishoreganj-5 constituency as a nominee of the Awami League for 6 times since the first general election, which was held in 1973. When Awami League was the ruling government from 1996 to 2001, Abdul Hamid was chosen as the Deputy Speaker of the National Parliament. On 25 January 2009, he became the Speaker of the National Parliament and due to his excellent service, he was elected as the speaker twice. He was also the deputy leader of the opposition in the House.
Now if we look at his presidency career, on 14 March 2013, Hamid was at first appointed as an “acting President” of Bangladesh. This was while the then President Zillur Rahman was hospitalized and therefore out of his office. Six days later, Zillur Rahman died and so on 22 April 2013, Hamid was elected as the new President of Bangladesh, without any opposition. 2 days later, on 24 April, he was sworn into office i.e. he officially took over the office as the President. 5 years later, after completing his one full term, he was re-elected as the President of Bangladesh on 7 February 2018, again without any opposition. Finally, on April 24, 2023, he retired from this respectable position. According to the constitution, the presidency position can not be held for more than two terms. He is the only President of Bangladesh, till the present time, who has served the nation for 2 consecutive terms.
Contributions, Awards and Achievements
As a dedicated social worker and supporter of education and Bangladeshi culture, Abdul Hamid had contributed to the establishment of 75 Primary Schools, 24 High Schools and 3 colleges. He had also established some Madrasas. As a result, many children can get the right to (basic) education.
He always had the intention to work for the poor people. During major Bangladeshi festivals like Eid-ul-Fitr, he used to urge the affluent people in Bangladesh as well as across the world to stand by the poor to mitigate their sufferings.
Not only Hamid worked for the wellbeing of Bangladeshi people, but also for the refugees from Myanmar. He had suggested that a United Nations-administered humanitarian corridor should be established in Myanmar for the Rohingya Muslims.
During 1976-1978, he was imprisoned by the then Military Government after the brutal killing of Bangabandhu Sheikh Mujibur Rahman. Moreover, because of his incredible contribution in the Independence and Liberation War of Bangladesh, he was conferred with the “Independence Award” in 2013.
As a member of the Sustainable Development Committee of IPU and the Executive Committee of CPA, Hamid had a key role in the Inter-Parliamentary Union (IPU) and in the Commonwealth Parliamentary Association (CPA), respectively. Furthermore, as a member of the Parliament, the Deputy Speaker and the Speaker of Bangladesh Parliament, he had visited different countries like the USA, the UK, Russia, China, India, Korea, Middle Eastern countries like Saudi Arabia, Kuwait, etc. and African countries like South Africa, Namibia etc. to attend various international meetings, seminars, symposiums and conferences. This proves he had maintained good diplomatic relations with the world leaders.
Due to his involvement and contributions in diverse sectors of the country, he was awarded with as Life-Time member of Kishoreganj District Shilpakala Academy, Kishoreganj District Public Library, Red Crescent Society of Kishoreganj Unit, Kishoreganj Rifle Club, and Kishoreganj Press Club. He was also titled as the Honorary member of Kishoreganj Press Club.
Participation and contribution in the Liberation War
Apart from being the former President of Bangladesh, Abdul Hamid is also known to be a proud ‘freedom fighter’. His contribution during our liberation war is remarkable. As commanded by the father of the nation, Bangabandhu Sheikh Mujibur Rahman, in 1971, Hamid initiated a movement against the Pakistanis, amid the ongoing thunderous protests against them. The motive was to create a public opinion in favor of Bangladesh’s independence. On March 17, 1971, he was brave enough to hoist the flag of independent Bangladesh inscribed with the map at a huge gathering in Rothkhala field, Kishoreganj. Thousands of students and other commoners joined at that time. In the morning of 26 March, when Bangabandhu proclaimed for the historic independence through a telegraphic message, Hamid immediately joined the liberation war. In the first days of April, with the aid of Bengali Army officers, he carefully obtained Taka 11 Crore and 78 lac from Kishoreganj, Bhairab and Bajitpur branches of National Bank of Pakistan. He then deposited the whole money in the National Bank of Pakistan’s Brahmanbaria branch with the intention to use it at the time of the war. He thought this place could be considered as safe custody. After that, he left for Agartola, India to join the actual war. While staying there, he discussed various strategies of the war with the MPS of Chittagong, Comilla and Noakhali regions who were also staying there. Furthermore, he kept in touch with the local public representatives and high government officials in Agartala. Towards the end of April, he set up a Youth Reception Camp in Balat, a town in Meghalaya, India, for the Bangladeshi people who came to participate in the liberation war. He became the chairman of the camp. He recruited some youths who would be the freedom fighters for Kishoreganj, Netrokona, and Sunamganj regions. He was also one of the leading members of the Zonal Administrative Council which was constituted at Meghalaya to direct the Liberation War and for the better management of the refugees. Additionally, he served as the sub-sector commander of ‘Mujib Bahini’ for Kishoreganj and Sunamgonj Districts. After the victory of Bangladesh, he organized different camps for the Bangladeshi refugees to motivate them about returning to their home. After all the refugees returned, on 10 January 1972, he also came back home. All these hard works of his show how much dedicated he was for the love of his nation.
Aside from his professional life, Hamid has always been a kind person. He is loved and respected by all aged people of Bangladesh. Due to his compassionate nature and friendly behavior, he became the president of common people. He has a good sense of humor and he loves to tell jokes or funny stories in his Kishoreganj dialect. For this reason, people enjoy his public speech, especially at the convocations of public and private universities. He was an ideal president among the young generation because of his simple and straightforward talk. Hamid was admired by everyone for his simplicity, honesty and his witty speeches. Unlike other politicians, he always liked the journalists and even invited them to have casual chit chat from time to time.
Not only was he loved but also he loved and still loves the people of the country, however due to tight security and protocol, he could not always go near them to express his love. He did not have much freedom of life and that is why he often felt like living in confinement. On the event of his retirement, he expressed his happiness that he is now “Happy to return to unrestricted life” and “Now I will be able to express it (the love he got) to many people.” It is as if a bird just got released out of a cage. Moreover, he said that “I had no desire to come here (as the President). I was more comfortable in parliament, because I considered myself free there.” All these statements show that he wanted to stay like a free bird and do social activities for the country’s people.
Hamid can be called a ‘bookworm’ because reading books on history and constitutions of different countries and national, international political affairs is his favorite hobby. He is an avid reader. He has a huge collection of books. However, now that he is retired, he wishes to engage himself in writing and stay away from politics for a while.
To talk about Hamid’s marital life, he had married Rashida Hamid in 1964. Being the wife of the president, Rashida had a role as the First Lady from 2013 to 2023. However, personally, she is also a teacher. The couple together have three sons and one daughter: Rejwan Ahammad Taufiq, Rasel, Riad, and Shorna. Rejwan happens to be a politician from Awami League party and currently he is a MP from Kishoreganj district.
Despite having all good implications, like a coin has 2 sides, Hamid has received some controversies or criticisms too. In 2014, he had remained silent regarding the issue of controversial one-sided national election where more than half the MPs were elected without a challenge. Again, in 2018, when he commuted the top criminal Tofayel Ahmed Joseph’s life sentence for murder, he had received huge criticism. Another time, when there was an unusual parliamentary system in which the opposition was also a part of the ruling party, as a president, Hamid remained mute. Apart from these controversies, he had no other major negative image during the ruling period of 10 long years. Infact, according to one Daily Star newspaper’s report, under Hamid’s reign,“The country has never witnessed such calmness in politics since the restoration of democracy in 1991.”
The fact that Abdul Hamid could serve the country for 10 years, with no opposition for the second term, and without bogging down into much major controversies, proves that he was indeed an ideal president of Bangladesh, so far. His legacy was simple, stability, dignity, and service to the people. The standard that he has set for the future leaders to follow is very high. It is expected that the upcoming presidents or other leaders will be inspired from the positive impacts and examples from Hamid’s life and therefore reflect the same for the betterment of Bangladesh. He has ensured that smooth transfer of power becomes a norm, and democratic principles are upheld all the time. If we look at other former presidents of Bangladesh, almost everyone faced great turmoil or controversies at the end of their tenure. Abdul Hamid was someone exceptional in this case. This leaves a positive legacy that handover of power should be clean and of no controversy. He has shown a symbol of democratic Bangladesh. Therefore, his commitment for the country and the service that he had provided throughout his life will be remembered for quite a long time.
To summarize and to conclude, Hamid’s life, dedication, and service to the nation are truly motivational not only to the future political leaders but also to the young generations of Bangladesh. Hamid has shown how to be kind hearted but still hold the (highest) position firmly without facing much controversy. His contributions, legacy, characteristics etc. are big lessons for us. He has taught the smooth transition from one power to another. He has brightened the image of the presidency position and showed how a true democratic nation should be. The politics of Bangladesh had never seen such calmness before while he was in his tenure. As the guardian of the country, he always exercised moral authority to protect and preserve the constitution, law, and saved his people from political danger. Now that he has retired and is like a free bird, he hopes to direct the future leaders through writing. His dedication towards Bangladesh will be remembered forever by the mass people.