Dr Zouqul Husain Chowdhury

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Dr. Abdullah and Dr. Zougul H Chodhury (Right) 1974

I knew a man….. Dr Zouqul Husain Chowdhury

Dr. A. Abdullah*

I knew a man…..

I knew a man……
Who was sincere, caring and loving.

I knew a man …….
Who loved sports, playing cricket, tennis, badminton and table tennis.

I knew a man……..
Who championed the cause of educating the underprivileged and educationally backward section of the community in Assam.

I knew a man……
Who was a close friend of mine and my entire family, young and old.

That man was Dr Zouqul Husain Chowdhury, who passed away on November 8, 2012 in Phoenix, Arizona. With his passing, a part of my life is gone, and will never return. My only regret is that I did not tell him how valuable his friendship was to my family and me.

I met Chowdhury sahib in 1963 when he joined the Department of Mathematics and Statistics at the Aligarh Muslim University after returning from Germany. He was a dedicated teacher with a great organizational skill, who was also very popular among students and respected by his colleagues. Ten years senior to me, Chowdhury sahib became my close friend and advisor. His house, near Shamshad market, became a social center for the bachelor staff members. We use to get together on Sundays to attempt our cooking skills and share our dishes. Almost every evening, Chowdhury sahib and I met in the staff club and played table tennis and badminton. He came to the USA in 1966 to pursue….at the University of Kentucky. I followed him to the US to join State University at New York, Buffalo in 1967. We travelled long distances between Buffalo and Kentucky by car and bus, and visited each other at least once a year. Our visits continued until he took early retirement from his teaching position at Clinch Valley College in Virginia, and moved to the mid-West, and eventually to Arizona. During past decade, our contact was limited to the phone. For the last few years, he was not in a good health but never complained. The last conversation I had with him on Eid-ul Adha, October 26, 2012.

In 2003, in one of our telephone conversations, I talked to him about the scholarship program run by the Aligarh Alumni Association, Washington DC and asked him to participate. I requested him to donate one or two scholarships with a possibility of extending his contribution after his satisfaction. To my surprise, he donated 12 scholarships ($30,000), all designated to students from Assam. He sent a note along with the check. “As long you are involved in the process, I am confident that the scholarship program will succeed.” He designated those scholarships to students from Assam encouraging them to come to Aligarh. He believed that this will give them an opportunity to meet students from other parts of India. He always said to me, if I had not come to Aligarh, I would have not found a friend like you. On average, he has been donating $5000-10,000 each year. Just 10 days before his death he had sent a cashier check of $5,000 to cover two scholarships. That is what his commitment was towards the education of students from Assam. His total donation to our program reached $105,900. That makes him the largest single donor to our scholarship program.

Dr. Chowdhury retired as Associate Professor from a college. Being a teacher, one can imagine that he was not a millionaire. But he had a heart of gold and zeal to propagate education among underprivileged section of community. He donated his life-saving for this cause. Besides donating funds to our two programs of the association, the endowed scholarship at AMU and feeder program, he worked with his brothers to establish a number of Trusts to finance educational projects in his home town Jorhat (for details see biographical sketch below). I wish more of us followed his legacy.

In his death, we have lost a true champion of Aligarh mission. May God bless his soul.

A biography of Dr Zouqul Husain Chowdhury:

Dr. Zouqul Hussain Chowdhury (family name Rafique) was born in 1932 at Jorhat, Assam in a well respected and educated family. His parents Shahzada Muhammad Ali and Jahanara Begum were known for their generosity and helping nature. His grand father Khan Bahadur Keramat Ali was a prominent lawyer and politician of Assam during first half of the 20th century. The family association with Aligarh dates back to 1911 when his father joined Aligarh as a first year student. His elder brother Shafique and younger brother Salman also studied at Aligarh during sixties.

After receiving his primary education at Jorhat Maktab, he joined Jorhat Govt. High School in 1941. Upon completion of his High School in 1949, he studied at Cotton College, Guwahati, and JB College, Jorhat, and completed his B.Sc. in 1953. He joined AMU in 1953 and completed his M.Sc. in Mathematics in 1955. From 1955 to 1958 he served as a lecturer in Mathematics at Assam Engineering Institute and Assam Engineering College, both in Guwahati. In 1958, he moved to Hamburg University, Germany for further studies. He joined department of Mathematics and Statistics at AMU in 1963 as a lecturer. In 1966, he came to the USA for Ph.D. program at the University of Kentucky. He completed his Ph.D. in1971, and became a lecturer at Clinch Valley College under University of Virginia and retired from there in 1999 as an Associate Professor. He spent one year of sabbatical in 1981 at Virginia University, Charlottesville. After retirement he lived in Lafayette, IN. In 2005, he moved to Phoenix, Arizona to live with his nephew Ihtesham. He died on November 8, 2012 at Phoenix where he is buried. He was an accomplished cricketer and tennis player. While at CVC he gave voluntary tennis coaching to a large number of local kids.

Traditionally, the family has been supporting traditional activities like maintenance of mosques, madrasas, qabarastans and orphanages of the local community.

Zauqul Chowdhury convinced his brother and extended the moral and financial support to promote education among Muslims with particular emphasis on women education. He donated his life's savings to this cause.

In 2001, they set up Assam Education Trust – a registered charitable trust with initial corpus in Indian currency equivalent of fifty thousand US dollars. Its objective was the promotion of education among educationally backward sections of society. Almost exclusive beneficiaries of the trust are individual students and groups from the local community - individual students at post-school level up to post-graduate including medicine, science, engineering and groups of girls receiving vocational training in sewing etc. So far about thousand students have benefited from the program. Many of them now gainfully employed. A few of them have started contributing voluntarily to the Trust for further assistance to the needy.

In 2007, they built a center named ‘Jahanara Chowdhury Bhavan’ after their late mother. Part of the building is rented out and other used for imparting free computer training to students from the local community. Surplus income from the building is used for awarding four scholarships each year.

In 2010, another fund ‘Jahanara Chowdhury foundation’ was established with an equivalent of twenty thousand US dollars. The objective of this fund was to extend financial assistance to research on Islamic culture, Muslim heritage and arousing awareness of the local community about their past. Again special emphasis was on female students. Deserving students engaged in the study of other disciplines are also being supported by the fund. Besides, the fund financed publication of a book containing biographies of about a hundred prominent Muslims of Assam. The book is free distribution among students receiving assistance from the above mentioned Trust and another organization Al Ameen Welfare Society engaged in welfare activities among the local community.

*Information on biographical sketch was provided by Shafique Chowdhury.

* Dr. A. Abdullah is a an eminent Aligarian based in the suburbs of Washington DC US. He is one of the founder of Aligarh Alumni Association, Washington DC which is oldest AMU Alumni Association in North America established in 1974. He is also a Founder of The Federation of AMU Alumni Associations and served as its Founding President (2002-2004) and Member of Board of Trustee (2005-2010) and its Chairman 2009-2010. Dr. Abdullah can be reached at dra622@hotmail.com

Dr. Zouqul Hasan Chowdhury


Thanks for sharing. There are not that many generous people left. May Allah reward him for his service to His creation.

The AAA is lucky to have services of Dr. Abdullah.

Dr. Zafar Iqbal
Washington DC

Dr Chowdhury

May God his soul rest in peace harmony in Heaven. Amen. I met him a couple of times in his residence with his brother Salman who was may classmate in AMU. He was a thorough gentlemen and a loving person. I shall appreciate if you let me have the where abouts of Salman.

Thanks regards

Dr. A.H.Siddiqui,


Sir Syed Bi-Centenary


Hamiduddin Farahi



Masood-ul Hasan

ZH Chowdhury