Aroj Ali Matubbar’s writings are a contribution to philosophy. An edition of Matubbar’s select writings in his native tongue Bengali was very well received and Matubbar, in the last phase of his life, was regarded a high priest of free thinking, and a votary of science. Matubbar was seeking an answer to the questions that had exercised the minds of the people for ages. Some of these questions may well appear narrowly local, also temporal. But this objection can be met by reminding ourselves the circumstances of his life and his social milieu. Matubbar’s was a relentless quest for truth. But he knew that in order to reach his goal he must first remove the garbage of superstitious beliefs piled on the way. In a backward and predominantly unlettered community, with a half-literate class of guardians of faith holding sway, with conformity enjoying a high premium in society and dissidence frowned upon, and often silenced through force, Matubbar’s first job was to disabuse his reader’s mind of the false beliefs, and then proceed to knowledge. The procedure is akin to Socrates’, only the form is different.
The Quest For Truth: Secular Philosophy
You ask questions and try to find the answers. The questions are all derived from a set of religious teachings upheld and propagated by so-called religious teachers. In the absence of an established church in a predominantly Muslim community, and in the absence of a regular clergy, these ‘religious teachers’ can be very influential, particularly in rural Bangladesh, With full social sanction, they can punish an offender-which can take the form of excommunication. Matubbar himself was regarded a heretic and was once denounced for an offence which will appear venial by present day standards.
Matubbar’s writtings will have wider appeal to the native readers and less so to his western readers. For the latter, their interest may lie in revealing to them a whole system of pseudo-theology that governs the lives of millions, a frightening picture of obscurantism. Matubbar, in questioning and dismantling this system, exposes himself to the charge of challenging ‘the faith’ itself, but he is far from doing it. He is doing what Luther, and the likes of him were doing in Europe at the end of the middle ages. The difference is that Matubbar is not working for a reformed Church. He is working for Enlightenment, circumventing the citadels of faith and conservatism.