Early Life and Education
Akhtaruzzaman was born on 01 July 1964/ 5 Jyoishtho 1267 at Kalipur of Patharghata Thana in Barguna District. His father Abul Hashem Khan was, at his early career, a school teacher. Later on, he received training in medicine and health science and started a pharmacy in a local bazar called Kalmegha nearer to a famous high school for providing his children good education facility. He was a freedom fighter and a local Awami League leader, who along with his cousin Mosarrof Hossain (Master) assembled and organized freedom fighters for the Bangladesh war of liberation in 1971. Pakistani Army at the instigation of local rajakars arrested him in mid June 1971.
Akhtaruzzaman (in reality, eleven years old) and his elder brother Moniruzzaman were also with him. Miraculously he got free mainly due to his beard and title ‘Khan’ in his name, but unfortunately his children had to witness the humiliation on their father. His mother Eron Banu was a home-maker who understood the value of education. She also helped the freedom fighters who took shelter in their house in various ways. At his birth place, friends and relatives know Akhtaruzzaman by his nick name Arun. During his primary education in the late sixties Akhtaruzzaman received inspiration from the head master of his local school Sri Dwarikanath Kirtuniya, who lodged him in his residence for several months for special tutoring. Akhtaruzzaman passed his School Certificate Examination (SSC) from Kalmegha Muslim High School (Estd. 1942) in 1979 and Higher Secondary School Certificate Examination (HSC) from Barguna Govt. College in 1981 with science background. He then moved to Dhaka for undergraduate studies. Akhtaruzzaman earned his Bachelor of Arts (Hons.) and Master of Arts in Islamic History & Culture from the University of Dhaka respectively in 1985 and 1986 with first position in both examinations. He was a resident student of Master Da Surjasen Hall of the University. He obtained a Diploma in Persian in 1993 from the Institute of Modern Languages of the same University.
Then Akhtaruzzaman moved to Aligarh Muslim University (AMU), which is considered to be one of the best seats for the study of medieval India, to obtain Ph.D. Under the supervision of the noted scholar, polygot historian, Professor Iqtidar Hussain Siddiqui, Akhtaruzzaman got Ph.D. in 1997 from the Department of History, AMU. Here at AMU he had the opportunity to come in close contact with celebrated Marxist historian Irfan Habib from whom he received invaluable advice and insights concerning his research.
As a Fulbright scholar Akhtaruzzaman conducted research on the Muslim Community in the United States of America in 2002 at the Boisi Centre for Religions and American Public Life at Boston College, USA. Professor Alan Wolfe, one of the leading political scientists and the then director of the Centre cited above, was his mentor. In 2003, under British Council Visiting Fellowship he carried out another research on the Muslims in the United Kingdom at the Centre for the Study of Islam and Christian-Muslim Relations, Department of Theology at University of Birmingham, UK under the able guidance of a leading authority on the study of Muslim minority, Professor Jorgen S Nielsen.