List of the Most Famous Bangladeshi Atheists of All Time

Atheism in Bangladesh is pretty rare. A survey from 2015 found that the number of convinced or self-declared atheists in Bangladesh is less than 1%, while the country got a population of around 167 million people.

However, even though the number of atheists in Bangladesh is pretty low, like all the other South Asian counties, some Bengali atheists stand out from the rest of the others.

Ranking Methodology: Randomized

PS: New personnel will be added to the list in a certain timely mannered update.

Here is a list of the most popular atheists from Bangladesh:

List of Best Known Bengali Atheists

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Lalon

Lalon painting
Lalon

Lalon, also known as Fakir Lalon Shah, Lalon Shah, Lalon Fakir was a prominent Bengali philosopher, author, Baul saint, mystic, songwriter, social reformer, and free-thinker.

Lalon was a humanitarian devotee. Who moved away from all ethnic divisions, including religion, caste, tribe, and gave humanity the highest position. He composed his songs with this non-communal attitude.

According to various sources, Lalon was not seen to follow any religious rites during his lifetime. Lalon had no formal education. Through his own efforts, he gained knowledge of both Hinduism and Islam.

Lalon believed that people of one mind live among all people. And the man of that mind can be found through self-impuration. 

Due to Lalon's secularism, opposition to gender inequality, etc., he was subjected to hatred, negligence, and attacks by the fanatical and fundamentalist Hindu-Muslim community during his lifetime.

Every year, on the anniversary of his death, thousands of his followers gather at Lalon Akhrah and pay homage to him by celebrating and discussing his songs and philosophy for three days. In 2004, Lalon was ranked twelfth in the Greatest Bengali of all time, a poll published by the BBC.

Humayun Azad

Professor Humayun Azad
Professor Humayun Azad

Humayun Azad was a Bangladeshi author, poet, and linguist. His socially and religiously critical writings led not only to recognition but also to hatred and persecution. 

His family received death threats, his son was abducted, and Humayun Azad himself was seriously injured by knife wounds. The author was therefore included in the Writers in Exile Program of the PEN Center Germany.

He was one of the most unconventional and multidimensional writers in Bangladesh who has been able to draw the attention of readers since the 1980s for his speeches on religion, fundamentalism, anti-institution and anti-reform, sexuality, feminism, and politics. 

In particular, his writings, which were critical of the rise of Islam in Bangladesh, led to public criticism of his work. Various Islamiparticularly c groups attacked the novel Pak Sar Jaminrticular and demanded that the book be banned. 

Azad did not personally believe in religion and did not write directly criticizing religion but directly opposed religious fundamentalism and it has been revealed in his writings in many ways. He opposed the conservatism and practices prevalent in Bangladesh society.

Humayun Azad's writings showed a sense of generosity, science, and at the same time sedition. He dreamt of a non-discriminatory socio-economic system. He expressed in his writings,

I want a society that is called the ultimate form of Western European society. I am not living the dream of a socialist society, I want everyone to be prosperous - people will live a full human life by going beyond the practice of knowledge, joy, exhilaration and all that is there.

Death threats against Humayun Azad were also known. His son, Ananya Azad, said he was kidnapped and questioned about his father's whereabouts. On February 27, 2004, Humayun Azad was attacked with a knife, seriously injuring his head and neck. 

As a result of the attack, there were protests and a nationwide general strike.  According to German authorities, Humayun Azad's death in Munich that same year was not the result of further violence, but of a heart attack.

Ahmed Sharif

Ahmed Sharif
Ahmed Sharif

Ahmed Sharif was a Bangladeshi linguist, renowned scholar, and one of the pioneers of Bengali literature and culture in the late twentieth century.

His thoughts, ideas, behavior and speech, and writing reflected the composite combination of idealism, humanism, and Marxism. In the essays of more than a hundred books written by him, he abandoned the conventional social system, beliefs, and reforms with a very strong argument and was sincerely optimistic about the establishment of a socialist social system.

Till his death, he came forward with a free mind to alleviate the crisis in the country, sometimes individually and sometimes collectively. 

In the field of literature, culture, and politics of the subcontinent, he was an outstanding scholar, a rebel, a non-communal rationalist, a philosopher, a controversial personality, a free thinker, and above all skeptic humanist.

Avijit Roy

Avijit Roy
Avijit Roy

Avijit Roy was an American engineer, blogger, and author of Bangladeshi descent.  He was involved in the free thought movement in Bangladesh. 

He was the coordinator of international protests against government censorship and the imprisonment of bloggers in Bangladesh. Although he was an engineer by profession, he was better known for writing on his self-founded website "Muktamana". 

On February 26, 2015, while leaving the Amar Ekushey Book Fair, he was hacked to death by unknown terrorists, and his wife Rafida Ahmed Bonya was injured. The Bangladeshi militant group Ansarullah Bangla Team claimed responsibility for the attack.

Asif Mohiuddin

Atheist Blogger Asif Mohiuddin
Blogger Asif Mohiuddin

Asif Mohiuddin is a Bangladeshi blogger and secularist internet activist who has been living in exile in Germany since 2014 because of the threats from Islamists in his home country.

Asif Mohiuddin wrote articles criticizing the death penalty for male superiority, domestic abuse, and apostasy in Islam, which led to fundamentalists calling for his murder. 

In 2013, four youths inspired by al-Qaeda leader Anwar al-Awlaki attacked and stabbed Asif Mohiuddin outside his home.

A month later, Bangladeshi bloggers and online activists launched the Shahbag movement in 2013, prompting Islamist groups, including Hefazat-e-Islam, to stage counter-rallies and gather more than a million people. 

They demanded blasphemy laws in the country and threatened secularists in Bangladesh. Rewards were issued for the beheading of secularist bloggers. The secular Bangladeshi government imprisoned Asif Mohiuddin and other bloggers and blocked many websites.

Asif Mohiuddin has been living in Germany since April 2014.

Shamsur Rahman

Shamsur Rahman
Shamsur Rahman

Shamsur Rahman was one of the leading poets of Bangladesh and modern Bengali literature. During his lifetime he became the leading poet of Bangladesh.

A shy person by nature, he became an outspoken liberal intellectual in the 1990s against Bangladesh's religious fundamentalism and reactionary nationalism. 

As a consequence, he became a frequent target of the politically conservative as well as Islamists of the country. 

This culminated in the January 1999 attack on his life by the militant Harkat-ul-Jihad-al-Islami. He survived the attempt.

Abdul Latif Siddiqui

Abdul Latif Siddiqui
Politician Abdul Latif Siddiqui

Abdul Latif Siddiqui (born 1943) is a Bangladeshi politician, minister, and former Member of Parliament. He was the Minister of the Government of Bangladesh from 2009 to 2014.

Siddiqui was elected Member of Parliament three times from Tangail-4 constituency of Bangladesh Jatiya Sangsad. 

The first in 1997, the second in 2009, and the third in 2014. He resigned from the post of Member of Parliament on September 1, 2015. 

He was the Minister of Jute and Textiles in the Government of Bangladesh from 2009 to 2013. In January 2014, Abdul Latif Siddiqui took charge of the Ministry of Posts, Telecommunications, and Information Technology in the 10th Cabinet. 

On September 30, 2014, he made controversial remarks about the Hajj, one of the religious foundations of Muslims. As a result, he was forced to resign in the face of the Islamist movement.

Ahmed Rajib Haider

Blogger Rajib Haider
Blogger Ahmed Rajib Haider

Ahmed Rajib Haider was a Bangladeshi atheist blogger, an architect by profession. He used to blog in the blogging communities namely Somewhereinblog.net, Amarblog.com, Nagorikblog.com and used the pseudonym Thaba Baba.

Ahmed Rajib Haider was attacked and killed on February 15, 2013, while leaving his residence in the Mirpur area of Dhaka. His body was so badly mutilated that his family and relatives were unable to identify him.  

The next day, his body was taken to the protest site of millions of people in Shahbagh Square. Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina met her family in Palashangar and promised swift action.

Daud Haider

Daud Haider
Daud Haider

Dawood Haider is a Bangladeshi Bengali poet, writer, and journalist who is currently living in exile in Germany after leaving Bangladesh in 1974. He is currently a broadcasting journalist.

He wrote a poem titled 'Kalo Shurjer Kalo Josnay Kalo Bonnay'. It is thought that the poem contained insulting remarks about the Islamic Prophet Muhammad, Jesus Christ, and Gautama Buddha, which hurt the religious sentiments of the common people. 

This poem is thought to have been compiled in his book The Society of Despair. Radical groups in Bangladesh started protesting against it. A college teacher of Dhaka had filed a court case against Daud Hyder.

Sultana Kamal

Sultana Kamal

Sultana Kamal is a Bangladeshi human rights activist and politician. She was an advisor to the caretaker government of Bangladesh during the time of President and Chief Adviser Iajuddin Ahmed.

She is one of three advisers who have resigned due to a series of disagreements with the chief adviser and President Iajuddin Ahmed over the deployment of the army in the country. She took part in the Bangladesh War of Independence in 1971.

She is in favor of removing Bismillah and state religion Islam from the constitution.

Bonya Ahmed

Bonya Ahmed
Bonya Ahmed speaking at the Secular Conference 2018 in London.

Rafida Bonya Ahmed (also known as Bonya Ahmed and Rafida Ahmed; born 1989) is a Bangladeshi who is simultaneously a writer, free-spirited blogger, humanitarian activist, and a former IT official in the United States.

On February 26, 2015, while returning home from the Ekushey Book Fair in Dhaka, Bonya Ahmed and her husband Avijat Roy were attacked by the local radical Islamic militant group Ansarullah Bangla Team (ABT). Avijit Roy died on the spot and Bonya Ahmed was seriously injured.

Following the incident, Bonya Ahmed resigned as a senior director at the US Credit Bureau. She devoted herself to humanitarian work and activism.


NB: Initially we intended to make a list of Top 10 Most Popular Bengali atheists, but later we thought why not make even a bigger one? And, Taslima Nasrin is not on the list, this list contains atheists, not blatant blasphemists/fundamentalists or self-proclaimed "secularists."



Last updated: August 19, 2021
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