Mohsin

(Haji) Muhammad Mohsin(Bengali: হাজীমুহাম্মদমহসিন) (1732–1812) was one of the most prolific philanthropists in the history of Bengal. His most notable contribution was during the great famine of Bengal during 1769-70.

Mohsin was born to Haji Faizullah and Zainab Khanam in Hughli (now in West Bengal, India) in 1732. He was home-schooled and gained knowledge in the study of the Quran, Hadith and the Fiqh. Later, he went on a voyage to other countries of Asia, including the regions in current-day Iran, Iraq, Turkey and the Arab peninsula. He also made the pilgrimage to Mecca, and visited Medina, Kufa, Karbala, and other holy places. After performing the Hajj, he was given the title Haji.

Following his return, Mohsin took over the management of the estate of his widowed half-sister, Munnujan. She was the widow of Mirza Salahuddin, the Naib-faujdar or Deputy Military Governor of Hughli working for the Nawab of Bengal. She also inherited a fortune from her mother Zainab, whose first husband Aga Motahar had a lot of land and properties in Hughli, Jessore, Murshidabad and Nadia.

Mohsin was deeply religious. Charity was the motto of his life. Every night he visited dens of poverty and gave food to the hungry, clothes to the naked, and medicine to the sick. In his charitable efforts, he made no difference between the Muslims and the Hindus. A poor Hindu was as much the object of his care as a poor Muslim.

After Munnujan’s death in 1803, Mohsin inherited the fortune. However, he decided to bequeath this fortune for charity, and created a Waq’f or trust in 1806, with his entire wealth of 156,000 Taka. One-third of his fortune was to be donated for education and religious programmes, four-ninths for pensions to the elderly and disabled, and the remaining two-ninths for the expenses of the two trustees.

Mohsin died on 29 November 1812. Following his death, the government of Bengal (then the British East India Company) took over the management of the trust, and many educational institutions were started with the grants from the trust. Many students, especially the poor Muslim students, were given scholarships from the Mohsin fund.

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