Dr. jahangir alam appointed chairman of the dept of world religions and culture, university of dhaka, bangladesh
On October 3, 2021, Dr. Mohammad Jahangir Alam, Associate Professor and Principal Lecturer of the ‘Cao Dai Religious Tradition’ course, was promoted to take the post of the Chairman of the Department of World Religions and Culture (DWRC) at the University of Dhaka, Bangladesh, for a 3-year term from October 2021 to October 2024.
Dr, Jahangir Alam, born in 1977, started to study Caodaism in 2003 and got a grant from the Cao Dai Overseas Missionary to do his MPhil on Caodaism in 2009. Then, as part of his PhD Research Fieldwork funded by the Cao Dai Overseas Missionary, California, USA, he studied Vietnamese language and culture at the HCM University of Social Sciences and Humanities between 2012 and 2013 and has just been awarded a Doctorate in 2020.
While in Vietnam, Dr. Jahangir Alam received enthusiastic support and timely assistance from Senior Dignitaries of the Sacerdotal Council of Cao Dai Tay Ninh Holy See to collect documents for his PhD Thesis and to participate in traditional religious festivals held by the Cao Dai Holy See.
Dr. J. Alam first learned about Caodaism in 2003 when a Cao Dai Delegation led by Priest Thuong Canh Thanh (then at the rank of Sub-Dignitary) came to make a presentation on Caodaism at the University of Dhaka. The Cao Dai Delegates then had a historic visit to the Office of the President of Bangladesh at the invitation of the President. According to the former Chairman of the DWRC, Professor Dr. Kazi Islam, it was the President of Bangladesh Iajuddin Ahmed (1931-2012), cum the President of the University of Dhaka, who ordered to include Caodaism into their teaching program because the Caodai doctrine shows an excellent universality.
Dr. Jahangir Alam was an expert on Baha’i Faith and Cao Dai Culture. He authored “the Concept of Unity in Baha’i Faith and Caodaism: A comparative Study in 2010”. He was then awarded his Doctorate in 2020 for “Dao Cao Dai: A Socio-historical Analysis of a Syncretic Vietnamese Religion and Its Relationship with Other Religions”.
The Course on the ‘Tradition of Cao Dai Religion’, lectured by Dr. Jahangir Alam, was officially kicked off in the 2005 - 2006 Academic Year. This class initially enlisted approximately 35 students. In this 2021-2022 Academic Year, it is estimated that the number of students enrolling in this course could reach 100.
It is worth recalling that in March 2018, Cao Dai Follower Nguyen Tuan Em and Ly Thuy Trang, under the authorization of Priest Tran Quang Canh – President of the Cao Dai Overseas Missionary, came to the University of Dhaka to attend an International Conference on Caodaism and to make a video footage on this Cao Dai Course for Caodai TV (Video CDTV 67: Cao Dai Course at Dhaka University). The mentioned conference was organized by the Department of World Religions and Culture as a criterion to evaluate Dr. Jahangir Alam's PhD thesis.
After more than 18 years of studying and teaching Caodaism, Dr. Jahangir Alam has currently become the most knowledgeable scholar on Caodaism in Bangladesh. Dr. Jahangir Alam has lectured on Caodaism at many International Conferences and Seminars in Europe, Vietnam, Thailand, Taiwan and Malaysia.
Taking the post of the Chairman of the Department of World Religions and Culture at the University of Dhaka, Bangladesh, Dr. Jahangir Alam will have many more favorable conditions and prestige to continue to teach and develop the Course on the ‘Tradition of Cao Dai Religion’ in Bangladesh.
This appointment of Dr. Jahangir Alam is good news for all Caodaists because it is a fate for a Muslim Professor to have studied and taught Caodaism in South-Asian Bangladeshi for almost two decades.
By Phạm Lâm Thiên Ân