The nature of the academic study of religion in Dhaka University and the role of Professor Joseph T. O’Connell


  • Md. Abu Sayem


confessional study of religion, scienti c study of religion, comparative religion, holistic ap‐ proach to the study of religions, Dhaka University, Department of World Religions and Cul‐ ture, South asian Universities, Kazi Nurul Islam, Joseph T. O’Connell


Academic study of religion, embracing what at the University of Dhaka is called World Religions and Culture, is a relatively new eld of scholarship in the world. It is only beginning to emerge in Bangladesh and other South asian countries. as distinguished om the theological study of reli‐ gion, which favours one’s own faith tradition, academic study of religion uses the same descriptive, analytic and critical academic criteria and methods to study any form of religious life, including one’s own. In this paper, there has been an e ort to discuss the basic di erences between these two sorts of study. The paper then explores the brief history of academic study of religion in the modern world and how it came into being at Dhaka University (DU) as the Department of World Religions & Culture (WRC) under the faculty of arts. Finally, the crucial role of late Professor Dr. Joseph T. O’Connell (1940-2012) in forming the Department and its a liated Centre for Inter‐religious & Intercultural Dialogue (CIID) as an academic place for the study, teaching and doing research on the di erent religious issues for the promotion of multi‐religious and multi‐ cultural peace and harmony in Bangladesh is discussed. The paper has been written on the bases of the o cial documents of Dhaka University as for the existence of WRC and CIID, academic activities and works of faculty members of WRC, especially of Professor Dr. Joseph T. O’Connell, along with other primary and secondary literary sources relevant to the academic study of religion.