Dr. Mir Maswood Ali: Bangladeshi Statistician, Scholar and a Legend in his own Time
By Selina Chowdhury – This article was composed using Internet sources verbatim and family testimonial.
June 18, 2018
Mir Maswood Ali (1929-2009)
My father Dr. Mir Maswood Ali worked hard in life. His accomplishments helped to better communities and people as follows: He helped create the Department of Statistics and Actuarial Sciences at the University of Western Ontario (UWO). My father was one of the founders of the London Muslim Mosque which was the first mosque ever to be built in the city of London, Ontario, Canada. Lastly, he served as the President of the Bangla Association in London, Ontario from 1961 until his death in 2009; no-one else had ever served or was voted as President except for him.
He took personal efforts from the 1960’s onward in bringing family (immediate and extended) from Bangladesh to Canada. Depending on their age and stage in life, he assisted them until they could stand on their own. This is an attestation to his caring, loving nature which he demonstrated repeatedly in his life.
Mir Maswood Ali was born on March 1, 1929 in Patuakhali, Bangladesh. Ali received his B.Sc. degree in Mathematics in 1948 and his M.Sc. in Statistics in 1950 from the University of Dhaka. He worked as an actuarial assistant from 1952 to 1957 at Norwich Union Life and Canada Life. In 1958, he obtained a second Master’s degree in Actuarial Science from the University of Michigan and worked there as a Teaching Fellow until 1959. He then went to the University of Toronto where he obtained his Ph.D. degree in Statistics in 1961 under the supervision of Professor Don Fraser.
He joined the Mathematics Department at the University of Western Ontario in London, Ontario as Assistant Professor in 1961. He was promoted to Associate Professor in 1963 and full Professor in 1966. Ali was instrumental in creating a separate Department of Statistics and Actuarial Sciences at Western with 40 masters and 15 PhD students completing degrees under his guidance. Ali published more than 35 scholarly papers in leading journals. He spent 33 years at Western until his retirement in 1994 when he was named Professor Emeritus.
Professor Emeritus Mir Maswood Ali passed away at the age of 80 on Aug. 18, 2009 after lengthy battle with pneumonia.
Ali is known for co-discovering the Ali-Mikhail-Haq copula. The December 2008 issue of the Journal of Statistical Research was dedicated in honor of Ali. In 2008, Ali received the “Qazi Motahar Husain Gold Medal Award” in recognition of his contribution to Statistics.
Establishing the London Muslim Mosque
In the early 60’s, there were approximately 17 Muslim families living in London, Ontario. My father along with those families proposed to build a mosque in the city. My father wanted the mosque, not for social gatherings or camaraderie, but as a place of worship for the community with no distinction of caste, creed or nationality and doors open to all who came. He tried to unite the Muslim community although there were members from all different countries of origin (Lebanon, Syria, Yugolsovia, Pakistan, Bangladesh, etc.). Collectively, they executed their plans thus creating the London Muslim Mosque. Today, the mosque is still expanding with inclusion of a full grade school and gymnasiums as the journey to accommodate is still alive.
Ali was the eldest son of the late Mir Muazzam Ali, a prominent lawyer of Patuakhali, Bangladesh and the late Azifa Ali. He matriculated from Patuakhali Jubilee School in 1944 and then got his Intermediate in science from BM College in Barisal in 1946. He received his B.Sc. degree in Mathematics in 1948 and M.Sc. in Statistics in 1950 from the University of Dhaka. He stood first class first in both programs. He was awarded a gold medal for getting the highest mark in his M.Sc. exams.
Ali is shown in photo with his distinguished brothers (back row: my father, Dr. Mir Masoom Ali, Dr. Mir Maqsud Ali, the late Dr. Mir Mossadek Ali); and his 2 sisters (Shahid Ara Saleh and Farhad Ara Bhuiyan) who are also gifted. His 2 other sisters (Afroza Anwar Ullah and the late Jahanara Hussain) remained in Bangladesh.
Ali was a dedicated family man. He left behind his loving wife of 47 years Suraiya; 8 children: Rayhan, Yasmin, Selina, Sharmene, Sadek, Nasreen, Ayesha, and Adnan; and 16 grandchildren.
The Essence of the Man
By the grace of God, my family was blessed to have a strong leader for a father. Some of his favorite sayings included:
“Just pray that everything goes OK.”
“Be patient. Keep calm. Have faith.”
“Remembrance of Allah is the Greatest Thing” (Qu’ran, Surah 29, Line 45).
He is deeply cherished and missed by his wife and 8 children.
References (all used verbatim)
https://www.isi-web.org/index.php/activities-2/history-statistics/lazy-load-enabled?showall=&start=8/, by his brother Mir Masoom Ali