Conversation between two madrasa teachers:

IBRAHIM (a moderate madrasa teacher): What the Head Teacher said about elem (knowledge) and amal (practice) may be misleading to some of the students.... You see, Islam didn't spread in this country through the sword. It was only the selfless and swordless sufis and darvishes who went door to door to spread Islam's message of peace and equality among the poor and low caste Hindus. The lords and kings from Iran and Arabia conquered the land, but not the hearts of the people. It was the half naked fakirs who won their hearts. Only then the people embraced Islam. You cannot make Islam flourish with politics and force. It is only by disseminating elem that Islam will prosper.

HALIM MIAH (junior teacher): So you want to say that our mission is to spread elem? Just elem for elem's sake?

IBRAHIM: Definitely not. What are we doing here? This is not just elem. This is amal also. You see, who comes to study in our madrasas? Many are orphans, of course. Also, parents who cannot feed and clothe their children, not to mention educate them, send their children here. Isn't this so? Our duty is to care for these children and make them into pure Muslims. This is our mission. Our amal. It's not fair to use these children for any political end.

HALIM MIAH: But in the name of secularism, the pro-communists are endangering the very existence of Islam in this country. We need to confront them, don't we?

IBRAHIM: Then tell me, what is the difference between us and the communists?

HALIM MIAH: How can you separate Islam from politics? Now the existence of Pakistan is at stake. And if Pakistan is torn apart, Islam will be destroyed as well.

IBRAHIM: Halim Miah, please tell me. Why do you think Islam will be endangered by the collapse of Pakistan? Did Pakistan strengthen Islam, or has it rather established military rule?

Conversation between 4 student friends:

MILON: ...Uttam, you've got to understand. It's not just a matter of democracy and national liberation. The real issue is economic emancipation. And here's where imperialism comes in. And the need for class struggle.

UTTAM: You're still under the spell of your communist ghosts. You know what's funny -- don't mind this -- despite your differences, there's a strange similarity between you and your big brother. Kazi shaheb's homeo-path, and you're Marx-path: both came from Germany. Did you notice that?

SHAHEEN: And fascism also has its roots in Germany!

4th FRIEND: Marxism, capitalism, all isms -- in the process of fighting over all these Western isms and schisms we're just screwing ourselves!

SHAHEEN: So what about Islam? Isn't that just another thing from the West?

4th FRIEND: Why should that be? I think our Islam has flourished from our own soil.

MILON: No matter how much we argue, the truth is that nothing is purely indigenous. Everything is mixed up.

Conversation between the student Milon and the mystic boatman Karim Majhi

MILON: …There's only one way left open to us--to fight for freedom.

KARIM MAJHI: Politics is just another game, isn't it Milon bhai? There's nothing in it for people like us. If people only understood what true freedom is...

MILON: Karim bhai, what are you talking about? It's because of blindly religious people like you that the country is in such a mess.

KARIM MAJHI: What do you mean by blindly religious? Actually, Milon Bhai, no true religion--be it Hinduism, Islam or Christrianity --will ever make people blind. True religion opens people's eyes.



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