Amar Shonar Bangla

Posted in 1971, Bengal, history, music by jrahman on December 13, 2007

A trip to London isn’t complete without a visit to the Speaker’s Corner in Hyde Park.  About a year ago, when Bangladesh was sleepwalking towards 1/11, I happened to be in London.  One Sunday, after a tour of the Hyde Park, I met up with some family friends at a Deshi eatery in the Banglatown.  One of them asked if I had spoken at the Corner.  I said no.  She said she sang there when she first visited London.  When I enquired what she sang, she replied: Keno?  Amar Shonar Bangla!

Of course she’d sing that, what else would it be, what else would I have sang (no, make that recited, I can’t sing) if I did anything at the Speaker’s Corner?  Those of us born in free Bangladesh tend to identify instinctively with Amar Shonar Bangla — along with the green-and-red flag and shapla — irrespective of differences in religion, class or political opinion.  And yet, there is no clear articulation of why we should.  While we tend to feel our Bangladeshi identity, seldom do we think what it means to be a Bangladeshi, and there is little clear articulation of what kind of a state our People’s Republic should be.    

Tagore wrote Amar Shonar Bangla in 1906 as a protest against the first partition of Bengal.  The partition created a new province of East Bengal and Assam — consisting largely of today’s Bangladesh and the Indian northeast.  At the risk of oversimplification, Muslims supported the scheme while Hindus opposed it — the curious reader can find out more here.  The scheme was annulled in 1912.  As the song protests the partition scheme, it could not have been very popular among Bengali Muslims.  Another protest song of the era, Vande Mataram, was very unpopular among Muslims because it was about ridding Bengal, and India, of Muslim ‘invaders’. 

In Vande Mataram, the land is identified with the Mother Goddess, and of course veneration of the Mother Goddess is contrary to the fundamental tenet of Islam.  As it happens, Amar Shonar Bangla also compares Bengal with the Mother.  To the early 20th century Bengalis, Hindu or Muslim alike, the Mother meant the Mother Goddess.  But unlike Bankim Chaterjee, the author of Vande Mataram, Tagore did not explicitly link his nationalism with Hindu iconography.  In fact, he was acutely aware of the way the anti-partitionists alienated the region’s Muslim majority.  In his 1916 novel Ghare baire (At home and the world), Tagore shows a Hindu leader — played by Soumitra Chaterjee in the 1984 Satyajit Ray adaptation — forcing Muslim peasants into boycotting British goods even when local goods were much more costly, the local peasants had no stake in the leader’s cause and even when the leader himself couldn’t give up British cigarette.  In his later years, Tagore urged for Hindu-Muslim amity.  But we know that this was not to be.  Bengal was partitioned again in 1947, this time with the acceptance of both communities.  And no one sang Amar Shonar Bangla in the 1940s.

Of course the story doesn’t end there.  The eastern half of Bengal became Pakistan’s eastern wing.  By March 1948, first rumblings of Bangladesh’s nationalism could be heard in the form of the language debate.  In the early 1960s, Bengali intellectuals and cultural activists defied government bans on commemorating Tagore’s 100th birth anniversary and celebrating Bangla New Year.  By the end of that decade, people started discussing the economic viability of an independent East Pakistan. 

The land as the Mother, but quite clearly not the Mother Goddess, was a central theme in the cultural iconography of the Bangladesh movement.  The Shaheed Minar symbolises a mother with her children, for example.  In early 1971, nationalist students chose Amar Shonar Bangla as the Free Bengal’s national anthem, and when the war ended, the new republic’s constitution endorsed it.  Why did they choose the song?  For that matter, why did they choose shapla as the national emblem?  And how did they design the red and green flag?

I arrived in Dhaka a day before the January potporiborton.  There I put these questions to people who were at the thick of events in March 1971.  I was told that the song was chosen because of its evocation of the rural landscape — mango groves and paddy fields, perennial features of Mother Bengal.  And that’s what the green in the flag meant to the more radical students, though for others green symbolised Islam.  It’s not clear why shapla was chosen, but it was stressed that everyone was very conscious about choosing inclusive icons.

This contrasts sharply with the cases of our neighbours, whose nationalist symbols were/are not very inclusive.  Pakistan Movement adopted the crescent, unsurprisingly alienating all non-Muslims in the lands that became Pakistan.  Indian nationalism claimed to be inclusive, espousing secularism as a fundamental value.  But Gandhi’s Ram Rajya did not appeal to Muslims, nor did the spinning wheel, which everyone thought symbolised eternal — that is, pre-Islamic — India (quite ironic, really, as according to Irfan Habib, the earliest known reference to the spinning wheel in South Asia is a 1350 polemic urging Raziya Sultana to give up Delhi’s masnad and take up spinning, the ‘inescapable inference’ being the device having a Muslim provenance).

Compared with the crescent and the spinning wheel, shapla, the greed-and-red and Amar Shonar Bangla were much more inclusive.  I’ve already said how we, born after December 1971, quite naturally identify with them.  From all accounts, most people in the country struggling to become free in 1971 identified with these symbols. 

Most, but not all.  There were the Urdu-speakers who migrated to the country during and after Partition.  They had no future in the Golden Bengal that the Mukti Bahini was fighting for.  Even among Bengalis, not all liked these symbols.  For the supporters of Jamaat-e-Islami — a party that has consistently polled 5 to 10 per cent of votes in every election since 1970 — Bangladesh’s nationalism was and perhaps remains a betrayal of Islam.  Many from the generation that remember the decades leading to Partition identified Amar Shonar Bangla with a Hindu-chauvinist Congress — even as they supported an independent Bangladesh, they were apprehensive about the direction the new state would take ideologically.

As early as 1976, with the damage wrought on Dhaka by the Pakistani tanks and Indian bombers still to be repaired, senior members of the military junta then ruling the country raised the possibility of changing the national anthem.  And as late as 2000, intellectuals associated with the country’s then opposition coalition voiced the same idea.  That coalition, which included Jamaat, was elected to a five-year term in late 2001.  For all the talk of revisiting the country’s foundations, the song remained untouched.

But what do these symbols symbolise today?  We all feel instinctively Bangladeshi — that’s why we come together after a calamity like Sidr, that’s why we celebrate Ashraful and Yunus, that’s why we agonise over the latest piece of political uncertainty, and that’s why many of us come to these pages.  But dear reader, what is it that we instinctively feel?  What does it mean to be a Bangladeshi today?  What kind of Bangladesh do we want?

At the hour of India’s independence, its first Prime Minister said, ‘We have to build the noble mansion of free India where all her children may dwell.’  We didn’t have the luxury of gaining freedom through a constitutional assembly.  The equivalent speech in our history was one of defiance against a brutal occupation.  I don’t know anyone who doesn’t get a goose bump listening to that speech after all these years.  But even after all these years, no other speech has that electrifying effect.  Nearly 36 years after gaining freedom, there has been no expression of a vision of what Bangladesh should be, what we Bangladeshis should aspire to be. 

And that’s why we find ourselves divided between self-proclaimed ‘nationalist’ and ‘pro-independence’ camps.  That’s why a creeping military takeover can get away with claiming to start history afresh.  That’s why people try to blatantly rewrite the events of 1971.  That’s why kangaroo courts jail people for participating in non-violent protests.

But who says we have to wait for a politician to tell us why we are who we are?  Dear reader, why do you consider yourself Bangladeshi, what does the country mean for you, what do you want the country to become, why do you sing Amar Shonar Bangla?

(Based on an A-A-A post from March 2007).

45 Responses

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  2. Mash said, on December 14, 2007 at 5:42 am

    Jyoti, you do realize that Jamaat-e-Islami was very much against the liberation of Bangladesh and actively collaborated with the Pakistan army and were responsible for many of the atrocities. Yet, your post ignores that very important detail. It would not surprise anyone if these people were against the symbols of that liberation.

    You say “Even among Bengalis, not all liked these symbols”. Who were these Bengalis? Were they opposed to the symbols only or to the concept of Bangladesh? I think the answer clearly is the latter. I wonder if it makes much sense to suggest that the very people who are unapologetic about perpetuating genocide should be a party to a discussion of what it means to be a Bangladeshi.

  3. Tanoy said, on December 14, 2007 at 5:49 am

    Jyoti this topic should not be subject.
    It is not the topic of discussion.

    Can you please enlite me what is your focus on over all thread?

    Other wise It will be a nothing but balance treatment .

  4. jrahman said, on December 14, 2007 at 7:40 am

    Mash, I certainly take your point about Jamaat. But this post is not about Al Badr death squads and their apologists. One answer to your question about ‘who are those opposing the symbols’ is in the post: “Many from the generation that remember the decades leading to Partition identified Amar Shonar Bangla with a Hindu-chauvinist Congress — even as they supported an independent Bangladesh, they were apprehensive about the direction the new state would take ideologically.”

    But much more importantly, it is a question of our own ideas about Bangladesh: what we want it to be, what kind of state we want, what kind of society we want, what kind of economy, foreign policy we want?

    You say it makes little sense to suggest genocide denialists should participate in a discussion on these. Sure. But why are we discussing genocide denialists instead of the questions raised at the end of the post?

    Tanoy, why shouldn’t we discuss these? I don’t understand your point about ‘balance statement’. What is being balanced?

  5. Mash said, on December 14, 2007 at 9:14 am

    Jyoti, I only brought up Jamaat and their role in 1971 because you raised it in the following passage in your post:
    There were the Urdu-speakers who migrated to the country during and after Partition. They had no future in the Golden Bengal that the Mukti Bahini was fighting for. Even among Bengalis, not all liked these symbols. For the supporters of Jamaat-e-Islami — a party that has consistently polled 5 to 10 per cent of votes in every election since 1970 — Bangladesh’s nationalism was and perhaps remains a betrayal of Islam.

    For those who don’t know the history, that passage without any reference to Jamaat and some Biharis’ active role in 1971 against the Bangladesh nationalist movement paints a rather distorted and incomplete picture. We are not just talking about al-Badr here. Any discussion of why these actors might find our national anthem problematic without discussing their part in this history is incomplete and, to the uninitiated, misleading. Since you have also suggested the Hindu influence in our national anthem, and raised Jamaat as a party to this discussion, we should not overlook Jamaat’s active use of the term “Hindu” in 1971 to paint all of Bengali nationalism. The word “Hindu” was used to justify genocide and persecution of Bengalis in 1971. It was used with brutal effect by Jamaat-e-Islami. Here’s a rather vivid example of one such Jamaati in the news today as he appeared in 1971(

    So I guess the reason we are discussing Jamaat and the perpetrators of genocide rather than the questions raised at the end of the post is because you raised the topic in your post. You also raised the “Hindu” origins of the national anthem while suggesting that Jamaat opposed this symbol as a “betrayal of Islam”. I think having done that, you cannot then shy away from a discussion of Jamaat’s role in 1971 and its murder of Bengalis as “Hindus”, “miscreants”, and “Indian agents”.

  6. Syeed said, on December 14, 2007 at 9:48 am

    I agree with Jyoti that there were people who did not like the anthem or symbol, but wanted an independent Bangladesh. I saw a debate in one Bangladesh Military Blog about the appropriateness of our national anthem. Its not hard to imagine that in an argumentative society like ours, where we still debate the comparative contributions of leaders in 1971, there must have been some people who did not like selecting this song as national anthem, even though they supported an independent Bangladesh.

    and, Tanoy,
    Here comes the answer to your question.
    I am not sure exactly if this is what Jyoti wanted to ask, but I think he just asked the right question!

    The only reason some patriots (consciously ignoring the razakar sect from this discussion) can disagree with the national anthem and symbols, if they fail to understand why a national anthem or symbol is for!

    Think of a precious and respected position that is elected, such as the Pop in Catholicism. We all know that not everyone agreed during the vote to select the Pop. And everyone had their right arguments in mind. But after the vote, when the Pop is elected, they all destroy the ballots and accept the Pop. For such a symbolic position, one does not continue the pre-ballot arguments! It’s the same for choosing any logo or symbol.

    At the end, the anthem or picture does not matter, what matters is what it represents, and what is symbolizes.

    Now, so answer to Jyoti’s question, why I sing amar shonar bangla?

    It’s a triple question- it may sound like:
    – why sing this one, not choose any other anthem? or
    – why you sing a national anthem anyway, whatever it is? or
    – why do you need to literally mean it when you say “amar shonar bangla, ami tomay valobashi”?

    First, I don’t know the other competitors for the national anthem (there was none). I sing it NOT because how beautifully it described the mango groves and paddy fields, but because it reminds me the struggle of our ancestors to get this mango groves and paddy fields.

    Besides, don’t we feel sacred for not having a national anthem like “God save the King….Long to reign over us, God save the King”?

    To second and third questions, I sing a national anthem and utter those lines for what it symbolizes and also for what it literally means.

    On a separate note, Jyoti, the Bangladesh flag never took the color of Islam (I wonder if there is an Islamic color!), though some western writers and even the earlier versions of CIA Fact Book claimed so.

    If Quamrul Hasan wanted an Islamic flag, he would have kept the crescent and star! He rather took the “amar shonar bangla” lines more seriously and kept a “golden Bangladesh” in the middle of the flag (which was later taken out).

  7. DhakaShohor said, on December 14, 2007 at 10:38 am

    Jyoti bhai and I have had quite a few discussions about our nation and nationalism in general, so this might be repeat material for him.

    To answer the question posed: being born post-71 (and into a family with no Rajakari record, which also has an influence in this), there is to my mind no debate about “Amar Shonar Bangla”, or at any rate should not be among people who were committed to a Bangladesh separate from Pakistan. That people committed to a different vision for BANGLADESH (note: NOT “EAST BENGAL”), this should not have been an issue. Therefore, despite disliking many things about AL and its politics, I feel that it would be betraying my country if I argued against either Mujib, the national anthem or its independence for the sake of venting anti-AL feelings (of which I harbour quite a few). So I stick to criticising their leader and of course my favourite DS columnist.

    I think Syeed bhai said it best with the analogy of the Pope. Let there be arguments among us about some things and not others. And please, no “infallible” heads of hierarchies please!:)

    In all this, Jamaat and other apologists for genocide who disgust me almost daily on the web do not even figure. They are in no position to offer CONSTRUCTIVE criticism about Bangladesh. They can only harm its sovereignty, its security, its resources and its very existence. They will make noise about “Western capitalism” while selling off our assets to their “Muslim brothers” from the West, whether Pakistan or Saudi.

    So to finally answer your question Jyoti bhai, I sing “Amar Shonar Bangla” for the same reasons I love my mother and country: she might not be the politest person, the most sophisticated person, the prettiest person or the wisest person… but she is my mother, so তার মুখের বাণী আমার কানে লাগে সুধার মতো।

    And I can’t wait to see how the Islamists spin that one tomorrow!:)

  8. jrahman said, on December 14, 2007 at 11:48 am

    Lest there be any doubt, I am not at all calling for an argument about the symbols – national anthem, the flag or shapla. Also, I am not presenting a ‘Jamaati’ or ‘Hindu’ or any other case. I very quickly described the history of these symbols. Then I asked: Dear reader … why do you sing Amar Shonar Bangla?

    Anyone who sings the song accepts it has their own. My question is about what these symbols symbolise to those of us who accept it as our own. If any other impression comes through from the writing then that certainly was not my intention, and is perhaps a shortcoming in my writing.

    Mash, I do not suggest that ‘Jamaat opposed this symbol as a “betrayal of Islam”’. I said, ‘For the supporters of Jamaat-e-Islami … Bangladesh’s nationalism was and perhaps remains a betrayal of Islam’. I’m sure you understand the difference between me noting something and me suggesting it. If a 30-year old Bangladeshi born Jamaat supporter holds such a view, we cannot simply wish that away. But once again, it’s not about Jamaat. It’s about what the song means to those of us who identify with it.

    Syeed, some ‘jatiyotabadi’ intellectuals have noted that the green may have symbolised Islam. This may well be pure revisionism. Quamrul Hasan definitely designed the flag with the song in mind.

  9. bitterboy said, on December 14, 2007 at 11:53 am

    Dear folks, It’s a enlightening piece but I think in little eccentric way. At my teen and young-adult I was one of the most staunch nationlists. I sang ‘Amar Shonar Bangla Lakhs of Times during the ninth-month long liberation war. Just after liberation, I tried my best to convince my friends to wear longi instead of pant or paijama as longi used to be considered national dress. Once failing to convince others to attend classes wearing longi, I did walk upto the the gate of gallary[class]room of Dhaka college from its south hostel. Then thinking of my self-esteem and that I would be ridiculed turned back. Such was the intense drive of nationality.

    Over the years, I believe I matured myself in thinking, words, actions and behaviors. I now try to use the strongest bleach to get rid of my national feelings. Every ato second everything in the world has been changing. So has the humans thinking process. But that change-trend shoud be directed to the positive way of thinking in one human identity getting rid of the traditional old way of identifying based on nationality.

    My core conviction is that pride in nationality, national anthem, flag, passport, border and so on that divide humans are nothing but devil’s inspiration. These are devilish handi-works to create animosities in people instead of love and compassion and give victory to the followers of devils.

    Sheik Hasina once said, ” Je Jaati Tader Jaatir Pitake Hotta Korte Pare Tader Kopale Dhuukkha Thakbena Tou Ke Thakebe?”

    Bitterboy says, “Je Jaati, Ki Tader Purba-Parichoy, Ke Tader Shwadinatar Ghosok, Ke Taader Jatir Pita Ba Maata, Ke Jatir Chacha-chachi, Maama-Maami, Khala-khalu, Baigna-Baigni, Ke Jatir Shala-Shali Ba Boau-Bhavi Eishob Khujia Aujota Shamoy Nausto Kore, Taader Bagghakashe Kobe Shukher Puurna- Chandrima Uditau Hoibe Ta Aami Kolpana Korite Paarina!”


  10. Tasneem said, on December 14, 2007 at 12:34 pm

    Apologies in advance, if I am vague and/or off topic.

    In recent times, philosophical anarchism influenced the coinage of a new word in our vocabulary: “matriotism.” It is pretty much interesting to note that the “Bangladeshi national anthem,” “Amar sonar Bangla” clearly is a matriotic song of love [actual wording] and struggle [history of 1971 attached]. The beauty of this song that amazes me is its success in chalking out, at least to me, the vast difference between “love for one’s country” and “allegiance to the state.” = “patriotism.” I am tempted to comment on your note, “a creeping military takeover can get away with claiming to start history afresh.” Pardon me if I am stretching this long, but have you noticed how the military in Bangladesh, without an exception, is always described/referred to as the “patriotic armed forces”?

    Pagan US has some interesting words on symbols in an article “From Patriotism to Matriotism”:

    Symbols that aren’t backed up by honest words and courageous deeds become nothing but empty idols. It’s not enough to stick a flag or a peace sign on your bumper and call yourself a lover of liberty ­ sometimes you have to get out the streets and holler back at your leaders’ lies. Sometimes you have to go further and work to push an institution that’s trending toward tyranny back in the direction of democracy.

    And Cindy Sheehan, in an American context:

    There have been volumes written about patriotism, defining it, supporting it, challenging the notion of it, etc. I believe the notion of patriotism has been expediently and nefariously exploited, and used to lead our nation into scores of disastrous and needless wars. The idea of patriotism has virtually wiped out entire generations of our precious young people and has allowed our nation’s leaders to commit mass murder on an unprecedented scale. The vile sputum of “if you aren’t with us, then you are against us” is basically the epitome of patriotism gone wild. After the tragedy of 9/11 we were on our way to becoming a fledgling Matriotic society until our leaders jumped on the bandwagon of inappropriate and misguided vengeance to send our young people to die and kill in two countries that were no threat to the USA or to our way of life. The neocons exploited patriotism to fulfill their goals of imperialism and plumder.

  11. Syeed said, on December 14, 2007 at 2:11 pm

    I agree with you. I posted my previous comment before reading your second comment. There are off course this other elements (e.g. razakars and others) who think this national anthem as non-Islamic, product of Hindu author, blahblah…. (the blog I mentioned in my previous comment even had one suggestion of making a haamnd/naat as national anthem!)

    It’s not worth arguing on that line, no matter how many madrasa students think otherwise. But we certainly can argue with them that national anthem is not about who wrote it, it’s about what we mean by it. No one even knows who wrote the UK or Japanese national anthems!

    the jatiotabadi revisionists should mention that, the Islamic color came first, then the Bangladesh flag, and after that God made the grass of Bangladesh green 🙂

    As regard the father of the nation concept, I agree with you only partly.

    I met this guy at the Chicago airport who does not know who his father is! But he was not embarrassed! He rather asked us, why do you need to know who your father is? It’s your own life! Isn’t it? Well, certainly those who were fortunate enough to know their father, argued against.

    Then I thought, may be not everyone needs to recognize their father! Those who have will do it… those who don’t, won’t. No need to make a fuss!

    While you doubt that recognizing a father of the nation may not bring Bangladesh its success, you may find it strange that most of the developed nations DO recognize their founding fathers!

    And since it’s a different topic we are discussing here, I won’t elaborate the nationalism argument here. You better follow the WTO debates and search for “nationalism” in Wikipedia.

  12. Mash said, on December 14, 2007 at 2:12 pm

    Jyoti, no one is wishing away that a “a 30-year old Bangladeshi born Jamaat supporter holds such a view”. It is something to contend with in present day Bangladesh.

    But unless I missed something in your post, before you ask the question why we sing our national anthem you spent the bulk of your post discussing the Hindu and Muslim symbolisms of the song and the flag, of Muslim opposition to the song during the partition of Bengal, and of Jamaatis and Biharis opposition to it. So your question cannot be taken on its own without the context you yourself set it in in the post. And yes, I do know the difference between noting something and suggesting something.

    But now that you have noted that the question stands on its own without the religious context that the post wraps around it, we shall never again speak of its context 🙂

    Syeed, are you saying we need a pope in Bangladesh? 🙂

  13. Tanoy said, on December 14, 2007 at 2:20 pm

    Jyoti , I want to mean the neutral policy by balance . See basically what I feel

    any national anthem , flag are the symbol of solidarity. Emotion of the million

    people are here. Just have a look on your post. It has ended without conclusion.

    I have only asked what is your focus? other wise common people like me will misunderstand the whole picture.

    Syeed National Anthem is an emotion . Even Srilanka people even don’t have the full Idea of the author of ” Srilanka Mata.”

    Still it is emotion of people.

    Basically Neutralism is not at all my policy. But Yea I can be neutral in right place on right time. It sounds like personal attack but I will not be comfortable to hear any analysis from the people (… deleted…) who don’t have minimum respect for our national heroes and freedom fighter.

    Basically we can’t bec one Michel J Fox to go back to the past to secure our future.

    We have made lots of mistakes and I really don’t want to do again now.

  14. KGazi said, on December 14, 2007 at 2:38 pm

    Jyoti says “Nearly 36 years after gaining freedom, there has been no expression of a vision of what Bangladesh should be, what we Bangladeshis should aspire to be. And that’s why we find [Bangladesh in such a mess] ….”

    Benazir Bhutto gave another theory, that the untimely death of Jinnah, just 1 year after 1947, left Pakistan an orphan to growth and development, without proper guidance.

    And I think, maybe Bangladesh being E. Pak wing, also suffered part of that traumatic childhood after Jinnahs death, (and never recovered)!!

    But theories aside, nations developed throughout history despite similar and worse untimely tragedies. Singapore shirked off its growing pains and excelled in anti-corruption.

    Bangladesh also can throw those baggage away. Even though we are frustrated with the politics of history.

    History seems to haunt Bangladeshis more than hunger, and people fight over spilt milk, while others starve on the streets. Development, growth, future, are all less important to Bangladeshis than Mujib, Zia, and the hartals of history.

    Country is looted, colleges get burnt, national revenues are stolen, politicians become billionaires – but nobody cares. Yet the important politics in parliament remains – whose photo and whose name will be on the wall – Mujib’s or Zia’s? Thats Bangladesh in a nutshell.

    What do I see in Amar Shonar Bangla?

    A nation with no corruption, colleges and universities with no crime and mastani, a nation based on meritocracy not profession or dynasty.

    I see a nation that emulates the technology, infrastructure and economy of a Modern Asian nation like Dubai, Singapore, Hong Kong or Malaysia – without being South Asian Style THIRD WORLD in every aspect of lifestyle.


  15. jrahman said, on December 14, 2007 at 3:40 pm

    Mash, with the history I tried to show that depite divisions in the past, most of us in today’s Bangladesh instinctively identify with the song. I also tried to show how those who chose the song or other symbols made a conscious effort to be inclusive, in contrast to our neighbours. That Jamaat, Urdu-speakers and others opposed the symbols is also part of that history. But again, my intention with the history was to show that for our generation, these usually don’t matter when we identify with the song. Obviously poor writing on my behalf that none of this came through. Perhaps I should get back to writing on economics.:(

    Tanoy, yes for most people it’s a matter of emotion. But I am not satisfied with emotion. I want us to think about what these symbols mean. I want us to think about why we sing the song, why we waive red-and-green. I want us to think about what we want Bangladesh to be, and how we get there from where we are. Failure to think about these things and relying on emotion is partly responsible for where we are today. And failure to think about these is why we end up with ‘patriotism’ hijacked by the army as Tasneem says.

    And KGazi, amen to your dream.

  16. Tanoy said, on December 15, 2007 at 12:37 am

    Jyoti Emotion and Truth should become the complement of each other. I myself is not emotional in any form. But Fact is that I feel it wastage of time to do analysis on Such topic which is established.

    As for example if any one claims “Bangladesh against Egypt on 71 to get freedom.”

    Will we start to do analysis on that?

    As for Example I am watching our brilliant Younger Bro Asif yousuf has made a nice comments. Our first duty is to establish the each and every line of the history not the topic of National Anthem and National Flag.

    Because Indirectly if we raise such topic , we will give some legitamity to some fanatics. Because they are waiting for such things.

    Another thing Army is not coming for this emotion but they have come because of our wrong mind set

  17. DhakaShohor said, on December 15, 2007 at 5:25 am

    Jyoti bhai,

    I don’t think the link to the original A-A-A post is working. I think it’s less poor writing on your part than the fact that you tried to base this write-up on a previous one.

  18. Rumi said, on December 15, 2007 at 5:29 pm

    May be it is my intellectual poverty, but honestly speaking, I do not understand how Jamaat e Islami’s 71 activities become a major focus of the discussion of this post.

    Yes, the word Jamaat has been pronounced in this post and I would caution Jyoti or others to always add a disclaimer every time the word jamaat is pronounced. The disclaimer should mention “jamaatis are anti liberation. Jamaatis should be punished and hanged for war crime”. Otherwise there are high chances one will be termed jamaat apologetic or even a jamaati.

    It is very important that the war crimes get punished. I thank Mash for slowly starting the right approach. Inform the nation of the crimes committed and the nation will sure stand up against the criminals. Its more of a bottom up aproach.

    Jamaat -war crime debate must go on. But that should not be the ONLY debate. At the same time other vital debates should also be allowed to take place.
    The one Jyoti intiated in this post is one such debate.

    I believe in secularism and other fundemantal aspects as they are spelled out in 1972 constitution. But it would not be wise to keep believing that an overwhelming majority of people of Bangladesh subscribed to the brand of secularism Dr kamal Hossain, Mr Suranjit sen Gupta or Barrister Amirul Islam may have believed when they drafted the constitution. In fact nothing is known about the other 31 members of the constitution committee and no record exists in terms of what discussion took place while the constitution was being framed. Only record I can quote here is the 6 point of Bangabandhu. AL won 1970 election based on this six point. There was no mention of secularism in 6 point. And our war of independence was fought for independence of Bangladesh. When independence was declared no mention was made on the form of a future government.

    So when Dr Hossains put together a constitution without a national dialogue, there was a definite chance of disenfranchisement of people who fought in liberation war but may have believed in a different way to achieve communal harmony.

    Still, for the sake of debate, if I accept 73 election as a plebiscite for the constitution, a big cloud of doubt developed when the same framers ( Dr Kamal et el) amended the constitution to include emergency act (2nd) and one party rule(4th).

    Half or more than half of Bangladesh did not vote for Awami league i.e. secularism and socialism. Someday, we must discuss this vital national issue of how to assimilate this vast populace into our secular national symbols. Similarly, half the voters consistently voted for Awami league over the last 25 years. How do we accommodate their wishes when our constitution prefers one religion.

  19. Syeed said, on December 15, 2007 at 6:08 pm

    To add to the dilemma of fundamental principles of the Constitution that Rumi bhai noted:
    Think of the lines
    “Pledging that the high ideals of absolute trust and faith in the Almighty Allah, […], which inspired our heroic people to dedicate themselves to, and our brave martyrs to sacrifice their lives in the war for national independence, shall be fundamental principles of the Constitution”.

    Now think of the non-Muslims who dedicated themselves for national independence. Are we saying they believed in our (I am a Muslim) God too when they fought the independence war?

  20. jrahman said, on December 15, 2007 at 10:46 pm

    Dhaka, perhaps basing it on the original A-A-A post made it difficult for the message to come through. Or perhaps it is my poor writing. Either way, it is important to have these discussions.

    Syeed/Rumi bhai, we must discuss how to reconcile democracy, secularism, and a preference for an exclusive role for Islam among a large number of Bangladeshis. It is precisely this sort of discussion I had in mind with this post.

  21. zafanoor said, on December 16, 2007 at 1:37 am

    “…a preference for an exclusive role for Islam among a large number of Bangladeshis…” ??!!
    Tsk tsk tsk…
    That’s exactly the mind set that drove many Paki sympathizers in 1971 to side with the enemies. It is sad that similar sentiment still lingers among the newer generations.

  22. bitterboy said, on December 16, 2007 at 4:44 am

    To establish a all-inclusive cohesive state or society we need to redefine or instill new values into the traditional values and beliefs about democracy, secularism, religion and state role or politics. Though it’s a more a problem of the country like us, none the societies, even the developled ones are free of this problem. To make the world a better living place we can’t afford to being spoon-fed by the others. We do need to be more innovative in science as well as social principles and concepts.

    Societal rules, religious rules and political or state rules should be complementary to each other. All of the principles are intended to serve the society best and make it more inclusive, cohesive, reconciled and harmonized for peace and prosperity of people. If we want to seperate them we will invite schism in the society disrupting the dynamic process of progress and peace.

    We should fine-tune or modify democracy as the rule of all-people, rather than just the rule of the majority. The secularism as the rule of toleranace and as well as the rule of not hurting religious belief of others and not to engage in covert endeavors in establishing a non-religious society and burrying the traditional religious belief in the disguise of neutral to religions. And the state rule or politics can’t be free of religious and societal rules as they are complementary to each other. So seperating state from the religious institutes in the name of secularism is the wrong concept and antagonistic to all-inclusive cohesive peaceful society.


  23. jrahman said, on December 16, 2007 at 10:38 am

    Zafa, it is not as simple as that. If you randomly asked 100 Bangladeshis on whether Islam should have an exclusive role in the constitution, I doubt you’ll get a clear majority who will say ‘no’. But if you asked the same people whether the Al Badrs did the right thing in opposing our Liberation, the answer will be overwhelmingly and decisively ‘no’. We do the cause of secularism and progress a great disservice with simplifications like “constitutional recognition of Islam = armed opposition to the creation of Bangladesh”.

    And as for the new generation, in the absence of political activism in our campuses (not just under the current semi-dictatorship, but also under the elected governments of the past), organisations like Hizbut Tahrir are growing rapidly. HT had nothing to do with the Liberation War. They reject any kind of nationalism and want to create a global Khilafat. If we want a secular and liberal Bangladesh (this blog does – it is titled Mukti and is about liberty), then we have to provide a vision that has a bit more than emotion and flag waving, otherwise the HT vision of a global theocracy will win.

  24. Mash said, on December 16, 2007 at 1:06 pm

    Jyoti, what does it mean that “Islam should have an exclusive role in the constitution”? I would not be surprised that you would get differing answers to such a nebulous question (if indeed you asked it – there is something odd about preemptive polling, methinks). In the past, this kind of phrase has been used as code for oppressing minorities. It was used to kill Bengalis in 1971 and it has been increasingly used to oppress and kill minorities in the last 6 years. See some of bitterboy’s comments for an example of why that kind of phrase appeals to some. I can see why the word “exclusive” would have appeal to those that want to use it as a club to persecute minorities. In secular Bangladesh, to appease extremists, it does not at all seem wise to hand over such a club in the name of “inclusiveness”.

    What kind of conversation are you intending to having with the HT folks, who, according to your own comment “reject any kind of nationalism and want to create a global Khilafat”. I am not sure you can provide HT any vision that will include a secular Bangladesh, or Bangladesh at all!, when they want to form a global Khalifat. It is sad to see challenges to such attempts being dismissed as “emotion and flag waving”. As I scroll up and read a few comments, I see challenges to the secular roots of Bangladesh, yet I see no responses to those. But, I see a response to “emotion and flag waving” “if we want a secular and liberal Bangladesh”. Tsk tsk tsk indeed.

    If you want to provide an alternative vision to HT and you want it to be secular, provide a secular vision of Bangladesh – and make a strong case for it so you can win adherents. But I dont see how you create a “secular and liberal Bangladesh” by being neither secular nor liberal. You know, the reason HT has appeal is because they dont compromise on their vision. On the other hand, I guess what I am seeing on the eve of the 36th anniversary of the liberation of Bangladesh is secularism scoring own-goals to appease a minority of extremists who cannot be appeased. If you want the rest of the Bangladeshi population that is looking for vision, give them a strong secular vision they can rally to, and convince them why it is for the good of Bangladesh. Don’t give them wishy washy “we must get along with our fundamentalist brothers” arguments. That’s precisely the kind of pandering that makes people flee from weak-kneed visions. And dont be afraid to wave the flag and show emotion – it isnt weakness, it is strength and it means something.

  25. Tanoy said, on December 16, 2007 at 4:46 pm

    Jyoti I think what Zafa mentioned is the bitter truth of the people. Basically
    You are speaking all the time for the good growth rate, GDP or strong National income. My point is that If you want to achieve it you must go for the progressive society. There is no place of the exclusivity of particular religion.
    Basically Region and Religion can’t be the complement of each other. We NRBS are living in the different soils like USA, Australia or Singapore. I don’t claim there is no racism exit. But Can you show me one constitution of the first world

    where It is created on the name of religion.

    Yes I agree 100 People may have different opinion of the exclusivity of religion. But Ask those 100 people which country they will prefer to their 2nd

    home Any Royal family ruled islamic Middle east? Or USA , OZ and Singapore?

    Basically Jyoti problem is in mind set.I want to add some points on Zafa’s comment. It is our Educated NRBS who are misguiding those 100 people. We should seriously change our mind set.

  26. jrahman said, on December 16, 2007 at 5:13 pm

    Mash, I don’t think I am giving “wishy washy “we must get along with our fundamentalist brothers” arguments.” I totally agree that if we want a secular Bangladesh we need to “make a strong case for it so you can win adherents”. I am trying to do that in my own small way with this blog.

    You say, “dont be afraid to wave the flag and show emotion – it isnt weakness, it is strength and it means something”. Precisely, it means ‘something’. What is that something? That is the question I posed to you, my readers. And that question still stands.

  27. Tanoy said, on December 16, 2007 at 6:50 pm

    Jyoti that is the point we want to tell you what is this ” SOMETHING”?

    But I think you know the answer.

    Basically SOMETHING mans established truth. One thing I am not sure why you are

    changing You stand time to In One side you tell Exclusiveness for the religion and other way to make strong case for Secularism.

    Is it confusion or double standard?

    This is the one reason why I do have reservation on your subject for this topic because I really don’t understand who your target audience is. Global or Bangladesh It self.
    As Syeed expressed s to his earlier comments.

  28. Syeed said, on December 16, 2007 at 9:48 pm

    Can we or should we treat the fundamentalists with their own weapon! If they ask for Islamic rules instead of a secular society… then let’s make THEM follow the Islamic rules first:

    – From now on, all the khatibs, imamms, moajjins should work voluntarily and MUST have their own legitimate business (like the Prophet did)! If the greatest Imam of the greatest Mosque can do business, who are all these Khotibs that goes door to door for free “murgeer raan”…? Shame on them!

    – All the madrasas will be closed, coz the Prophet did not promoted that and it was rather created by non-muslims!

    – The Friday should NOT be a holiday! Coz as the Quraan reads “O you who believe, when the Congregational Prayer (Salat Al-Jumu`ah) is announced on Friday, you shall hasten to the commemoration of GOD, and drop all business… [62:09] … Once the prayer is completed, you may spread through the land to seek GOD’s bounties… [62:10]” So we need to keep the Friday as a business day, to “drop all the business” before the salat time, and then get back to it again after the salat! See?

    – From now on, no multiple marriage while one wife is alive.

    – The degree “quraan-e-Hafez” should be banned as they only memorize the verses without knowing the meaning! It’s not what Prophet did (coz he knew the meaning! Some foolish argue that he was illiterate, but he knew arabic!)

    I can go on with the list… and make the mollas pray for mercy… But I have a different dilemma as well.

    Should we separate the second-generation madrasa-students from the actual-razakars? Coz the second generation is the product of a brain-wash-system created by the actual razakars. The razakars did everything knowingly… and we MUST try them! But look what the razakars do… they always separate us between AL-BNP, so they can get away! Should we do the same to them?

    First, what about the thousands of madrasa-students? How do we stop the vicious cycle of making more of them… as more of them become unemployed, they open more madrasas for employment… . are they entitled to a cure? Should we save them from getting the wrong interpretations of Islamic notions?

    Second, how can we stop the general people from supporting the “mission of fundamentalists”?

    When they go to Medinova or Ibn Sina, when they invest in Islamic banks, when students goes to some specialized coaching centres, when we donate the “kurbanir chamra”, even when they donate to mosque or madrasa… they indirectly support them!

    How can we stop our families, friends, neighbors from doing any of them? Otherwise, wouldn’t this be a double standard?

  29. bitterboy said, on December 17, 2007 at 4:19 am

    Hey, Mr. Syeed, please chill down! When we
    become too, excited, outraged or angry we shut down the bez cells of our brain. We then start to talk like moron.

    You people are behind the fundies but my question what kind of people are you? Those who consider all mischiefs are from religious fundies they in fact are other type of fundies and that they don’t understand that are also a
    kind of fundies as are the religious ones.

    (Para deleted because of personal attack)

    You said, Khatibs, Imams, muajjins and madrassa
    teachers etc should do business. Well, good advise, but what will be your advise to priests, brahmins, monks or teachers, the poets, writers etc? Shouldn’t they also do some kind of business. (Sentence deleted)

    Hating and disparaging others is not prudent way of correcting others. If you want
    them to correct be friendly with them and win them over demonstrating them if you have anything with you better for them. This is the way the so called rajakers, shibirs, HT etc are doing (… parts of the sentence deleted)

    You,like the fundamentalists Imams or Khatibs, tried to impose decree or fatwa on them
    as you said the Quraane-Hafeez degree should be banned as they don’t know the meaning of Quraan. This is their choice what they should
    study or not. If you want to compel something on them they will also try something on you what they would like for you and ban what they don’t. And this is not the way of appreciating liberty and freedom.

    (para deleted).

    You expressed a very interesting view here. You said as I quote,

    “Should we separate the second-generation madrasa-students from the actual-razakars? Coz the second generation is the product of a brain-wash-system created by the actual razakars. The razakars did everything knowingly… and we MUST try them! But look what the razakars do… they always separate us between AL-BNP, so they can get away! Should we do the same to them?” unquoted.

    From the above statement it’s clear that you want to try the raakers/albadars/Jamat etc as they have the prolific growth of thier followers. As some people when the raise the issue of trial of war criminals it’s done just for political reasons from the fear of being self-rejected by the people as their nurmbers
    are growing in geomatric fashion.

    The demand of trial of war-criminal has nothing to do with war-criminality. And it becomes further clear when the demanding groups when necessary make tactical street alliance or election alliance or alliance in the parliament to grab the Kursi of power.

    Finally my two cents advice will be, to adhere the moderate paths by our selves and invite the extremists of the two fringe-folds to the way of moderation examplifying the beauty of own beleif and behaviors.


  30. DhakaShohor said, on December 17, 2007 at 5:54 am

    Excellent questions Syeed bhai. Any answers to some of them, especially the unemployability of madrassah students problem?

    I find it ironic that the only person to respond was the one who the other day criticised an editor for quoting the Talmud and then quoted pagan Greeks himself. A bit like the mollahs you mention and their double-standards/lack of Islamic values as we know Islam.

  31. DhakaShohor said, on December 17, 2007 at 6:40 am

    I’d like to pick up the conversation from #20 here. Two issues: minority rights and war criminal trials.

    1) If you gave those Bangladeshis the choice between an EXCLUSIVE role of Islam in governance and a role of Islam as well as other religions in governance, they’d be split 50-50 as well.

    As it is, as Syeed bhai has so aptly demonstrated and as we know, there really is NO ISLAM in governance, simply a lip-service pronouncement on our constitution. So what are we getting so worked up about? Islamic majoritarianism of course, the one that leads to the Vested Property Act and the persecution of Hindus, Buddhists and Christians (and lest we forget, the Ahmaddiyas) with the backing of state institutions.

    Does anyone seriously think that replacing our religious symbols with non-denominational symbols is going to solve this grave problem overnight? No. What MIGHT solve it is a re-imagining of what it means to be Bangladeshi, which I believe was the intent of this post all along.

    2) Recently, as Mash himself would know better than anyone else, a controversial book on American foreign policy written by two of the biggest names alive in IR was lauded by David Duke, the granddragon (real title) of the KKK. Immediately that discredited the two professors in the eyes of many. I feel the same dynamic is at work here. Bitterboy and a commenter on UV – an apologist for war CRIMINALS on every blog, (and at the risk of repition ad nauseum: in ironically the name of Islam which condemns killings and rape) – agreeing with Jyoti bhai’s post has thrown a lot of us off from the positives of what he has written.

    Nowhere does he suggest or gives a loophole for Jamaat to jump through, IMO. I believe in judging people according to their own criterion. If Islam is what they want, I’ve said it over and over again, let us ask what Islamic precepts prescribe for killers and rapists. Might not be secular, but ought to be just. Please note: I’m not asking them to be tried under shahriah, just asking religious but non-Rajakar people to be won over with this argument.

  32. DhakaShohor said, on December 17, 2007 at 6:51 am

    PS. Like every re-imagining of our nationhood, the 1971 re-imagining left out (or appeared to have left out) or fudged over some important anxieties among our people. One such fudging over would certainly be the pre-Partition anxieties of East vs. West Bengal, which a lot of people agree was fuelled by economic disparities before being hardened into “communal” cleavages. When AL-leaning intellectuals still come and call it “Bengali nationalism” and “Bengali nation” (cf. Syed Badrul Ahsan every other column), we see those loose ends fudging out once again. It’s those sort of loose-ends that gave fundamentalists the weapons they needed to persecute our Hindu citizens by appealing to the fears for the sovereignty of a weak state, what BNP calls “Bangladeshi nationalism”. How to reconcile these two still remains a challenge, and you cannot revert back either to Mujib or Zia’s re-imagining without losing something valuable for Bangladesh.

  33. Syeed said, on December 17, 2007 at 8:02 am

    Bitterboy [#29],
    >> When we become too, excited, outraged or angry we shut down the bez cells of our brain. We then start to talk like moron.
    – Exactly! So don’t do it!
    You said, Khatibs, Imams, muajjins and madrassa teachers etc should do business. Well, good advise, but what will be your advise to priests, brahmins, monks or teachers, the poets, writers etc?
    – Remember “lakum dinukum waliyadin”?. So the Khatibs must follow what the Prophet did, and poets should follow what their “guru” said! Is that too hard to think?

    >> Hating and disparaging others is not prudent way of correcting others. If you want
    them to correct be friendly with them and win them over demonstrating them if you have anything with you better for them.
    – Can’t agree more (except for criminals… otherwise the countries you praise as developed nations wouldn’t have a trial system!)

    >> You,like the fundamentalists Imams or Khatibs, tried to impose decree or fatwa on them as you said the Quraane-Hafeez degree should be banned as they don’t know the meaning of Quraan. This is their choice what they should study or not.
    – Read some books of great Islamic thinkers of these days. Read what they say about memorizing Quran without knowing it. You want them to keep ignorant for life?
    – See what happened in Bangladesh over the Friday holiday? If you read the Quran, you will see…. keeping Friday as business-as-usual was more of a Farz! But see how the fake-Mollahs protesting against a Quranic verse! [Disclaimer: whenever I talk about Mollahs, I only point towards those who don’t understand the Quran and carefully avoid some significant lessons of the Prophet].

    >> From the above statement it’s clear that you want to try the raakers/albadars/Jamat etc as they have the prolific growth of thier followers.
    – No. Read them again, “The razakars did everything knowingly”. But, “generation is the product of a brain-wash-system created by the actual razakars”.
    – If you are confused after about four decades, then let me tell you, when we mention “razakar”, we refer to the role in 1971. Which means, what the razakars did in 1971, they did it knowingly!
    – But the madrasa-students might get a benefit of doubt for believing what they were allowed to believe throughout their life.

    >> The demand of trial of war-criminal has nothing to do with war-criminality.
    – Don’t be silly! Read your own first paragraph as a response to this.

  34. bitterboy said, on December 17, 2007 at 9:36 am

    Dear Syeed,

    Pl, don’t take yourself as the all-knowing scholar of Islam. The religion is a vast field. It’s better striving to learn further till the time of death. FYI, as the Quran was revealed in arabic, most people would understand the most literal meaning of the Quran. Yet, the prophet stressed that some of his followers memorize the Quran and the tradition of memorizing it had been very much in vogue from the time of prophet.

    About weekly holidays, there were no weekly holidays system at that time. So all the days of the week were work days, so the prophet’s hadiths and the verses of Quran were revealed in the way as you have mentioned. In the Christian countries they take their weekly holidays on Sundays as it is convenient to them to go to churches. Now even in muslim countries we don’t work 7 days/week and have weekly holidays it should be on Friday unless we face any serious problem. And it doesn’t go against the religious rules, rather it helps them to perform the weekly prayer in better way.

    (Para deleted).

    It is sad, silly and self-denigrating.


  35. jrahman said, on December 17, 2007 at 9:44 am

    All, any personal attack on any other reader will be deleted regardless of the subject matter.

  36. Syeed said, on December 17, 2007 at 11:14 am


    – So you are saying, you can ignore a direct verse/order of the Quraan, just to follow what the Christians are doing about holiday?
    – And, you are also advising that, Quraan kept that line, because a possible future holiday system was not known at that time, and since time has changed, we can ignore it… right? I am not going to analyze your lines any further, coz it will be too disturbing to my Islamic faith.

    The Prophet didn’t ask to memorize the entire Quraan without knowing the meaning. He asked to memorize only what was necessary to recite during Khutba, Salat or speeches.

    Rather, he asked everyone to memorize the Hadith, so that people do not confuse hadith with the written Quraanic verses.

    And, did I say that I am the all-knowing scholar of Islam? I just mentioned some Quarnic verses and doings of the Prophet without distorting anything! If you cannot argue in that line, then its fine. But don’t use qualitative judgment and personal attacks like this. It doesn’t make me anything, but reveals your weakness.

    About Islam, I know that I don’t know. But do you know whether you know?

  37. Syeed said, on December 17, 2007 at 12:30 pm

    … and I answered to all your questions in #33.
    Give some responsive and factual argument against them IF you can.

  38. Rumi said, on December 17, 2007 at 2:59 pm

    Looks like this post is getting a little too hot. So the best step is to keep 500 hands away from the discussions. The value of the friendship I have with several of the discussants here is enormous to me. I believe that is more important than many things around. So, I’ll end my participation in this discussion with the following two points,

    1. If someone was not successful to divert all our passion, energy, intellect in the very thorny issue of 71 collaborators, what we would have been discussing today? Wasn’t it Moeen u Ahmed and his presidential dream?

    2. Keeping “myself” out of the context here, we ought to allow a space in between ultra liberals like Shahriar Kabir, Kabir Chowdhury or Mujahid Selim and religious fundamentalists like Jamaat etc. If we allow the space, we will see a vast majority of Bangladeshis irrespectove of Al-BNP divide actually reside in that space. So the moment one cringes at Dr Kabir Chowdhury magitude of liberal and secular thinking, he automatically does not become Quarn and sword yielding, bomb strapped religious fanatic with a vengance to kill infidels.

  39. bitterboy said, on December 17, 2007 at 3:18 pm

    # 36, syeed

    You said,” About Islam I know I don’t know.”
    Again, you declared some decrees or fatwas about very vital issues about Islam. Isn’t it too ludicrous.

    Your decrees or fatwas I quote, a)
    “All the madrasas will be closed, coz the Prophet did not promoted that and it was rather created by non-muslims!”

    b) From now on, no multiple marriage while one wife is alive.

    c) So we need to keep the Friday as a business day, to “drop all the business” before the salat time, and then get back to it again after the salat! See?

    d)The degree “quraan-e-Hafez” should be banned as they only memorize the verses without knowing the meaning!

    Fatwa a), you try to say all madrassas should be closed arguing that prophet didn’t promote madrassa. Here you said a blatant lie. During the time of prophet Masjid used to be the used a mosque as well as madrassa. For hundreds of years muslims have been getting their educations from madrassa. Thousands of islamic scholars are graduating from those madrassa and they are guiding the islamic world and you saying madrassas are the sechemes of non-muslim rulers. And think people has to get taalim from you!

    After our independence, Dr. Kudret-e-Khuda commissioned an education report and there he recommended to close the madrassa system. But Sheik for his islamic faith or the envisage of consequences didn’t dare to implement Kudre-e-Khuda’s prescription. So, when you people declare decrees of closing the madrassas it reminds the one of the popular proverb, “Haati Ghora Gelo Tol, Chamchika Bole Kotau Jaal.”

    Fatwa b), you said, “From now on no multiple marriage when one marriage is alive.” Bravo, while Allah permits, you prohibit. A great sense of audacity! BTW, Allah in Quran permits maximum 4 wives at a time provided the individuals has to treat his all wives equally.

    Fatwa c) Qurane-Hafeez degree should be banned as the prophet didn’t instructed so. It is another grave wrong. There are many hadiths about the rewards of Qurane-Hafeez. Moreover, at the time of prophet, in the Medina there was one special group of people who used to always stay in the mosque and study the religion including learning hadiths and memorizing Quran. Your demand on this topic is very presumptive.

    Fatwa c) You said, ” we need to keep Friday as a business day.” And here you cited a verse from the Quran but verily, mistinterpreted the meaning of verse.In mentioned verse Allah has instructed the people to leave their all business when there comes the call of Juma Salah. Here Allah made it imperatives to attend the Jumah Salah and ordered to leave the jobs aside when the call comes. Allah no way made Friday an obligatory work day. No Quaranic Iyah says that Friday can’t be a holiday and people have to work seven days in a week and they can take any day as their holiday as they choose to. These are sheer nonsical logic and interpretation of Quran to serve own whims and ego.

    Finally, to blog-owner dear Jyoti, please don’t lose credibility and trust of the bloggers just if you don’t like any part of any comments. Let the readers decide about and take comment on the fellow bloggers. And it’s not wise to censor anything with the excuse of personal attack as it’s mostly a grey area.


  40. jrahman said, on December 17, 2007 at 4:11 pm

    Rumi bhai, kothai gorom? Apnar blog-e ekbar Asif Saleh aar aami to onek beshi torko korsilam Zia-ur-Rahman niye. Bhule gesen? No, seriously, it wouldn’t be much of a friendship if intellectual discussions got in the way of that, would it?

    As for priorities, Al Gore was once asked which is a greater threat: terrorism or climate change. His reply was they both are serious issues that we have to deal with, simultaneously. In his words, ‘we’ve to walk and chew gums at the same time, and we can’. So it is with us. We’ve to resist Moeen U Ahmed’s presidential ambitions, demand and achieve trial of the war criminals, and work for a secular and liberal Bangladesh, all at once, and we can. Some of us will devote more energy on some of these issues than others, sure. And there is nothing wrong with that.

    Dhakashohor, the problem with imagining any nationalism is that it needs an ‘other’. In today’s Bangladesh that other is likely to be India. In fact, the ‘jatiyotabadi’ camp in today’s Bangladesh relies on demonising India quite successfully , all-too-often with anti-secular and anti-liberal effects. Now, why do we need to imagine a nationalism at all? Why don’t we imagine an ideology that is based on the rights and liberties of citizens?

    Bitterboy, you’d notice that Mash, Tanoy and Zafa disagreed with my viewpoint quite strongly, but none of those comments got moderated. So it’s quite clear that it’s not if I ‘don’t like any part of any comments’ that I moderate. As I’ve said, I will not allow personal attacks. Yes, defining personal attacks is a grey area, and I’m afraid you’ll just have to abide by my judgement.

  41. Syeed said, on December 17, 2007 at 5:02 pm

    Bitterboy #39
    I did not give any interpretation or fatwa! I clearly quoted the verses only. In contrast, you are actually interpreting the verses as you like and sometimes mentioning them, without proper quote to play with the ambiguity!
    The most outrageous example is your argument for polygamy! Will discuss that too!

    >> For hundreds of years muslims have been getting their educations from madrassa.
    – Are you sure that you are NOT confusing today’s kaomi madrasa with ancient Muslim schools? Yes, there were Mosques where people used to go to learn, not only the after life, but the life on earth! There were many renowned Islamic universities which contributed a lot to science and philosophy! Now see what the kaomi madrasa is producing these days? You are saying Prophet wanted this?
    – I doubt not even Warren Hastings, the first Governor General of East India Company, who founded the Calcutta Mohammedan College (later Kolkata Madrasa, imagined this!

    >> Fatwa c) Qurane-Hafeez degree should be banned as the prophet didn’t instructed so. It is another grave wrong …
    – Won’t repeat the same argument. I think you carefully overlooking my differentiation between “memorizing without understanding” and “memorizing knowing the meaning”.

    >> In mentioned verse Allah has instructed the people to leave their all business when there comes the call of Juma Salah.
    – If it’s not about making it obligatory holiday, then why do you need to follow what the Christian do? I went to a Turkish mosque the other day, where the Imam came from his business to open the Mosque… after the Salah… he went back to his business locking the door. While you could see every Sunnah on his outer look (beards, gap at the bottom of the pant), He doesn’t were long jobba (which was suitable for deserted lands and nothing to do with Islam).

    >> On multiple marriage, you said “Bravo, while Allah permits, you prohibit. A great sense of audacity! BTW, Allah in Quran permits maximum 4 wives at a time provided the individuals has to treat his all wives equally.”
    I believe you are referring to Surah Al-Nisa’. Now let’s read the two verses of Surah Al-Nisa’ once again:

    [004.003] If ye fear that ye shall not be able to deal justly with the orphans, Marry women of your choice, Two or three or four; but if ye fear that ye shall not be able to deal justly (with them), then only one…

    [004.129] Ye are never able to be fair and just as between women, even if it is your ardent desire.

    First, think of the “IF” at the beginning before marrying four. You have a pre-condition to fulfill. But, what does the second verse mean to you? It says You are NEVER able to be fair and just between women… so, now read the first one again that says “if ye fear that ye shall not be able to deal justly (with them), then only ONE…”

    So, those who are keeping more than one wives simultaneously, seems to have more belief in their own ability, than the Quran agrees!

    >> And it’s not wise to censor anything with the excuse of personal attack as it’s mostly a grey area.
    – So you want to continue personal attack? Well, it depends on one’s personal integrity and taste… so I won’t comment on that.

  42. DhakaShohor said, on December 17, 2007 at 5:50 pm

    I don’t mind India as the “Other”. As long as it is not used to make Pakistan the “Self” which is the Jamaat position. As I’ve articulated before, I don’t mind making the entire world our “Other”. As long as BANGLADESHI Hindus, Buddhists, Christians, atheists, minority Muslim sects and Sunni Muslims – regardless of class, creed, colour and race – have full rights and liberties. I don’t see why a nationalism that excludes non-citizens and one that respects the rights of all citizens is mutually exclusive.

    In any case, back to real life, no one is articulating that sort of a nationalism. Intolerance is all we’ve got on one side or some nebulous notions of global brotherhood and the end of the state on the other.

  43. Syeed said, on December 17, 2007 at 6:27 pm

    DhakaShohor #30,
    I think recognizing the problem is the first solution of any problem. I am not sure we have recognized the madrasa problem. Instead of arguing the conceptual part of it, one need to ask a practical question: What should we do with these thousands of unemployed students and how should we stop further proliferation?
    Now they are begging door to door for donation, tomorrow they will rob you, and I am not exaggerating!

    I went to my village last year. A group of mollahs came with “kaastes” (blades) in their hands and demanded some “bamboos” from our garden to make a big shade for the upcoming waaz. When we told them that they cannot take it… you won’t believe how madly they reacted!
    We gave them an alternative… we told them that you can borrow the bamboos whenever you need, but must return afterwards.
    They did not agree. You know why? Because its an earning for them. They collect hundreds of bamboos to create a shade for handful of people, and afterwards they sell those bamboos to earn money! So much for the Islamic honesty!

    I believe my discussion with Bitterboy went beyond the topic of this post.
    While I see my fellow bloggers sometimes ignore such bloggers, I thought its worth engaging in a debate to understand their logics.

    Anyway, I rest my case on this topic now. I think I made my point. One can go on just for arguments’ sake… but eventually and hopefully will rethink!

  44. jrahman said, on December 17, 2007 at 8:46 pm

    Syeed, I very much enjoyed your discussion with Bitterboy. One reason why our secular intellectuals don’t cut through the majority of people is because they lack the language that is spoken by the majority. Dhaka Shohor has discussed this in his blog in the past.

    Dhaka, you’re right, no one is talking about a citizenship concept of Bangladeshi. Since we’re not going to get a voluntary commune based society anytime soon, we are stuck with states. This blog is for a citizenship concept of Bangladeshi. It’s for a Bangladesh where all her citizens will enjoy their political, economic and socio-cultural rights so that they can live their lives according to their values.

    Tanoy, I hope the above clears any confusion about my stance. It’s important to have these discussions. Have you noticed how Ali Ahsan Mujahid said the other day his party will defend Bangladesh’s every last inch? If we don’t clarify why we sing Amar Shonar Bangla, tomorrow someone like Mujahid will say his Shonar Bangla is an Islamic Republic.

  45. bitterboy said, on December 18, 2007 at 2:10 pm

    Dear JR,

    When I abriviated your name it became JR as you know it stands for, Junior. And when I got it I started to enjoy writing your two-letters acronym. Because, I believe, I maynot excel you in any skills but by age and experience I can be above you, senior.

    You said I have to abide by your judgement if I want to share my views in your blog. Well, that’s true and I have to. Yet, the thing I can very humbly remind you that a judge can mistake, but can’t afford to be biased.

    Or if you’re speaker in a unbalanced parliament with overwhelming majoriy in the treasury bench and only fingured-number opposition members and if you get distracted by the hushing roars of the majority treasury-asile and prone to appease the majority you
    can’t be neutral and dignified speaker of parliament.

    Moreover, to be tolerant to others’ views is the vital to democratic exercise, growth and sustainability. Again my view is that for free dicussion nothing should be censored unless the content has vulgar or offesive words or some obvious disrespecting comments or attack unrelated to the topic and out of reference.


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