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FIVE BEFORE DAWN

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Haji Shariatullah (d.1840), founder of the Faraizi movement, was a disciple of Tahir Somail, a Hanafi jurist and a Qadiriya Sufi at Mecca. Although leading Faraizis were Qadiriya Sufis, Haji replaced the relationship of Pir-murid by that of Ustad-sagred. According to many people, the Qadiriyas are the innovators of the principle "follow only what the master says" in Sufism. Are we seeing a contradiction here? No. So much ignorance and fraud was being perpetuated through the decadent Pir-murid system prevalent in the Bengal of early 19th century that Haji could not but remove it first. One recalls Sheikh Ibn Taymiyya. He was a Qadiriya Sufi who transmitted Sufi cloak and wrote commentary on Sufi works but he is often considered an anti-Sufi. The system only works if the Pir is a true Pir. Charlatans always took advantage of the system and parrots talked without understanding. They gained the upper hand when society became corrupt, lacked the spirit of sustained work and became a defenseless victim of an alien schooling system. Anyway the title Pir came back later. click here if image is missing

Influence of the Faraizis in Bangladesh was very deep. Bengali politician, theorist and satirist Abul Mansur Ahmad, whose ideas influenced many people during the 1950s and can be found in his book, "Amar Dekha Rajnitir Panchash Bachhor", was from a Faraizi family. Paternal grandmother of Humayun Kabir, a well-known politician and educationist, was a daughter of Ustad Dudu Mian, the second Faraizi leader. The movement also affected non-Muslim societies. The effort to organize the Chandals-a disadvantaged tribe according to Hindu caste considerations-as Namasudra was launched by the Christian missionaries in urgency near the Faraizi infested areas. It was declared that the Aryan characteristics are more prominent in Chandals than Bengali Brahmans.

Ustad Mohsin al-Din Ahmad Dudu Mian (d.1862) was the son of Haji Shariatullah. In 1830, his father sent him to meet Titumir. Later he was sent to Mecca at the age of 12. Under his leadership Faraizi movement developed into a widespread socio-political movement. Dudu Mia spent much of his short adult life suffering legal harassments or in jail. At last he was released to die.

Sufi Nur Muhammad Nizampuri (d.1858) of Noakhali was a Nakhsbandiya follower of Sayyid Ahmad Brelavi, founder of the Muhammadiya tariqah. click here if image is missing Some of the influential Nakhsbandiya khaneqahs of modern Bangladesh were founded by his followers and their followers. He took a group of Bengali mujahids-50 from Barisal-to Sitaloi Sind. Along with Brelavi many Bengali became martyred in the battle of Balakot in 1831. Brelavi's Chistiya Sufi chain passes through medieval Bengali Sheikhs Nur Qutb-ul-Alam and Hushamuddin Manikpuri to Sayyid Zayez Hamid Shah. See Titumir's Sufi Chain. [BACK to Dadapir of Furfura]

Brelavi had also contact with almost all prominent Maulanas in Bengal including Haji Shariatullah, Keramat Ali (from Bihar, buried in Rangpur), Abdul Bari Khan (Maulana Akram Khan's father, possibly a descendant of Kamdev Thakur) and Khairuddin (from Hindustan, Maulana Abul Kalam Azad's father). In a meeting with Brelavi about 1822, Titumir, Shariatullah and Keramat Ali stressed that the situation in Bangladesh is different from that in India. Titumir was concerned with the persecution of the peasants by the indigo-planters, and he also argued that Hindus belonging to low caste should be welcome in his movement. Shariatullah's movement was also a peasant movement. But Keramat Ali represented the late immigrants or the richer section and the corrupt elite who were Muslims having no vision or mission other than living like parasites.

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Keramat Ali came to Bengal in 1837. After his death in 1873 his tariqah was led by his son Hafiz Ahmad and nephew Muhammad Mohsin. Hafiz Ahmad is buried at Chaukbazar Mosque at Dhaka. Abu Jafar Shamsuddin, who claimed a Brahman ancestry, wrote that his grandfather and father were respectively khalifas of Keramat Ali and Hafiz Ahmad in Abu Jafar's village in Kaliganj, Dhaka. He says that his father once criticized Maulana Abdul Awwal, another son of Keramat Ali, for taking money in advance when invited to preach. Keramat Ali brought Qari Abdur Rahman Jaunpuri when Madrasa Islamiya was founded at the Mosque at Rahmatganj, Dhaka. After Hafiz Ahmad a grandson of Keramat Ali by the name Faqir Maulana Abdul Baten became leader. He is buried in Gaabtali, Dhaka. He had many disciples scattered in different parts of Bangladesh and Assam. Value of these "Urdu Maulanas" increased in Bengal because the Hindu land-holders wiped out the old Islamic organizations.

Maulana Imamuddin Bangali followed the Muhammadyia tariqah. Imamuddin was born in Hajipur, Noakhali but he was educated in Delhi under Shah Abdul Aziz, son of Shah Waliullah. When Sayyid Ahmad Brelavi came to Calcutta Imamuddin brought a large number of people from his village to be initiated into Brelavi's tariqah. Imamuddin went to Arabia with Brelavi and later took part in the Jihad in Pakton country. While he was accompanying Brelavi to Jiddah their ship stayed for a month in Mocha because the captain was from Mocha. Imamuddin Bangali was arrested there because he took bath wearing cloths while the local custom was to take bath naked in public ponds and tanks. Later the Qazi of Mocha gave the group permission to take bath in public wearing cloths (p90, "Saiyid Ahmad Shahid" by Mohiuddin Ahmad, 1975). Though from this story one may be tempted to take Mocha to be Massaua on the Eritrean coast, this Mocha appears to be Al-Mukha north of Bab el-Mandeb Strait in Yemen. This was the condition of Mocha about 18th century. Parts of Yemen itself were under occupations of Portuguese and English at various times.

After the disaster at Balakot Maulana Imamuddin Bangali came back to his home in Noakhali and continued reforming activities there. One important khalifa of Imamuddin was Maulana Akram ad-Din Miyaji, grandfather of Hafezzi Hujur. Hafezzi Hujur's performance in the 1978 presidential election showed how insignificant the followers of some of the highly vocal politicians of Bangladesh were numerically. The movement lost political clout when during the Iran-Iraq war Arab money serving kafir interests started circulating among idiot mollahs and greedy pirs of Bangladesh. When a section attended a Islamic Conference in Iran, those interested in sectarian division bolted out with the simple-minded followers.

Hafezzi Hujur was also a student and khalifa of Maulana Mahmud Hasan. During the anti-colonial movement, which became Pakistan Movement, several Hindustani Maulanas influenced their Bengali students profoundly. Maulana Mahmud Hasan known as Sheikhul Hind was most famous of them. His father was a government inspector of madrasas. Mahmud Hasan started his collision course with the government when the pro-British mollahs of Deoband fearing Christian tortures declared the famous Sikh convert Maulana Ubaidullah Sindhi an infidel for his political views and Mahmud Hasan supported Ubaidullah. Later Mahmud Hasan refused to sign a fatwa condemning Turkey for its participation in World War I against Britain. After that Maulana Ubaidullah Sindhi went to Kabul and Sheikhul Hind went to Mecca to seek help for the anti-colonial movement. click here if image is missing The Sharif of Mecca handed the Sheikh over to his British master in 1916 and the Reshmi Rumal Conspiracy was discovered. The English jailed the Sheikh in Malta. Early 1916 a Provisional Government of India was set up in Kabul with Raja Mahendra Pratap as President, Barakatullah of Bhopal as Prime Minister, both belonging to the Indian National Party of Berlin, and Ubaidullah Sindhi as Minister for India. Mahmud Hasan was allowed to return to India in 1920. He then joined Gandhi in the NCO-Khilafat Movement. However like many released Muslims he died soon. About the Provisional Government of India set up in Kabul in 1916 see "Pan-Islam and the Making of the Early Indian Muslim Socialists" by K. H. Ansari in Modern Asian Studies, 20, 3 (1986) pp.509-537.

Some Bengali Muslims were with thousands of Indian Muslims who started to immigrate to Afghanistan in 1920. Maniruzzaman Islamabadi supported this immigration. In Kanchagari massacre unknown number of Muhajirs to Afghanistan were killed by the British-Indian military. This made Rebel Poet Nazrul to write the article "Muhajireen Hatyar Janya Dayee Ke" in the Nabajug. Colonial British government replied by forfeiting the bond of the paper (August-September) on some pretext. It is possible that there were some Bengali Mujahids among the small group of so-called Indian Wahabi fighters who were continuing their arms struggle till at least 1915 in Afghanistan's border with British-India.

It was possibly not an as idiotic fight as we see when stupid fanatics harmed their own cause by doing something as if they were being manipulated by their enemy through agents hidden among the top leaders. Still the reported dictum of the Messenger of God صلی ا لله علیه وسلم that "war is nothing but diplomacy" as well as the outreach by which he collected people with various expertise through physical efforts and prayers was not clearly followed. Nor they took notices and advantages of what was pointed out in the Noble Koran that their enemies are fighting among themselves. Thus being blind and fixed in the inherited faulty interpretations of traditional beliefs they did not see the ample opportunities offered by geo-political circumstances, while few that were intelligent got trapped in the lack of preparedness necessary to meet an urgent challenge.

How the corrupt and ease-loving elite destroyed the education system can be seen from Aurangzeb's failure to convince his chief minister that a navy can be built in the Portuguse style. Soon the Marathas built a stronger and more modernized navy than what Aurangzeb could build with imperial resources.

Bengali Mujahids and Muhajirs who went to Afghanistan were betrayed by the Amirs of Afghanistan and Turkmenistan. Some ended up in Tashkent. Finally Marxist M. N. Roy, who possibly had some connection with the Anglican church and the Labour Party, came into disagreement with Islamist Abdur Rab Peshawari and the Muslims became disappointed. The first group of Bengali Muslim leftist revolutionaries were recruited from these refugees. They and those who got inspiration directly from them were different from later leftists born out of direct Christian missionary influence and schooling. These later group, it appears, served missionary interest posing as Communists and experts of Russia-China affair, thus foiling Muslim efforts to develop a balanced foreign policy during the Cold War. In the name of radicalizing the society they made the society rude, brutish and violent. By toying with the established social norms and etiquette and introducing alien innovations they confused the mode by which people used to express their appreciation of each other and thus came together to form a happy and harmonious society. Some Christian missionaries, confident on the dependence of Soviet and Chinese understanding of Islam on Christian missionary scholarship, even declared that the final blow to Islam would come from Communism and were gleefully awaiting it. However the unexpected Iranian Revolution started, and the restless Christians used the Afghan Mujahids and Arab oil production to give the final blow to the Communism instead.

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In Bangladesh Christian missionaries became restless at the growth of Pakistan Movement and against Wavell and Churchill who did not listen to them. Pakistan Movement with its original meaning was more popular in Bangladesh and among Paktons than in Punjab and Sindh. Finally with the help of the Christian missionaries the Labour Party defeated Churchill. They had Wavell dismissed and replaced by Mountbatten. When the Leader of the Opposition questioned Attlee insistently on the reasons for the termination of Wavell's viceroyalty (Feb 21, 1947) he "refused to give way in the face of persistent questioning by Mr. Churchill (Attlee to Lascelles)." The Archbishop of Canterbury gave a speech in the House of Lords supporting Attlee's policy on British India and opposing a motion by the Conservatives which was then withdrawn (26 Feb, 1947 or before). Turnbull while commenting on a question by Prime Minister Attlee about some rule that would prevent Wavell making any public statement on his dismissal from viceroyalty compared it with Curzon's resignation (Minutes by Turnbull and Sir D. Monteath dated 21 Feb, 1947, p782 vol.9, "The Transfer of Power," ed. by Nicholas Mansergh and et. al.).

One can also suspect that Christian missionaries were behind the peasant and labor movements that were led by Communists and that popped up urgently in various parts of Bangladesh in the middle of the Pakistan Movement. Had these movements were there ten or twenty years earlier, Pakistan Movement could not get chance to grow that much in Bangladesh during 1940's. When during the First Governors Conference (16 April, 1947), Tyson mentioned the suggestion of the Governor of Bengal that the Central Government declare the Communists illegal, Mountbatten disagreed. Mountbatten said that Russia is not providing funds for their activities (P276, vol.10, Transfer of Power). Only the idiot followers of the corrupt Pakistani elite who formed the other fang of the two-prong pliers technique for keeping the Muslims under subjugation did not see the source of fund.

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One of the young Bengali Muslim leftist revolutionaries was poet Benazir Ahmad. He was arrested by the colonial police 20 or 22 times. Yet he was a charming person who had tremendous feelings for his friends. In 1925 he formed the secret Azad Party with Fazlul Haq Shelbarshi. Shelbarshi, who did not have a family, spent his old days in Benazir Ahmad's home. Another friend Farrukh Ahmad is buried in the yard of Benzair Ahmad's house. Farrukh, though an well-known modern Bengali poet and a much-loved person, died in poverty for his feelings for Islam during the government of Sheikh Mujibur Rahman. On his death Poet Al Mahmud composed the poem The Black Jackal in the Tomb of Farrukh.

Farrukh Ahmad was a disciple of Sufi Professor Abdul Khaleq who was a disciple of the Pir of Furfura. Rebel Poet Nazrul Islam also frequented Abdul Khaleq before Nazrul became silent. It is an irony that the "Islam Darshan (1920-1926)," the mouthpiece of the Anjumane Wa?ezeene Bangala founded by the Pir of the Furfura Shareef, was the most vigorous anti-Nazrul magazine published by a Bengali Muslim group. Ostensibly it was because of the pseudo-paganism in Nazrul's poems. In reality the situation must be a complex one as the Pir of the Furfura maintained contact with the colonial government whereas Rebel Poet Nazrul composed revolutionary poems and songs. click here if image is missing

In 1943 Benazir Ahmed, who recently left the party of M.N. Roy, became a supporter of Abul Hashim's Islamic Socialist Movement. At that time Abul Hashim was an important leader of the Bengal Muslim League and became its General Secretary in November. Also Suhrawardy became the minister in charge of civil supply. Suddenly after the devastating famine political conditions became less hostile to Bengali Muslims, and opportunities became available to young men. In 1943 Benazir Ahmad joined grain and molasses business with a Marwari. He used to visit Arakan for rice. During the war local officers of the British Indian government used Benazir Ahmad to organize the Rohinga Mujahiduns to create an independent country to combat the Japanese. About the same time Maulana Maniruzzaman Islamabadi organized a network of INA supporters from Akyab in Myanmar to Calcutta with Japanese help although he was at that time about 70 years old. Maulana Maniruzzaman Islamabadi went to Myanmar in disguise to meet Subash Bose.

Maulana Azizul Haq, a scholar of Hadith, translated the compilation of Hadiths by Al-Bukhari and Maulana Rumi's Masnavi with Thanvi's commentary in Bengali. He suffered persecution at the hand of foreign aid dependent corrupt elite of Bangladesh. He was a disciple of Maulana Shamsul Haq Faridpuri and Hafezzi Hujur and also came in touch with Maulana Shabbir Ahmad Usmani of U.P.. Usmani was another disciple of Sheikhul Hind. In 1991 Maulana Azizul Haq led a political party of theologians by the name Islami Oikyajot.

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Shah Sufi Abu Bakr Siddiqi, known as Dadapir of Furfura, was a disciple Sufi Fateh Ali who was a disciple of Nizampuri. He was the founder of the Jamat-e-Ulema of the Islamic scholars of Bengal and Assam. Dr. Muhammad Shahidullah was one of his khalifa. Another disciple, Pratap Chandra Sen, gave up the position of a deputy collector in the British-Bengal government and became a teacher in a primary school. Sufi Fateh Ali's father Maulana Warish Ali Bangali took part in Brelavi's jihad in Pakistan in 1829 and was missing. [BACK to Farrukh Ahmad]

Five Modern Islamic Thinkers

While revolutionaries perished in colonial persecution moderate such as Keramat Ali did not achieve much. After the calamities following 1757 there was a vacuum in the Islamic education in Bengal. The need and prestige for Urdu and Hindustani preachers, and students studying in Hindustani madrasas increased. People of the following category were founding fathers of modern Bangladeshi society though they failed to transmit their religious vision and mission to any young man.

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Maulana Ubaiudullah al Obaidi us-Suhrawardy (1834-1885) founded the Dhaka Aliya Madrasa in 1874 (December 16). He was its lifelong superintendant. It was founded with a grant from Mohsin fund obtained with the help of Nawab Abdul Latif and was possibly called Mohsenia Madrasa at that time. He motivated a group of his Bengali students to work for the spread of Education in Bengal. Ubaidullah was the maternal grandfather and brother of the paternal grandfather of Bengali politician Huseyn Shaheed Suhrawardy. Ubaidullah's father Maulana Aminuddin Suhrawardy (d.1848), a Pir, lived in Mednipur and is buried in Hughli. Aminuddin's father Shah Ruknuddin was a descendant of a Sufi whose story resembles that of Khondkar Shah Ala of Pingla (Mednipur). Adi Brahma samaj published an English translation of the Tohfat of Raja Rammohun Rai by Obaidullah el Obaide in 1884.

Ubaiudullah's eldest daughter Khujesta Akhtar Banu was Huseyn Shaheed Suhrawardy's mother. Ubaidullah's second daughter was the mother of the wife of Abul Hashim. Ubaidullah's son Sir Abdullah al Mamun (1882-1935) published "The Sayings of Muhammad." According to the preface by Sir Hassan Suhrawardy he was the first to obtain the Ph.D. degree of the Calcutta University and he was the founder and the first secretary of the Pan-Islamic Society of London.

Maniruzzaman Islamabadi became the founding principal of a madrasa in Rangpur in 1895 after turning down a teaching position from the government controlled Hughli Madrasa from which he graduated in 1893. During this time he traveled in various parts of North Bengal and Assam as a follower of Keramat Ali. However being a revolutionary at heart he got involved in anti-colonial movement. After documents and arms of INA were discovered at Sitakunda Islamabadi was arrested in 1944 along with his associates. Islamabadi was first sent to Calcutta then to Lahore Central Jail where he spent 10 months. These people underwent all possible physical tortures. Islamabadi's health did not recover after these tortures. [BACK to Benazir Ahmad]

Maulana Bhasani was a friend and disciple of Allama Azad Subhani of Kanpore. Hindustani Ulema were divided on the Pakistan issue. Azad Subhani supported the creation of Pakistan. In 1945 (October 20-29) he presided over the conference in Kolkata Muhammad Ali Park when the Alims supporting Pakistan broke away from Jamiyat-e Ulema-e Hind and formed Jamiyat-e Ulema-e Islam. Following a suggestion of Maulana Azad Subhani Bhasani gave up wearing a paijama and replaced it with a lungi, a casual dress which became the principal dress for the most people of Bangladesh after it, once the richest country in the world, sank into abysmal poverty during the colonial exploitation. In 1935 Bhasani met seventeen Alims who were also politicians from different parts of the subcontinent at Amruha. They included Maulana Ubaidullah Sindhi, Hasrat Mohani and Maniruzzaman Islamabadi. Bhasani says in his "Rabubiater Bhumika" written in 1974 (April):

Allama said, "Then promise today that whatever strategy you take in the political life you will continue to struggle with the principal aim of establishing the Rule of the Lord. ..." I said, "Yes I promise, whatever I do in politics I shall not deviate my aim from the Rule of the Lord." Bhasani remembered the decision of the seventeen Alims when in 1946 in Dhubri Allama Azad Subhani asked him to promise again in the name of the Kaba. click here if image is missing

Abul Hashim (1905-1974) and Abul Dewan Muhammad Azraf (1908-1999) were also influenced by Allama Azad Subhani's idea of Rabbaniat. Abul Hashim came to East Bengal after the Hindu rioters burned his house in Burdwan in 1950. On February 20, 1952 Abul Hashim presided the meeting of the All Party Committee of Action formed for making Bengali a State Language of Pakistan. In this meeting it was decided that the order under section 144 prohibiting demonstration should not be violated the next day. Student did not abide by the decision. After people were killed by police and whole Bangladesh became agitated Abul Hashim along with few other Bengali politicians and many student activists were arrested. This was an example how gangs with agendas can create and take control of popular movements to advance their hidden agendas derailing the proper spirit. At present that spirit is sandwiched between what they call Bhalobasa Dibas (Love Day, February 14) and what a Faqir called Drain Diyaa Jaamaayer Laash Baair Karaar Dibas (February 26). Abul Hashim was arrested on 25th February, 1952 and was kept in various jails without trial till June, 1953. In 1954 Abul Hashim formed Khilafat-e-Rabbani Party. He was its president till 1956.

In 1958 Dewan Azraf and couple of others collaborated to found the Darul Ulum Islamic Academy which started in 1958/1959. During this time pro-American Pakistani government was forced to use Islamic elements to combat communism. On the other hand frustration with the west about India also led to vigorous discussions on improving relation with China which was initiated by Suhrawardy using the Islamic socialists. 1961 Government of Pakistan took control of Darul Ulum Islamic Academy and appointed Abul Hashim as its president. The name of the organization is changed to Islamic Academy, Dhaka. Now it is called Islamic Foundation of Bangladesh.

Dewan Azraf wrote a book on Hazrat Abu Dharr Gifari (RA) and was the principal of the Abu Jarr Gifari College Dhaka. Because of Abu Dharr's outspoken criticism of accumulation wealth under private ownership Islamic socialists are usually fond of this Companion of the Messenger of God صلی ا لله علیه وسلم.

Shias considered Hazrat Abu Dharr Gifari as a Shia because of his criticism of Muawiya, father of cursed Yazid and at that time the governor of Syria. The removal by the third Caliph Hazrat Usman (RA,d.656CE) of laws initiated by the second Caliph Hazrat Umar (RA) restricting personal consumption, and the growth of disparity in lifestyle resulting from it annoyed some Companions belonging to the Fuqara (the Poor). But it was Muawiya's activities in Syria which Abu Dharr found most dangerous. Muawiya first tried to corrupt him with money and then sent him to the Caliph. A debate was arranged between Abu Dharr and Kaab al-Ahbar (died in or before 655CE).

Kaab al-Ahbar contributed in the pious narratives (Athar) of the Followers (Tabiun) and was at that time Hazrat Usman's advisor. Before embracing Islam during Hazrat Umar's time he was a Jewish Rabbi from Yemen. While in the debate regarding the limits of accumulation and display of personal wealth he said something from Jewish scriptures, Hazrat Abu Dharr could not hold his anger.

Under pressure from the corrupt elements that gathered around Hazrat Usman because their worldly talent and skill were being used in the rapid development of the state, Hazrat Abu Dharr was then exiled in the desert where he died soon. His prediction of the dire consequence of the change of lifestyle soon came true. Kaab al-Ahbar died before the murder of Hazrat Usman. However because of the incident the corrupt Umayyad thought him as their supporter and forged stories about him. As a reaction Shias accused him of lying.

Dewan Azraf was connected with the Bengali Language Movement and suffered for it. In 1948 he was the editor of Nao Belal published from Sylhet and in 1949 he was elected president of the Tamaddun Majlis. Tamaddun Majlis was founded by Abul Kasem. Worrying about the Pakistani policy towards Bangladesh Abul Kasem decided to demand Bengali as a National Language of Pakistan from September, 1947 (p219, Bhasha Andolon Prasanga: Katipay Dalil, Vol 2, by Badruddin Umar,1985). Earlier like Muhammad Asad and Jinnah Abul Kasem also felt the need of clearly formulating the Islamic principles that could be readily referenced as a guide for Pakistan. Now he devoted his time in popularizing the demand for declaring Bengali as a National Language of Pakistan. Ordinary people who were indifferent to the "Jabaaner Laraai", could no longer hold their feelings of being like foreigners in their own country after the killings of February, 1952.

Abul Kasem has been criticized for his efforts to keep the Language Movement free from meddling by potential Indian agents and Communists.

We had our first exposure to modern science and philosophy through the Bengali books written by Abul Kasem. If the spirit of the terminology he advocated was understood and was allowed to flourish science would have become part of the culture of Bangladesh by now. We take a much stronger view in this respect. We are for adopting more Deshi and Prakrit words and rejuvenating words found in local dialects. If a Bangladeshi student learns of an acid through Bengali tak and an alkali through Bengali titaa, he can immediately starts to classify the household chemicals. Acid as amla and alkali as khaar only burden him with another pair of "foreign" words, and made alchemy and properties of matter foreign sciences.

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