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The Islamic principles began early to mould my life. The influence at home, in maktab and that of the good Maulvis so carefully selected by my mother, made me religiously inclined from my early childhood. My parents noticing my religious tendency, planned to make me a Hafiz and Maulvi. I started early to observe the necessary religious practices, such as prayers and fasting and other Islamic devotions. I was hardly ten years' old when I had finished the whole of the Quran, and under an Arab Hafiz I had begun to memorize it. Under the guidance of a Maulvi I started also studying Arabic and Persian, as well as taking a course of studies in Islamics. Thus provided with the necessary knowledge of Islamic laws. I turned out to be a strict observer of Muslim practices. I could hardly tolerate the Muslims who did not observe the prayers and fastings, or who were not good Muslims, and my indignation against non-Muslims knew no bounds. Indeed I was growing into a fanatic. The knowledge of the early conquests of Islam which I had gained through my readings, inspired me with such a zeal that I would delight in dreaming of another Jehad, a holy war, and drawing the sword against all unbelievers, and thus acquiring the much coveted title of a Ghazi, a champion of Islam, and then finally dying the death of a Shahid, a martyr, in some glorious fight for Islam.


The guiding principle, or the motive behind my religious zeal and the tenacity with which I followed the practice of Islam lay in my blind faith in the truth of Islam. It was my conviction that every other religion was an invention of the devil, and that all non-Muslims as followers of false religions had no right to exist, for their very existence was pollution of God's fair earth, for did not the Quran say, that polytheism is a form of pollution? To me, in fact, there was no greater pollution than that of polytheism and idolatry, and the Hindus as idolators, and Christians as polytheists, were the worst of God's creatures, and hence to kill them because of their infidelity was a deed of merit deserving a reward in the world to come. Such were the ideas that I would expound to my fellow Muslims, many of them much older than I was. One instance of my fanaticism will suffice. My teacher, a Maulvi, who taught me Arabic and Persian, was himself a student in the Arabic department of Calcutta Madrasah, and he lived in the neighbouring Mosque. Desiring to learn English he had purchased some books and had brought them within the precinct of the Mosque. His study of the language of the infidels within the sacred boundary of the house of worship so exasperated me that I tore them to pieces. Other Muslims approved my action and the Maulvi had to change his residence and live in a room outside the Mosque.

It has already been stated that my parents had intended my education to be entirely on religious lines, but my excessive zeal and growing fanaticism in matters of religion, which were not approved by them and especially by my elder brother, obliged them to


modify their plans for my studies. They decided that I should be educated on modern lines and must give up the memorizing of the Quran. Thus in 1910 I was sent first to Woodburne School and later to Calcutta Madrasah to study English. The subsequent change in my life was not, however the result of my English studies. The aspiration for a higher knowledge of God was rooted in something deeper than, and totally different from, any outward circumstances in life. It was, in fact, God's search for His lost child which found a response in the depth of my soul and took the form of a quest for something unknown.

Table of contents to How a Sufi Found His Lord

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