From "Meybela -- My Bengali Girlhood: A Memoir of Growing Up Female in a Muslim World," (Steerforth Press, 2002) by Taslima Nasrin.

In the matter of Allah and the Prophet, logic and reason had no meaning whatsoever for Ma. . . . If I simply went along with whatever she said, making appropriate noises, she was happy. Since I was her child it was my duty to make her happy, or at least, that was what I had been brought up to believe. . . . Those who did not follow the Koran and the hadith [the sayings and teachings of the prophet Muhammad] were not Muslims; Ma was very clear about that. They would burn in hell: No one would be spared. It was as simple as that. The basic rules were all very simple: The fire in hell would roast you alive if you did not do your namaz or observe roja; if you went out without draping on a burkha; if you talked to a man who was not your relative; if you laughed too loudly or cried noisily. No matter what you did, there could be no escape from that fire. Fire, fire, and fire. I wanted to ask Ma why everyone was so afraid of fire, especially in this day and age. Why, in cold countries people lit fires in all their rooms! And what about the circus? So many of their exciting shows involved playing with fire. Minor burns were easily treatable nowadays. Why did Allah have to terrorize everyone with the threat of fire? There were so many other ways of hurting people. Surprisingly, Allah did not seem interested in any of them. Wicked people enjoy causing physical pain. However, those with real cunning enjoy causing mental anguish. A battered mind is so much harder to bear than a battered body. But Allah, it seemed to me, was more wicked than cunning. No different from Getu's father. Or, at times, very much like Baba [her father], who did not hesitate to thrash me black and blue if I did not obey his every command. The difference between him and Allah was simply that he wanted to give me an education in this mundane world, so that I could be successful in life, and Allah wanted me to study the Koran and hadith.

To me Baba was as distant as Allah. I felt a lot happier when he was not around, and any mention of Allah -- formless and shapeless as He was, poor thing -- also caused me much discomfort. The truth was that I wanted both of them to stay away from me. They pushed me in two different directions, so much so that I ceased to have an existence of my own. All that remained was a corpse, divided in two, lying in a morgue. If Baba was pleased with me he brought me large boxes of sweets, telling me to help myself to the best pieces of fish at dinner. Allah, I heard, behaved in a similar fashion. If He was pleased with anyone, the best food was provided in abundance -- the flesh of exotic birds, grapes, wine, and many other things. Beautiful pink women, their skin glowing, poured wine into men's glasses. Grandpa, having returned from hajj, was convinced that he would go straight to heaven. . . .

There was a nest of termites in the hadith. Our house was damp. Termites often attacked our books if they were not regularly aired and their pages turned. The sight of a fat termite made me cross. As I was sitting on the floor, I placed a black shoe within reach. I pressed the shoe on the hadith and smashed some termites. One of my eyes remained fixed on the dead termites, the other read the half-eaten words in the holy book. . . .

Some insects left the book and began crawling toward me. Were they going to eat me as well? . . . The termites devoured our books in absolute silence. They even ate the words of the great Prophet Muhammad. Were these termites Muslims? No, they couldn't possibly have a specified religion. They seemed to enjoy the complete works of Saradindu Bandopadhyay, a Hindu writer, as much as the holy Koran.

. . . . Many times I was warned that if I did not follow the precepts laid down in the Koran and the hadith there would be hell to pay on the day of judgment. However, until now, I had no idea what hadith meant. Now that I knew, I did not wish to delve any deeper. I knew that it was useless to search for pearls or diamonds in a pot of shit.