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Check this out guys, really interesting..!

Sikh-Sufi Relations: Interview with Makhdum Syed Chan Shah Pir Qadri [ old news ]

Interview of Makhdum Syed Chan Shah Pir Qadri

by Yoginder Sikand in Qalandar: Islam and Interfaith Relations in South Asia- February 2003

Memories of the carnage of 1947 are still deeply etched in the minds of many Muslims and Sikhs, moulding the ways in which they view each other. As a result of this, as well as of a selective and highly skewed understanding of the history of the relations between the Sikh Gurus and the Mughal Emperors, many Sikhs view the Muslims as inveterate 'enemies', and vice versa. In the process, the more positive side of the complex history of Sikh-Muslim relations has been almost totally forgotten. How many people, for instance, recall that Guru Nanak's most trusted and closest disciple and companion, Mardana, was a Muslim and remained a Muslim till he died? That Nanak himself is said to have traveled to Mecca on the Haj? That the foundation stone of the Harminder Sahib at Amritsar, the Golden Temple of the Sikhs, was laid by none other than a Muslim Sufi, Hazrat Miyan Mir? And so on….

In this interview, Makhdum Syed Chan Shah Pir Qadri, the custodian (sajjada nashin) of the shrine (dargah) of Hazrat Miyan Mir in Lahore, talks to Yoginder Sikand on the little-known history of the close relationship between the Sikh Gurus and the Muslim Sufis....Excerpts:

Could you tell us something about Guru Nanak and his relations with the Muslim Sufis?

As I see it, Baba Nanak Sahib did not intend to establish a new religion of his own. One of his principal aims was to build bridges of love and harmony between people of different faiths and communities, exhorting them to serve the one God. Now, in Arabic, one who surrenders himself or herself to God and God's Will is called a 'Muslim', and this is why many Sufis consider Baba Nanak Sahib to have been a true Muslim. The Udasis or accounts of the travels of Baba Nanak Sahib tell us that he traveled to Mecca for the Haj. He is also said to have spent six long years in Baghdad, which was then a major centre for the Sufis. Here he studied with many leading Sufis of his day, and it is said that he was presented by the Sufis of the city with a turban as a token of respect and honor. In Baghdad , in the courtyard of the shrine of Hazrat Bahlol Danaai, a famous Sufi, there is a shrine which mentions that Baba Nanak Sahib stayed there. The shoes, the Muslim-style prayer mat [ja-namaz] and the blanket of Baba Nanak and the copy of the Holy Qur'an which he used to regularly read, are also preserved there.

Baba Nanak Sahib's chief disciple was Mardana, who remained a Muslim till he died, and he served Baba Nanak Sahib for sixty-four long years. Mardana's descendants still live in Lahore. They describe themselves as Sikh-Muslims.

Besides Mardana, did Guru Nanak have any other Muslim disciples?

Yes, he did, for the Muslims of his times saw him as an accomplished Sufi. Thus, when he finally passed away, his Hindu and Muslim disciples started quarreling among themselves as to whether his mortal remains should be burnt or buried. When they removed the cloth that covered his body, they discovered, much to their surprise, that his body had disappeared, and all that remained in its place was a handful of flowers. The Hindu and Muslim disciples then disposed of the flowers in their own way. This happened at a place called Kartarpur, which is now in Pakistan, not far from Lahore. The shrine complex in Kartarpur still remains a major centre of pilgrimage, and is presently administered by the Punjab Awqaf Board.. It has two sections, one containing a Hindu-style shrine, and the other a Muslim-style structure. Many local Muslims, and occasionally, pilgrims from India, still come to the shrine, to ask for Baba Nanak Sahib's blessings.

How did Hazrat Miyan Mir get chosen to lay the foundation stone of the Golden Temple?

Hazrat Miyan Mir was one of the most pious Muslim Sufis of his times, a leading Pir of the Qadri order that traces its origins to the Holy Prophet Muhammad [may peace be upon him] through Hazrat Abdul Qadri Jilani of Baghdad. Hazrat Miyan Mir came to Lahore from Sind when he was around twenty years old. This was the time of Guru Ram Das Maharaj, the fourth Sikh Guru. Now, the Sikh Gurus, like most Sufis, believed in the doctrine of wahdat-al wujud or the 'unity of all being', seeing the light of God in every particle of God's creation. Hence, Hazrat Miyan Mir would often go the Guru Ram Das Sahib's home in Lahore to listen to his spiritual discourses. It was there that Hazrat Miyan Mir befriended the Guru's son, Guru Arjan Dev Maharaj, who became the leader of the Sikhs after his father's death. At this time, the Sikhs were not a separate, well-established community. Rather, in line with the teachings of Baba Nanak Sahib, they were a loosely organized group of Hindus and Muslims united in the quest to travel on God's path.

Guru Ram Das Sahib had purchased a large plot of land in Amristar and built a tank there, and had forecast that a holy shrine would be established on the spot and that its foundation stone would be laid by what he described as the 'best person of the time'. After his demise, when Guru Arjan Dev-ji became the Guru, he decided to build the Harminder Sahib, what is popularly called the Golden Temple, the holiest shrine of the Sikhs, on the spot. In accordance with his father's wishes, he decided to request Hazrat Miyan Mir Sahib, whom he considered to be the most pious and God-fearing man of his times, to lay the foundation stone of the shrine.

Accordingly, Guru Arjan Dev Sahib sent a party of 101 of his followers, bearing a palanquin, to Lahore to bring Hazrat Miyan Mir to Amritsar to lay the foundation stone. In the meanwhile, the Hindu diwan or prime minister of the Mughal governor of Lahore, Chandu Mal, heard of the Guru Sahib's plans. Now, he, like many other Brahmins, was scared at the rapid expansion of the Sikh movement among the 'lower' castes, fearing that if the 'lower' castes were all to turn Sikh the stranglehold of the 'upper' castes would be threatened. You won't find this in the history books, because those who have written the history of the Punjab have deliberately concealed it. But this is what I have heard from my elders. In order to draw away the 'lower' castes, who were joining the Sikhs in droves, he established what he called the 'Ram Rahim' movement. As soon as he heard about the Guru's plans of inviting Hazrat Miyan Mir to Amritsar, he sent one of his deputies, a Brahmin who called himself as Ahmad Das, to Hazrat Miyan Mir, seeking to convince him not to lay the foundation stone of the Harminder Sahib. Instead of helping the Guru, he said, Miyan Mir should co-operate with Chandu Mal, for Chandu, too, he insisted, believed that 'Ram and Rahim are one'. But Hazrat Miyan Mir rebuked him, saying, 'The Ram you believe in was not God himself, but a mere mortal—the son of Dasrath, the father of Luv and Kush, while God has neither parents nor children'. And then he said, 'People can be united only on the basis of the love for the one formless God, and this task Arjan Dev is doing best and so I shall help him'.

It is said that Ahmad Das and his followers attacked the caravan in which then Hazrat Miyan Mir was traveling to Amritsar. Although they failed to kill Hazrat Miyan Mir, they injured several of his followers as well as some of the men whom Guru Arjan Dev Sahib had sent to accompany him from Lahore.

What happened in Lahore then when Hazrat Miyan Mir arrived?

After his arrival in Lahore, Hazrat Miyan Mir Sahib stayed with the Guru for two weeks, during which time he was given the honour of laying the foundation stone of the Harminder Sahib. The story goes that after Hazrat Miyan Mir placed the stone, the mason picked it up to place it in a straight line. When Guru Arjan Dev Sahib heard of this, he was very angry and said, 'How can you change what a true man of God, a true dervish, has decided? Because of what you have done, the foundation of this shrine will always be shaky'. And this is why the Golden Temple has been attacked so many times till now.

Shortly after, owing to Guru Arjan Dev's growing prestige, the diwan Chandu Mal instituted a series of false cases against him and had him arrested. He ordered him to be placed on a hot iron plate and had burning sand poured over his head, just outside the fort in Lahore in full view of the public. Hazrat Miyan Mir rushed to his rescue, saying, 'My friend, just give me one word and I shall cause the thrones of Delhi and Lahore to come crashing down'. But the Guru Sahib answered, 'This is the will of God, and I must give an example to the people, or else how will they know what true martyrdom is?'. On Hazrat Miyan Mir's intervention, however, the torture was stopped, but a few days later the Guru Sahib breathed his last. Then, when the Mughal Emperor Jahangir heard about what Chandu Mal had done to the Guru Sahib, he had him arrested, and arranged for him to be dragged by the neck through the streets of Lahore, after which he died.

What about Hazrat Miyan Mir's relations with the successor of Guru Arjan Dev?

Guru Arjan Dev Sahib was succeeded by his son, Guru Hargobind Sahib, who was then a young lad still in his teens. Soon after he was made the Guru, he came to Lahore to meet with Hazrat Miyan Mir, who, after all, had been one of the closest friends of his father. The story goes that as the young boy was dismounting from his horse, Hazrat Miyan Mir stopped him, saying that he should place his feet in his hands instead. And so, the Guru placed both his feet in Miyan Mir's outstretched hands. Hazrat Miyan Mir did this to stress that the true Sufi is one who is humble and has no trace of egoism left in him. Also, he wanted to publicly acknowledge the high spiritual status of the Guru Sahib and to show that only a true dervish can really respect another true man of God.

Later, when because of political enmity, the Mughal Emperor Jahangir had Guru Hargobind Sahib arrested in Gwalior, Hazrat Miyan Mir was instrumental in getting him released, after which the Guru sahib then went with him to Lahore and spent some time with him.

What role did Hazrat Miyan Mir play in the conflict between Guru Hargobind and the Mughal Emperor Aurangzeb?

Unfortunately, the story of Aurangzeb has been totally misinterpreted and in the history textbooks he is portrayed as an evil religious fanatic. Actually, he was nothing of the sort, and his policies were dictated essentially by political motives and interests, and not by religion. That is why many of his top military officers were Hindus. Likewise, it is wrong to say that the Sikh community was set up to defend the Hindus from the Muslims. If that were true, then how is it that the Sikh Gurus had such close relations with the Muslim Sufis? No, in actual fact, the conflict between the Gurus and the Mughals was purely political and had nothing to do with religion whatsoever. Moreover, the early Sikh Gurus had much closer links with the Muslim Sufis than they had with the orthodox Hindu Brahmins.

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Makes for a good story but most of it is fiction and some of the facts are purposefully muddled up. Such fantasy stories by so-called spiritual descendents are two to a penny nowadays.

1, Guru Nanak did not want to set up a separate religion.

Wow, how's that for totally negating the message of the Guru. I suppose the Guru must have had second thoughts because he made Guru Angad his successor! Nice try by our Sufi friend. Butter the Sikhs a bit by heaping praises on their Guru but subvert his message. If Guru Nanak didn't want to set up a new religion (ie did not have a ideology to preach) then aren't we Sikhs dishonouring the Guru by building Gurdwaras and preaching Sikhism?

2. Bhai Mardana was a Muslim and remained a Muslim all his life.

Another 'fact' which is disputable. The tendency to describe Bhai Mardana as a Muslim as well describing Bhagat Kabir as a Muslim Sufi are all recent innovations. To the early Sikh community Bhai Mardana was a Sikh as proven by the fact that one of the Janamsakhi mention that Guru Nanak asked Bhai Mardana to keep the early rehat ie keep Kesh and treat all beings as equal. Bhai Mardana's son was a missionary in Afghanistan. The so-called descendents of Bhai Mardana are just Muslims from the Mirasi caste. Every Mirasi in Punjab considers himself to belong to the family of Bhai Mardana. There are of course a few hundred Sikh mirasis as well.

3. Laying the foundation stone of Harmandir Sahib.

There is no doubt that Mian Mir was a holy person who had good relations with the Gurus. His laying of the foundation stone is a matter of dispute. Although it looks good in inter-faith meetings but as Sikhs we should be concerned with the truth and not what may appear in these days to be politically correct. The first mention of the laying of the foundation stone of Harmandir Sahib by Mian Mir is by a Muslim writer in the early 1800s. Sikhs sources do not mention this and as far as I am aware Guru Arjan is mentioned as the person laying the foundation stone. The foundation stone realignment by the mason is a story from Sikh history but not one that mentions Mian Mir.

4. Guru Nanak going on Haj

The Haj is a particular ritual that Muslims take part in which involves a visit to Mecca and medina as well as the performance of various allied rituals such as stoning the devil etc at these places.

The Janamsakhis do not describe the visit of Guru Nanak as a HAJ. It is described as JANA - visit or going to. This is an important distinction which Sikhs need to be aware of when taking part in any discussions on Guru Nanak's visit to Mecca. Only a Muslim can perform the Haj to Mecca. Guru Nanak visited Mecca.

In some Janamsakhis the discusssion of going to visit Mecca is seen as a challenge - Bhai Mardana wants to see 'this Mecca which the Turks never tire of praising' Guru Nanak says that no non-Muslim is allowed there. Bhai Mardana responds 'Who is it that can stop you from going there' In another Janamsakhi the challenge is the distance, Guru Nanak says that Mecca is many thousands of miles away and Bhai Mardana responds 'your one step is like the thousand steps of ordinary men'

While it's good that some leaders of other religion take time out to discuss the Gurus or Sikhism in general, we Sikhs need to be weary none the less of the tendency of many of these people to subvert the message of Sikhism.

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In some Janamsakhis the discusssion of going to visit Mecca is seen as a challenge - Bhai Mardana wants to see 'this Mecca which the Turks never tire of praising' Guru Nanak says that no non-Muslim is allowed there. Bhai Mardana responds 'Who is it that can stop you from going there' In another Janamsakhi the challenge is the distance, Guru Nanak says that Mecca is many thousands of miles away and Bhai Mardana responds 'your one step is like the thousand steps of ordinary men'

I listened to that part in Sooraj Pratap Granth katha by Giani Thakur Singh ji on Amrit Bani radio like less than a month ago. Somewhat similar to what you've posted.

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2. Bhai Mardana was a Muslim and remained a Muslim all his life.

Another 'fact' which is disputable. The tendency to describe Bhai Mardana as a Muslim as well describing Bhagat Kabir as a Muslim Sufi are all recent innovations. To the early Sikh community Bhai Mardana was a Sikh as proven by the fact that one of the Janamsakhi mention that Guru Nanak asked Bhai Mardana to keep the early rehat ie keep Kesh and treat all beings as equal. .

If indeed Guru Nanak had instructed bhai Mardana to keep Rehit, then it was done out of the relationship of Love between a Master and Deciple. I do not believe it was done to initiate Bhai Mardana into an 'ism'.

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  • 2 weeks later...

Guru Nanak belonged to humanity, in the indian traditions he fits in as the Guru of Kalyug that the Vedas talk about, and in the semetic traditions he is a pir/Sheikh that one needs to hold on to in order to attain Union with God.

As Guru Gobind Singh said:

Hold fast to me in the age of Kalyug, in each and every age i am manifested(avatari)

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  • 7 months later...

Maskin ji on Guru ji's visit to Mecca: http://maskeensahib.com/?p=p_31&sName=Baghdad

by the way, Muslims will never admit that Guru ji was not a Muslim. This is b/c his spiritual power is undeniable, but they must have a Muslim as the final prophet. By calling him a Muslim they attempt to relegate him in history to the status of a powerful sant and no more. Conveniently forgetting that the last door in the kabba which was meant to open for the final prophet opened for Guru Nanak Dev ji.

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I agree with Tony Jee.

While all Sikhs respect Mian Mir Jee, but as Sikhs we need to beleive with our hearts some undeniable truths about Sikhi, no matter how politically incorrect they may appear to non Sikhs out there.

The first Sikh source to mention that Mian Mir Jee laid the foundation stone of Darbar Sahib was in Suraj Prakash. While I love reading Suraj Prakash, but lets not beleive in it blindly. All earlier Sikh sources mention that it was Guru Arjun Dev Jee who laid the foundation stone of Darbar Sahib. No doubt Mian Mir Jee is worthy of respect, and I'm sure in interfaith dialogues it sounds pretty darn good and impressive that Mian Mir Jee laid the foundation stone of Darbar Sahib, but I just don't beleive it especially since all Sikh sources written before Suraj Parkash don't mention this.

As for Guru Nanak Dev Jee going on a Hajj is also a very dangerous new thought going around. Despite the fact that we Sikhs know how Guru Nanak Dev Jee went there and through his Shakti moved the Kaaba where ever the direction of his feet were at, yet we Sikhs out of political correctly deny this story or try to hide it because because it might hurt the feelings of the Muslims.

When a Muslims wants to say anything about his Rasool he will say it fearlessly not caring how politically incorect he or she may sound. Even Christians dont' give a damn about political correctness and are fearless in their firm faith in the stories of Jesus Christ. Then why are we Sikhs so politically correct?? Why do we have to try to make Muslims happy by being so politically correct?

Strangest thing is, we do not show political correctness to Hindus. We fearlessly show how our Gurus exposed the Pandits, yet we show this political correctness to the Muslims and ignore the stories of how our Gurus fearlessly delt with the beleifs of the Muslims that were not in line with Gurmat.

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Unfortunately it has become trendy nowadays to travel many miles just to have a so-called darshan of some descendant of Bhai Mardana or some spiritual descendant of Mian Mir. What we forget is that Sikhi gives no special status to any of these descendants and most of the visits of these descendants are just money making schemes. Sikhs will willingly hand over hundreds of pounds to these kinds of people but will be stingy when it comes to making any donations to worthwhile Sikh causes.

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Tony - Bhai Lal Rababi and his uncle Pakawaji Bhai Gaam were both doing seva at the Gurus Darbar at Goindwal and Harimandir Sahib respectively up until 1947. There lineage is not an issue, it has continued frmo Bhai Mardana, you can research from Sikh ithihaas yourself to see which Rababis were playing in which Guru’s Darbaar over time. Sikhs have always given utmost respect to Rababi/Raagi of Gurbani, it is only since the Sikh reforms and western migration that kirtani have gained a status as servants of Jathedaar (Gurdwarai) rather than royal musicians of Guru’s court. We should give utmost respect to these kirtani – esp those that have an unbroken tradition resulting in their kirtan being traditional.

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Regarding meeting Pir sahib, it was a good experience. Although I don’t agree with everything he said, it’s good to have an open platform to speak and share traditions, don’t forget that even Sikhs disagree on Sikh ithihaas at many points.

Pir Sahib takes much of his knowledge from Hazrat Sain Mian Mirs personal diary/journal.

They do and did openly lay claim on Sat-Guru (as being a Muslim) but I don’t see why this is a problem for so many, why wouldn’t they (a true Muslim for Muslims is one who lives in Vahegurus baana)? Guru Nanak Dev Ji’s followers (Hindu and Muslim) did this on his ascension, so why would it stop now? But at the same time they acknowledge Sat-Guru’s greatness and universal outlook in treating all mankind as one and Gods own (as per Sufi theology) – and accord him a divine/spiritual status.

Also, is all history not biased, including ours – remember history is not written by the divine, it is written by the common (excepting small contributions from Bhai Gurdas Ji).

This is a sign of respect for Sat-Guru, why the anger? Let them have their claim – and in a way it is right – is the source of divinity within Islam not Sat-Guru? The same is also obviously true for Hindu Dharams as well. So they are nearly right, only difference is that Islam and Hindu Dharam is a particle of Sat-Guru’s kirpa and shakti, not the other way around.

What was good about Pir Sahib was his observation of ‘Sikh’ Panth weaknesses today i.e. kurimaar, narimaar, lack of education with regards to Gurmukhi, memorising Gurbani and the large % of population which has actually never read all of Guru Granth Sahib Ji. He also said that if you want to save/preserve Sikhi you need to save and give utmost respect to Sikhniyan. Everything he said with regards to these observations was true, and things which we mostly brush under the carpet.

His whole emphasis was pointed at Sikhs learning and preserving Sikhi – no big conspiracy – and his divan with regards to sakhis relating to 6th Master etc were really enjoyable – he accorded nothing but the highest respect, admiration and acknowledgement of their perfect (divine) status for Maharaj in all his forms.

Of course all should be taken with a pinch of salt, but I think it did good to breakdown Islamophopbic mentality which diseases sections of the Panth today (as can be seen on SA at times).

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This is a sign of respect for Sat-Guru, why the anger? Let them have their claim – and in a way it is right – is the source of divinity within Islam not Sat-Guru? The same is also obviously true for Hindu Dharams as well. So they are nearly right, only difference is that Islam and Hindu Dharam is a particle of Sat-Guru’s kirpa and shakti, not the other way around.

True - as Guru Nanak Ji was Akaal Purkh themselves in human form, they are for all humanity.

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Guru Gobind Singh further states:

"Idol worship, ritual, wearing the dhoti, and leaving the head bare are duties that were required in previous yugas(not during the present).

During the Kalyuga, the proper duty to observe is that which binds diciple to Guru. Each Yuga has its own Veda. For the Kalyuga it is the Atharva Veda. According to the Atharva Veda he who lives in the kalyuga and obeys the word of the Guru shall find rich fullfilmen, whereas he who does not obey it will sink in the ocean of existence."

-Sakhi Rehit Ki by Bhai Nand Lal (Translated by Mcleod)

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  • 3 weeks later...

Regarding meeting Pir sahib, it was a good experience. Although I don’t agree with everything he said, it’s good to have an open platform to speak and share traditions, don’t forget that even Sikhs disagree on Sikh ithihaas at many points.

Pir Sahib takes much of his knowledge from Hazrat Sain Mian Mirs personal diary/journal.

They do and did openly lay claim on Sat-Guru (as being a Muslim) but I don’t see why this is a problem for so many, why wouldn’t they (a true Muslim for Muslims is one who lives in Vahegurus baana)? Guru Nanak Dev Ji’s followers (Hindu and Muslim) did this on his ascension, so why would it stop now? But at the same time they acknowledge Sat-Guru’s greatness and universal outlook in treating all mankind as one and Gods own (as per Sufi theology) – and accord him a divine/spiritual status.

Also, is all history not biased, including ours – remember history is not written by the divine, it is written by the common (excepting small contributions from Bhai Gurdas Ji).

This is a sign of respect for Sat-Guru, why the anger? Let them have their claim – and in a way it is right – is the source of divinity within Islam not Sat-Guru? The same is also obviously true for Hindu Dharams as well. So they are nearly right, only difference is that Islam and Hindu Dharam is a particle of Sat-Guru’s kirpa and shakti, not the other way around.

What was good about Pir Sahib was his observation of ‘Sikh’ Panth weaknesses today i.e. kurimaar, narimaar, lack of education with regards to Gurmukhi, memorising Gurbani and the large % of population which has actually never read all of Guru Granth Sahib Ji. He also said that if you want to save/preserve Sikhi you need to save and give utmost respect to Sikhniyan. Everything he said with regards to these observations was true, and things which we mostly brush under the carpet.

His whole emphasis was pointed at Sikhs learning and preserving Sikhi – no big conspiracy – and his divan with regards to sakhis relating to 6th Master etc were really enjoyable – he accorded nothing but the highest respect, admiration and acknowledgement of their perfect (divine) status for Maharaj in all his forms.

Of course all should be taken with a pinch of salt, but I think it did good to breakdown Islamophopbic mentality which diseases sections of the Panth today (as can be seen on SA at times).

Here are the download link of an interview veer ji had with peer sahib:

right click and save target as:

http://www.gurmarag.net/SikhAwareness/Audi...ib%20pt%201.mp3

http://www.gurmarag.net/SikhAwareness/Audi...ib%20pt%202.mp3

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Dhanvaad Veer Ji.

Just to clarify - the questions are being asked by a friend of mine. 1 file (shorter noe is of the divaan (6th Masters Sakhi) - apologies for the quality, 2nd bigger file is the interview - not sure how much of it was captured as a friend recorded it on his mobile phone and I haven't actually listened to it all yet.

Ta.

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