After Modi's Riyadh visit, Saudi royalty should help India eliminate jihadis

Balbir Punj
Balbir PunjApr 20, 2016 | 10:47

After Modi's Riyadh visit, Saudi royalty should help India eliminate jihadis

Prime Minister Narendra Modi chose the most appropriate gift for the Saudi king when he called on the royal personality during his two-day visit to Riyadh. The gift was a gold-plated replica of the first mosque built in India.

The thoughtful gift underlined an ancient truth about this country. India has had tradition of probably the world's most secular, non-fanatic society because of its dominant eclectic Hindu faith. Warm welcome to the persecuted communities of Syrian Christians, Jews and Parsis by the reigning Hindu rulers of the yore are further illustration of the pluralistic ethos of the Hindu society.



This celebrated mosque was built in 629AD, under a Hindu king in Kerala. This place of worship came up when the first Muslim from India visited the Holy Prophet in Arabia. It was the first mosque to be built outside Arabia and that too during Prophet Muhammad's life time. It is known as Cheraman Jumma Masjid.

In 1342-47, a well-known traveller and historian Ibn Batuta visited the settlements of Arab commoners and the noblemen, including some native royal heads on the west coast and wrote in his travel memoirs: "Muslims are the most highly honoured people". He had travelled from the coastal port of Kozhikode to Kollam before he wrote it.

It is for the present Muslim leadership, both religious and political, to reflect on why this bonhomie between Hindu rulers and commoners and Muslims changed its character in the tenth century onwards. As against the trade-led peaceful Arabs bringing Islam to welcoming west coast of India, the northwest saw violent clashes between the invading Afghan, central Asian and Persian Islamic forces and Indian kingdoms in the10th century and onwards.

PM Narendra Modi in Riyadh.  

Why did the widespread tolerance for the Arabs in the seventh century take an increasingly hostile turn later? Was it the rising influence of non-Arabic Islamic communities that infused an attitude of separateness within the Muslim masses that culminated in India's Partition in 1947?


Look at Pakistan which was created with the slogan that Islam was in danger in a Hindu majority state. Today, not a week passes without the world getting reports of the Sunni and Shia factions of Islam violently breaking into each other's places of worship. The other smaller Islamic communities like the Bohras, the Ismailites, the Sufis, etc, have already either been driven out or declared non-Muslims.


Contrast this exclusivist mindset, which breeds terror, with harmony which followed after the fusion of the new faith of the converts with their pre-conversion culture and practises. Lightening of brass lamps in places of worship is one such ancient tradition. It is prevalent in temples and in many Syro-Malabar and Orthodox churches even today. In the first mosque built in India such a lamp has been a distinct mark of Indian-ness in a holy place.

The Indian leadership from various communities and sections, including the government and political parties, will have to deplore the tendency of promoting within the community exclusivity, ghetto mentality and alignment against national mainstream through one act of symbolism or the other.



The Saudi royalty is one of the top targets of organisations like the ISIS. Riyadh keeps a lynx-eyed vigil on all these ISIS sympathisers, open or underground, who may be getting through the iron curtain it has built against them among the Saudi communities. It has, in recent years, handed over every such identified terrorist who sought cover in Saudi Arabia against the Indian government to our authorities.

Riyadh's warmth towards India and its present prime minister was evident during Modi's visit to the Saudi capital.

However, many analysts here have raised the issue of the same Saudi royalty investing billions of its globally applauded wealth in promoting what is known as Wahabism in many countries, especially India. Wahabism, analysts point out, is the prime implanter of Islamic separateness and jihadi ideology especially through lakhs of madrasas spread across the country.

The Riyadh royalty's concern for spreading true Islamic teachings is fully understood by PM Modi in his symbolic gift. Can, in return, India expect the Saudis to work with its government to eradicate the seeds of exclusivism, victimhood building and jihadi mindset?

After all the Saudi royalty remains one of the main targets for the ISIS.

(Courtesy of Mail Today.)

Last updated: April 20, 2016 | 10:47
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