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Imam-e-Haram’s Proposed Visit to Various Indian States: What Purpose will it Serve? Is it meant to further the Sunni-Shia Divide?

By Shariq Siddiqui, New Age Islam

31 March 2016

Like Sheikh Khalid Bin Ali Al-Ghamdi and Shaikh Abdur Rahman Sudais earlier, another Imam of the Ka’ba, Shaikh Saleh Mohammad Ibrahim is reportedly visiting India and will lead the Friday prayers at Gandhi Maidan on April 1st in Patna, Bihar. He has already stated that his visit is aimed at undertaking the Dawah work as well as the reformation of the Muslim Ummah (Islah al-Ummah). For Bihar-based Muslims, it will be probably the first time that an Imam from Mecca will visit Patna, the state capital to perform the Friday sermon and prayers and preach Wahhabi-Salafi sermons.

What have the earlier visitors from Saudi Arabia done? On March 26, 2011, an Imam of the holy Ka’ba, Shaikh Abdur Rahman Al-Sudais visited India on the invitation of Maulana Arshad Madani to address the 'Azmat-e-Sahaba Conference' held by Jamiat Ulema-i-Hind. According to Darul Uloom Deoband’s official website, Dr. Al-Sudais gave a lecture on the life and elevated status of the companions of the Prophet (peace be upon him) and led the Maghrib and Isha prayers of thousands of Indian Muslims. He also and paid a special visit to the Islamic seminary, Darul Uloom Deoband. In his addresses, the Imam urged Indian Muslims to "unite to change the social order," and also exhorted that "the followers of Islam should use the internet and electronic media to spread their faith (apparently Wahhabi faith) in modern times".

Just a year later in 2012, another Imam of the Ka'aba Sheikh Khalid Bin Ali al Ghamdi, paid a seven-day visit to India on a personal invitation of Maulana Salman Nadwi, an Islamic scholar who has earned notoriety for writing a letter of appreciation to the ISIS’s self-declared Caliph, Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi. Shaikh al Ghamidi addressed a congregation at the Darul Uloom Nadwatul Ulema and led the Juma (Friday) prayers at Nadwatul Ulema as well as the Maghrib and Isha (night prayers). Thereafter, he participated in a conference organised by the Islamic Centre of India. He also went to Lahore on a four-day visit to Pakistan.

But one needs to take a critical look on the purpose of the Imam’s visit and the unnecessary significance or extra sanctity being attached to his visit. Why should Indian Muslims turn a blind eye to the fact that these are the clerics and imams of Haram appointed by the Saudi rulers who have been wandering around the Muslim world with their preachy sermons fomenting xenophobia and sectarian hatred?

Have we forgotten what the Imam Al-Sudayyis stated addressing worshippers at the Grand Mosque in Mecca in April 2004? He is on record saying: "O Sons of Brave Mujahedeen! You have Revived the Hopes of This [Islamic] Nation Through Your Blessed Jihad."

As the news of Shaikh Saleh’s visit is dong the rounds in India, scores of Muslim organizations and individuals running on the Saudi riyals are on the trail of extending a warm welcome to him in various parts of the country. These are the imams who have endorsed the Saudi rulers who brazenly violated the Quranic injunctions, and are guilty of extending support to the US coalition and Israeli forces’ injustice to the non-combatant civilians and innocent Muslims in Iraq, Afghanistan, and Palestine etc.

The government of Saudi Arabia freely distributes the copies of the Quran to the Muslim pilgrimages of the Ka’bah who come from around the world on the occasion of Hajj, but the kingdom itself defies the Qur’an’s edicts even more brazenly than the misguided and tyrannical rulers of the Umayyad and Abbasid dynasties.

In the Surah Maidah (verse: 48), Allah has clearly stated:

“And We have sent down to you this Book (the holy Qur’an) in truth, confirming the Scripture that came before it, as a guardian (Muhaymin) over it (old Scriptures). So, judge between them by what Allah has revealed, and follow not their vain desires, diverging away from the truth that has come to you.”

Etymologically, the word Muhaymin is derivative of the root letters in Arabic: همن, which implies the connotations of protection, preservation and safeguarding. Thus, the verse obviously means that the Qur’an was revealed to Muslims to protect all the previous scriptures and safeguard the earlier divine messages of Allah, and hence the holy Qur’an is to be regarded as a criterion in differentiating the truth from the falsehood.

The next verse (49) of Surah Maida says:

And, you should judge between them by this (commandment) which Allah has revealed and do not follow their desires. And be on your guard against them lest they tempt you away from any of (the commandments) which Allah has revealed to you. But if they turn away (from your judgment), then know that Allah intends to punish them for some of their sins. And most of the people are unruly and disobedient”.

Going by the above two verses; it is not difficult to understand the divine commandment which exhorts Muslims to adhere to what God revealed to them, rather than following their own desires.  Despite this clear and categorical Qur’anic statement, the Saudi rulers are brazenly violating the Islamic principles, and more shockingly, the imams of the Ka’ba not only remain silent onlookers, but rather their fervent supporters. Despite the clearly stated injunctions of the Quran, the Saudi rulers as well other Wahhabi governments have succumbed to the extremist forces as their guardians and custodians, dancing to their tunes.

It cannot be disputed that these governments are responsible for the greater defamation of Islam today, by helping to create the terrorist organizations like al-Qaeda, the Taliban and Daesh. By shedding human blood and vandalizing the holy graves of prophets and shrines of God's saints across the Muslim world, they continue to defame Islam and Muslims the world over. Thousands of innocent Palestinians have been victims of Israeli- violence over the years. Still, Saudi Arabia, Qatar, Bahrain, UAE and other Wahhabi governments are silent onlookers of this dance of destruction.

Much damage has been done to the global peace and security and to the Muslim Ummah in particular. But despite the Saudi rulers’ grave guilt in it, the imams of the Ka’ba do not muster the courage to utter a single word against the kingdom. Rather, they are doing rounds in the Muslim-populated parts of the world in the guise of Dawah workers singing their rulers’ praises and harping on the ‘purity’ and ‘sincerity’ (Ikhlas) of the Saudi-Salafi Muslims.   

Thus, these imams of the Ka’ba that Saudi Arabia appoints and sends across the world openly indulge in acts that are clearly antithetical to the crucial Quranic injunctions. Besides, at a time when the growing sectarian hate among Muslims has created a tendency of declaring one another kafir (infidel), resulting into the mass killings, for instance in Pakistan, Iraq, and Syria in particular, inviting the Sunni Wahhabi imams to India and letting them say things that may lead to furthering Sunni-Shia divide is also deplorable.

Shariq Siddiqui is a Delhi-based columnist. He contributed this to New Age Islam.