Religion

Saudi-zation of Indian Islam

The landscape in Indian subcontinent is changing. A couple of years back I had heard on an Pakistani radio channel where this lady said that “Allah Hafiz ” is the correct phrase and not the ubiquitous “Khuda-Hafiz”! I was surprised. Here is an article which addresses this point and others that are changing the Indian face of Islam.

“I was an apolitical Muslim, scared to ask questions,” Patel says until he met one Dr Zakir. Patel was only 15 then but he says Zakir convinced him about the connection between logic, science and the Quran. “Many centuries ago, the Quran had foreseen science as we know it today,” he says, “and it offers answers to all problems around.” He quotes chapter and verse as he argues his case even if it’s the need for the hijaab (“it’s pragmatic,” he says, “read Chapter 33, Verse 59”).

So how does this square with the current debate over the need for reforms in the religion? Patel evades a direct answer. As a follower of the Ahle Hadees school (which essentially says that all debate or interpretation of the Quran must end and Islamic jurisprudence be based on valid teachings and actions of the Prophet), he is motivated about what he believes in and is fighting his corner till you tire. “Those who spread terror in the name of Islam are simply un-Islamic,” he says. “What is needed is a revival of the true fundamentals of Islam.”

No one has chronicled the extent of this “revivalism” but interviews with several Muslim clerics, teachers and professionals, suggest that Zaid Patel isn’t alone.

Whether a sense of persecution leads to revivalism or if the revivalism has led to the community being further marginalised is a difficult question. But they admit that there are some disturbing straws in the wind.

For one, several middle-aged and young Muslims, like Zaid, are now increasingly ending meetings by saying Allah Hafiz, as opposed to Khuda Hafiz, (Khuda is the generic God, in Persian, Allah the specific Arabic word.) The significance is more than semantic.

In recent times, a lot of the “back to the basics” argument in Islam (in the subcontinent at least) can be encapsulated in the march of the phrase “Allah hafiz”. Says Firoz Batatawala, a garment exporter from Jogeshwari — the same neighbourhood that was home to the dozen who were detained in Amsterdam — and also member of the World Sufi Council: “This is Saudi-isation of Indian Islam. It’s on the rise as more people are going to Saudi Arabia for work, their children are employed there, and they think all that is being practiced there, the Sunni Wahhabi Islam, is a purer form of Islam, something quite alien to the form of Islam that came to Kashmir, or even western India, through trade, the more inclusive way. God has 999 names in Islam. Shall we now say Rahim-Hafiz?”

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4 thoughts on “Saudi-zation of Indian Islam”

  1. This was a debate in Bangladesh say a decade ago when the Saudi influence in Bangladesh was mounting and moneys pouring in. Bangladesh transformed to Allah Hafiz truly visible from Television announcers.

    Saudi Arabia has a lot of Zakaat fund, which has to go to the poor. They sent them to Madrassas through the clerics and they started preaching Saudi Wahabbi ideas in mosques people unware of the consequences. Bangladesh like the Indian subcontinent has Sufi traditions deep rooted. But it came under attack. Saudi sponsored terrorism started bombing Muslim shrines (majars) among other things.

    Perhaps you will start to see it in future in India thanks to these terrorists getting funds from Saudi Arabia and UK? Yes the JMB which terrorised Bangladesh last year confessed that they had received 10000 pounds from two Britons to carry out nation wide attacks on August 17.

    You know the war against terror is being directed towards the wrong direction. If the roots in Saudi Arabia, Iran and Syria can be destroyed then the world can turn back the clock of the rot in religious fanaticism spread by them. Is there no way to stop the Saudi Money?

    I mean a Madrassa orphan in Dhaka or Delhi is desparate enough not to question the source of the donation money.

  2. This was a debate in Bangladesh say a decade ago when the Saudi influence in Bangladesh was mounting and moneys pouring in. Bangladesh transformed to Allah Hafiz truly visible from Television announcers.

    Saudi Arabia has a lot of Zakaat fund, which has to go to the poor. They sent them to Madrassas through the clerics and they started preaching Saudi Wahabbi ideas in mosques people unware of the consequences. Bangladesh like the Indian subcontinent has Sufi traditions deep rooted. But it came under attack. Saudi sponsored terrorism started bombing Muslim shrines (majars) among other things.

    Perhaps you will start to see it in future in India thanks to these terrorists getting funds from Saudi Arabia and UK? Yes the JMB which terrorised Bangladesh last year confessed that they had received 10000 pounds from two Britons to carry out nation wide attacks on August 17.

    You know the war against terror is being directed towards the wrong direction. If the roots in Saudi Arabia, Iran and Syria can be destroyed then the world can turn back the clock of the rot in religious fanaticism spread by them. Is there no way to stop the Saudi Money?

    I mean a Madrassa orphan in Dhaka or Delhi is desparate enough not to question the source of the donation money.

  3. Rezwan:

    I totally agree with you! The issue is that these madrasas in various parts are also controlled by the large madarsis like Darul-uloom… and this Saudi and foreign funds find there way to these, often unscruplous, ‘experts’ who have the wherewithal to control large networks of Madrasas!

    It is time that those fighting the “War on Terror” were honest for once!

    Rezwan, if you would want to write your thoughts as a main piece – i.e.; blog here.. please feel free to do so.. your comments are very educating for me.. as they are, I am sure, to the other readers!

    Cheers,
    -d.

  4. Rezwan:

    I totally agree with you! The issue is that these madrasas in various parts are also controlled by the large madarsis like Darul-uloom… and this Saudi and foreign funds find there way to these, often unscruplous, ‘experts’ who have the wherewithal to control large networks of Madrasas!

    It is time that those fighting the “War on Terror” were honest for once!

    Rezwan, if you would want to write your thoughts as a main piece – i.e.; blog here.. please feel free to do so.. your comments are very educating for me.. as they are, I am sure, to the other readers!

    Cheers,
    -d.

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