Supreme leader of Wahhabism gets royal welcome in India
by Irfan Al-Alawi
In a shocking display of heedlessness about the dangers of radical Islam, India has allowed the hate-mongering Saudi imam and Friday preacher at the Grand Mosque (Haram) in Mecca, Abdur-Rahman Al-Sudais, to schedule a journey to the country beginning Friday, 25 March.
Al-Sudais, a prominent exponent of the hard-core Wahhabi ideology, will visit the extremist centre at Darul Uloom Deoband in U.P. Al-Sudais is then planning trips to New Delhi, including a dinner in his honour in the annexe of the Indian parliament, and to Old Delhi, preaching and leading prayer in both cities.
Citizens of India, Muslim as well as non-Muslim, should have no illusions about the intent of Al-Sudais' tour. He represents the Wahhabi apparatus that holds Muslims and non-Muslims under Saudi rule in a fatal grip of intimidation and enforced conformity, and its alliance with the Deobandi element and the deviant doctrines that produced the Afghan and Pakistani Taliban.
When the leading Saudi Wahhabi visits Darul Uloom Deoband, a pact between inspirers of terrorism is affirmed and, in effect, a summit between apologists for bloodshed is advertised. Large numbers of Deobandi adherents are expected to flock to the event, clogging roads and otherwise disrupting life in U.P., which has previously suffered conflict between fundamentalist and traditionalist Muslims.
The arrival of Al-Sudais as the first-ever imam of the Haram to come to India is intended unarguably to impress Indian Muslims with the alleged stability of Saudi Wahhabism and the firmness of its solidarity with Deobandism.
The 'moderate' Jamiat Ulama-i-Hind (JUH) has requested that when he goes to the parliament, Al-Sudais be spared a security examination. In an absurd claim, Al-Sudais has been designated by JUH as the supreme world authority for Sunni believers and therefore above the supposed indignity of a security check.
But every aspect of Al-Sudais and his career bespeak his distance from ordinary Muslims: Al-Sudais will reportedly land at Darul Uloom in a helicopter. The authority of this upstart rests upon usurpation of beloved Mecca and backing for Saudi injustices against Islam, the people of the Arabian peninsula, and the world.
A security examination for explosives would not, one must admit, detect the most destructive product of Al-Sudais and his peers: the Wahhabism he learned at the Imam Muhammad Ibn Saud Islamic University in Riyadh, known to Saudis as 'the terrorist factory'.
JUH has alleged that Al-Sudais will appear in India as an acolyte of interreligious harmony, but JUH leader Arshad Madani, who arranged invitation of the Saudi cleric, boasted that Al-Sudais would be shown how Wahhabi, Deobandi, and other retrograde interpretations of Islam are 'flourishing' in the country.
India, along with Pakistan and Bangladesh, and the South Asian Muslim communities in the UK and U.S., have been targeted by Wahhabis and Deobandis for both recruitment to and commission of terrorism.
Al-Sudais has been barred from Canada and criticised by Saudi officials for his hateful commentaries. Credibility about his claims of inter-faith dialogue remain questionable so long as he represents the official Wahhabi clerics in the Saudi kingdom.
One one side, Al-Sudais serves a legacy of prejudicial and narrow-minded actions by the Wahhabi ulema. The latter shield the radicals in the Saudi regime who are continuing two centuries' recent history of vandalism against the Islamic heritage of Arabia, and committing other offences against the conscience and consciousness of the Islamic umma.
With the complicity of Al-Sudais, Wahhabi hard-liners seek new restrictions on the conduct of the hajj pilgrimage to Mecca, including proposals for segregation and compulsory face-covering of women during hajj, that had never before been prevalent within the Islamic umma.
In addition, Al-Sudais supports the anti-Islamic, anti-historical, and anti-cultural plan for the transformation of Mecca, the holiest city of the Muslims, into a cluster of Las Vegas-style high-rise buildings and similar structures.
These gigantic, architecturally inferior projects will dwarf and belittle the sanctity of the Haram and the Ka'bah, which Al-Sudais is supposed to administer. Instead, he participates in selling it off, or destroying it, bit by bit. Such are the perverse ways of the Wahhabis.
Parallel with them, the Deobandi clerics enable terrorist attacks against Sufi shrines in Pakistan and India, the penetration of Bangladesh by radicals, and aggression against traditional Muslims in U.P. They have not yet committed atrocities and demolition on the scale of the Wahhabis, because the Deobandis only exercise limited power.
But accommodation of either form of violent fundamentalism will lead inexorably to more chaos and cruelty. The Taliban destruction of the Buddhist monuments at Bamiyan in Afghanistan represented an imitation of Saudi-Wahhabi devastation in Mecca, Medina, and other peninsular cities.
For India to complacently allow Al-Sudais to meet and conspire with the Deobandi leadership strikes a serious blow against moderate Muslims, including activists for social reform in Saudi Arabia and other Arab countries.
It also harms those in South Asia endeavouring to build barriers against the tsunami of radical exhortation, financing, enlistment, and, finally violence, that is sweeping the subcontinent.
India has already had enough bitter experience with Wahhabism. Its political and religious leaders should say no to Al-Sudais, and send him back to the Saudi kingdom without delay.