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Saudi offer for Jama Masjid

Our surfers seem to be saying: take the money and put it to good use.

india Updated: Jan 12, 2006 13:57 IST

It's the "R" word again. R word? I mean, religion and its unholy alliance with the functioning of the State.

This time Saudi Arabia's offer of helping in renovation of Jama Masjid has raised a tiny storm. Or well, supposedly. Our columnist, Sunil Lala, writing from Boston found it preposterous that India was actually considering the offer at all.

By his admission, there is more to it than meets the eye. No, it's not a goodwill gesture to help India do up its monuments. And why should a proud country like India, and prime terror target, take help from a country which is forefront of funding international terror?

Relevant point.

Think of Saudi Arabia! Possibilities are you'd think of the following: a conservative Islamic republic, autocratic monarchy, for years home to radical Islam (though suffering from it in recent years), oil rich but low on human development index, so on and so forth.

Unfortunately, no matter exalted Lala's intentions may be in a broader context, he seems to have got a bit shortsighted. He seems offended at Imam Bukhari's remarks on insulting a do-gooder like Saudi Kingdom.

Our surfers seem to be saying: take the money and put it to good use.

The person to put forth the best argument was AK from Mumbai. He was very categorical in denouncing the Saudi Kingdom's role in feeding international terrorism but was equally clear that all moves must not to viewed with a prejudiced mind.

Naturally, he sees Lala as a 'Suddenly Secular Self-styled Intellectuals'.

Here's how he put it.

"While I have no love lost for Saudi Arabia, I do understand that such desires have been shown in the past by many countries, India included (remember temples in Pakistan, Cambodia etc) and is done for a variety of reasons mostly related to the esteem in which the particular monument (eg Angkorvat) is held by a section of the aid offering country's population."

"Now, Saudi Arabia is a predominantly Muslim country and the Jama Masjid is a mosque besides being a national treasure is held in esteem by Muslims all over.

"As the Government of India (or Lala's ilk) haven't found the funds or the energy to renovate it yet, the offer of financial assistance is worth mulling over definitely. How and what is done in the renovation will of course have government's approval."

"The King has offered financial assistance, which hopefully will get international technology for renovation (ASI has not much expertise in this area). What Imam Bukhari has to say doesn't matter."

Farooq from Kuwait City too had similar sentiments.

"If somebody wants to put in some money to restore our dilapidated monuments, we should thank them and politely take their money."

He said it had nothing to do with secularism or anything else.

"If the Japanese want to clean up Patna so that they can have a more pleasant experience visiting Gaya again, we should thank them and politely take their money (and do something good with it!)."

However, several surfers endorsed the authors view.

SriRam from Kansas, USA was quite certain Lala's thoughts were very clear and righteous. He is in agreement with Lala vis-a-vis the role of Imam Bukhari.

He nods in approval when Lala says, "Why is he so worried about insults to the Saudis? Should he not be more concerned about providing education and the right tools to poor Muslims in India so that they can participate equally and fully in its tremendous growth, and reap the financial and social rewards? Instead of worrying about King Abdullah's ego and the ease with which it gets bruised, should he not be more worried about the insult to India when a clueless king interferes in its affairs and offers to renovate monuments that do not concern him?"

However, some of our surfers were flabbergastedover the article.

"The author has no sense of proportions to compare the Islamic/Wahabi terrorism with the VHP. Even if I grant him the popular media view of VHP etc it can't be compared with what 'Wahabism' is involved in. Shame on him to use VHP's reputation to prove his secular credentials, " said Dr Rabinder K Koul of Chicago.

Moral of the story: why crucify all for the fault of a few?

First Published: Jan 12, 2006 13:11 IST