Saudi Arabia’s commitment to serve the Muslim community takes many forms. The Kingdom has provided tens of billions of dollars in aid throughout the world. To allow Muslims to perform Hajj in safety and comfort, it has built a vast network of airports, seaports, roads and other facilities, and it has spent huge sums on the expansion work of the Holy Mosque IN Makkah and the Prophet’s Mosque in Madinah.
It is active in ventures to promote the interests of Muslims everywhere. Saudi Arabia has also undertaken multiple programs in this regard. One of those is the effort to serve Muslim minority communities in non-Muslim countries. Tens of millions of Muslims have settled outside the historic Islamic world. Their communities have prospered and grown and have been supplemented by the conversion to Islam of a large number of people.
As the birthplace of Islam and its heartland, Saudi Arabia feels a special responsibility not only to the Islamic world, but also to Muslims living outside of it. To fulfill that responsibility, Saudi Arabia has over the past few decades undertaken endeavors to meet the spiritual needs of this vast and growing community of believers and to strengthen its ties with the Islamic world.
Contribution to world infrastructures
To realize this objective, the Kingdom has approached it from several angles. The primary channel is to establish Mosques and Islamic centers in areas of large Muslim communities. This effort was accelerated in the 1980s and 1990s resulting in 1500 Mosque and 210 Islamic centers throughout the world with funds from Saudi Arabia. And in continuation to above Saudi Endeavor more mosques and Islamic centers have been established in all corners of the world till to date. These centers are complexes designed to meet not only the spiritual requirements, but also the cultural and social needs of Muslim communities. Generally, they include a big Mosque, classrooms for students, a library, and auditoriums and halls for conferences, exhibitions and cultural seminars.
Once established, these centers attract Muslims from miles around who gather to pray, especially on Friday. The centers also perform important educational, social and cultural functions. They provide courses in Islamic studies; extremely popular offerings for Muslim families who want their children to receive proper religious education and practice. Additionally these complexes are important gathering places where Muslims of different backgrounds get together for exhibitions and cultural events, thus bridging cultural differences for Muslims of varying origins.
These centers range in size from vast complexes capable of accommodating thousands of visitors to those designed for small groups of Muslims. The most significant ones are located in Washington DC, New York, Los Angeles, San Francisco, Chicago, Madrid, London, Rome, Paris, Bonn, Brussels, Geneva, Tokyo, Toronto, Vienna, Lisbon, Buenos Aires and Rio de Janeiro Etc.
The two newest of these complexes were opened in suburban Los Angeles and Edinburgh, Scotland; both gifts were from the Late King Fahad Bin Abdul Aziz to the Muslim communities in these two cities. The focal point of each of the new facilities is a large Mosque built according to traditional Islamic architectural designs. Standing out as attractive landmarks these Mosques are designed in a way to ensure that they are in harmony with their neighborhoods. Both of these complexes have large Islamic centers equipped with all necessary modern facilities.
In areas where the Muslim community is not large, yet still in need of a spiritual center, smaller mosques have been built by the Saudi Arabian funds. Such Mosques have been established at 1500 locations in Asia, Europe, Africa, Australia and North and South America. The Extension and beautification program of the National Mosque of Bangladesh ‘Baitul Mukarram’ have been implemented by the donation of Saudi Arabia amounting “3.75” million US Dollar. Recently the Royal order has been issued to pay for Bangladesh (20) Million US Dollar as donation for establishing huge number of Mosques and Islamic Centers in various corners of this country.
Saudi Arabia was the greatest donor for establishing the Islamic University of Technology in Bangladesh and has been offering huge financial, academic and administrative contributions regularly since its establishment.
In addition to directly funding the establishment of Islamic centers and mosques throughout the world, Saudi Arabia has either formed or supports the activities of a large number of specialized organizations dedicated to serving Muslims inside and outside the Islamic world. These include the Organization of the Islamic conference (OIC), the Muslim world League, the King Faisal Foundation, The World Assembly of Muslim Youth and other entities dedicated to serving Muslims throughout the world. The Kingdom has also formed special organization, such as the International Islamic Relief Organization and the Higher Committee for Collection of Donations for Muslims of Bosnia-Herzegovina, as well as numerous social and cultural institutions. Like as it provided the deserted and homeless people and orphans and widows of war torn Afghanistan with huge humanitarian aid. Kingdom of Saudi Arabia is providing Humanitarian aids to the civil war effected peoples in Yemen for years with billion of dollars and the King Salman Humanitarian Aid and Relief Center is doing all its best to help those afflicted Yemeni peoples.
Saudi Arabia in humanitarian support
The kingdom is allays eager to give humanitarian aids suppressed Rohingya Muslims in Rakhine of Myanmar and to help their refugees in Bangladesh and other countries. The Kingdom has opened its border for civil war effected Syrian refugees to and offered them all facilities in the kingdom. Now a days the number of Syrian refugees in Saudi Arabia is more than 25 million.
Saudi Arabia is a great development partner of Bangladesh. It has providing all kind of donations and soft loan for implementation of many development programs, such as some flyovers in the city of Dhaka and the Bridge over the Sitlakhshma river etc.
These bodies are active throughout the world to support in religious, political and social causes that impact the Muslim community. They collect funds to alleviate the sufferings of disaster victims worldwide, both Muslims and non-Muslims and to rehabilitate societies hurt by man-made and natural calamities.
These organizations are dedicated to serving the needy people throughout the world, regardless of their religion. They provide funding and technical assistance to build dams and irrigation networks, dig wells and setup farming communities in regions devastated by famine. They setup health clinics and conduct campaigns to vaccinate children and conduct a range of other humanitarian services. The Government of Saudi Arabia has allotted lot of money to build shelter houses in costal arias of Bangladesh, and provided with huge humanitarian and relief aids for the peoples afflicted by cyclone “Sidr” and “Aila”. King Abdullah’s confidential and special donation for cyclone (Sidr) effected people in Bangladesh was the greatest donation provided by any single person.
Saudi Arabia’s and the Islamic organizations’ supports were galvanized into action. Most mosques had been closed and there was a dire need for copies of the Holy Qur’an in the independent republics. Moving quickly, the Kingdom established large Islamic centers in the capitals of all six independent Republics and mosques in their smaller cities. At the same time it began airlifting to the Republics millions of copies of the Holy Qur’an printed along with the meanings of its translation in local languages at the King Fahd Holy Qur’an Printing Complex in Madinah Al-Monawarah for free distribution at mosques and Islamic Centers. The printing complex has been a particularly useful tool in Saudi Arabia’s effort to serve Muslim communities. Established in 1985, it has printed millions of copies of the Holy Qur’an and Its meanings of translation in several languages as well as recorded millions of audio and video cassettes of the Holy Book in many languages and distributed free of cost in almost countries of the world. These are distributed free of charge to pilgrims at the Holy Mosque in Makkah Al-Mukarramah as well as in Mosques throughout the world.
Another aspect of Saudi Arabia’s national effort to serve Muslim minorities involves education for all Muslims. As Muslim communities outside the Islamic world have continued to grow, a real need has emerged for Islamic and Arabic educational facilities for children. In most cases, Islamic centers and mosques in the community adequately fulfill this need. Some two decades ago, Saudi Arabia began establishing Islamic academies in North America and Europe. These full-fledged schools, offering a complete curriculum in Arabic and the local language with emphasis on Islamic studies, are located near Washington DC, and in London. Bonn and Moscow. Studies have already been initiated to establish others, including in southern California and Scotland.
Furthermore, Saudi Arabia is involved in a major effort to provide scholarships for outstanding students from Muslim minority communities to study at Saudi universities. Currently thousands of such students from across the world are studying at universities in Makkah, Madinah, Riyadh etc. Hundred of Higher degree holders of those universities have been appointed as Da`ee (preachers) to diffuse the true Islam all corners of world.
To further serve this objective, Saudi Arabia has also provided the necessary funds and support for establishment of departments of Islamic studies at major universities in the United States and Europe. The best known of these departments are at Harvard University’s Law School, the University of California at Santa Barbara, the University of London and Moscow University. These departments are intended to advance knowledge and understanding of Islam, to promote the objectivity and accuracy of teaching in Islamic courses and to provide resources to scholars and institutions involved in research on Islam and the Muslim World. The Islamic centers and Mosques established across the world serve this purpose well by engendering close contacts between Muslims and the leaders and members of the community at large. As in the case of the Los Angeles complex, which is located across the street from a church, many of these Islamic centers and Mosques engage in interfaith charity work and activities that promote understanding.
Through these and other means, Saudi Arabia strives to meet the needs of Muslims, including those living outside the Islamic world, and to foster a better understanding of Islam, essential for mutual understanding and a more harmonious interaction between Muslims and non-Muslims. By the initiative of King Abdullah Bin Abdul Aziz, the Interfaith dialogues have been started and hold several successful conferences in many important places of the world by presence of the leaders of almost famous religions and cultures.
Courtesy: Royal Saudi Embassy, Dhaka, Bangladesh