Monday, February 24, 2020 | ePaper

Saudi Arabia serves the Global Islamic Community

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''We shall make every effort to strengthen our relations with our Muslim brothers and Arab countries, and we shall do our best for the Muslim community''. This statement was made by the former Custodian of Two Holy Mosques King Fahd Bin Abdul Aziz - May Allah bless him - reflecting the depth of Saudi Arabia's dedication to Islam and to the service of Muslims worldwide.
Saudi Arabia's commitment to serve the Muslim community in many forms. The Kingdom has provided 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, sea ports, 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 obligation not only to the Islamic world, but also to Muslims living outside. 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.
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 Endeavour 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 religious gatherings, 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 both North and South America.
Similarly, 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 supported the activities of a large number of specialized organizations dedicated to serving Muslims inside and outside the Islamic world. These include the Organization of Islamic Cooperation (OIC), the Muslim world League, 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.
Likewise, it provided the disserted and homeless people and orphans and widows of war in Afghanistan with huge humanitarian aid. Kingdom of Saudi Arabia is providing Humanitarian aids to the civil war effected peoples in Yemen for years with billions of dollars and the King Salman Humanitarian Aid and Relief Centre is doing all its best to help those afflicted Yemeny peoples. The kingdom is always eager to give humanitarian aids to suppressed Rohingya Muslims in Arakan 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. Nowadays the number of Syrian refugees in Saudi Arabia is more than 25 million.
The Kingdom also established King Fahd Holy Qur'an Printing Complex in Madinah Al-Munawarah 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 as free in almost countries of the world. The printing complex has become particularly useful tool in Saudi Arabia's effort to serve Muslim communities. 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 education facilities for children. In most cases, Islamic centers and mosques in the community adequately fulfill this need. 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 majority countries and 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. Hundreds of Higher degree holders of those universities have been appointed as Da`ee (preachers) to address the true Islam at all corners of the 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. King Abdullah Bin Abdul Aziz Al Saud took initiative for Interfaith dialogues and hold several successful conferences in many vital parts of the world by presence of the leaders of almost famous religions and cultures.
In recent years, under the leadership of King Salman Bin Abdul Aziz Al Saud, Saudi Arabia is playing a dynamic role towards the Muslim Ummah across the world. King Salman Humanitarian Aid and Relief Center has been established to serve the humanity without border. It is serving people and communities in more than 40 countries across the world including Bangladesh. Among top 5 countries who are receiving most humanitarian aid from the kingdom are: Yemen, Palestine, Syria, Somalia and Pakistan. King Salman Center has completed 1057 different welfare projects in 44 countries worldwide since 2015 which cost Billions of Dollars since its establishment within few years.
Apart from that, Saudi Arabia extends supporting Rohingya refugees continuously who has migrated to Bangladesh since 2007. KS Relief has provided over $4.2 million to fund IOM's shelter, water, sanitation and hygiene support for Rohingya refugees and local Bangladeshis living in Cox's Bazar. The United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) and King Salman Humanitarian Aid and Relief Center (KSRelief) have signed in April 2019 a $3 million agreement to provide emergency relief to Rohingya refugees in Bangladesh. KS Relief has donated 300 metric tons of dates through World Food Program (WFP) to support schoolchildren and their families in 2019 in Bangladesh.
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 is a great development partner of Bangladesh. Since the late 1980's a large number of both skilled and unskilled Bangladeshi workers have moved to Saudi Arabia; about 2.5 million Bangladeshi living there. It is notable that Saudi Arabia is the biggest labor market of Bangladesh. It receives highest percentage of remittance from the Kingdom. It has been providing all kind of donations and soft lone to implement many development programs, like as some fly over's in the city of Dhaka and the Bridge over the Sitalakhshma river etc.
In addition, few months ago, a high powered delegation headed by HE Minister of Commerce of Saudi Arabia visited Bangladesh and has signed several investment agreements to invest up to $25 billion in different sectors of Bangladesh. Terming Bangladesh as an "Asian Tiger" Saudi's Commerce Minister said his country is serious to enhance business ties with Bangladesh.
Saudi Press Agency reported that from 2007 to February 2017, Kingdom of Saudi Arabia disbursed $32.65 billion to 999 projects in 78 countries across the five continents of the world. These projects were implemented by 150 partners including international and local organizations, as well as the governments of recipient counties. Since the development started in Saudi Arabia, it has always worked and contributed immensely for humanity and specially funded for the betterment of the Muslim Ummah in all aspects.

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