A visit to Lucknow, India.12:42 PM, Jun 11, 2015 • By SHIMON SHAPIRA
In May 2015, I visited the Indian city of Lucknow, the most important Shiite center in India. The visit was exceptional in its composition—an Israeli delegation from the Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs, headed by Dr. Dore Gold, and a Saudi delegation from the Middle East Center for Strategic and Legal Studies, located in Jeddah, Saudi Arabia, chaired by Maj. Gen. (ret.) Dr. Anwar Majed Eshki.
Our hosts were the leaders of the Shiite community in Lucknow, the Raja of Mahmudabad, Amir Khan, his son Ali Khan, intellectuals, and teachers of the local madrassa. It was an extraordinary meeting of Jews from Jerusalem, Saudi Sunnis from Mecca and Medina, and Indian Shiites from Lucknow.Outside of the Imambaras shrine. Author Shimon Shapira second from the left, Dore Gold, Anwar Eshki, and Ali Khan, son of the raja. The men on the ends are members of the Saudi delegation.
For me the visit to Lucknow was a dream come true. I first heard the name Lucknow at a conference that the Dayan Center convened at Tel Aviv University in 1984. It was during the first Lebanon War and Israel’s various intelligence services were groping in the dark in all matters dealing with Shiites, in general, and Lebanese Shiites, in particular. One of the conference topics was about the Shiites of Lucknow.
The second time I came across Lucknow was in the early 1990s while I was writing my dissertation about Lebanese Shiites’ radicalization. I found an amazing description by James Finn, the British Consul in Jerusalem between 1845 and 1863, about his unusual meeting with a Persian exile named Nasrallah Khan, a member of the royal Qajari family exiled in southern Lebanon when a group of visitors arrived from Lucknow in India. The meeting took place in the home of Hamed Bey, the Shiite governor of Jabal ‘Amil, in the village of Tebnine.
Now I was actually in Lucknow, an hour’s flight from Delhi, India’s capital. The Raja of Mahmudabad and his son Ali Khan received us warmly. It was clear they wanted to share with us information about the proud Indian Shiite community that represents 18 percent of the large Indian Muslim minority numbering more than 170 million believers, more than in all of Muslim Pakistan. The Raja of Mahmudabad was very familiar with the Shiite world outside of India, and was not bound by borders or nationalities. In the 1960s he spent two months in Tyre in southern Lebanon as the guest of the Iranian imam, Musa al-Sadr, who had just arrived in Lebanon and was on his way to becoming the leader of Lebanon’s Shiite community. The Raja also got to know Muhammad Hussein Fadlallah, who became the most prominent religious leader of Shiite radicalism in the Arab world and whose speeches and writings nourished leaders of Hezbollah. The Raja also knew the Ayatollah Muhammad Baqir al-Sadr, a Shiite leader in Iraq who was executed by Saddam Hussein in April 1980. Moreover, the Raja was familiar with the relationships that existed with religious leaders in Iran, including the founder of the Islamic Republic, Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini and his successor, Ayattollah Ali Khamenei.
Many students from Lucknow went to Najaf, the most important Shiite center in Iraq until Saddam Hussein took over Iraq. The Iraqi Ba’ath regime’s persecutions of the Shiites in the early 1970s forced Lucknow’s Shiite students to study in Qom, Iran, which quickly became the center of Shiite studies. Others like Ali Khan went to study in the Sayyidah Zaynab Shiite center near Damascus. There he studied Arabic, which he speaks fluently. Today, he watches events in Syria with great fear over the fate of the Shiite madrassas and compounds in Sayyidah Zaynab.
Lucknow has great respect for Iran. The religious and cultural ties between the two are very strong. The devoted visit the holy places in Iran, especially Mashhad, where the Eighth Imam is buried; nearby are the graves of Raja Mahmudabad’s parents.
The country, and the world, would benefit.4:07 PM, May 4, 2015 • By IKE BRANNON
Most of the time the International Trade Commission makes the news -- in these pages, at least -- it’s because of its enforcement of anti-dumping rules that do little but boost the price of items such as steel and sugar for U.S. consumers.
8:01 AM, Apr 20, 2015 • By JERYL BIER
The U.S. State Department is looking to design and facilitate a media ethics course for journalists in India, and has even proposed appropriating the name of Robin Thicke's 2013 hit "Blurred Lines" as a title for the course. The U.S.
9:04 AM, Feb 11, 2015 • By JERYL BIER
In January, the State Department signed contracts for an estimated $1,690,000 million for hotels for President Obama's trip to India. Two of the contracts were for the New Delhi stay, and another two were for Agra, the location of the Taj Mahal. That latter leg of the trip was cancelled when President Obama decided to leave early to pay his respects to the recently deceased king of Saudi Arabia. The president stayed in New Delhi for two nights.
7:33 AM, Jan 26, 2015 • By DANIEL HALPER
President Obama is being knocked by local press for chewing gum today at the Republic Day parade in India.
10:34 AM, Jan 18, 2015 • By DANIEL HALPER
The Associated Press White House correspondent, Julie Pace, described President Obama's trip to India later this week as an entrance into the "lame duck" part of his presidency:
"President Obama crosses into one of the indisputable stages of a lame duck presidency this week. That is the non-essential foreign travel stage," Pace said on CNN. "He's going to India basically for a parade and a visit to the Taj Mahal.
... and India is the newest threat.4:40 PM, Sep 30, 2014 • By TWS PODCAST
The WEEKLY STANDARD podcast with frequent contributor Thomas Joscelyn discussing his recent piece on "Misunderstanding al Qaeda" and how its growth is becoming a threatening success.
12:14 PM, Sep 30, 2014 • By DANIEL HALPER
President Obama will be taking the prime minister of India, Narendra Modi, to the Martin Luther King Jr. Memorial, the White House announced.
A reformist prime minister vs. a dysfunctional defense ministry.Jun 30, 2014, Vol. 19, No. 40 • By GARY SCHMITT and SADANAND DHUME
American strategists are taken with the idea of India’s strategic potential: a large democracy with a blue-water navy and the world’s third-largest armed forces that happens to be jammed between an imploding Pakistan and an expansionist China. But a deeply dysfunctional Indian defense community has frustrated efforts to turn that potential into reality. Will the election of Prime Minister Narendra Modi last month with the strongest mandate of any Indian leader in 30 years jumpstart much-needed reforms?
Three Western visions on the Indian subcontinentJun 23, 2014, Vol. 19, No. 39 • By PAULA DEITZ
In the final scene of My Architect, Nathaniel Kahn’s 2003 documentary about discovering his father Louis I. Kahn (1901-74) through his architecture, Nathaniel stands in the National Assembly building in Dhaka, Bangladesh, speaking to Shamsul Wares, a local architect who knew Kahn and claims that the building gave his country democracy.
Hope and change on the subcontinentJun 2, 2014, Vol. 19, No. 36 • By JONATHAN FOREMAN
The Indian elections that ended with a resounding victory for the Hindu nationalist Narendra Modi and an even more resounding defeat of the ruling Congress party have huge implications not just for India’s potential prosperity, political evolution, and unity but also for the region and the world economy.
The pressure is on to sell to China’s military.Nov 18, 2013, Vol. 19, No. 10 • By JOSEPH A. BOSCO
Next month’s meeting of the U.S.-China Joint Commission on Commerce and Trade in China will feature a familiar ritual. American negotiators will face intensified pressure for Washington to lift restrictions on the sale of military and dual-use technology to China. Over time, the perennial drip-drip of Beijing’s complaints against U.S. trade discrimination in this area, bolstered by American business desires to close the trade gap, has proved effective.
8:04 AM, Jul 24, 2013 • By DANIEL HALPER
Vice President Joe Biden, speaking today at the Bombay stock exchange, claimed Indian relatives.
11:12 AM, Jul 23, 2013 • By DANIEL HALPER
The vice president's wife, Jill Biden, spent time with "slum dwellers" in India, according to the pool report.
"Second lady Jill Biden visits slum dwellers in Agra Agra, Jul 23 (PTI) It was a memorable day for the slum dwellers of Kachchpura near the Taj Mahal here as they had a VIP visitor -- US second lady Jill Biden who spent nearly an hour with them," reads the pool report.