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.
8:22 PM, May 26, 2015 • By WILLIAM KRISTOL
A reader who wishes not to be named, as he toils behind enemy lines—at a university—emails with a good question. It's about this statement by President Obama in his speech at Adas Israel synagogue last Friday:
9:26 AM, Apr 16, 2015 • By WILLIAM KRISTOL
This morning at 10:00 a.m., in Israel, all activity came to a halt as sirens sounded, and Israelis stood for two minutes with heads bowed in memory of the 6 million Jews, one third of the Jewish people, who perished in the Holocaust. Yesterday, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu spoke at Yad Vashem in recognition of Holocaust Remembrance Day. Here are excerpts from his remarks:
1:34 PM, Feb 10, 2015 • By MICHAEL WARREN
President Obama referred to the Islamic terrorists who killed several French Jews last month as people who "randomly shoot a bunch of folks in a deli in Paris" in an interview with liberal website Vox.com. In Tuesday's press briefing, ABC News correspondent Jonathan Karl asked White House press secretary Josh Earnest to clarify the president's position on the terrorists' motivation to attack the kosher supermarket.
A mere 0.2 percent of Europeans are Jewish. 9:01 AM, Feb 10, 2015 • By ETHAN EPSTEIN
If you ignore the cringe-worthy opening line of this article from the Pew Research Center – the Holocaust did far worse than “decimate” Europe’s Jewish population – you will find some interesting facts. In a nutshell, Europe’s Jewish population continues to decline. There are now approximately 1.4 million Jews living in Europe, compared to 9.5 million in 1939. Only 10 percent of the world’s Jews now live in Europe, and a mere 0.2 percent of Europeans are Jewish.
12:03 PM, Jan 9, 2015 • By DANIEL HALPER
Reuters and Agence France-Presse report that four hostages at the Kosher market in Paris are dead.
The case for Jewish-Christian collaboration.Dec 1, 2014, Vol. 20, No. 12 • By MARK TOOLEY
Father Gabriel Naddaf, a Greek Orthodox priest in Yafia, near Nazareth, made news in 2012 when he publicly urged Israeli Christians of Arab descent to join the Israel Defense Forces. Since then, he’s become a lightning rod for encouraging Christians to integrate themselves into Israeli society rather than maintain an Arab identity that typically entails hostility to their country. In the United States in recent days, Naddaf spoke to pro-Israel groups, urging Christians to support the Jewish state against anti-Christian, anti-Jewish Islamists throughout the Middle East.
5:31 PM, Sep 15, 2014 • By DANIEL HALPER
At an event today at Tufts University in Massachusetts, Democratic senator Elizabeth Warren said it was "fair" when an activist compared Israel’s actions in Gaza to the Holocaust.
“Eva Moseley, I’m not a student, I’m not an alumnae, but was in faculty life. I was also a Holocaust refugee and I’m extremely concerned that Jews don’t do to another people what was done to them,” said the activist.
9:12 AM, Feb 14, 2014 • By EDWARD ALEXANDER
Laborare est orare: Work is worship. Once upon a time that Latin cry arose from scores of medieval monasteries. Their monks believed that—as Carlyle later put it--“all true Work is Religion: and whatsoever Religion is not work may go and dwell among the Brahmins, Spinning Dervishes, or where it will…One monster there is in the world: the idle man.” Nor were those old monks the first to believe in the religious nature of work, the blasphemous nature of idleness.
8:13 AM, Jan 23, 2014 • By DANIEL HALPER
The Obama administration is worried that Israel is riling up American Jews, according to a report in the Israeli press. The allegations are detailed in a story headlined, "'US perceives Israel as encouraging anti-Obama backlash among Jews,'" which appears in the Jerusalem Post.
5:38 PM, Jan 21, 2014 • By MARK HEMINGWAY
Yesterday, THE WEEKLY STANDARD reported on the New York City human rights commission's dubious case against seven business owners in the Hasidic community Williamsburg, Brooklyn. The commission alleged that these Jewish stores were guilty of religious and sexual discrimination for posting dress code signs requiring "No Shorts, No Barefoot, No Sleeveless, No Low Cut Neckline," and the stores were facing $75,000 in potential fines. The commission had already been slapped down last year by an administrative judge for alleging that the posted dress code was an attempt by the Orthodox Jewish business owners to impose their religion on others—after all, no one disputes that similar dress codes in courtrooms and other private establishments are acceptable.
"Inadvertently caused offence."3:59 PM, Jan 20, 2014 • By MICHAEL WARREN
In a recent issue the Economist, a British newsmagazine, published an article about the Obama adminstration's efforts to reach a deal with the Iranian government over its nuclear program. The article was accompanied by a political cartoon that depicts President Obama being chained and restrained in his effort to a seal of the U.S Congress. Included on the seal are two representations of the Star of David, a traditional symbol of Judaism.