Did you know that there is a corner of Jerusalem that has a distinct Indian stamp to it and its various residents wear their Indian origin like a medal?
Next to the Al-Aqsa mosque in the city there is the Indian Hospice in Jerusalem. The hospice is managed by the Ansari family and has a centuries-old connect to India.
Indian pilgrims to the “holy city” of Jerusalem, can stay at the ‘Indian Hospice’ and pay homage to the Indian Sufi saint Baba Faridudding of Shakar Ganj, who visited the place 800 years ago.
The Indian Connection Through Baba Farid
The year is 1200, a little over a decade after the armies of Saladin had forced the Christian Crusaders out of Jerusalem. And an Indian Sufi saint from Punjab named Baba Fariduddin of Shakar Ganj travels to the war torn city.
It is said that Baba Farid swept the stone floors around al-Aqsa mosque as a mark of devotion. He is also known to have taken up fasting in the silence of a cave nearby.
Long after he went back to India, Muslims from the sub-continent who passed Jerusalem on their way to Mecca stopped at this spot in memory of Baba Farid. It became a sort of temporary residence for the pilgrims.
Ansaris Deputed To Care For Baba Farid’s Legacy
In early 1920s, Jerusalem’s Supreme Muslim Council requested the leaders of the Khilafat Movement of British-ruled India to nominate someone to care for the hospice. The Khilafat leaders honoured the request of the Supreme Council then headed by Arab nationalist Mohammed Amin Al-Husseini. That is how in 1924 Sheikh Nazir Hasan Ansari – who was also part of the Khilafat Movement – was chosen to go to Jerusalem to take charge of the hospice.
His son Sheikh Munir Ansari now heads the place. The two have during their respective years as administrator of the hospice, persuaded the rulers of several Indian Muslim states, including Hyderabad, to make contributions for the upkeep of the hospice. Munir’s son Nazeer proudly explains the glorious history of the place.
Not only pilgrims, but Indians from all walks of life who visit Israel like to meet the Ansaris. They are amazed by the way the Ansaris care for that piece of India in the land of Arab-Jewish confluence. Past visitors include famous journalists, presidents, Indian politicians, celebrities and commoners.
The Ansaris value the responsibility that comes with the inheritance of the heritage. Their FB page says:
Maintaining and protecting an Indian institution in Jerusalem’s old city is no easy task. But Sheikh Munir has accomplished the impossible with delicate diplomacy and extreme tact.
The Indian Hospice
The Ansari family has been a steady presence in Jerusalem ever since and they all still carry Indian passports.
source: http://www.thequint.com / The Quint / Home> News Videos / by Kirti Phadtatre Pandey / July o4th,2017