print
memri
March 27, 2002 No.
360

Saudi Government Paper: 'Billions Spent by Saudi Royal Family to Spread Islam to Every Corner of the Earth'

The March 1, 2002 edition of the Saudi government English weekly Ain Al-Yaqeen extensively detailed the Saudi royal family's efforts to spread (Wahhabi) Islam throughout the world. The following are excerpts taken from the article:

Efforts to Spread [1]
(Wahhabi) Islam

"…The determination of the Kingdom to support Islam and Islamic institutions to the best of its ability was evident from the formation of the Kingdom by King Abdul Aziz but it was only when oil revenues began to generate real wealth that the Kingdom could fulfill its ambitions of spreading the word of Islam to every corner of the world, of assisting Muslim countries less well endowed economically and of alleviating the suffering of Muslim minorities wherever they might live."

"When King Fahd gave his support, either personally or through his government, to these institutions, it was also part of his purpose to challenge and expose the caricature of Islam, which is widely promoted by sections of the Western media…"

"The voice of Islam and Arab culture is stronger now than it has been for many decades and certainly far stronger than it would have been without King Fahd's contribution, but the bias against Islam, the tendency, in some quarters, to identify Islam with fanaticism or even terrorism persists and has not been completely erased from the popular mind in the West."

The Cost is Astronomical
"The cost of King Fahd's efforts in this field has been astronomical, amounting to many billions of Saudi Riyals. In terms of Islamic institutions, the result is some 210 Islamic centers wholly or partly financed by Saudi Arabia, more than 1,500 mosques and 202 colleges and almost 2,000 schools for educating Muslim children in non-Islamic countries in Europe, North and South America, Australia and Asia… All over the world the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia has supported and contributed in the establishment of mosques and Islamic centers…"

Efforts in the U.S.
"The Kingdom of Saudi Arabia under the leadership of King Fahd Ibn Abd Al-Aziz, has given support to the following institutions in the United States: Dar Al-Salam Institute, the Fresno Mosque in California, the Islamic Center in Colombia, Missouri, the Islamic Center in East Lansing, Michigan, the Islamic Center in Los Angeles, California, the Islamic Center in New Brunswick, New Jersey, the Islamic Center in New York , the Islamic Center in Tida, Maryland, the Islamic Center in Toledo, Ohio, the Islamic Center in Virginia, the Islamic Center in Washington, the Islamic Cultural Center in Chicago, the King Fahd Mosque in Los Angeles, the Mosque of the Albanian Community in Chicago, the South-West Big Mosque of Chicago, and the Omar Ibn Al-Khattab Mosque in Los Angeles."

Efforts in Canada
"Also in Canada the Kingdom under King Fahd, has given support to the following institutions in Canada: the Calgary Mosque, the Islamic Center in Quebec, the Islamic Center in Toronto and the Ottawa Mosque. King Fahd has donated five million U.S. dollars for the cost of the Islamic Center in Toronto, in addition to 1.5 million U.S. dollars annually to run the facility."

Efforts in Europe
"In Europe, the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia has supported and contributed in the establishment of many mosques and Islamic centers amongst which the Cultural Center in Brussels, Belgium which has received total support of SR 19 million. The Islamic Center in Geneva, Switzerland, which receives annual support of SR 19 million, and contains a large mosque, a cultural center, a school and a lecture hall, the Islamic Center in Madrid, Spain, which has had total support of SR 27 million, is one of the largest in Europe. It comprises a very capacious mosque, a prayer hall for women, a library, a lecture hall and a medical clinic, the Islamic Center in London, England in which the Kingdom has contributed some SR 25 million to the cost of the London Islamic Center. The Islamic Center in Edinburgh, Scotland, which is located in the city center, contains a mosque which can accommodate 1,000 worshippers, and includes a library, a lecture hall and classrooms. It cost around SR 15 million. The Islamic Center in Rome, Italy that comprises a mosque, a library and a lecture hall. King Fahd donated US$ 50 million (some 70% of the total) to cover the cost of construction. The Center also receives an annual donation of US$ 1.5 million. The Mosque of the Custodian of the Two Holy Mosques in Gibraltar, which cost in excess of SR 30 million and comprises a mosque for men, a prayer hall for women, a school, a library and a lecture hall…"

"…Among the biggest is King Fahd Islamic Center in Malaga, Spain, on an area of 3,848 sq. m., whose foundation stone was laid in 1998. The university-like center embraces academic, educational, cultural, and propagatory activities…"

Establishing Islamic Centers in the U.S. and Europe
"…The Kingdom of Saudi Arabia has also contributed to the establishment of a number of Islamic centers e.g. The Islamic Center in Geneva; Islamic Cultural Center in Brussels; Islamic Center in Madrid; Islamic Center in New York; Islamic Center in Australia; Islamic Center in Zagreb, Croatia; Cultural Center in London; Islamic Center in Lisbon, Portugal; and Islamic Center in Vienna, Austria."

Establishing Mosques
"The Kingdom has established more than 1,359 mosques abroad at a cost of SR 820 million. Other mosques partially financed by the Kingdom included mosques in Zagreb, Lisbon, Vienna, New York, Washington, Chicago, Maryland, Ohio, Virginia and 12 mosques in a number of countries in South America. "

"Amongst mosques which received the Kingdom's or King Fahd's personal financial support are Lyon Mosque in France (SR 11 million); Bilal Mosque in Los Angeles."

"King Fahd also established a number of scholarships and academic chairs in foreign prominent universities and colleges."

Efforts at Universities
"In addition to establishing and contributing in the establishing of mosques and Islamic centers, the Custodian of the Two Holy Mosques King Fahd Ibn Abd Al-Aziz Al Saud, in the course of his reign, has overseen the establishment of a number of academic chairs in some of the most respected universities in the developed world."

"In setting up these prestigious chairs, the Kingdom has pursued a number of objectives. They are further evidence of King Fahd's determination to encourage and enhance communications between Islamic culture and other cultures; to encourage understanding of the true nature of Islam by explaining clearly Muslim beliefs and by correcting common misconceptions and misrepresentations; and to show that Islam embraces knowledge with enthusiasm."

"In this context the King Abd Al-Aziz Chair in Islamic Studies at the University of California, Santa Barbara was set up by the Saudi royal family in 1984. The King Fahd Chair in Islamic Shari'a Studies was set up in 1993 at the College of Law at Harvard University, with a donation of US$ 5 million from King Fahd himself, the King Fahd Chair in Islamic Studies at the School of Oriental and African Studies 'SOAS,' University of London was set up in 1995, with a grant from King Fahd of £1 million, and the Custodian of the Two Holy Mosques Chair at the Gulf University was set up to provide a resident professor in the Faculty of Medicine and Science and Prince Naif Department for Islamic Studies at the University of Moscow."

Establishing Islamic Schools
"With his lifelong commitment to education as the key to unlocking the potential of the individual, it is not surprising that King Fahd Ibn Abd Al-Aziz initiated a program to establish Islamic academies in some of the major capitals of the world. These academies were conceived in order to provide Muslim children abroad with the opportunity to attend an institution of academic excellence which could reinforce their commitment to their culture, religion and language while at the same time opening constructive dialogue with the societies in which they lived."

"Amongst them are the Islamic Academy in Washington Established in 19845 [sic], where multinational students are studying. The Islamic Academy in Washington teaches Arabic and Islamic studies. The academy has 1,200 students, both male and female. Of these, 549 are Saudis. The rest represent 29 nationalities. In the ten-year period 1984 to 1994, the costs of establishing and running the academy were in excess of SR 100 million."

"King Fahd Academy in London, United Kingdom of Great Britain. The King Fahd Academy in London caters for 1,000 students, amongst them the children of Arab diplomats serving in London, as well as other Arab and Muslim children living in London and belonging to 40 nationalities…"

"King Fahd Academy in Moscow, Russia…Is not only a major educational institution; it is a resolute attempt to undo the harm done to Islam and Islamic culture by the totalitarian communist regime of the erstwhile Soviet Union. Under communism, Muslims were persecuted, mosques were desecrated and an alien ideology of materialism was imposed on the individual by the State. The King Fahd Academy in Moscow is one step towards reasserting Arab and Islamic culture and values…"

"King Fahd Academy in Bonn. The King Fahd Academy, opened in Bonn in 1995, it comprises a school catering for 500 students and a mosque which can accommodate 700 worshippers. It combines education in Arabic and Islam with a concerted effort to build bridges with German society by increasing understanding of Arab and Islamic culture. The total cost of the Academy was DM 30 million (equivalent to SR 76.5 million)."

"The Bihac Islamic Academy The Kingdom of Saudi Arabia allocated SR 5 million for the establishment of this important educational institution, as part of its extensive aid program for the Republic of Bosnia-Herzegovina…"

Establishing Islamic Research Institutions
"…Outside the Arab Islamic world there is a number of Islamic research institutes supported by the Kingdom; amongst these are the American University of Colorado, the American University in Washington, the Arab World Institute, Paris, France which receives considerable Saudi contribution to its annual budget, the Duke University, North Carolina, the Howard University, Washington, the Institute of the History of Arab and Islamic Science, Frankfurt, Germany which receives an annual financial support from the Kingdom worth 15 million German Marks, the John Hopkins University, Maryland, the Middle East Institute, in Washington, the Shaw University, in North Carolina, and the Syracuse University, in New York…"

Establishing Islamic Organizations
"In addition to financing Islamic academic institutions and Islamic centers and mosques around the world, the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia has always been a leading member of international Islamic organizations. Throughout King Fahd's reign, the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia has played an active role in all these organizations, using its influence to nurture and encourage unity in the Islamic world amongst which the Organization of the Islamic Conference and the World Assembly of Muslim Youth. In addition the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia has played a role in nurturing Islamic unity through the Muslim World League, based in the Holy City of Makkah Al Mukkaramah…[2]


[1] Subtitles by MEMRI.

[2] Ain Al-Yaqeen, March 1, 2002, www.ain-al-yaqeen.com.