In landmark diplomacy, first non-Muslim Indian delegation makes historic visit to Madinah

New Delhi, Jan 8: As part of her ongoing visit to Saudi Arabia, Union Minister for Women and Child Development and Minority Affairs Smriti Zubin Irani undertook a historic journey to the holy city of Madinah, one of Islam’s holiest cities.

“Undertook a historic journey to Madinah today, one of Islam’s holiest cities included a visit to the periphery of the revered Prophet’s Mosque, Al Masjid Al Nabwi, the mountain of Uhud, and periphery of the Quba Mosque – the first Mosque of Islam. The significance of the visit to these sites courtesy Saudi officials, intertwined with early Islamic history, underscores the depth of our cultural and spiritual engagement (sic),” Irani posted on microblogging site X along with several pictures of her visit.

Irani was accompanied by Minister of State for External Affairs and Parliamentary Affairs, V Muraleedharan.

An official spokesman in a statement issued here said that this was a landmark development and the unprecedented visit marked the first time a non-Muslim delegation had been welcomed to Madinah, underscoring the exceptional nature of India-Saudi Arabia bilateral relations.

The visit is part of an ongoing diplomatic mission, during which a crucial milestone was reached on Sunday with the signing of the bilateral Hajj agreement for Hajj 2024 between India and Saudi Arabia.

The delegation, comprising senior officials from the Ministry of Minority Affairs and Ministry of External Affairs, aimed to strengthen ties and gain valuable insights into the arrangements required for the upcoming Hajj pilgrimage.

The delegation also took the opportunity to engage with Indian volunteers dedicated to serving Hajj pilgrims, extending appreciation for their selfless efforts during Hajj 2023.

Additionally, interactions with Umrah pilgrims from India provided a comprehensive understanding of the diverse needs and expectations of Indian Muslims undertaking these religious journeys.

The significance of this visit lies in its potential to offer firsthand insight into the intricate arrangements required to ensure the comfort and well-being of Indian pilgrims during Hajj 2024.

The Indian government reaffirmed its deep commitment to providing the necessary facilities and services to lakhs of Indian Muslims partaking in the Hajj pilgrimage, ensuring a comfortable and spiritually fulfilling experience.

Earlier in the day, Irani held enriching discussions with the Indian diaspora, comprising dedicated Hajj volunteers and community members.

She also engaged in productive dialogues with Saudi and Indian business professionals, emphasising the crucial role of economic ties in fostering strong bilateral relations.

In addition to these engagements, the minister embarked on a visit to Al-Balad, Jeddah’s historic district, a UNESCO World Heritage Site.

This exceptional gesture by Saudi Arabia, welcoming a non-Muslim delegation to Madinah, underscores the strength of the bilateral relations between India and Saudi Arabia.

As both nations continue to forge stronger ties, this historic visit is poised to contribute significantly to mutual understanding and cooperation in the realm of religious and cultural exchanges.

Madinah stands as one of the two holiest cities in Islam and holds profound religious significance for Muslims worldwide.

Nestled in the Hejaz region of Saudi Arabia, Madinah is renowned as the city to which the Prophet Muhammad (SAW) migrated, marking the inception of the Islamic calendar.

After visiting the perimeter of Al Masjid Al Nabwi in the Markazia area of Madinah, the Irani-led delegation also visited the mountain of Uhud and a visit to the Quba Masjid.

Uhud Mountain is the final resting place of a number of early Islamic martyrs while Quba Masjid is the first Masjid of Islam.

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