Hinduism in Arab states

Hinduism in Arab states

There are many Hindus in Arab states, many due to the migration of Indian labourers to the oil-rich states around the Persian Gulf.For example, about 60% of the Indian community in Dubai and the Northern Emirates are blue collar workers who live in labour camps, according to the Consulate General of India in Dubai. Although these are primarily single men, there are also very many Hindus living in family units in the Arab countries.

Hindu temples have been built in Bahrain, the United Arab Emirates, and Oman. Generally speaking, non-Muslims are not legally permitted to proselytize in these states.

The estimated figures for the Hindu population in several Arab countries is as follows: [http://indiandiaspora.nic.in/diasporapdf/chapter4.pdf]

* Saudi Arabia 1,100,000
* United Arab Emirates 900,000
* Oman 300,000
* Kuwait 200,000
* Bahrain 100,000
* Qatar 90,000
* Yemen 6,000

* Total: 2.7 million

The number of Hindus in other Arab countries, including the countries of the Levant and North Africa, is thought to be negligible, though Libya has an Indian community of about 10,000 [http://meaindia.nic.in/foreignrelation/libya.pdf] individuals, many of whom are likely to be Hindu. It is not known whether any Hindu temples exist in these countries.

(See Hinduism by country for the sources of these figures, which may need to be adjusted.)

Historical background

Historically, links between Arabia and the western coast of India have been strong and persistent. Arab sailors were using the southwest monsoon winds to trade with western Indian ports before the first century CE. An Arab army conquered Sindh in 711. Arab traders settled in Kerala in the 8th century, becoming the ancestors of the Mappilas. In the opposite direction, mediaeval Gujaratis and other Indians traded extensively with Arab and Swahili ports, including Ormuz, Socotra, and Aden. Arab merchants were the dominant carriers of Indian Ocean trade until the Portuguese forcibly supplanted them at the end of the 15th century. Indo-Arabian links were renewed under the British Empire, when many Indians serving in the army or civil service were stationed in Arab lands such as Sudan. The current wave of Indian immigration to the Arab states of the Persian Gulf dates roughly to the 1960s.

Hinduism in Oman

Oman may be the only country in the Middle East which has an indigenous Hindu minority. The number of Hindus have declined in the 20th century although it is now stable. Hinduism first came to Muscat in 1507 from Sindh. The original Hindus spoke Kutchi language. By early 19th century there were at least 4,000 Hindus in Oman, all of the Intermediate merchant caste. By 1900, there numbers plummeted to 300. By the time of independence only a few dozen Hindus remained in Oman. The historical Hindu Quarters of al-Waljat and al-Banyan are no longer occupied by Hindus. Hindu temples once located in Ma'bad al Banyan and Bayt al Pir, no longer exist. The only active Hindu temples today are the Muthi Shwar temple located in Al-Hawshin Muscat, the Shiva temple located in Muttrah, and the Krishna temple located in Darsait. The only Hindu crematorium is located in Sohar, northwest of Muscat. The most prominent indigenous Hindus Kutchi , are Khimji Ramdas, Dhanji Morarji, Ratansi Purushottam and Purushottam Toprani.

[http://www.jepeterson.net/sitebuildercontent/sitebuilderfiles/Oman_Diverse_Society_Northern_Oman.pdf 1]


* [http://www.cgidubai.com/ Consulate General of India in Dubai]


* [http://www.library.cornell.edu/colldev/mideast/omanhe.htm A Former Hermit Kingdom, Oman Emerges From its Shell]
* [http://atheism.about.com/library/irf/irf04/blirf_oman.htm Oman - International Religious Freedom Report 2004]
* [http://www.omantourism.gov.om/Topics/General/Culture.htm The Sultanate in Brief - Culture and Heritage]
* [http://www.state.gov/g/drl/rls/irf/2002/14010.htm International Religious Freedom Report 2002: Oman]

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