Indian diplomat Navtej Sarna‘s latest book pieces together the history of an Indian “hospice” in Jerusalem. Spread over seven thousand square metres near the Dome of the Rock, the property has its origins in a visit by Sufi saint Baba Farid about 800 years ago.
It is also the story of the retreat’s caretakers, the Ansaris, who have their roots in Saharanpur in Uttar Pradesh, India. In 1924, Sheikh Nazir Hasan Ansari, the son of a police inspector, left his dusty village in northern India for Jerusalem. Around 45 years old then, he was deputised by leaders of the Khilafat Movement to look after the hospice.
Sarna, 56, is special secretary to the Ministry of External Affairs. He wrote the book during his stint as Indian ambassador to Israel between 2008 and 2012.
For full interview with the author, click here.
(Originally published on Reuters’ India Insight blogging platform)
PS: The book is available on Amazon for 400 Indian rupees.