Zakir Abdul Karim Naik is one of the most divisive figures in modern Islam today. His speeches and debates, watched over the world by about a 100 million people, are full of references to the Quran, Geeta and Bible. He is considered by many as the founder of ‘comparative religion’ propagated through Peace TV and yet his views on Islam as a religion can hardly be described as anything other than radical.
Naik was born on 18th October 1965 in Mumbai. He had a pretty decent education as he went to Kishinchand Chellaram College in Churchgate, and also studied medicine at Topiwala National Medical College, and BYL Nair Charitable Hospital. He is an MBBS by education and yet it is his public speaking which makes him one of the most recognizable Islamic scholars in the world. This, as many people would agree, is a ridiculous oversimplification of what Zakir Naik is known for all over the world.
So what does Zakir Naik actually do? His bio on PeaceTv.in gives this insight to the man:
“Dr Zakir clarifies Islamic viewpoints and clears misconceptions about Islam, using the Qur’an, authentic Hadith and other religious Scriptures as a basis, in conjunction with reason, logic and scientific facts. He is popular for his critical analysis and convincing answers to challenging questions posed by audiences after his public talks.”
Reading the bio one would believe that he is, in fact, very good at what he does. I mean, the guy has an eidetic memory and anyways who would not be convinced by a well reasoned, logical statement supported by scientific facts, right? Wrong. Take a look at this video clip where Naik proves why husbands have the right to beat their wives ‘lightly’.
Now, to any man who is educated or is just simply human, the idea of beating a woman even ever so ‘lightly’ as a manner of admonishment would be disgusting to say the least. That Zakir Naik, being a celeb scholar and an MBBS by education, would even hint of it at a public platform, citing Quran for a source of reference shows the mentality of a man crippled by selective generalization of the holy text.
The manner in which Zakir Naik goes on to stress on the importance of Qu’ran in the philosophy that he preaches also shows why Islam as a religion is being taken for ride by fundamentalists who propagate their own agenda even if it means giving their own little spin to religious texts and interpretations.
His speeches, no matter how inflammatory in nature, are followed by a massive audience all over the world. And that is not a coincidence. At a time in history when radical Islamic organizations all over the world are spreading their roots, Zakir Naik’s incendiary teachings are bound to reach its target audience. And this is where the concern of the author lies. Take for example how he aptly justifies his hate speech justifying all Muslims to become a terrorist:
“Many of the news channels in India are showing a clipping where I am saying that every Muslim should be a terrorist. Whenever anyone wants to malign me, they show the clipping. This clipping, yes it is me saying it but it is out of context. I said a terrorist is a person who terrorises someone. I also gave an example that a policeman terrorises a robber. So, for a robber a policeman is a terrorist. In this context, every Muslim should be a terrorist to the anti-social element,” Dr. Naik said.
This is the video clip in question which describes how he fully justifies supporting Osama Bin Laden against America:
And no matter how much Zakir Naik might stress on why his teachings are well intentioned. This is not what a radicalized youth in a terror camp understands. He takes these speeches by Zakir Naik at face value, as anyone who is battle hardened to blow himself up, will.
And it was proved once and for all when it was revealed that one of the attackers in the Bangladesh Bakery attacks obsessively followed and was inspired by his speeches. When scholars, especially those who preach strict discipline of Quran, become influencers for terrorists it’s a clear indication of something rotten in those studies preached by the scholars.
In the end, it is up to the modern Indian Muslim youth to decide what teachings they want to follow and pass on to their next generation. A person propagating hate and violence as a means of upholding his religious identity is nothing more than a coward.
This is however, not the end of the story. Recently after the Dhaka attacks his NGO Islamic Research Foundation was in the docks for brainwashing youth into radical Islamic activities. It was linked to various organizations in Kerela and was then banned by the government for five-years. Now that Naik’s activities are thoroughly under the scanner, the scholar sitting in his plush home in Dubai, planning his next moves. For now though, the Zakir Naik phenomenon is firmly anchored outside India.