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Centre has done the right thing to initiate a probe into the funding of Islamic preacher Zakir Naik’s NGO

By Firoz Bakht Ahmed*
Some ten years ago, while I had started to hear Zakir Naik, my first impression was that he is an Islamic researcher, having command over his other religions’ scriptures, with an amazing memory bank backed by skilled oratory. However, when time progressed and he started disparaging and belittling other religions and their gods and goddesses, I could gauge through his nefarious design of spreading the Wahabi-Salafi brand of exclusivist and dogmatic Islam under which extremism and bigotry are allowed.
The way, Zakir is propagating his petro dollar funded religion with Islamic supremacy and belittling other religions, this is not Islam at all as in Islam, the biggest sin is hurting the other person’s feelings. Naik’s trend is similar to that of the ISIS.
Now that Naik is in the quagmire of an international controversy and banned in the UK, Canada, Indonesia and Malaysia, I could connect to the fact that this quandary was not very far. Though it took almost ten years in secular and safe India for the government to have awakened and understood the purport of the exclusivist and radicalized Naik, however, better late than never.
Even the suicide bombers, absolutely castigated by Islam, are allowed in the obscurantist Wahabi Islam. Perhaps, Zakir Naik was carrying out a design — arabized Islam — a dangerous option. The irony is that this very brand of Islam that he preaches is un-Islamic and has given a u-turn to the a, b, c, d of Islam from amicability to animosity, benignity to barbarism, compassion to cruelty, dialogue to deadlock and rationalism to radicalism.
In radicalized Wahabi Islam, there is no room for modernity and moderation — both inseparable features of Islam preached by Prophet Muhammad (pbuh) and the holy Quran. Wahabis sham Sufi saints and instruct to pull down their graves, including that of the Prophet. Their terrifying vocabulary is fully negative with words like — bidat (infringement), shirk (equating someone with Allah), jahannam (hell) etc. Even for the minutest flaws like seeing a film, dancing, singing etc, a Muslim is hell bent according to Naik’s hellish explanations based on the Salafi tenet which believes in everything that harms and hirts Islam. The Wahabis believe that all the non-Muslims are to be subjected to biggest misery including the Sufis and Shias even. They do not recognize even Prophet Muhammad.
The massive funding by Naik’s supporter, the Saudi government and other unknown sources from various nooks and crannies of the world, aim at tarnishing and defilement of the Sufi or moderate and accommodative version of Islam, basically followed in India and most of the world. Once in the 13th century, the eminent traveler, Ibn-e-Batuta came to India and commented that the Indian version of Islam was the best. It that pluralistic vision that is being hit at its roots by the Wahabi Naik.
Zakir Naik, under the guise of interfaith understanding, is in reality, indulging in misunderstanding and misinterpretation through his mammoth memory of the lines, verses, pages and chapter numbers of the holy scriptures of different faiths which actually casts a magical spell on the innocent and unassuming listeners taking him to be an enigma.
Truth is that it is an impious cocktail after the mix-up of all religion, ritual and orthodoxy in the horrendous cauldron of Naik’s misguided zeal. He takes them for a ride that way. What is very loathsome is the clapping of the huge populace at his gatherings laughing at the mockery and disparaging of the Hindu gods and goddesses.
This immature act will not augur well for a common Muslim as whatever creaking doors of Hindus brethren, are opening upon him, will stop, rather, be banged upon him. Naik will come out of this imbroglio owing to his clout; however, a common Muslim on the street will face the backlash as he will be branded as Zakir or Owaisi follower.
In public, he claims his religion to be the best while disparages others’ faiths. In one of his live lectures, he stated that Ganpati was killed before his father who couldn’t save him; therefore how would Hindu Gods protect their followers. Beyond doubt, it was a very hurting and incendiary comment. How bad the Hindu brethren would have felt? As a matter of fact, Quran says,”Lakum dinokum, waley yadeen”, meaning, “You follow your religion and let’s follow ours.” According to Prophet Muhammad, the most hateful act is hurting somebody and Naik hurts and hurts on the pretext of calling a spade a spade.
Truth is that in Islam, hurting other people’s feelings, is considered to be the biggest sin. The problem is that the adamant preachers like Zakir Naik through their so called intolerant and fanatical homilies and sermons, hurt people beyond redemption. Naik is very arrogant to the point of publicly humiliating those people whose questions challenge him. Anyone who wants to have a debate with him, he turns inflexible and rigid stating that before debating him, one must enjoy the confidence of a gathering of at least ten thousand followers. While uttering all that jargon, he often demeans and publicly humiliates the unassuming person.
Naik preached that all Muslims could turn into terrorists if Islam was in danger. He also stated that the graves and temples need to be demolished. He favoured the breaking the Bamiyan Buddhas’s statues to teach a lesson to the Buddhists. He even praised Yazid who had slashed the jugular of the Prophet’s grandson, Imam Hussain. It is a blasphemy. According to him if a Muslim, out of interfaith goodwill smears a bit of gulal (red powder) on his forehead on the occasion of Holi, he is deprived of his religion and is excommunicated from Islam. What humbug!
Based on false piety, Naik’s explanations regarding polygamy, kufr (atheism), family planning,burqa, talaq and afterlife, are all puerile and unacceptable by a common Muslim. He cursed Sania Mirza playing tennis stating that she was hell bound. He favoured suicide bombing and Osama. There wasn’t a single word by him on Saudi Arab Medina blasts. Owing to being backed by huge funding, he has been branding and packaging the Wahabi tenet from his designer stages worth millions of rupees. Innocent Muslims get carried by that immense spectacle.
The Centre has done the right thing to initiate a probe into the funding of Islamic preacher Zakir Naik’s NGO, Islamic Research Foundation (IRF), after his speeches came under scanner for inspiring the Dhaka attack in which Bangladeshi militants killed 22 people, mostly foreigners as two of the terrorists, Rohan Imtiaz and Nibras Islam, were influenced by his misguided ideology. There are allegations that the NGO's funds were used to “induce” people to follow Islam and radicalize youngsters.
Rohan and Nibras were indoctrinated and brainwashed by the speeches and websites of Zakir Naik like Bangalore’s Kafil who had carried out the Glasgow terror attack, Najibullah Zazi who had carried out the attacks in the US and Rahil Sharif, the 7/11 train blasts accused besides others. While I heard Naik and his ilk stating in defence that they had no hand in the terror attack, it holds no water as what is of paramount importance to note down, is the ideology and logic of the that hideous ghetto mindset that encourages acts of terror.
There are fatwas (an Islamic decree) even against him by the Darul Uloom Deoband that his content and methodology of treating other religions inferior, is against the Islamic tenets and away from knowledge and wisdom (Fatwa 288/ 4894 and Fatwa 1541/ 1322). They call him Ghair Muqallid (not following true Islam).
What is most shocking is that despite having known about his nefarious plans pertaining to Wahabi indoctrination, the previous and present governments besides the Bihar and UP ones, never fixed Naik owing to their own perfidious plans of vote bank politics. He is a half baked preacher with half truths and lies in the market of packaged religions like any other baba! Whether he is imprisoned or not, it is it is for the investigating agencies to decide, however, the way is is avoiding to come to India, smacks of all that is fishy.
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*Columnist, educationist, chairman of Friends for Education, grandnephew of Maulana Abul Kalam Azad, India’s first Minister of Education

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