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Government should have acted on Zakir Naik a lot earlier: Arif Mohammad Khan

Sadiq Naqvi | Updated on: 10 February 2017, 1:49 IST
Speaking up
  • Arif Mohammad Khan says he finds Zakir Naik ridiculing other religions objectionable
  • Also adds that government should have taken action on him earlier
More in the story
  • Issues Arif Mohammad Khan has with Zakir Naik\'s \'teachings\'
  • Why Zakir Naik is not \'teaching\' the right things for any Muslim

Zakir Naik, the controversial Wahabi televangelist, known for his provocative, often juvenile sermons, like the one in which he claims that it is fine for women to marry other married men, rather than becoming 'public property', is not coming to India anytime soon.

Reports say that he is going to Africa to deliver a series of lectures, even as Indian security agencies scan through his speeches and try to trace the source of funds flowing into his organisations including the Islamic Research Foundation.

The action comes after an outrage against him over reports that his speeches spawned hatred. It was reportedly found that one among the Dhaka attackers had used his sermons to rationalise terrorism.

Bangladesh has already banned Peace TV, his network of channels, which is already banned in India.

Naik, however, claims that he is being unfairly targeted and that he doesn't advocate violence or terrorism. Naik says that his speeches have been taken out of context.

Catch sat down with Arif Mohammad Khan, the former cabinet minister, senior politician and commentator, to discuss Naik's brand of Islam and how it presents a danger to pluralistic ethos. Here are some excerpts -

Zakir Naik talks about inter-faith dialogue, quotes extensively from other religious scriptures...

The basic question is quoting from other scriptures for what? If you are doing it to show, as has been said in the Quran, that you will the same thing is written in every scripture, then there is no problem.

He quotes from other scriptures to ridicule them, to run down other religions. And this is what I find objectionable.

Zakir Naik quotes from other scriptures to ridicule them: Arif Mohammad Khan

If you go by the Islamic viewpoint, for a Muslim, inter-faith is not important. Quran clearly tells us (quotes a verse) that we believe in what has been revealed on to us, which has been revealed to prophets who came before Mohammad, both the named and unnamed prophets.

And the Quran further says that we do not make any distinction among the prophets. They are all on the same pedestal, they are all god's messengers, whether they have been named in the Quran or not.

The obligation of the Muslim is to believe in all prophets. When one believes in all prophets then where is the question of inter-faith?

For example in Hinduism, the Vedas say there is one supreme being, who is formless and indescribable, but the devotee has the freedom to conceive an image of him. It is totally in harmony with the Quranic teachings.

Naik claims to quote from the Quran and the Hadith. Is he misquoting?

Depends on the context. Whatever I have seen of him, he starts quoting from the Quran etc, but it boils down to ridiculing other religions. That is not what Quran teaches us. We are supposed to accept all religions and believe in all religions.

He also drops in a lot of scientific terms and how Quran is better than modern day science...

Quran was revealed some 1,400 years ago. It has advice for all kind of societies. For example, an advice for a tribal society cannot be imposed on a modern democracy.

Naik is entitled to his views. Quran teaches me humility, to respect others. Quran does not consider them as others and says the same message has been given to all the prophets.

Naik also speaks about pan-Islamic unity, does not identify with one sect...

The call of unity that he gives is not for doing good to others. He ridicules not only religions other than Islam but also other sects within Islam.

He is a man who extols, eulogises Yazid, who in my opinion and of a vast mass of Muslims, is the first terrorist in Muslim history.

Also Read: Who is Zakir Naik and why Muslims should be wary of him

But then a lot of people say that he is just exercising his freedom to express and that he is facing a media trial...

As an individual it is his right. But if he says things on behalf of Islam, to which many subscribe to, which goes against the values of Islam, totally against the teachings of Quran - then I have a right to object to that.

The image that he tries to project is far away from the spirit of Quran.

Do you think his teachings are leading a lot of people to rationalise violence?

If they do not lead to violence, then it will come as a surprise and credit must be given to people.

Why do you think organisations like the Jamaat-e-Islami have come out openly in his defence?

If their study of Islam makes them support someone who openly preaches hatred, violence, then it is for them to decide.

Also Read: Why is Islam's poster boy Zakir Naik taking moderate Muslims back in time?

Do you think there is a reluctance among the Muslim clergy to not condemn violence in strong terms?

The Muslim clergy survives on it. People who defend triple talaq, which is the worst form of oppression and violence, you expect them to criticise Zakir Naik? They justify forcible divorce. For them, use of force is an acceptable norm.

While Naik speaks of Sharia, the Indian clerics seem to believe in Indian democracy, and during the freedom movement, at least, spoke of composite nationalism and stood against the two-nation theory...

Their understanding in those days seemed to be - that if India was not divided, it would have the largest population of Muslims, but they will still be in a minority.

And the Muslim political leadership would not have called the shots and the clergy thought that they could also double as political leaders.

The document written by Maulana Hussain Ahmad Madni speaks of composite nationalism but at the same time describes other faiths as false religions. How can you live in peace with people if you describe their religion as a false religion?

Do you think the government's response on the issue of Naik is adequate?

The government should have acted on him much earlier. It doesn't show well on us that we took notice of it only after the Dhaka attacks.

You raised an alarm last year...

I wrote to the President of India Islamic and Cultural Centre, who had invited Naik. I wrote to him saying in times when Islam is being projected as a religion of terror, you are inviting this advocate of terror, providing him with a platform, what impact will it have on others.

Nobody listened to me. The President, in his response called IICC, a socio-religious organisation, when originally it was conceived to promote culture.

In this video, Zakir Naik seems to be rationalising suicide bombings. Although it sounds and looks like him, Catch, however, cannot independently verify the video.

Also Read: Dhaka attack: Digvijay says Sri Sri also shared stage with Zakir Naik, questions Rajnath-Sadhvi link

Also Read: Katju writes to Zakir Naik, challenges him to open debate

First published: 12 July 2016, 11:09 IST