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The Agenda Behind The Hostile Attack On Dr. Zakir Naik

21 August 2016

By Dr. Ali Al-Ghamdi

Dr. Zakir Naik is an Indian citizen who obtained a degree in medicine and is well-known as an Islamic preacher. He has an amazing ability to convince listeners during debates and question-answer sessions. His audience includes not only Muslims but also Hindus, Christians, Buddhists and pagans. On certain occasions, he faces provocative questions and for this he gives answers at length and in detail but in a tolerant manner, using quotations from scriptures, including the Holy Qur'an, the Bible and the holy books of Hindus and Buddhists. In his replies, he mentions the verse and chapter numbers of the quotations from the holy book, and the authenticity and reliability of the chain of transmitters (Sanad) while mentioning any of the Traditions of the Prophet (peace be upon him).

Naik strictly follows the style of the late Sheikh Ahmed Deedad, the world-renowned Islamic preacher who was based in South Africa, in his propagation to the path of God with wisdom and goodly exhortation. He explains the magnanimity of Islam and its teachings in a highly impressive way which has an electrifying impact on his audience. Naik gives credit to Sheikh Deedat from whom he learnt the basic tenets and techniques of Islamic propagation in a simple but powerful style. He also recognizes that it was Sheikh Deedat who was instrumental in changing his career from a medical doctor into a doctor for the ''minds and souls''.

Naik founded the Islamic Thought Foundation in Mumbai, India's largest metropolitan city in the western Maharashtra state. He also established an Islamic propagation channel based on comparative religion called Peace TV Network, which broadcasts in a large number of languages. Naik is actively involved in spreading the moderate teachings of Islam, away from intolerance and violence, inspired by the propagation style as instructed by the Holy Qur'an in the following verse in Surah Al-Nahl. ''Invite to the way of your Lord with wisdom and good instruction, and argue with them in a way that is best. Indeed, your Lord is most knowing of who has strayed from His way, and He is most knowing of who is (rightly) guided.''

Naik has achieved great success through his foundation and television channel in spreading the tolerant, gentle and kind teachings of Islam. In recognition of his outstanding contributions, he was awarded the prestigious King Faisal International Prize in the category of Service to Islam last year. Naik received the Faisal Prize from Custodian of the Two Holy Mosques King Salman in a grand ceremony held in Riyadh. Speaking on the occasion, he thanked King Salman and the King Faisal Charity Foundation for honoring him and selecting him for the prestigious award. He announced that he would donate the prize money worth $200,000 to charity.

Naik's success in the propagation of the divine religion of Islam and its teachings of moderation and tolerance as well as the acceptance of his propagation in Indian society have infuriated some Hindu nationalist and extremist forces and organizations like Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS), which are hostile to everything Islamic. As a result, some media outlets of these fanatic organizations that are now unleashing a smear campaign against Naik and his pacifist activities.

There have been relentless attempts to tarnish his image and the activities being carried out by him. They demand the intervention of authorities to halt his activities and revoke his passport. At the same time, he counters such attacks with his call for fostering tolerance and harmony in Indian society, especially among Muslims and Hindus, by bringing home the idea that they can together make India a superpower of which of every Indian, irrespective of his religion and caste, will be proud.

The deadly terror attack at a café in a posh area in Dhaka, Bangladesh was carried out by a group of terrorists affiliated to Daesh (the self-proclaimed IS), killing several unarmed foreigners. The horrendous attack drew worldwide outrage and those who slammed it included Zakir Naik, who was in Makkah to perform Umrah at that time. Naik condemned the terrorist attack, saying that a Muslim who believes in true Islam cannot be involved in such terror attacks. However, the Bangladesh authorities announced that Naik's speeches were found to have inspired terrorists involved in the attack. Following the confession of one of the terror suspects, arrested in connection with the attack, that he was inspired by the speeches of Naik, the Bangladesh authorities banned his Peace TV in the Bengali language from the airwaves and online as well as his Peace mobile phone.

I would like to emphasize that there should be a clear differentiation between terrorism and what is being aired by the Peace TV channel and is being done by Naik in a clear and tolerant language away from intolerance and hatred. Even if the confession of the terrorist is true, there is every chance that its real target could be the noble mission of Naik and his peaceful propagation of Islam.

It is a well-known fact that these terrorists label those who do not believe in their deviant ideology as infidels. Their media outlets which are hostile to Naik and his peaceful Dawa activities have seized the opportunity to unleash a vicious attack against him. The Bangladesh authorities have taken advantage of this to take a similar approach, which is totally unfair, illogical and unjustifiable.

— Dr. Ali Al-Ghamdi is a former Saudi diplomat who specializes in Southeast Asian affairs. He can be reached at algham@hotmail.com

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