By Arshad Alam, New Age Islam
is rather rich of Zakir Naik to write an open letter to the government about his
perceived sense of persecution at the hands of Indian authorities. As I have
written in previously, every person including Zakir Naik should be probed
within the due process of law. To create conditions in which he is forced to
live outside India without a clinching evidence is hardly excusable. That he is
followed by thousands of Muslims who have not become terrorists is proof enough
that there is a complex set of causative factors behind every act of terror. A
complex phenomenon such as terrorism should not be simplified as the result of
the teaching and sermons of some individual.
Naik’s letter however goes further. It accuses the government of the day of
selectively targeting Muslims. Zakir Naik becomes the victim within this
narrative by becoming one of the 170 million of India’s Muslims.
problem starts right here. A majority of Muslims here are poor and uneducated
and mostly do not have a voice. On comparison, Zakir Naik owns a million-dollar
enterprise and has a powerful lobby fighting for his defence. How then can he
compare himself with the average Indian Muslim?
Zakir Naik speaks openly against the religious practice of the majority of
Indian Muslims. He has accused them of being open to polytheism and not
following the correct tenets of Islam. How then does he become one of them?
Clearly his ideas about Islam is much at variance with that of the majority of
Indian Muslims. And that’s precisely the reason why he cannot represent the
majority of Indian Muslims. For almost all major schools of Islam in India,
barring Salafi-Wahhabi-Ahl-e-Hadeesi, Zakir Naik represents something other
than Islam; in fact, the majority even refuse to certify him as a religious
sounds patently hypocritical when Zakir Naik talks about ‘murder of democracy’
and violation of ‘fundamental rights’. Of course, all this is peppered by the
undertone of ‘justice’ which he argues has been denied in his case. Talking in
terms of democracy and rights would almost make Zakir Naik a believer in these
secular ideas. However, all his own speeches and conduct have belied this.
person who sings praises for the kingdom of Saudi Arabia, accepts their
hospitality and prize is now talking about democracy and human rights. Why
didn’t he remember them when the Saudis gave him millions to promote their
ideology of Islamism? As a champion of democracy, why did he accept Saudi money
when it is well documented that there are flagrant violations of all kinds of
rights in that kingdom. What kind of democracy is he talking about when his
mentor hangs and stones people for petty crimes in full public view?
cannot be any doubt that Zakir Naik is talking about democracy and rights
without even believing an iota in these concepts. After all, didn’t his
Islamist predecessors argue that democracy was a system of men and what they
wanted was to bring the system of God? Has Zakir Naik all of a sudden turned
secular when confronted with man-made laws?
the same letter, Zakir Naik argues that he is promoting peace and harmony in
society through developing an understanding of Islam. Again, he probably knows
that this is not the case. Through his erroneous understanding of the text, he
has created newer religious schisms within the Muslim society so much so that
there was a fatwa against him. If he cannot create harmony even within Muslim
society, then heaven only knows how he is going to create peace and harmony
within the Indian society. His sermons actually have the opposite effect: of
promoting enmity between different religious groups in society.
one is hell bent on arguing that Islam is the best religion in the world and
that polytheism of the Hindus is a backward and deplorable religious worldview,
then how does this promote peace and tolerance? If he continues to justify that
Islam alone is the saviour of world, then how does this promote peace and
mutual respect? Calling such sermons of a third rate pedant as dialogue
militates against the very idea of a dialogical plural world. Zakir Naik is not
interested in dialogue: he is a fascist demagogue who wants the entire world to
convert to his point of view.
hypocrisy on democracy begins to unravel the minute he takes recourse to the
Quran. There are many passages within the text to cite in terms of pluralism and
tolerance. But to quote the verse which tells Muslims to be patient and wait
for their eventual victory over the polytheists is perhaps too much. This is
not a man who is a believer in the virtues of secular laws like democracy. This
is a man who wants to unfurl the Islamic flag everywhere, demean and trounce
all other religious traditions. The recourse to democracy and the language of
rights are only a means to an end: that of establishing the supremacy of Islam.
Arshad Alam is a
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