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Why are youth getting misguided by Zakir Naik’s speeches?

[dropcap]T[/dropcap]he government had issued a statement justifying the ban imposed on Controversial Islamic preacher Zakir Naik’s NGO Islamic Research Foundation (IRF). In a gazette notification, issued two days after the Union Cabinet decided to ban IRF under the Unlawful Activities Prevention Act (UAPA), the Home Ministry said the NGO and its members, particularly, the founder and its President Zakir Naik, has been encouraging and aiding its followers to endorse or attempt to promote, on grounds of religion, disharmony or feelings of enmity, hatred or ill-will between different religious communities.

Fifty one year old Dr. Naik, a thin person, follows simple life style but is very eccentric on his views about Islam. He is Mumbai based a trained medical doctor having studied MBBS and has been a controversial figure for Muslim theologians for long. A strange aspect about Zakir Naik is that he is not political personality, never endorses any party or leader. I have never seen him sharing space with any politician. You won’t find him attending political rallies and politicians attending his events. This can be seen as the uniqueness of a religious figure in India who is not using his influence in politics. There is a huge list of religious personalities who are members of parliament or contest or attend political rallies, support some parties and he isn’t one of them. However, he has his own voice and followers, more than any other Islamic leader.

The central government has received information that the statements and speeches made by Zakir Naik are objectionable and subversive in nature as “he has been extolling the known terrorists like Osama Bin Laden, proclaiming that every Muslim should be a terrorist and claiming that if Islam had indeed wanted, 80 per cent of Indian population would not have remained Hindus as they could have been converted “if we wanted” by sword, justifying the suicide bombings, posting objectionable comments against Hindu Gods, claiming that Golden Temple may not be as sacred as Mecca and Medina and making other statements which are derogatory to other religions,” the notification said. The Home Ministry said through speeches and statements, Naik has been promoting enmity and hatred between different religious groups and inspiring Muslim youths and terrorists in India and abroad to commit terrorist acts.

He mesmerizes youth by answering their queries from how right is being suicide bomber to committing suicide, and many other topics. He literally counsels people and convinces them to a large extent about his argument. What he speaks can be many times misinterpreted or misunderstood, the reason he conveniently explains the query without any caution note. It is very difficult to say, what appeals to the Muslim youth in his speeches but he is heard by many. He has many young admirers, many educated Muslims who respect and follow him. Zakir Naik is a well-educated intelligent rational voice of Islam, and hence someone they can connect with. The structure of Sunni Islam is such that not many can claim to be very influential, but yes Zakir Naik has few takers. He is refreshingly different from other preachers, who are either busy defending their religion or very tiny trying to ferment some kind of revolution. He, on other hand, claims to be an expert in comparative religion study and hence they see him countering other religions.

If you visit his social networking site pages, youth share, comment and interact with this person very religiously. But that does not mean he has no critics or haters. He is hated by many, large number of Muslims across the country, both Shia and Sunni sect had earlier demanded that Dr. Zakir Naik should be expelled from the community. He is staunch Muslim with religious fundamentalist, and over the years, he’s becoming more intolerant and dogmatic, which has unfortunately served only to increase his popularity. He has the right to free speech, so I’m not really sure what can be done to curb his influence. Understanding the logical flaws in his seemingly impressive arguments is often too complex a task for his target audience (and possibly, even for him). Apart from this, I personally don’t think he has any capacity or intention to cause any significant harm to the society. If you ask me, the Owaisi brothers are much more provocative and dangerous than him.

Many people used to seeing Muslims on back foot defending their religion, find it revolting to see a Muslim heaping criticisms on them and not only that but spitting verses from their books to put forward claims and counter-claims. Naik is banned in UK and Canada for peddling Salafist Islam and hate speech. He is among 16 banned Islamic scholars in Malaysia. In India, the Unlawful Activities Prevention Act (UAPA) does not provide for banning individuals.

Anyway, I too saw one of his video on You tube but it did not impress me much. Let the investigating agencies find out the truth, and reason why the youth are getting misguided by his speeches and book him if he is proved guilty.

 (Any suggestions, comments or dispute with regards to this article send us on [email protected]

Dr Vaidehi Taman
Dr Vaidehi an Accredited Journalist from Maharashtra is bestowed with Honourary Doctorate in Journalism, Investigative Journalist, Editor, Ethical Hacker, Philanthropist, and Author. She is Editor-in-Chief of Newsmakers Broadcasting and Communications Pvt. Ltd. for 14 years, which features an English daily tabloid – Afternoon Voice, a Marathi web portal – Mumbai Manoos, monthly magazine Beyond The News (international). She is also an EC Council Certified Ethical Hacker, Certified Security Analyst and is also a Licensed Penetration Tester which caters to her freelance jobs.

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