Zakir Naik, Islam and Democracy

Dr. Zakir Naik, is an Islamic preacher who advocates salafist version of Islam. Zakir Naik is a medical doctor. He has founded Islamic Research Foundation and runs a TV channel, called Peace TV. Dr. Naik is an authority on comparative religion, who advocates surpremacy of Allah. He considers Islam to be only true faith. Allah is the all powerful and merciful. In his congregations he challenges non believers to debate. His only condition being, nonbeliever has to convert to Islam if he loses debate. In real life Dr. Naik is a very soft spoken person. He never uses violence or abusive language.

I met a muslim gentleman on a summer morning. I, along with a few others, was waiting in a shade outside an examination centre. My daughter was writing her competitive examination, one of many students appearing in class XII board write. A middle aged man showed up. From his dress and his beard it looked like he was a practicing muslim. He sat amongst us. He was easy going, talkative and friendly. He was teaching in Jamia Milia Islamia school. His daughter was also writing competitive test. As we chatted along, discussion shifted to religion. The muslim gentleman said, consider me to be your excrement, but tell me how can you call monkey or an elephant a god? Can your god protect you? If I slap you, will your god come and kill me. Many of us mostly hindus, practicing or otherwise, felt extremely uneasy on the direction discussion was moving towards. Strangely, none of us could defend ourselves. Many questions appeared juvenile. Can you really argue with a child on higher philosophy? A few moved away. Another muslim gentleman was sitting inside his vehicle nearby. He was getting visibly upset and angry. But he kept quiet. After some more needling, when none of us took the bait, the topic changed to what should we get for lunch when children come out after exam. 

Was this gentleman, whom I met on the summer morning, a follower of Dr. Zakir Naik. I do not know. This man was friendly and polite on social issues but extremely dogged in proving supremacy of his faith. Later I read Dr. Naik uses similar analogies in his lecture. Dr. Naik urges muslims not eat prasad unless it is proven Ganesha, elephant headed god, is actually a god. I had a colleague. He practiced Islam. He was a doctorate from the US. In office, he would not eat sweet offered in Diwali puja. It is emerging that Dr. Naik has hundred million followers. Whatever he says carry weight amongst a section of population.  I think, I had the opportunity to meet at least two of them. Intelligence agencies claim, terrorists that attacked Best Bakery eating joint in Dhaka were influenced by teachings and preachings of Dr. Zakir Naik.  Some young followers of Zakir Naik decided to join ISIS to fight non believers.

Several governments including UK, Canada, Malaysia and more recently India and Bangladesh have banned Peace TV telecast. Indian government has banned Zakir Naik’s organisation from receiving foreign fund. Law ministry of government of India is thinking banning Zakir Naik’s organisation altogether. Dr. Naik thinks banning his organisation will be anti-democratic. A man who does not believe in secularism, a man who preaches a version of Islam that if came to power would enforce sharia law, strangely taking refuge behind principles of democracy. 

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