New Delhi: When Dr Abdulkarim Naik, a renowned psychiatrist and father of Islamic televangelist Zakir Naik passed away a couple of days ago, people thought that Islamic preacher will come and attend his father’s funeral. Nonetheless it didn’t happen.
Dr Abdulkarim Naik had passed away at around 3am in the morning and his funeral prayer, like any pious Muslim was offered at the earliest, in this case just following the afternoon prayers the same day. Muslims usually don’t delay the funeral prayer of the deceased, and in this case it was done at the earliest though one of his two sons was not around.
In the meantime there are reports that the government has begun the process to put Naik’s educational trust in prior permission category. Reports suggest that the cancellation process for his NGO Islamic Research Foundation’s FCRA registration has been initiated.
Reports are also doing the rounds that the Home Ministry in the Government of India is also preparing a draft cabinet note for to ban the NGO under the anti-terror law. It will be declared an ‘unlawful association’ under the Unlawful Activities Prevention Act after investigations by the Home Ministry found it to be allegedly having dubious links with Peace TV, an international Islamic channel, accused of propagating terrorism, an official source said. According to the draft note, which is also based on the inputs from Maharashtra Police, Naik, who heads the IRF, has allegedly made many provocative speeches and engaged in terror propaganda. Maharashtra Police has also registered criminal cases against Naik for his alleged involvement in radicalisation of youths and luring them into terror activities, a source said.
Nonetheless, despite these reports that have been appearing from time to time, there are reasons to believe that the government may not like to take such a drastic step against Zakir Naik or his NGO Islamic Research Foundation.
1-No proof of his involvement of in preaching terror
Notwithstanding the fact that the allegations have been leveled against Dr Naik for supporting terrorist activities in the country, there is no case at all against him right now. The only ‘evidence’ against him for supporting terror is a sentence that is used out of context by his critics. But it also clearly shows that the whole argument is without basis. On the contrary, Dr Naik has been trying to persuade Muslim youth to defeat terrorism and has said that Islam abhors anarchy.
While defending himself regarding the allegation of supporting terrorism Naik says, “Many of the news channels in India are showing a clipping where I am saying that every Muslim should be a terrorist. Whenever anyone wants to malign me, they show the clipping.” He goes on to add, “This clipping, yes it is me saying it but it is out of context. I said a terrorist is a person who terrorises someone. I also gave an example that a policeman terrorises a robber. So, for a robber a policeman is a terrorist. In this context, every Muslim should be a terrorist to the anti-social element”.
2-No proof that he ignited hate against other communities
Instead of igniting hate against other communities, Dr Naik has tried his best to bring people of different faiths onto a single platform. Many top leaders of Hindus, Christians, Buddhists and other faiths have attended his programs that are usually massive in scale.
Renowned Hindu spiritual leader like Sri Sri Ravi Shankar has also attended and discussed Islam and Hinduism with Dr Naik. It was a very long debate that was held in a very cordial environment. Nonetheless later office of Sri Sri alleged that Naik distorted his message. “Sri Sri was to talk about the Hinduism aspect whereas Zakir Naik on Islam. Naik frequently referred to a book written by Sri Sri called ‘Hinduism and Islam’, and distorted Sri Sri’s message in the book,’ it added. The statement further reads that the book highlighted the shared values between the two religions and sought to bring them together, adding that it had influenced many youth who were skeptical about Hinduism. ‘This was not finding favour with Zakir Naik’s philosophy of denigrating other religions. A couple of Muslim men, who seemed to have been asked by Zakir Naik to come on the mike, shared that they were pandits earlier and had now had become Muslims,’ it said.
3-Huge support base
Dr Zakir Naik has a huge fan following across the country and the rest of the world. He has more than 15 million followers on Facebook and all his programs are attended by tens of thousands of people wherever they are held.
While it is being said that many Muslims including Darul Uloom Deoband scholars are against him, recent developments prove that it is not the case. Once Darul Uloom Deoband issued a fatwa against him, arguing that Naik was misleading Muslims and spreading mischievous things. Deobandi scholars called his lectures a fitna (rebellion) and labelled him an agent of Ghair Muqallideen (those who don’t adhere to established doctrines of Islam).
While that may be true, but it happened many moons ago and now the same Darul Uloom has come out in his defence. Earlier this year Darul-Uloom Deoband objected to media citing its fatwas against Zakir Naik and linking them to the allegations against the Islamic preacher that his speeches had incited terrorists involved in Dhaka cafe attack. Ashraf Usmani, Darul Uloom’s media coordinator said that a few fatwas were issued by Deoband against Naik on issues related to Muslim sects. But these were being “delibrately highlighted” by some newspapers and television channels in their reports on Naik, who has come under scanner after it was reported that Dhaka attackers were allegedly inspired by his speeches. “Therefore associating fatwas issued by Deoband in the past with the allegations against Naik linked to terrorism is wrong and objectionable,” he went on to add.
4-Increasing bonhomie with Gulf nations
Government of India is trying to cultivate relations with Gulf nations. These nations including Saudi Arabia and United Arab Emirates are great supporters of Zakir Naik. Prime Minsiter Narendra Modi has been trying to attract investment from Gulf nations. He visited UAE last year and Saudi Arabia, earlier this year.
Prime Minister Modi’s UAE visit was a massive success. While Modi tried to woo the UAE’s investors for the infrastructure projects and opportunities upto a trillion-dollar potential, the two sides were able to establish the UAE-India Infrastructure Investment Fund, with the aim of reaching a target of USD 75 billion to support investment in India’s plans for rapid expansion of next generation infrastructure, especially in railways, ports, roads, airports and industrial corridors and parks. Also, they agreed to facilitate participation of Indian companies in infrastructure development in the UAE and promote strategic partnership in the energy sector. India is also hoping substantial investment from not just Saudi Arabia but also Qatar and Kuwait in the coming days.
5-Some face caving action
While government may not ban Dr Naik’s Islamic Research Foundation or any serious step regarding him, there may be some face saving action against one of his smaller organizations active in the country.