Zakir Naik: Peace Preacher or Hate Monger

April 20, 2016

(@KLIA on the way back to Phnom Penh)

Zakir Naik: Peace Preacher or Hate Monger

by Dr. Lim Teck Ghee

Dr. Zakir Naik, the controversial Muslim televangalist, is no stranger to Malaysia. He was here first in 2012 to deliver lectures in Johor Baru, Shah Alam, Kuantan and Kuala Lumpur. According to the organizers of the first lecture series, their objective was to promote harmony among people of various religions.

He is now into his second lecture tour series here. Presumably his objective to spread the message of peace, love and brotherhood among the various religions and Islam remains unchanged.

But perhaps his presence is also to emphasise the superiority of Islam over other religions; and as stated in the website of the Islamic Research Foundation of which he is President and founder, “about the truth and excellence of Islamic teachings – based on the glorious Qur’an and authentic Hadith, as well as adhering to reasons, logic and scientific facts”?

His main claim to fame (and contrariety)  in Malaysia comes from being recipient of the Ma’al Hijrah Distinguished Personality award by Yang di-Pertuan Agong Tuanku Abdul Halim Mu’adzam Shah in 2013 for his significant service and contribution to the development of Islam. He has also received various other awards and honours – all from Islamic governments or organizations.

That said, his standing with some non-Muslim governments and organizations is less creditable and more controversial. The religious television channel, Peace TV, which acknowledges him as its main ideologue as well as driving force, has been banned by his own government, the Indian government, for its anti-Indian malicious content.

This is a reasonable statement

The station has also been in trouble with various broadcasting authorities for some of its content and Dr. Zakir himself has been banned from entry to the United Kingdom, Canada and Singapore – in the UK, for allegedly “engaging in unacceptable behaviour by making statements that attempt to justify terrorist activity and fostering hatred.”

It could be that Dr. Zakir has been unfairly targeted and victimized for his religious zealotry and popularity with the Muslim community. He has claimed, for example, that he has been quoted out of context for his views on terrorism.

But if he has been misquoted or has recanted for his earlier views on Al Queda and his support of Islamic terrorism, what are his perspectives on Islam and other religions which have enabled him to gain such a huge following among Muslims all over the world, and have him placed so high up on the pedestal?

Peace Preacher or Hate Monger.

Critics who have followed his lectures and preaching – Dr. Zakir, following the example of Christian telemarketers, describes himself as “a dynamic international orator of Islam and comparative religion – have expressed concern over his conservative and extremist views on a wide range of subjects, including apostasy and the propagation of other faiths in Islamic states, both of them major issues in Malaysia.

On the former, he is said to have argued that Muslims who convert from Islam should not necessarily receive death sentences, but that under Islamic rule those who leave Islam and then “propagate the non-Islamic faith and speak against Islam” should be put to death. Another source states that according to Dr. Zakir “there is no death penalty for apostates in Islam, until the apostate starts to preach his new religion; then he can be put to death.”

On the latter, Dr. Zakir has noted that while he appreciates that people of other religions allow Muslims to freely propagate Islam in their country, “the dissemination of other religions within an Islamic state must be forbidden because (he believes) other faiths are incorrect, so their propagation is as wrong as it would be for an arithmetic teacher to teach that 2+2=3 or 6 instead of 2+2=4.”

Similarly Dr. Zakir has argued, “regarding building of churches or temples, how can we allow this when their religion is wrong and when their worship-ping is wrong?”

Similarly, The Times of India in a profile piece on Dr. Zakir has argued that “the Wahabi-Salafist brand of Islam, bankrolled by petro-rich Saudi Arabia and propagated by preachers like Naik, does not appreciate the idea of pluralism.”

The article quotes Muslim scholar Wahiduddin Khan: “Dawah, which Naik also claims to be engaged in, is to make people aware of the creation plan of God, not to peddle some provocative, dubious ideas as Naik does.”

He adds: “The wave of Islamophobia in the aftermath of 9/11 and the occupation of Iraq and Afghanistan have only added to the Muslims’ sense of injury. In such a situation, when a debater like Zakir Naik, in eloquent English, takes on preachers of other faiths and defeats them during debates, the Muslims’ chests puff with pride. A community nursing a huge sense of betrayal and injustice naturally lionises anyone who gives

A community nursing a huge sense of betrayal and injustice naturally lionises anyone who gives it a sense of pride. Never mind if it’s false pride.”

Whether Dr. Zakir should have the right to be in Malaysia and to speak on comparative religions may be controversial but in our part of the world apparently lacking appropriate Islamic “wise” men and leaders to look up to, hopefully it is not false pride that Dr. Zakir is peddling but the doctrinal and institutional re-caliberation of the religion so that Malaysians can be reassured of its contribution to our religious and racial peace and harmony.


19 thoughts on “Zakir Naik: Peace Preacher or Hate Monger

  1. Islam is Islam … Islamic Laws are Islamic Laws … if anyone who want to be a Muslim, then he or she has to obey the Islamic Laws. If not, don’t become a Muslim …… simple…!!!

  2. whatever good or bad that you say about him is irrelevant, Muslims in Malaysia adore him. if other faiths felt threaten then too bad, no one cares.

  3. Almost all Religions and their leaders/preachers have been used by those in political/corporate leaderships since the religions were first established and in return religious leaders/preachers have used those in power in politics/corporate for own benefit when they realized that the ‘fear of the Almighty’ can be used to influence the political/corporate leaders. A good example is tax exemptions on its collections/assets/revenues and donations from the corporate sector.

    Benefit from opportunities when realization comes and Zakir Naik may be a master in the art of using religion for personal benefit. There may be many others who may be masters of using their own religions for personal benefit.

  4. “Muslims in Malaysia adore him.” malik

    Hmm.., that’s why he’s a ‘special’ Human Being? Tokoh something or other? No familiar Austronesian candidates then?! Or are you chaps too busy trying to find out what the term ‘Melayu’ actually means? But Muslims don’t ‘venerate’ except for the Shia, ya? So when is his Dato/Datukship due? After all, even Jackie Chan got one.

    Why then is almost every Muslim here appalled at the adoration of the Virgin Mary or Magi or Hindu-Buddhist Deities then? Because they are Graven – made of substance?

    Some of the Judeo-Christian persuasion like me, are thinking twice or thrice about ‘prophet’ Abraham’s cockup.. I still say that he is a Mythological figure, not to be taken literally, but as a ‘metaphor’.

    What Islam needs is a Martin Luther King, not another brittle apologist like Naik or Turun. Rhetoric is strictly a Greek modus operandi, but the hubristic Me-Best, are Shouting Peddlers of Disturbia.

    Btw, i detest Christian or whatever Televangelist as much.. All microwaves and no substance.

  5. Dr. Lim took a meek approach toward what is preached by Dr. Naik. Any Islamists who dig in in believing Quran as immutable literal words directly from God and Mohammad as the best model of human behavior are enemies, or at least ideological enemies, of Malaysia which is a nation founded in the supremacy of the Constitution as far as governance is concerned. A meek approach such as in expressing hope for religious harmony in countering Islamist’s supremacy is bound to fail because the meek approach lacks the clarity of what to protect and to fight for while its opponents know exactly what they want.

  6. Dr. Zakir Naik is doing more harm than good for Islam for there will be more true muslims instead of radical muslims, who are willing to die as suicide bombers and killing innocent people in pursuit for islam’s version of salvation. Groups like ISIS, alqaedah, alshabab, boko haram, Taliban, Hamas, Mujahideen, Daesh etc cannot be mistaken for what they are doing for they are totally convince it is ALLAH who commanded them to kill, surah 9:5. These fanatics are real muslims who know the quran and the hadith and are fervently emulating their prophet for the wonderful promise of blessings and the irresistible promise of 72 virgins for men’s Jihadist though there is no mentioned for women jihadist.

  7. Malays in general are so fascinated by ‘Islamic preachers’ from foreign societies plagued with violent radicalism, chaos, intellectual shallowness, low literacy, racism and bigotry, not mentioning how these societies view women and child marriage as well as how they view people of other religions. Malays in general fail to see that the Hindu-Buddhist syncretist Malay cultures existed centuries ago have shaped the traditional Malay culture into a more sensible, cultural and enriching way than how the imported Saudi cultures have misshaped them. But from this blog I feel Malaysians in general are tired of religious bigotry or any kinds of talk that amplify and exacerbate all kinds of religious phobia. Malaysia has become a nation phobic of what is going to happen to the debt-ridden country run by those voted into power yet turned into abusers, schemers, troublemakers, robbers and oppressors. Malaysians are tired and angry but do not know what to do. Sad.

  8. Wish he could also have spoken about what the Quraan says about justice,morality,ethics,corruption.,do no mischief no earth

  9. In his short time here, he understood well the political dynamics of Malaysia and promptly encourages coalition of Umno and Pas. No wonder Umno goons falling over each other supporting his Malaysia tour.

  10. Martin Luther King Jr, Isa. The American Baptist pastor, who was at the forefront of the African-American Civil Rights and Emancipation of All regardless of Color, Creed, Poverty and Ignorance by nonviolent civil disobedience.

    I wouldn’t be so presumptuous, to speak of Martin Luther with his 95 Thesis nor John Calvin or Ulrich Zwingli – the Leaders of the Protestant Reformation. Even Prof Tariq Ramadhan of Oxford, has been considered persona non-grata in Tunisia, Egypt, Libya, Syria and Israel. I guess ‘renaissance’ Muslim Brotherhood scions are ‘dangerous’ to the powers that be.

    I was shocked to learn, even the scion of a Hamas leader, Mosab Hassan Yousef (cf The Green Prince) became a kafir..

  11. Quote:- “Islam is Islam … Islamic Laws are Islamic Laws … if anyone who want to be a Muslim, then he or she has to obey the Islamic Laws. If not, don’t become a Muslim …… simple…!!!

    Errhhhh…… not so simple.

    Has there been any universal agreement among Muslims what exactly are the “Islamic Laws” for Muslims to obey?

  12. I have seen some of his debates with the atheists and he certainly sprouts nonsense. He went on about the Theory of Evolution as being just a theory, and not a fact or law. I guess his scientific credential is as solid as Sarah Palin’s.

  13. “Has there been any universal agreement among Muslims what exactly are the “Islamic Laws” for Muslims to obey?” Wayne.

    In a sense, there is an universal agreement. This is how it works. First, Islamist parents will inculcate their children the immutable nature of Quran as literal words from god and Mohammad as the best model of human behavior to the end of the time. Then, anything not fully captured by Quran, Hadith, and Sira must be decided by Islamic scholars in the form of consensus (ijma). All Muslims, per the Islamists, must obey to the above. The Islamic law has been well written and approved by authoritative organizations such as OIC (Organization of Islamic Cooperation, representing all heads of states of all Muslim-majority nations) and sunni premier institution Al Azhar in the book called “Reliance of Traveller”, which you can get from any Islamic bookstores or conferences.

    It is not a matter of if there is an agreement of Islamic law per Islamic tradition. Because there is. It is a matter of if we accept the fact there is such agreement per Islamic tradition, and if the Malaysia’s Constitution stays supreme in the realm of governance despite the agreement exists for the Islamic law.

    A way to test if there is an agreement is to take up the “Reliance of Traveller” when you find a dispute on public issue related to Islam or anything, and observe how the issue is resolved in the direction pointed by “Reliance of Traveller” when the religion authority has its way.

  14. Reading comments from Malik and Ahmad Raslan are what reinforce our fear of Muslim encroachment on others. Growing up as a Malaysian, I learned shut the “” up relating to Malay or Muslim issues. We don’t have the rights on questioning.

    I am only puzzle with Malay muslim are so concern about Christian sharing their faith with others. Do we not know every day there is a Chinese Muslim teach quran on tv and radio? Also, Muslim read out Islam prayers during school assembly. What about media coverage if a nobody convert to Islam. (I am not a Christian). It seems like the government trying to promote and convert others. I have no problem with that but don’t condenm the Christian if you are doing it too.

    Just felt a double standard from the goverbment. Anyway, who cares! Non-Muslim is just a nobody.

    I am sorry for been negative. Just tired with Islam. They preach about Islam about justice but PAS can work with Najib. They preach protecting helpless but they allow child marriage. Even Amanah did not condemn the doctor from India!

    I am done with telling people Islam is about peace, justice, etc though I am not a Muslim.


  15. “Has there been any universal agreement among Muslims what exactly are the “Islamic Laws” for Muslims to obey?”

    No. Islam like all the other Abrahamic faiths have this little problem with schisms and sectarianism. The advantage Islam has over the others is the sense of shared victimhood amongst its adherents not to mention the sense of persecution. Muslim solidarity is not based on shared dogma but rather a sense of grievance complicated with final word syndrome.

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