Who Is Zakir Naik And Why Did PDRM Ban Him From Holding A Religious Talk In Malaysia?

The Islamic preacher is banned from speaking at various countries including Singapore and the US.

Cover image via Muslim Terbaru

Local news sites have been abuzz with talks of the Malaysian authorities cancelling Indian Muslim preacher, Zakir Naik's talk to protect religious sensitivities in the country

Image via Gulf News

Inspector General of Police, Tan Sri Khalid Abu Bakar said the police have decided not to allow controversial preacher Dr Zakir Abdul Karim Naik's programme this weekend to go ahead as scheduled.

He cited public order and religious sensitivities as the reason not to allow the Mumbai-based preacher to deliver his speech.

The preacher is supposed to hold a talk on "Similarities Between Hinduism & Islam" at Universiti Teknikal Malaysia Melaka (UTeM) on Sunday, Apr 17.

"In our view, when the preacher discusses the topic (of) similarities between Hinduism and Islam. It (the discussion) cannot stray away from touching on the weakness of one religion," said the IGP, as reported by news portal, Malaysiakini.

The sudden decision comes after MIC's youth division and several Indian NGOs lodged reports against Zakir's scheduled talks, urging the authorities to ban the preacher due to his alleged comments against Hinduism in the past

An MIC Youth division and ethnic Indian-based NGO coalition, Rapat, today lodged police reports against popular Muslim preacher Zakir Naik, over a scheduled lecture in Malacca on the similarities between Hinduism and Islam.

Negri Sembilan MIC Youth claimed the preacher, an Indian national, had before this insulted followers of Hinduism and Christianity at a lecture at UiTM Shah Alam.

Rapat lodged a police report against the Malacca lecture, to be held at Universiti Teknikal Malaysia (Utem) on April 17, at the Sentul police station, Kuala Lumpur.

Hindu Rights Action Force (Hindraf) had also asked the Government to ban the preacher from entering the country.

To better understand the issue, here's a little background information on the Indian born, Islamic preacher, Dr. Zakir Naik:

Born in Mumbai, Maharashtra, India in 1965, Zakir Naik is a medical doctor by professional training and subscribes to the Salafi movement within Sunni Islam.

The Islamic preacher gained popularity in the 1990s for his fiery, informational speeches about Islam and claims to be on mission to clarify the misconceptions against Islam. Zakir is also the founder and president of the Islamic Research Foundation (IRF).

The 51-year-old doctor's speeches and debates on religions are most often heavily laced with quotations from the Quran, Bible and sacred Hindu texts like the Vedas, Upanishads and the Bhagavad Gita

According to the Islamic Research Foundation (IRF), Zahid has delivered more than 200 public talks all over the world, including USA, England, Canada, France, Kuwait, Morrocco, Botswana, Malaysia, Indonesia, Singapore, and many other parts of the world.

The site also noted that Dr. Zakir's talk at Bihar, India in 2012 was attended by more than one million people, making it one of the largest gathering in the world for a religious lecture by a single speaker.

Having spoken on a variety on topics surrounding Islam, Christianity and Hinduism, some of Dr. Zakir's talks in the United States and India, especially 'The Qu'ran and the Bible In the Light of Science' and 'The Concept of God in Hinduism and Islam in the Light of Sacred Scriptures', was said to be well received by people of all faith.

While many have criticised the learned speaker for his ultra-Islam views, one must take into account that Dr. Zakir makes it a point to justify his opinions based on sacred scriptures of various religions

“Peace – The Solution for Humanity” in Mumbai

Image via Fun On The Net

At a symposium on 'Religion in the Right Perspective: Concept of God in Hinduism, Christianity and Islam', Dr. Zakir stressed on the importance of understanding a religion through its sacred scriptures as opposed to following its adherents.

When questioned by a fellow attendee during on of his talks on whether he is denying the fact that there is no God but Allah, Dr. Zakir said, "There was no God before Allah, there is no God before Allah, there will not be a God before Allah."

He went on to say that Islam is not a new religion and has been around even before Hinduism started.

One of the most controversial statements made by the Islamic preacher, was when he openly expressed his support for the brutal terrorist group, al-Qaeda and its founder Osama bin Laden

The founder of al-Qaeda, Osama bin Laden

Image via PBS

During one of his many speeches, the renowned scholar allegedly said, "If he [Osama bin Laden] is terrorising the terrorist, if he's terrorising America, the biggest terrorist, I'm with him. Every Muslim should be a terrorist! The thing is that if he's terrorizing the terrorist, then he's following Islam."

The statement got him barred from various Western countries, including the United States of America, Canada and England.

He later explained that his statement was taken out of context, saying that he only meant that every Muslim should be a terrorist towards a selective group of people like criminals and not the innocent masses.

This is not Dr. Zakir's first visit to Malaysia. In 2012, he delivered a series of lectures at UiTM Shah Alam, and the Putra World Trade Center, which was attended by prominent local figures including Dr. Mahathir, despite major protests by certain local NGOs.

Dr Zakir Naik Malaysian Tour 2012 at Uitm Shah Alam

Image via Nur Azzah

Hindraf Makkal Sakti and a local Gerakan leader have called on the government to bar controversial Muslim preacher Zakir Naik from Malaysia.

Former president of Malaysian chapter of Transparency International, Tunku Aziz Ibrahim, meanwhile cautioned Zakir not to “come here and insult Malaysians”.

"Malaysians should demonstrate their consistent stand against religious extremism. It’s time for all Malaysians to oppose Zakir and stop him from coming here," said Gerakan’s Baljit Singh.

Meanwhile, preaching religious freedom, Perkasa Youth has urged MIC members to attend Dr. Zakir's talk instead of criticising it blindly

Perkasa Youth leader Irwan Fahmi Ideris

Image via Malay Mail Online

Perkasa Youth has urged MIC to cease interfering in issues pertaining to Islam with regard to the party's attempts to stop controversial Muslim scholar Zakir Naik from holding a talk in Malacca.

Perkasa Youth leader Irwan Fahmi Ideris, urged MIC leaders to attend the talk titled 'Similarities between Hinduism and Islam' and pose questions to Zakir instead of pelting him with criticism from the sidelines.

"I want to ask them (MIC), why the need to prevent Zakir from delivering his talk? Is it because of the title?

"I urge them to ponder on this for a moment. Most of Zakir's talks are delivered with knowledge. He analyses issues in detail and with confidence. He also provides clear and precise answers," he said.

Dr. Zakir Naik has been banned from delivering a talk titled, 'Similarities Between Hinduism and Islam' at Universiti Teknikal Malaysia campus in Malacca on April 17, by the PDRM on grounds to avoid potential public unrest, as reported by Malaysiakini

Recent years have seen a great amount of religious tension in Malaysia, with politicians making racially sensitive statements and universities holding seminars to strengthen faiths:

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