Zakir Naik: "Peace TV" Calls for Terrorism
by Irfan Al-Alawi
Dr. Zakir Naik is a 44 year-old Muslim preacher born in India. He has gained a significant international following by establishing a satellite television network, Peace TV, which promotes Wahhabi Islam; it is based in Mumbai/Bombay, Saudi Arabia, and Dubai, and has a supporting organization, the Islamic Research Foundation. Naik has mainly broadcast his message in English as well as Urdu. But Peace TV is an ambitious enterprise that now aims at Albanian Muslims, among others.
Zakir Naik is distinguished by one characteristic: incitement of provocative disdain for any other Muslims than Wahhabis and Pakistani jihadists, as well as other faiths. Incitement, by calling on Muslims to become terrorists and supporting Al-Qaeda, is not protected speech in the UK, Canada, or India.
Naik and his group have been properly condemned by Indian Muslim leaders; and Western leaders sensible enough to pay attention to him and his real activity – his alleged belief in peace aside – have joined their voices to those of Muslims seeking to protect India from terror.
Naik most recently gained wider attention in mid-June when the British authorities banned his entry to their country. Naik intended to deliver lectures in London and the northern British city of Sheffield. Also prohibited from entering Britain were Abu Ameenah Bilal Philips, another radical Wahhabi, who was exposed on the UK Channel 4 Dispatches program, "Undercover Mosque," and a frequent commentator on Naik's network, as well as Areeb Islam, a South African Muslim. Canadian authorities followed the British example by cancelling Naik's multiple-entry visa, thereby preventing him from appearing live at an Islamist mass meeting in Toronto: the third annual "Journey to Faith Conference," over the weekend of 2-4 July. The "Journey to Faith Conference" has been known since it began in 2008 as an assembly of Muslim radicals.
The Muslim Council of Britain (MCB) protested the ban on Naik's entry. MCB is a fundamentalist body linked to the Muslim Brotherhood, and known both for its false claims to represent all British Muslims as well as for the financial support it received from the former Labour government. MCB representative Inayat Bunglawala called on the new Conservative-Liberal Democrat coalition to permit the entry of Naik and Philips on the grounds of free speech.
Britain and Canada decided correctly in banning Naik, a strident hatemonger, who denounces spiritual Sufis, Shia Muslims, Jews, Christians, and others of whom he disapproves in a vulgar and demeaning manner. Notwithstanding the global footprint of his televangelism to Muslims, he is by no means universally admired or even respected. He has no training as an Islamic scholar; his professional field is medicine. His main audience is found among South Asians but his Dubai and Saudi links demonstrate that he has developed an audience in the Gulf, as well.
He has praised Osama bin Laden, proclaiming that America is terrorist, and has said that in terrorising America, bin Laden is following Islam. He has also resorted to the familiar and false claim that America is Jewish-controlled, and denounced Muslims who wish their Christian neighbours a "Happy Christmas," arguing that this salutation supports the belief, rejected by Muslims, that Jesus was divine in nature. He has called for the imposition of Shariah law throughout India, and engages in flamboyant examples of "Wahhabi dawa," or Islamic proselytizing, to Christians and Hindus.
In 2008, Naik's support of terrorism brought down a fatwa against him by Maulana Mufti Abdul Irfan Qadvi, the chief Islamic religious judge, or qazi, of Lucknow in India, who condemned his support for bin Laden and his exhortation that young people become terrorists. The qazi called for Peace TV to be banned; that the Indian government investigate its financing; and that Naik be treated as an unbeliever, alien to the Muslim community.
A follow-up fatwa against Naik was delivered by another Indian Muslim authority, Mufti Mohamed Ashraf Qadri.
The Indian state of Uttar Pradesh has prohibited Naik from public speaking at assemblies in Lucknow, Allahabad, and Kanpur.
The action of these Sunni leaders against Zakir Naik also reflects the outraged reaction of Shia Muslims in India and Pakistan after Naik praised Yezid, the murderer of Imam Hussein, grandson of the Prophet Muhammad, at the battle of Karbala during the first Islamic century.
Shia Protest, a group active in the UK, denounced Naik for "actively sponsoring terrorism all over the world, participating in this heinous project of killing innocent people, degrading Islam in the name of Jihad, and perpetuating the ideology of hatred."
Within the Sufi community, which is very large in South Asia, Naik has been condemned for his contemptuous sermons against addressing prayers to God through the Prophet Muhammad as an intermediary and through the Sufi Saints.
Unity of democratic countries against Zakir Naik is an exceptional development and should be emulated in many other cases involving extremist Muslims: the British and Canadian prohibition on Naik's agitation should be upheld.