By: Chris Emmanuel Dsouza
It’s an evening show in Maldives, appears like half of the tiny islands inhabitants have congregated to the ‘enlightened’ lecture, a preacher is standing in front of the microphone, eyes covered with spectacles, head with the skull cap and a designer suit with its trousers tucked few inches above the ankles. Over the last twenty years or so, Dr. Zakir Naik has become an influential and widely popular Islamic evangelist in the subcontinent. Based in Mumbai, He has successfully mended the mindset of millions of young men and women, towards a more puritanical brand of Islam. Someone from the audience poses a question to the famed preacher Dr. Naik, asking why there are so many Terror and violence related incidents around the world, mostly and sadly involving Muslims?
The evangelical preacher moves his face closer to the microphone, and with an animated gesture pounces on the media for being biased, “It’s the media, that is maligning Muslims, by picking few black sheep’s in the community and painting the crime committed by few mislead Muslims on the entire Muslim community.”
There has been hardly anything obstructing Dr. Naiks way, all these years. The Indian Government have repeatedly alleged and contended other countries, for harboring terror networks and preachers, while they have often dogged and evaded to encounter snakes in their backyard. The vibrant and corporate funded Indian media has been more submissive and silent on his on verbal stage antics. The only hindrance, he faced was in 2010, when the United Kingdom and Canada, banned him from entering their countries, for his extremist views. This had come finally after years of mass brainwashing of disfranchised Muslim population in those countries. Dr. Zakir Naik has a common defect, he has successfully memorized sacred texts and scriptures of almost all mainstream religions, without narrowly understanding their profundity. The defect exists with most faith-hardliners and religious zealots around the world, in their haste they fail to understand its depth. On his weekend public lectures, before a jam-packed audience, He takes his ire on other faiths, and rubbishes their claims of divinity, and while he mocks their absurdities, The entire crowd bursts into laughter and frenzied applause.
A sane individual would easily disagree with almost everything; this preacher propagates under the name of Islamic Research, which he terms ‘Dawah’. The worrying part of Dr. Zakir Naik’s Dawah is that it is not just socially futile, but it has already won the hearts of millions of Young Muslim minds in the subcontinent in its favor. They turn up in thousands, rapt with attention and doubt nothing in his superlative and objectionable statements. When a so-called Peace Messenger, repeatedly states that “’Apostasy’ from the fold of Islam doesn’t directly bound one to be executed, but then on certain circumstances….” Obliviously, the peril in this statement is the ‘but then on certain circumstances’ can result in murders and decapitation of many progressive Muslims, because they may be perceived as ‘apostates’ by hardcore Zakir Naik fans.
We are living in non-colorful times, where evil regimes have thrived in spreading fear, have butchered religious minorities, children, raped and tortured women and have sold them as sex slaves; to the worst all these savageries has been captured in camera and the footages been posted via social media as means of propaganda and to strike fear worldwide. In these dark times, World renowned Televangelists like Dr. Naik need to show restraint and responsibility in a choice of their words. Dr. Naik’s duty is not to amplify the guilt among young Muslims, but to neutralize that guilt and nourish them with wisdom.
Nothing pleasant can come out of chest thumping and busting claims of other faiths. His views and preachings are highly exclusive, uncompromising, closely resembling Wahabi-Salafi Ideologies. With little doubt, the bulk of his funds flow from Saudi Arabia and all other Oil rich monarchies and has been used as the poster boy of hard-line Islam breaded by these regimes. The consequence has been a painful one, at-least to the Indian Islam, fast becoming realized, thanks to the 24/7 Televengelical effect. The Muslim minorities like Shias and Ahmadiyya’s, have begun to face the heat from puritanical organizations, this may surge as Political Islam blossoms with Owaisi brothers. The most effected are the rich and the plural Sufism, which is showing signs of steady decay around the country.
Post 9/11 and subsequent Terror attacks that followed, Islam has been branded as a violent Religion-Political Ideology almost all over the world. Although several Research Groups affirm, the religion to be the fastest growing in numbers; At the same time losing its rich history, culture and contribution to mankind. The Fanatical cults related to it like the Salafists, the ISIS, and other militant outfits have gone on a rampage not just in slaughtering human lives, but also in plundering and destroying museums, art galleries, insinuated books, thereby, obliterating every kind of modernity associated with Islam.
Dr. Zakir Naik’s idioms assert less on religious reform and more on Geo politics. On every occasion he delivers a public lecture, Dr. Naik does not miss to lambaste the United States and the West, as the enemies of Islam. Sadly, the populist preacher has no words of scorn reserved against Saudi Arabia, the chief financier of global Jihad and a trusted ally of the United States. When one says, that he condemns terrorism and immediately points out that he isn’t sure about Osama Bin Laden being a Terrorist, it isn’t ignorance, but a slander and humiliation to thousands of martyred civilians and soldiers, who have fallen prey to bin Laden’s Ideology. It is hard to fathom, on why young, educated urban class Muslims do not find Naik’s sweeping statements condemnable?
Using Religious doctrines and verses from religious texts to justify scientific facts can be detrimental in years to come. These are half-truths fed to confused youths, unable to comprehend the prevailing complex situations. On rational terms, The Irony is the more the complex situation, the more common sense one has to exercise, but modern day Drawing room youth get easily swayed by such narratives. These half-truths, then evolve as conspiracy theories in the mainstream narrative, in explaining geopolitical affairs. The Urdu Press in India is full of such half-baked theories richly absorbed at face value by millions of readers.
Unarguably, There is a rising discrimination on Muslims worldwide, induced by the actions of Islamic militants, causing a sense of victimhood among many. Dr. Zakir Naik provides alluring answers to that victimized mindset and misguides them by alleging the global media to be anti-Islamic in practice. But, that is exactly what young men and women want to hear, as the truth is always bitter while the lies are sweat everlasting.