Dr. Zakir Naik sounds more sinned against than sinning
A.M. Jamsheed Basha
In the 'Walk the Talk' inerveiw with Dr. Zakir Naik on Varsova Beach early in the morning last week, he calrified a number of points relating to certain misconception about a number problems faced by Muslims in India. Gupta, who introduced Dr. Zakir Naik, at the start of the talk to NDTV viewers, said that Dr. Zakir Naik, was the modern Mullah wearing a suit and a tie much against the traditional cloaks the Mullahs ususally wear. He called him a tele-rock star or tele-evangalist, who not only enthralled audiences in India but all over the world as well with his thought provoking speeches on Islam and other major religions of the world.
In his charactristic style, Dr. Zakir Naik went on to speak on a number of problems and issues facing Muslim community in the country. He said that he believed that a Muslim should study and necessarily acquire knowledge not only in his mother tongue but also in English and Arabic. For he wanted all Muslims to learn besides their mother tongue or Urdu, English and Arabic compulsorily. This would give them an opportunity to study the Islamic literature from its original source and tell the world the truth associated with Islam, as it is the most misunderstood religion of the world.
On the question of his interpretation of Quran based on Hadith, Dr. Zakir Naik said that he goes to the original sources before commenting on anything. He cited a verse from Quran to justify that Allah has directed Muslims to first verify before you comment on anybody or anything concerning human life. While clarifying his stand on Osama bin Laden, he said that he did not know him but learnt about him only through newspapers and television channels. He said he could not say whether he was a saint or a terrorist, as he had no source to verify the facts. On the 9/11 attack by Al-Qaida, he denounced it as unislamic as Allah never approved of killing of innocent people whether they are Muslims or non-Muslims.
Quoting from Quran, Dr. Zakir Naik said that Allah has clearly ordained that killing of even one innocent person amounts to killing the entire humanity. How could then the attack carried out on World Trade Centre in New York have the sanction of Islam or be justified as a revengeful act against atrocities committed against Muslims elsewhere. He further said that killing is justified in self defense if one is attacked. He clarified that one should condemn those who participated in the attack and their perpetrators. He was however, not sure whether Osma bin Laden was behind the attack. He said that he was misquoted by the media that he supported Osama while the fact was that he only said that he cannot vouch for Osama being either Saint or Satan. He also pointed out that one could carry out a campaign of Jihad against corruption in the society.
On 26/11 attack on Mumabi, he strongly condemned the dastardly attack calling it as a henious act. People who carried out the attacked were not Muslims but certainly criminals. That was bad and had to be condemned in no uncertain terms. He went on to say that terrorism cannot be associated with Islam at all as it never teaches killing of innocent people. He said that the word “Jihad' was the most misunderstood and misconceived word in the world particularly among the Muslims. Jihad never meant a holy war. The holy war was called "Harbul Muqaddisa" which was not mentioned anywhere in the Quran.
The word 'Jihad' means struggle against poverty, oppression, injustice but short of a holy war. But our half baked Mullahs without understanding the word Jihad in its proper context have unleased terror calling it a holy war. He said that Quran never teached waging a 'Holy war' against innocent people. The wars that were fought during the early days of Islam were to save it from annihilation and oppression. The conquest of the land was more in the pursuit of political power and not to spread the teachings of Islam. If Islam had spread in the nook and corner of the globe, it was not on the strength of the force but character of the individuals.
Commenting on the use of video graphy and watching television, which some called un-Islamic,
Dr. Naik said that Muslim Mullahs have totally misuderstood it. The videography or televisions were not invented then and as such there was no mention about it in Quran or Hadith. Only the obscene art was prohibited. He said that people can oppose obscenity or pornography either in television or videography or in internet, which is certainly prohibited in Islam. Watching television or videography as such was not prohibited in Islam.
Commenting on the partition of the country, Dr. Zakir Naik said that it was the worst thing that happened to India. He was totally opposed to the idea of partition. He clarified that the division of the country was done by the individuals, without naming anyone, not the entire Muslim community in India. He further said that Muslims in undivided India were well off and they would have been even better off if Pakistan had not been created. Muslims would have been well off politically, socially and economically, as they wre in a majority in many of the places in undivided India. The undivided India would have given Muslim a space to live happily with due representation in the legislatures of the country on the basis of their population and in some states, Muslim would have had their own ruling party like in undivided Punjab, Assam, Bihar, Bengal, NWEF, Kashmir, not to speak of other places where they were in sizable majority. He regretted that division of the country has brought more miseries to Muslims and they are viewed with suspicion as their loyalty was suspected. But then the 26/11 attack had brought all the communites together as a solid block against terrorism. The demonstration of unity and solidarity of Muslims during and after 26/11 was unprecedented and that helped to remove the misgivings about them from the heart and soul of the majority community.
Dr. Zakir Naik, later urged upon the people of India to view religion of Islam as a peaceful religion and Muslims as part and parcel of this country. He went on to say that he was a practicing Muslim and a practicing Indian too and he saw no difference between the two. He further said that it was the same case with all the Muslim population of the country. There was therefore no need to view them with suspicion or question their sense of patriotism.
On Kashmir, he said that he was invited to give a lecture in Srinagar in 2003 at the invitation of the then Governor of Kashmir Mr. Sinha. He had interacted with the people there. He felt that the majority of the people of Kashmir neither wanted to be with India nor with Pakistan. They wanted independent state of Kashmir and he was also for it. But then to a point whether the land locked country independent of India and Pakistan, could be a successful one, he had no answer. However, he urged upon the govt to do something to banish poverty from the Valley and provide gainful employment to the youth there. The root cause of terrorism or separatism was the neglect of the peoples demand on socio-economic front. If the amount that is being spent on defence, if some portion of it was spent in providing such facilities to the people of Kashmir, nobody would think of leaving the state in pursuit of terror. He also suggested that the best solution for both India and Pakistan is to maintain the status quo and concentrate more on developmental work that would keep the people in good shape.
At the end he wanted people to understand the problems of Muslims. They are in need of more educational institutions and proper representations in all branches of govt. He hoped that India being the country of Muslims also would solve all outstanding problems concerning Muslims in the country. On India's constitution, he said that there is no country in the world which provides so much freedom and security to the minorities. This is the country where its consitution has guaranteed freedom to practice, propagate and preach one's religion. This constitution does not discriminate on the basis of colour or creed or religion or region. This is the best consitution of the world and Muslims are grateful for providing such a security to them. He urged upon the Muslim youth to shun violence and parents should see that their wards are not allowed to be misguided into something which is not provided in the religion of Islam. Some have misundertood the concept of Jihad, which is called Jid wo Jihad, meaning struggle against oppression, poverty, illeteracy etc., and it never meant to wage a war agianst the very state in which Muslims live or carry on attack simply because some Muslims were killed in the riots. Avenging against innocent people for no fault of their, is totally prohibited in Islam. Muslims must remember that killing even one innocent person amounts to killing the entire humanity. Islam teaches brotherhood and peace and co-existence with people of other faiths.
Finally, he said that he was totally misunderstood and misquoted on his remarks on Osama bin Laden. He never hailed him as a saviour of Muslim community. He only said that as he did not know much about him, he was not in a position to say whether he was a saint or a sinner. He informed Gupta that he would soon launch a news channel through his Peace TV to keep people informed about the latest developments and also with views to clarify the misgivings associated generally with Islam vis-a-vis Muslims.
As I watch the 'Walk the Talk' interview, I felt that this man Dr. Zakir Naik, is indeed more sinned against than sinning.
A.M. Jamsheed Basha, A Chennai-based Columnist
Transcript of the Shekhar Gupta interview with Dr. Zakir Naik on NDTV
‘The most misunderstood word in Islam is Jihad...it means to strive, struggle to make society better’
•Shekhar Gupta: Hello and welcome to walk the talk. I am Shekhar Gupta in Bombay's Worli sea face and my guest this week, well, I could describe him rock star of tele-evangelism, but surprise of surprises, he is not preaching what you would expect tele-evangelists to preach. He is preaching Islam, modern Islam, and not just Islam but his own interpretation of all the faiths around the world. 43-year-old Zakir Naik. Welcome to walk the talk
Zakir Naik: Hi, nice meeting you. It's a pleasure.
•Shekhar Gupta: Nice meeting you. An Islamic preacher, dressed in suit and tie, using medium of television, when you would expect in these times of sort of Talibanisation, people would think that Islamic preachers are telling Muslims to throw television sets away. You are a different kind of person
Zakir Naik: No actually I follow, as you said, that modern Islam , I believe interpretation of Koran and Hadith . I go back to the original sources. When I speak about religion, I go back to the original scriptures. When I speak about Hindu religion I go back to the Veda, when I speak about Islam I go back to the Koran and the authentic Hadith and then I present it to the world
•Shekhar Gupta: By doing that you build this following of literally, crores and crores of people around the world
Zakir Naik: Ahem ulla. It's god's grace.
•Shekhar Gupta: You said you go to the original sources, so are you suggesting that many others who use the medium of Islam to put many restrictions, watching television for example, going to a model school, particularly for women, they are not reading the original scriptures?
Zakir Naik: What I believe they may take a verse of the Koran Hadith and misinterpret it. Maybe there is a scholar who has misinterpreted it, 50 years back, 100 years back, 200 years back, so they believe in his view directly, without going to the source. What I do, whenever I read the statement of a scholar I go back and see why he has said that thing. Most of the people, they just believe and quote the scholar without checking what he has quoted and from where he has got it. What we believe there is no verse in the Koran or the hadith that which says that the television is prohibited.
•Shekhar Gupta: Right
Zakir Naik: Yes, there is a statement in the Koran which says, you know about making tasveer or portrait, you know by making by hand. But that doesn't mean about photography and videography because at the time of the Prophet photography and videography wasn't there, so according to me, there is no verse in the Koran or Hadith that says that television is haraam. But watching wrong thing on the television, like obscenity, like pornography, fine , that is haraam.
•Shekhar Gupta: Right, right. So do you believe that Islam has actually, undeservingly got a bad name, because of wrong interpretation of the original scriptures by many
Zakir Naik: vThat's right. I agree with you totally. It is the most misconceived religion in the world, most misunderstood religion.
•Shekhar Gupta: Give me some examples. Because you talk to people around the world.
Zakir Naik: For example, as we were saying, the most misunderstood word in Islam is jihad.
•Shekhar Gupta: Right
Zakir Naik: People have a wrong notion, and they have the wrong information just by the television media etc, because as you know jihad originally, the Arabic word comes from the word jiddhu Jihad, which means to strive and to struggle. That's it. It means to strive and to struggle
•Shekhar Gupta: Does it mean holy war?
Zakir Naik: It doesn't mean at all. This if you see that jiddhu Jihad means to strive and to struggle, in Islamic context it means to strive and to struggle against own evil inclination, to strive and struggle to make the society better. Even if a person is striving and struggling in the battle to defend himself, it is called jihad. This word holy war was first used to describe the Christian crusaders. And now it's used for the muslims unfortunately. Because holy war, in Arabic if you translate means Harman mukkad dasa. The word Harman mukkad dasa doesn't appear anywhere in the Koran neither in the XXXXX (4 : 36: 45) of the Prophet.
•Shekhar Gupta: There are invocations for Muslims who rise in jihad eiher against the West, or in some places against India, or wherever. People who give these invocations haven't read their books right
Zakir Naik: Some may be right, some may be wrong
•Shekhar Gupta: Right
Zakir Naik: For example if someone says, I am going to do jihad to clean up the society and he says that pornography should be removed from society, he's right. So he's striving and struggling to remove obscenity from society which is right. But to say in terms which is wrong, which is against the Koran and the Hadith, for example the Koran says in (05:09:20) XXXXX, chapter number 5, verse no: 32, if any human being kills any other human being, whether Muslim or non-Muslim unless it be for murder or for creating corruption in the land, it is as though he has killed the whole of humanity. So any Muslim kills any other non-Muslim, an innocent non-Muslim or a Muslim that is against the Koran.
•Shekhar Gupta: That would apply to the people who went around killing people in 26/11
Zakir Naik: Hundred per cent. It is against the teaching of the Koran Hadith. 26/11, 11 September in new york twin tower killing innocent people even a single Koran goes ahead and says if you kill a single human being it is as though you have killed the whole of humanity. One, they have killed thousands in the world trade centre and even here, 26/11, hundreds, it is totally against the religion
•Shekhar Gupta: And to kill in the name of Islam is unfair to Islam?
Zakir Naik: Unless, unless the verse says unless he has killed someone else for justice or created corruption in the land. XXXXXXX (06:06:18) . So if it falls under these two categories of murder against murder or spreading corruption in the land, that is the time….
•Shekhar Gupta: I am looking at specific examples like 26/11
Zakir Naik: Hundred, hundred, hundred per cent wrong. Going in the market place, blowing up killing innocent people, even non-Muslim. Even if some non-Muslim has done harm to you, you can't go and kill some other non-Muslim. It's out of the question, it's totally against Islam.
•Shekhar Gupta: So, to use Islam to justify this is something you object to?
Zakir Naik: Hundred per cent. Hundred per cent.
•Shekhar Gupta: Because I have been watching a lot of your DVDs and I was fascinated by the fact that you make a distinction between 9/11 which you say was a terrible thing, the destruction of the twin towers and Osama bin Laden, because you are hesitant to accept that he is a terrorist or a terrorist leader
Zakir Naik: I mean, the complete statement would be, I am hesitant to accept him as a terrorist or a saint. That is the complete statement
•Shekhar Gupta: Terrorist or a saint?
Zakir Naik: Because you see personally what I have learnt about Osama bin Laden is from the news channels, from BBC and CNN. So if you ask my view about Osama bin Laden, I can repeat it, but it will not be doing justice, because the Koran says in XXXX (07: 15: ), chapter no: 14, verse no:6, whenever you get an information, you check it up before you pass it onto the third person. So I personally haven't checked it up
•Shekhar Gupta: That's what we teach in journalism schools actually
Zakir Naik: That's right, so unfortunately if you ask me Osama bin Laden's opinion I neither say he's a terrorist neither a saint. I don't know, I haven't interviewed him, I haven't done a survey. And the same question people say Zakir is supporting Osama bin Laden, I say that's not the case, I am being neutral, if I don't know a person….I cannot….
•Shekhar Gupta: But at the same time you will say that the destruction of the twin towers was…
Zakir Naik: What I say, the person who has destroyed the twin tower is hundred per cent wrong. He cannot be a practicing Muslim, he has to be condemned
•Shekhar Gupta: And he is a terrorist
Zakir Naik: Hundred per cent, he is wrong
•Shekhar Gupta: But you are not sure if it's Osama bin Laden
Zakir Naik: That's it. Because I keep on traveling, I get information from (8: 02:21) XXXX documentaries, 9/11, which says that it was an inside job, this 9/11 was an inside job done by George Bush himself, neither am I saying that is right. Now because I get conflicting news, and the evidence what I saw in that documentary is far superior to the evidence against Osama bin Laden. But in the same way, if someone asks me, if the lady, what's her name, Sadhvi, Sadhvi Pragya Thakur, they ask me that is she a terrorist, I said, see, that is what the Bombay police is saying. For me, she is neither terrorist neither a saint. For her to be called a terrorist surely she has to undergo a trial
•Shekhar Gupta: Right
Zakir Naik: And if the judge gives the judgment, most of the time, almost all, the judgment of the Indian judiciary, I respect.
•Shekhar Gupta: You respect...
Zakir Naik: There may be once or twice I disagree
•Shekhar Gupta: That's the other thing…if I say if one has to read the collected works of Dr Zakir Naik, those are in your DVDs, very fascinating thing is your faith in the Indian system, the constitution, the judiciary, it's so refreshing
Zakir Naik: That's right, that's right.
•Shekhar Gupta: Where does that come from?
Zakir Naik: What I believe that when I go and see the background, I am a person who observe the thing objectively, rather than going emotionally and news you know. When I see that even innocent people, whether Muslim or non-Muslim, if they are harassed by certain people for their own motives, finally judicial system comes to their help. You may get that help maybe 2 years later, or 5 years later, or 10 years later, but they get that clean chit. So seeing that I have more faith in the judicial system. That's the reason when they ask me about Sadhvi, I say she is neither good nor bad, neither terrorist, neither saint, but that is not reported in the paper that Dr Zakir Naik is neutral to a Sadhvi. Because I use the same scale for a Muslim or non-Muslim.
•Shekhar Gupta: Right. For Osama as well as Sadhvi
Zakir Naik: That's right
•Shekhar Gupta: So, and what about the constitution? Constitution is what gives every citizen an equal right but there are many in the Muslim community in particular who complain that this is not good enough, that the Indian system is not good enough, who lack faith in the system
Zakir Naik: As far as the Indian Constitution is concerned, I've said that in my lecture many times, that I am proud to be an Indian. India is one of the few countries in the world, that gives a right to its citizens to preach, practise and follow the religion. So as far as all the constitutions in countries around the world that I have seen India is the best I can say.
•Shekhar Gupta: And Indian constitution does not place any restrictions on religion….
Zakir Naik: That's right. Because what I say, I am a practising Muslim and I am a practising Indian citizen. And I don't know a single rule in the constitution which forces a Muslim to do something prohibited in Islam or prevents him from doing something which is compulsory in Islam. So I can be a very good practising Muslim and I am proud to be an Indian. Both together, simultaneously
•Shekhar Gupta: When you say this to your audiences, particularly young Muslim audiences, do some people doubt this?
Zakir Naik: Some people don't like it but the majority they are happy. Because I give the reason. When I say something I give proof. Because, for example, in an Indian law, the person may have the right to drink alcohol, but it doesn't say every Indian should have alcohol compulsorily. If it had said that, then there was a problem. So they give you liberty to follow Islam and at the same time you can be a very good practicing Muslim in India which you cannot be in America or in UK. Why because India has special rules …Muslim personal law is there. So we have a right to follow our religion as long as we don't go against any other Indian citizen
•Shekhar Gupta: Law of the land….Dr Naik, if I may call you that, you didn't practise very much. We know that you are an MBBS doctor.
Zakir Naik: Basically
•Shekhar Gupta: When you say some people disagree with your discourses with this I presume many of them are young people. Why are some young Muslims angry in India?
Zakir Naik: Maybe that some of the youngsters may have been brainwashed with wrong information. But this some is few. For my talks many youngsters come and you find a large gathering. But thing is that they may have been fed with the wrong information. So what I believe I am proud of my country and happy to be in India. I would like to live in India.
•Shekhar Gupta: And you through your discourses try to give them the right information….
Zakir Naik: That's right.
•Shekhar Gupta: And you tell them for an Indian Muslim there is no conflict between Indian nationalism and Islam?
Zakir Naik: As far as nationalism is concerned the word has different meanings
•Shekhar Gupta: Right
Zakir Naik: If nationalism is following the country, I am for it and Koran and Hadith says which country you are living in as long as it doesn't conflict with the law of the Koran and the Hadith, against the law of almighty god and the prophet, you have to follow every law. So I am for it. And I told you there's not a single thing
•Shekhar Gupta: There's no contradiction
Zakir Naik: There's no contradiction
•Shekhar Gupta: So, you know, one thing that is now being said often in the Western world is that India has such a large Muslim population
Zakir Naik: That's right. Second largest in the world
•Shekhar Gupta: Yes. Surely there are some people who go astray or some people who get caught in some terrorist incident. But it's amazing that so few, almost no Indian Muslims have as yet influenced by the terrorist stream. Is the reason the constitution or constitutionalism? Or is it the special nature of Indian Islam?
Zakir Naik: No, what I feel that, as far as the constitution, constitution I said is perfectly fine, there is nothing against
•Shekhar Gupta: Or a history of thousand years of co-existence
Zakir Naik: Yes we know India was ruled by Muslims for a 1000 years, the Mughals, at the time India was on the top of the world, no.1 country, super power in the world was India. Unfortunately the British came, they took out the wealth, and they created this divide between the Hindu and the Muslim
•Shekhar Gupta: Right
Zakir Naik: I feel that the Hindus and Muslims used to live harmoniously together. It is due to the British policy of divide and rule that caused all this friction. But what I feel that because there is no animosity in terms like, that what we realize that, now what we feel, what we see a few instances it is more because I have said these people are being brainwashed. But as a whole the Indian Muslims they feel like taking to the Koran, they feel like taking to the Hadith, so that's the reason that I …..
•Shekhar Gupta: That Indian Muslims are more settled in their minds about their existence
Zakir Naik: That's right
•Shekhar Gupta: Did you have…have you spoken very much about the two-nation theory?
Zakir Naik: Two nation theory means about the India and Pakistan
•Shekhar Gupta: India and Pakistan…
Zakir Naik: That every one in India and Pakistan was…..
•Shekhar Gupta: No, no what's your view. Because of this there is another view that if India had not got divided then it would have been one country…..
Zakir Naik: I am for it
•Shekhar Gupta: …..with 45 crore Muslims
Zakir Naik: I believe the worst thing that happened to this country was the division, the Partition shouldn't have taken place. It was better, for the Muslims, if they lived as one country
•Shekhar Gupta: Why do you feel so? Let's talk about it
Zakir Naik: Because I believe that in many ways it would have been a bigger force, imagine the resources of India and Pakistan all put together, whether it be sports, whether it be cricket, whether it be otherwise, whether it be intellectual, it would have been far better and we would be a bigger force. India is supposed to be superpower in the next few years, China and India is competing. If it had been joined together, imagine, Pakistan and Bangladesh ……
•Shekhar Gupta: And Muslims themselves would have had much better political power
Zakir Naik: Without doubt. I feel it was more of a gain, the view of some of the individuals who wanted division…I mean, there are many theories why the Partition took place, I don't want to go into the details. It was engineered and it took place
•Shekhar Gupta: But the Partition did harm the Muslims of the subcontinent
Zakir Naik: That's my view. 100 per cent. If they were together, they'd have been a bigger force, lived harmoniously as were before and better in many ways, in terms of economics, in terms of education…..
•Shekhar Gupta: Because, you know, only you can get away with it. Many Hindu leaders for example today will be afraid of saying this. Hindu means not necessarily leaders of the BJP but even intellectuals of sort of Hindu persuasion. They'll have a tough time saying this, they'll have to now say for political correctness that I accept the two-nation theory, long live Pakistan
Zakir Naik: I agree with you totally
•Shekhar Gupta: So have the Muslims done introspection
Zakir Naik: What I believe that, it is what I feel that, which is I have read. It was more of a pressure tactic used by some of the Muslim politicians to get their rights that backfired. Or the opposition took it as a thing and said lets part
•Shekhar Gupta: Or maybe the partition was accepted too easily by the Congress?
Zakir Naik: And besides, the people who parted, these politicians weren't really practising Muslims, you see. I don't want to go into the details, so what we realize that more for pressure views
•Shekhar Gupta: Because you know it was said at that time, that all well-to-do Muslims, Muslim intellectuals, the Muslim upper crust all went to Pakistan
Zakir Naik: Majority didn't go. Majority of the Muslims stayed in India. The population of Indian Muslims is much more than Pakistani Muslims, much more
•Shekhar Gupta: But now you find, in so many ways, Indian Muslims seem to be doing very well, although there are facts that the Sachar committee report has now thrown up, they've got left behind in many areas which has to be corrected. But they have done very well. India suddenly has Muslim icons. Look at the Oscars for example
Zakir Naik: I am happy to be in India than in Pakistan. If you had given me a choice now where to be, I'll prefer to be in India. It's a much better country
•Shekhar Gupta: Look at the Oscars for example, two Muslims go and win Oscars and for music. So there is something to be said for a multicultural, pluralistic society
Zakir Naik: If we had been together, we'd have been a much better force and we would have better things…
•Shekhar Gupta: You have followers in Pakistan, they listen to you
Zakir Naik: More than India, in fact, the viewers in Pakistan are much more
•Shekhar Gupta: In fact, I for the first time heard of you from a Pakistani friend, a journalist. Who said, I see the rise of this new star from Bombay and I had not heard of you before that, I must admit that…
Zakir Naik: I don't antagonize my viewers in Pakistan because of my views
•Shekhar Gupta: Wonderful Pakistani columnist called Khalid Ahmed had told me this. So you study a situation like Kashmir, India-Pakistan, the key to permanent peace in the sub-continent, countries are now separate, they will not come together, but key to maybe a situation where we become like Europe, where boundaries matter less and less and people can get together, lies to solving the Kashmir problem. Do you have a solution?
Zakir Naik: I don't have a solution but I remember that when I was called to give a talk in Kashmir in the year 2003 where there was lot of problem, much more than today. Finally I went there and the governor of Kashmir, he called me and he was an ex-army man, he called me and said you have a large following
•Shekhar Gupta: Gen Sinha
Zakir Naik: Gen Sinha, yeah, correct. Thing what I believe, the people of Kashmir they are fed up and this conflict is mainly due to politicians. More politically motivated and what we find if there is some problem in the internal in India, the politician create a problem in Kashmir and the whole and all attention is diverted there to Pakistan. So this is used as a trump card, and if they falter something, if they do mistake in their view of how to handle politics in India, they blow up the issue of Kashmir and Pakistan, so everyone's mind is diverted there. So this is like a trump card kept by politicians
•Shekhar Gupta: And the same happens on that side
Zakir Naik: Same. Same in Pakistan. So what I believe that in the bargain the major people losing are the Kashmiris. And when I spoke to them personally, they are fed up. They said we don't want to be in Pakistan neither in India, we want to be independent
•Shekhar Gupta: But you know…
Zakir Naik: Difficult, difficult…
•Shekhar Gupta: Given that that may not happen, what is the solution?
Zakir Naik: I feel as far as Indian Government is concerned whatever part that we have with us in our control what we feel that we should uplift the people of Kashmir. Give them good education and we should win their trust. Fine you can have your border, I am not against it but see to it that we give them more facility so that people of Kashmir are happy to be with India. There are some who are happy but not the majority, so if we give them good education, previously tourism was so unimaginable. Switzerland, they promote tourism. We have our Kashmir, which is called as the paradise on earth. So why don't we create it as a spot of tourism, give them more facility, education, job, etc. so the only time we use Kashmir is as a political votebank. They go to them when there is an election
•Shekhar Gupta: Or Kashmir becomes a votebank for votes elsewhere in the country. On both sides.
Zakir Naik: Of course, that's right.
•Shekhar Gupta: And what sense do you get when you talk to Kashmiris? Given a choice which way will they head?
Zakir Naik: I feel, speaking to many, they prefer being neutral. They are fed up of Pakistan, India, both
•Shekhar Gupta: And if that option is not available?
Zakir Naik: Then I feel the Indian government should give them more facility
•Shekhar Gupta: Reach out to them?
Zakir Naik: Correct. Reach out to them. Solve their problems, give them education. I feel we can win over them, and the problem will be solved
•Shekhar Gupta: You talk so much about education, it's so heartening. I know that you run a school and you run an English medium school and in fact you did your schooling also under the ICSE system
Zakir Naik: That's right
•Shekhar Gupta: So if I could describe you as an odd maulana in a way, you are one of the oddest because you are talking of English medium education, you are talking of sending girls to modern schools, you defend Sania Mirza (laughs)
Zakir Naik: (Laughs) Defend what she has done right. I may defend for a person what she has done good, if she has done wrong, I am against. As far as calling me a maulana, maulana is a word used in India mainly, it is used for a person who is religious person or a scholar, I don't consider myself to be a scholar. I consider myself to be a student of Islam and comparative religion
•Shekhar Gupta: So tell us your views on modern education?
Zakir Naik: Modern education, given in the glorious Koran, for humanity and for Muslims was not to pray, was not to give charity, was not to go to Haj, was to read. So the first guidance the Almighty God gave to (22: 21:21) XXXXX was to read. And our beloved prophet XXXXX said it is obligatory on every Muslim, man or woman, to acquire knowledge. So acquiring knowledge is compulsory for every Muslim, man or woman
•Shekhar Gupta: So this business of shutting down schools, driving girls out of schools, in parts of Afghanistan or Pakistan, you disapprove of?
Zakir Naik: Whether it is done or not, but anyone doing that is wrong. What we can do, if there is any wrong practice going on in school, like what we read in the newspapers now, that by the time a girl leaves the school, she loses her virginity, so if they want to stop this and create an educational system where these obscene things take place, I am for it. 100 per cent for it.
•Shekhar Gupta: Right. But you can't shut schools, you can't bar girls from going to schools?
Zakir Naik: No you can't bar, you have to create an environment where they get better education. You cannot stop them. If you feel that this education system is wrong, where there is something wrong happening, you create a better educational system
•Shekhar Gupta: Because if you look at this Sachar Committee report you can see that one of the reasons that Muslims got left behind is one, insufficient education and second, this whole emphasis on Urdu. If you have an Urdu medium education, it becomes very difficult for young Muslims to find modern jobs. They have a disadvantage in the job market if they have Urdu-medium education.
Zakir Naik: That's right. As far as the Sachar Committee report, Muslims are 59.1, Hindus are 65.1 per cent. So the difference is only 6 per cent. The thing to be noted here that as far as schooling there is a problem. When you go to undergraduates, there is a bigger problem in the Indian educational system. So Sachar Committee, Justice Sachar, is blaming the government for not giving facility. If you see the prestigious colleges of undergraduates, Muslims are only 4 per cent. And post graduates 2 per cent. IIM, he says, the Muslim is 1.3 per cent, and IIT 3.3 per cent. So what he says why this discrimination, we should give more facility for the Muslims to educate, which I am totally for it.
•Shekhar Gupta: But do you have a view on Urdu medium education?
Zakir Naik: As far as Urdu-medium is concerned education I am not against it, at the same time we should realize that today the international language is English. And personally I give more importance to Arabic and English
•Shekhar Gupta: Right, right
Zakir Naik: And then Urdu. I am not against Urdu. See, for example, if you know from the 8 th to the 12th century, the Europeans called it the Dark Ages. But at this time, from the 8th to the 12th century, the amount of advances that the Muslims made in the field of science, technology, mathematics, excellent.
•Shekhar Gupta: Including military craft….
Zakir Naik: So if they wanted to know about science, a non-Muslim had to learn Arabic to know science. So today because English is the international language I feel the best two languages I gave importance to is English and Arabic. Arabic to understand the word of Almighty God, and English. Then, finally. I am personally against Urdu, but more importance I'd give to Arabic and English.
•Shekhar Gupta: Dr Naik, we haven't quite mentioned this yet, you are also a TV tycoon in your own right. You have a very popular channel Peace TV and you keep talking about news channel, when does that come
Zakir Naik: I have got plans. At present, Inshah Allah, in the month of June.We have a plan of launching a Peace TV Urdu. Well this channel is a mixture. 25 per cent Urdu I say but actually it is Hindustani. Mainly for the non-Muslims also. So it is 25 per cent Hindustani and 75 per cent English. The new channel, which am going to launch in June, Insha allah, god willing would be 100 per cent Urdu and this channel will be 100 per cent English. Then next in the pipeline is the news channel, when, whether 1 year, 2 year, 3 year
•Shekhar Gupta: Looking forward to it, because one of the things you do….
Zakir Naik: I wont be a competition to NDTV…(laughs)
•Shekhar Gupta: (laughs) Not at all in fact you had agreed to be on this show, we should improve the viewership. One of the fascinating things you do is to have these religious debates, with leaders of other communities. This is the time when the world is talking about dialogue of civilizations, of communities. Which one did you enjoy most of all?
Zakir Naik: There were quite a few I had.
•Shekhar Gupta: The Pope, he hasn't quite accepted your offer
Zakir Naik: The one abroad, internationally, when I had been to America, there was a Christian missionary who wrote a book saying there are 30 scientific errors in the Koran. You are a medical doctor, I am a medical doctor, so someone challenged us to have a dialogue. So I went to Chicago and there we had dialogue by the name of Bible and the Koran in the light of Science. That I enjoyed. In India it was Sri Sri Ravishankar when we launched our satellite channel Peace TV
•Shekhar Gupta: That's a delightful conversation
Zakir Naik: And the topic was Concept of God in Islam and Hinduism in the light of the sacred scriptures. So we are supposed to say what the sacred scriptures speak about the Almighty God. And there my main purpose was to tell to the people that the basic concept of god in Islam and Hindu is the same - one god, don't do idol worship, he is the one to be worshipped. And I always believe in going to the scriptures than quoting the view of any particular scholar
•Shekhar Gupta: And you don't attack another religion
Zakir Naik: I don't. Some people may conceive or consider attacking. My main reason is to get them together. As the Koran says in XXXX (27: 40: ) chapter 3 verse 64 XXXXX (27: 41:15) come to common terms as has been assigned and the first term (XXXXXX) that you worship none but the almighty god. So you know what I do, I don't say that all religions are the same. Any person who says all religions are the same, he doesn't know about religion. I know there are differences
•Shekhar Gupta: You can say god is the same
Zakir Naik: God is only one
•Shekhar Gupta: Right
Zakir Naik: God is the same. What I say there are similarities in different religions. What I do I work on the similarities and get the people together rather than divide them. But when I get people together, those people who have their flock, they feel a bit endangered that we are losing our audience. That is the main reason they say that I attack. Normally I am getting people together
•Shekhar Gupta: Getting people together is a wonderful note to end this conversation on Dr Zakir Naik. So nice to have you on walk the talk.
Zakir Naik: It's a pleasure
•Shekhar Gupta: I hope you keep on growing in popularity, ….
Zakir Naik: Insha Allah
•Shekhar Gupta: …..keep on taking the message of modern religion, modern Spirituality to wider and wider audiences and I do hope you stay out of politics. Thank you very much
Zakir Naik: Thank you
Courtesy: Indian Express