“Dr Zakir Naik is not a Wahhabi, he is not a Salafist,” Naik’s brother-in-law Mubarak Kapdi claimed to The Sunday Guardian. He claimed that Naik, in fact, wanted Sanskrit to be made compulsory in schools to help Hindus remain connected to their roots. “Through his various peace lectures, he realised that Hindus do not keep copies of Vedas in their houses. Whereas Muslims have many copies of Holy Quran in their houses. This made him realise that due to this, Hinduism was getting corrupt. Hindus do not know their true religion. He was the one to suggest that the Indian government should make Sanskrit compulsory in schools so that the Hindus read their original texts and follow them,” Kapdi claimed to this correspondent.
He claimed that Naik had preached that even the Vedas were against idol worship but that the Hindus did not know about this.
“Zakir Naik has always claimed that he is a human being and a Muslim. He has never claimed that he is a Wahhabi, a Salafist. In fact, he denies any such things in Islam. There is nothing like Salafi/ Wahhabi,” Kapdi claimed. Many Muslim scholars and religious leaders have said that Zakir Naik is a supremacist, ultra-conservative hate-monger who believes in the Wahhabi/Salafi sect. Wahhabism, named after its founder Muhammad ibn Abd al-Wahhab, is a puritanical form of Islam opposed to any liberal reforms in Islam. Terrorist organisations like the ISIS, Al Qaeda, Taliban, et al have Wahhabi roots.
“What is wrong in saying that rapists, druggists, thieves, alcoholics should be terrified by Muslims, and that every Muslim should be terrorist for such wrong-doers?” Kapdi asked.
He confirmed that Zakir Naik was still banned in UK and Canada, but claimed that the ban had nothing to do with “hateful speeches”. “He was banned due to some internal matters of UK and Canada. They have nothing to do with what Zakir Naik speaks,” he said. When probed deeper about the possible “internal reasons”, he got miffed and asked this correspondent to question the UK authorities about it. He refused to accept that the UK authorities had themselves said that Naik’s thoughts and speeches might be divisive.
When asked about the recent terror attackers in Bangladesh being inspired by him, Kapdi disagreed. “Terrorists, suicide bombers are the most negative persons on this earth. Imagine someone who wants to kill oneself and kill others along with himself. Why should you, and how can you believe the terrorists? Zakir Naik’s speeches and books and CDs have been recovered from terrorists, media says. But tomorrow, if the CDs of Michael Jackson are recovered from a terrorist, will you say that Jackson inspired terrorism?” he asked. Security agencies in Bangladesh have said that two of the terrorists who attacked a posh cafe in Dhaka last week were allegedly inspired by Zakir Naik. Even the National Investigation Agency (NIA) has said that the leader of an ISIS module busted in Hyderabad recently has claimed to be inspired by Zakir Naik.
Born to a psychiatrist father, Zakir Naik, an MBBS himself from Mumbai University, turned to professing Islam after listening to Ahmed Deedat, a South African Islamic preacher. “After listening to Deedat, he devoted his entire life to the spread of Islam. The family has a dispensary in Navi Mumbai. But Zakir Naik said, instead of sitting in the dispensary, he should give time for the propagation of the religion. He said it would be a 24x7 job, but was willing to take it,” Kapdi said.
HAMLETS TO CONFERENCES
He said that Zakir Naik decided to spread the true religion of Islam and study other religions 25 years ago. “He studies and teaches comparative religion. He has read various texts of different religions, and he tries to spread peace through disseminating information about them. 25 years ago, he started travelling in the remote villages of Maharashtra to spread information. Today, he has delivered over 4,000 lectures. He is invited to various parts of the world. He has been given highest civilian awards. Around 30-40% of those who attend his lectures are non-Muslims. He encourages them to ask questions,” Kapdi claimed. However, in the videos scanned by The Sunday Guardian, Naik is seen insulting and disregarding any viewers who probed him deeper into the questions of restrictions on women, theory of evolution, spread of other religions in Islamic countries. His views on sex slavery, freedom of women, homosexuals are also worrying.
A senior officer of the Maharashtra Police told The Sunday Guardian that Zakir Naik has been on their radar for years for spreading wrong information about other religions and for inciting hatred. “When he wanted to hold a rally in Mumbra in 2011, a huge delegation of Muslims approached me not to allow him. They said that his speeches incite hatred and may cause law and order problem. We thus denied him permission,” K.P. Raghuwanshi told The Sunday Guardian. He was the Police Commissioner of Thane at the time.
Kapdi told this correspondent that their family feels proud of him for his “marvellous job”.
“We have no regrets that he did not turn to the profession of being a doctor. We support him 100%. He has played his innings, and has done a marvellous job,” Kapdi said. Zakir Naik and his family are currently in Mecca. They are slated to return to India on Monday, 11 July.
Kapdi claimed that Naik has never criticised any other religion: “In 2001, he held a lecture about similarities in Hinduism and Islam. The purpose was to bring all the communities together. The lecture went on for four hours. The purpose was to bring together both the religions. He also held a joint conference with Sri Sri Ravi Shankar. He has never spread hatred against any other religion.” But there was outrage against Zakir Naik for hurting the feelings of Hindus when he spoke disrespectfully about Lord Ganesh and Lord Shiva a few years ago.
“It was also very disturbing when he supported the Taliban’s bombing of the Bamiyan Buddha. He had said that it was the Taliban’s way of teaching Buddhists against idol worship. Any justification of such a ghastly act is unacceptable,” Feroze Mithiborwala, an Indian secular activist, told The Sunday Guardian. Naik has consistently called Sufis as misguided Muslims.
Kapdi has also claimed that Zakir Naik was never questioned by the authorities till date.
The claim has been refuted by a retired IPS officer, who said his statement was recorded regarding a person who was arrested for his involvement in the Aurangabad arms haul case. Kapdi said that after the Mumbai Police refused him permission to hold a peace conference in Mumbai, he never approached the police again to seek permit.