The controversial figure of Zakir Naik has emerged suddenly after the Dhaka terror attacks. Why? Because two of the terrorists in the Dhaka Holey Artisan Bakery Attack- Nibras Islam and Rohan Imtiaz- said on their social media platform that they were highly inspired by the man's speeches.
Aged 51, he has grabbed the media limelight in the past two days and got the NIA and journalists to fish frantically for his controversial speeches.
But who is he?
Zakir Naik was born on October 18, 1965 in Mumbai. He attended the Kishinchand Chellaram College and then studied medicine at Topiwala National Medical College & BYL Nair Charitable Hospital. He finished his education in the University of Mumbai where he earned an MBBS.
However, he was more interested in the study of Islam and started working in the field of Dawah. He then founded the Islamic Research Foundation. He is said to be inspired by Ahmed Deedat, who is an Islamic preacher. He founded the Islamic International school in Mumbai and the United Islamic Aid, which provides education to the destitute Muslim youth.
Lectures and popularity
Naik has been particularly known for his elitelectures on comparative religion. But what impresses everyone is his style of memorising the Quran and the Hadith literature in various languages and his philanthropic activities. The mastermind of Peace TV, he has earned negative popularity too because of his explosive speeches that show the difference between Islam and other religions.
His goal of bringing back the misguided youth, who start feeling apologetic of their own religion. His main goal is to clear all misunderstandings regarding the apostles of the Quran and counter-react to the Islamic views that is growing post 9-11 attacks.
Naik started coming under the media glare after his sermons on Biological evolution, Apostasy, views about terrorism and propagation of other faiths in Islamic State.
For instance, his views:
"there is no death penalty for apostates in Islam, until the apostate starts to preach against islamic teachings; then he can be put to death."
He says that while he appreciates the country's tolerance toward Islam, he forbids the dissemination of other religions within an Islamic state as he believes other faiths are incorrect. Regarding churches and buildings, he said, "how can we allow this when their religion is wrong and when their worshiping is wrong?"
His view son terrorism have been contradictory. While he conmends the Islamic State, he refuses to call Osama bin Laden a terrorist. "If bin Laden is fighting enemies of Islam, I am for him," and that "if he is terrorizing America - the terrorist, biggest terrorist - I am with him. Every Muslim should be a terrorist. The thing is that if he is terrorizing the terrorist, he is following Islam. Whether he is or not, I don't know, but you as Muslims know that, without checking up, laying allegations is also wrong," he said.