Dr. Zakir Naik
 
Born Zakir Abdul Karim Naik
October 18, 1965 (1965-10-18) (age 43)
Mumbai, Maharashtra, India
Residence Dongri, South Mumbai
Ethnicity Konkani Indian
Education Kishinchand Chellaram College
Alma mater University of Mumbai
Occupation Muslim scholar, orator
Years active 1991–present
Board member of Islamic Research Foundation
Religious beliefs Islam (non-affiliated)
Spouse(s) Farhat Naik

Zakir Abdul Karim Naik (Hindi: ज़ाकिर अब्दुल करीम नायक; born 18 October, 1965) is a Indian Muslim public speaker, and writer on the subject of Islam and comparative religion. By profession, he is a medical doctor, attaining a Bachelor of Medicine and Surgery (MBBS) from Maharashtra, but since 1991 he has become a well known scholar of Islam and Comparative Religion. [1] He states that his main goal is to revive the crucial fundamentals of Islam that most of the Muslim youth are either oblivious to or poorly understand in context of modernity.

Zakir Naik is also the founder and president of the Islamic Research Foundation (IRF)[1][2] —a non-profit organization that owns and broadcasts the free-to-air TV channel network Peace TV from Mumbai, India.

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[edit] Biography

Zakir Naik was born on October 18, 1965 in Mumbai, India and is of Konkani descent.[3] He attended St. Peter’s High School (ICSE) in the city of Mumbai. Later he joined the Kishinchand Chellaram College and then studied medicine at Topiwala National Medical College and Nair Hospital in Mumbai. He then received his MBBS degree from the University of Mumbai. In 1991 he gave up his activity as a medical doctor and started working in the field of Da’wah or proselytizing of Islam[4]

Naik says he was inspired by the late Ahmed Deedat[5] who had himself been active in the field of Da’wah for more than forty years[6]. According to Naik, his goal is to “concentrate on the educated Muslim youth who have become apologetic about their own religion and have started to feel the religion is outdated”[7] and that it was the duty of every Muslim to remove misconceptions about Islam to counter what he considers as the Western media’s anti-Islamic bias in the aftermath of September 11, 2001 terrorist attacks upon the United States. [8] He has lectured and authored several books on Islam and Comparative religion[9] as well as those directed towards removing misconceptions about Islam.[10][11] Some of his articles are also frequently published in Indian magazines like the Islamic Voice.[12][13][14]

Thomas Blom Hansen, a sociologist who held academic positions at various universities, has written that Naik’s style of memorizing the Qur’an and hadith literature in various languages, and travelling abroad to debate Islam with theologians, has made him extremely popular in Muslim and non-Muslim circles. Although he usually speaks to audiences of several hundreds, and sometimes thousands, it is the videotapes and DVDs of his talks which are widely distributed. His talks are usually recorded in English, to be broadcast at weekends on several cable networks in Mumbai’s Muslim neighborhoods,[7] and on the channel Peace TV, which he co-promotes. [2][15] Topics he speaks on include: “Islam and Modern Science”, “Islam and Christianity”, and “Islam and secularism”, among others.[7]

[edit] Lectures, Debates and Controversies

Naik has held many debates and lectures around the world, he regularly holds lectures in Mumbai, India, and every year since 2007 leads a 10-day “Peace Conference” at Somaiya Ground, Sion, Mumbai with other prominent scholars, which included Malaysian politician, Anwar Ibrahim in 2008. [16]

In 2004, Naik visited New Zealand[17] and then Australian capitals at the invitation of Islamic Information and Services Network of Australasia. In his conference in Melbourne, according to amateur journalist Sushi Das however, “Naik extolled the moral and spiritual superiority of Islam and lampooned other faiths and the West in general”, adding that Naik’s words “fostered a spirit of separateness and reinforced prejudice”. [18]

In December 2005, Naik took part in a debate with Dr William Cambell, the topic was Islam and Christianity in the light of science, where both discussed perceived scientific errors in the scriptures.[19] At the end of the debate a weary William Campbell was unable to answer any of the allegations that Dr. Zakir Naik raised about the Bible. However, Zakir Naik was able to clear all the misconceptions about the Qur’an.

Political Analyst Khaled Ahmed considers that Zakir Naik, by his claims of Islam’s superiority over other religious faiths, practices what he calls reverse Orientalism. [20] In a lecture at Melbourne University, Naik argued that only Islam gave women true equality.[21] He stressed the importance of the headscarf by arguing that the more “revealing Western dress” makes women more susceptible to sexual harassment.[22] Naik said that according to National Crime Victimization Survey Bureau of Justice (U.S. Department of Justice) in the year 1996 alone everyday on an average 2,713 rapes took place. Under Islamic jurisdiction, he said, a man who raped a woman was punished with the death penalty.[21] He states that music intoxicates a person and takes one away from the path of Allah.[23]

On 21 January 2006, Naik held an inter-religious dialogue with Sri Sri Ravi Shankar. The event was about the concept of God in Islam and Hinduism, the aim being to bring understanding between the two major religions of India, and at best to point out the commonalities between both Islam and Hinduism, such as how idolatry is prohibited. It was held in Bangalore, India with up to 50,000 attending at the Palace Grounds.[24].

In August 2006, Naik’s visit and conference in Cardiff (UK) were the object of controversy when Welsh MP David Davies called for his appearance to be cancelled. He described him as a ‘hate-monger’, and said his views did not deserve a ‘public platform’; Muslims from Cardiff, however, defended Naik’s right to speak in their city. Saleem Kidwai, Secretary General of the Muslim Council of Wales, disagreed with Davies, stating that “people who know about him (Naik) know that he is one of the most uncontroversial persons you could find. He talks about the similarities between religions, and how should we work on the common ground between them”, whilst also inviting Davies to discuss further with Naik personally in the conference. The conference went ahead, after the Cardiff council stated it was satisfied that he would not be preaching extremist views.[25][26]

Following a lecture by Pope Benedict XVI in September 2006, Naik offered to engage in a live public debate with him, but the Pope has not responded to this invitation.[27][28]

In November 2007, the IRF organized a 10-day international Islamic conference and exhibition titled The Peace Conference at the Somaiya grounds in Mumbai which witnessed huge gathering. Lectures on Islam were presented by Naik as well as twenty other Islamic scholars from around the world.[29]

In the issue dated 22 February, 2009 of the Indian Express list of “100 Most Powerful Indians in 2009” amongst the billion plus population of India, Dr. Zakir Naik was ranked No. 82. In the special list of the “Top 10 Spiritual Gurus of India” Dr. Zakir Naik was ranked No. 3, after Baba Ramdev and Sri Sri Ravi Shankar, being the only Muslim in the list.

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