President & Group Managing Director: Dr.Shelly Ahmed | Editor in Chief & Group CEO: M H Ahssan

Friday, July 22, 2016

Exclusive Interview-'Ready To Return Whenever Govt Wants Me': Dr.Zakir Naik

By M H AHSSAN | INNLIVE

Controversial preacher Zakir Naik has said he is wil ling to return to India “whenever the government or the agencies want me“. Last week, Naik had cited “travel plans“ and said he would come to India only next year. In an interview to INNLIVE from Jeddah, Naik said he was ready to face action if he had broken any law and challenged anyone to show he had attempted to disrupt harmony in India. 

Naik was named by Bangladesh as the person who inspired two of the Dhaka bakery attack terrorists. Calling IS an anti-Islam sta te, Naik said killing innocents was a sin agains humanity, according to the Quran. “IS has given a wrong meaning to Islam. If someone killed Muslims in Gujarat that doesn't justify killing innocent Hindus in Mumbai,“ he said.

Naik said Narendra Modi was the only Indian Prime Minister to visit so many Muslim na tions. “If his intention is to maintain unity between Hindus and Muslims, I am for him,“ he said. The Kerala

police along with the Maharashtra anti-terrorism squad arrested Arshid Qureshi, alleged to be a member of Zakir Naik's Islamic Research Foundation (IRF), on Wednesday night for recruiting Kerala youths for the terror outfit Islamic State.

If his links with IRF are confirmed, this could be the first arrest of a member of televangelist Naik's organisation, under the scanner since two of the Bangladesh cafe attackers said they were inspired by his preachings. An IRF spokesperson refused to comment.

Qureshi was held after the police raided a flat in Seawoods.He was produced before a magistrate's court in CBD-Belapur on Thursday and remanded in transit custody for four days. He will be questioned by the Maharashtra ATS and later taken to Kerala.

Ebin Jacob (25), the brother of Merin alias Mariam who is missing along with her husband Bestin Vincent alias Yahia from Kerala, had told police that there was an attempt to forcibly convert him to Islam and make him join IS. Ebin had told Kochi police that Bestin and Qureshi were behind the attempted conversion.

Based on this statement, the Palarivattom police slapped charges under Section 13 of the Unlawful Activities (Prevention) Act (UAPA) on the duo and booked them under sections of the IPC.

“As per the statement, Qureshi insisted that Ebin should embrace Islam and join IS. It was Bestin who compelled Ebin to come to Mumbai and meet Qureshi,“ Ernakulam ACP K V Vijayan, the investigating officer, had said.Ebin's statement said he was taken to Mumbai by Bestin, who had been indoctrinated, in 2014.

Kerala police said that at Qureshi's house in Mumbai, Ebin was taken to a library .Qureshi also made a comparison of all the religions. Ebin was told that Islam was superior to all other religions and that people in India were not leading a righteous life. However, Ebin did not fall for this talk and returned to K erala.

Mumbai-based Islamic tele-evangelist Zakir Naik is in the eye of a storm, after being named as the inspiration behind terrorists who attacked the Holey Artisan Bakery in Dhaka recently.The preacher who founded Peace TV, with an estimated viewership of close to 100 million, spoke with INNLIVE from Jeddah on the controversies that dog him, his thoughts on Islam and what it means being an Indian Muslim:

How did your followers become terrorists who participated in the Dhaka attack?
This news first appeared in a Bangladeshi newspaper on July 3, and later in Indian media on July 4. It is totally wrong. The paper later clarified but the Indian media ran a trial against me.

Political parties are gunning for you now.
I don't know of any political party but there are some politicians who are speaking against me. I have full faith in the Indian judiciary, but there should not be any political pressure on it.

Home minister Rajnath Singh has ordered an investigation against you?
I have not read a single statement of Rajnath Singh against me. He said he will conduct an inquiry, he has the right to do that. If i have broken any rule under the Constitution of India then i am ready to face action. I challenge anyone to prove that any of my lectures was against the Indian Constitution or attempted to disrupt the harmony of this country. Many people cannot digest my popularity.

Who are these people?
Forming sects is prohibited in Islam. If you ask me if i am Sunni or Shia i say i am a Muslim, i don't belong to any sects. Unfortunately , Muslims are divided (into sects) which is not prescribed by Quran-e-Sharif. Most sects don't like my popularity .

What are your views on Narendra Modi?
Modi is the only prime minister of India who has visited so many Muslim countries in just two years. This will strengthen relations between India and other Muslim countries. It will strengthen relationship of Hindus and Muslims too. If his intention is to maintain unity between Hindus and Muslims and between India and other Muslim countries, i am totally for him. Muslim countries too are reciprocating his gesture. When he came to Saudi Arabia, King Salman gave him the highest civilian award. Hinduism is a major religion of the world and India has a high Muslim population. So if the PM reaches out to Muslim countries, it is good. It will help bring investments to India. If all these countries get toget her, India would become a superpower. India was a superpower in the past and will attain that stature again.

When will you return to India? Do you fear a witch-hunt against you?
I will return when ever the government or the agencies want me.

Peace TV has been banned in Bangladesh, do you have a revival plan?
Bangladesh was the first country to ban it. As far as India is concerned, Peace TV had applied for permission in 2005, 2010 and 2012, but previous government refused citing security reasons. I am hopeful that the present government will give the nod.There are so many Hindu and Christian channels in India, but not a single mainstream Islamic channel.

What are your views on Islamic State?
Jihad means to strive and struggle to make the society better. It also stands for self-defence. But the Indian media has hyped jihad. Besides non-Muslims, it is misunderstood even by Muslims. IS is killing innocent people which, according to the Quran, is a sin against humanity. I call them anti-Islam state. They have given a wrong meaning to Islam. If someone killed Muslims in Gujarat that does not justify killing innocent Hindus in Mumbai.

There are allegations you are converting Hindus to Islam.
I have never forced anybody to embrace Islam. Thousands of people have embraced Islam after hearing my speeches but God has given them guidance. If someone wants to come in the religion of peace, i cannot stop him. Under Article 25 of the Indian Constitution, one has the right to practice and propagate one's religion.I am very happy and proud to be an Indian and an Indian Muslim.
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