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Dr Zakir Abdul Karim Naik

Zakir Naik was born on 18 October 1965. He is an Indian Islamic preacher and the founder and president of the IRF (Islamic Research Foundation). "comparative religion" Peace TV channel is also own by dr zakir naik, through which he attract a reported 100 million viewers. Dr zakir Naik called an "authority on comparative religion", "perhaps the most influential Salafi ideologue in India", "the rock star of tele-evangelism and a proponent of modern Islam" and "the world's leading Salafi evangelist". Unlike many Islamic preachers, his lectures are colloquial, given in English, not Urdu or Arabic, and he usually wears a suit and tie. Before becoming a public speaker, he was trained as a physician. He has published booklet versions of lectures on Islam and comparative religion. Although he has publicly disclaimed sectarianism in Islam, he is regarded as an exponent of the Salafi ideology, and as a radical Islamic televangelist propagating Wahhabism. His preaching is currently banned in India, Bangladesh, Canada and the United Kingdom.

Lectures and debates

Naik has held many debates and lectures and is said to "have delivered over 2000/4000 lectures around the world". Anthropologist Thomas Blom Hansen has written that Naik's style of memorising the Quran and Hadith literature in various languages, and his related missionary activity, has made him extremely popular in Muslim circles. Many of his debates are recorded and widely distributed in video and DVD media and online. His talks have been recorded in English and broadcast on weekends on several cable networks in Mumbai's Muslim neighbourhoods, and on the Peace TV channel, which he co-produces. Topics he speaks on include: "Islam and Modern Science", "Islam and Christianity", and "Islam and secularism". His first debate was in 1994, a debate on the views of writer Taslima Nasreen on Islam in her book Lajja, organised at the "Mumbai Marathi Patrakar Sangh", entitled "Is Religious Fundamentalism a Stumbling block to Freedom of Expression?". With the presence of four journalists, the debate went on for hours. In April 2000, Naik debated with William Campbell in Chicago on the topic of "The Qur'an and the Bible: In the Light of Science", one of his most-cited debates. On 21 January 2006 Naik held an inter-religious dialogue with Sri Sri Ravi Shankar in Bangalore about the concept of God in Islam and Hinduism. In February 2011 Naik addressed the Oxford Union via video link from India. Every year since November 2007 Naik has led a 10-day Peace Conference at Somaiya Ground, Sion, Mumbai. Lectures on Islam have been presented by Naik and twenty other Islamic speakers.

Australia 2004 and Wales 2006

In 2004 Naik, at the invitation of the Islamic Information and Services Network of Australasia, made an appearance at the University of Melbourne, where he argued that only Islam gave women true equality. He said the more "revealing Western dress" makes women more susceptible to rape. Sushi Das of The Age commented that "Naik extolled the moral and spiritual superiority of Islam and lampooned other faiths and the West in general", further criticising that Naik's words "fostered a spirit of separateness and reinforced prejudice". In August 2006 Naik's visit and conference in Cardiff caused controversy when Welsh MP David Davies called for his appearance to be cancelled. He said Naik was a "hate-monger", and that his views did not deserve a public platform; Muslims from Cardiff, however, defended Naik's right to speak in the city. Saleem Kidwai, Secretary General of the Muslim Council of Wales, disagreed with Davies, stating that "people who know about him 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.

UK and Canada denied entry, 2010

Naik was denied entry into the United Kingdom and Canada in June 2010. Naik was forbidden to enter Canada after Tarek Fatah, founder of the Muslim Canadian Congress, warned MPs of Naik's views. He was banned from entering the UK by the then Home Secretary Theresa May after arranging to give talks in London and Sheffield. May said of the exclusion order, "Numerous comments made by Dr Naik are evidence to me of his unacceptable behaviour". Naik argued that the Home Secretary was making a political decision, not a legal one, and his lawyer said the decision was "barbaric and inhuman". He also claimed that his comments were taken out of context. Film producer Mahesh Bhatt supported Naik, saying the ban constituted an attack on freedom of speech. It was reported that Naik would attempt to challenge the ruling in the High Court. His application for judicial review was dismissed on 5 November 2010.

Gambia 2014

In 2014, Naik visited Gambia being invited by the president Yahya Jammeh to attend in the grand celebration of Gambian revolution's 20th anniversary. There he delivered four lectures between 11–22 October. The lectures took place in University of the Gambia, Pancha Mi Hall of Paradise Suites Hotel, presidents home village Kanilai, Foni Kansala and Kairaba Beach Hotel, Kololi. The Cabinet ministers of Gambia, religious leaders, students and thousands of people attended his lectures on the subjects including "Terrorism and Jihad: an Islamic perspective", "religion in the right perspective", "Dawah or destruction?" and "the misconceptions about Islam". Meanwhile, he also met with the president Yahya Jammeh along with Gambia Supreme Islamic Council and held an Islamic conference with the Imams of Gambia.

Malaysia 2012 and 2016

Naik delivered four lectures in Malaysia during 2012. The lectures took place in Johor Bahru, Universiti Teknologi MARA in Shah Alam, Kuantan and Putra World Trade Centre in Kuala Lumpur. The former Prime Minister of Malaysia, Mahathir Mohamad, prominent figures and several thousand people attended the lectures at different places despite protest by the members of HINDRAF. The organisers of Naik's speeches said their purpose was to promote harmony among people of various religions. Naik delivered another six lectures in April 2016. Two of his lectures in Malaysia entitled "Similarities between Hinduism and Islam" and "Is the Quran God's word?" were objected by HINDRAF, along with some other native NGO's, citing that these lectures may provoke inter-racial tensions; but as for the initial support of the Government authority, the event went ahead as planned.

Awards, titles, and honors

Year of award or honour Name of award or honour Awarding organisation or government
2013 Sharjah Award for Voluntary Work 2013 Sultan bin Muhammad Al-Qasimi Crown Prince and Deputy Ruler of Sharjah
2014 The Insignia of the Commander of the National Order of the Republic of The Gambia Yahya Jammeh President of the Gambia
2014 'Doctor of Humane Letters' (Honoris Causa) University of The Gambia
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