Dr Zakir Naik to donate Dh1m award money

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One of the world’s most popular Islamic preachers, Dr Zakir Naik has announced his intention to donate the cash reward of Dh1 million for being chosen as the ‘Islamic Personality of the Year’.

by

Muaz Shabandri

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Published: Wed 31 Jul 2013, 1:01 AM

Last updated: Wed 13 Oct 2021, 9:16 AM

The award presented by Dubai International Holy Quran Award (DIHQA) comes in recognition of his efforts to spread the message of Islam and promote peace at a global level with his initiatives in education, media and philanthropy. At 47, he has become the youngest recipient of the award and the second Indian to receive the honour after Abu Al Hassan Al Nadawi.

Speaking with Khaleej Times about the award, Dr Zakir said, “This is the biggest honour I have received in my life. I have decided to donate the cash reward of Dh1 million to start a Waqf (endowment) fund for Peace TV which will help make the television network self-sustained.”

A charismatic speaker, Dr Zakir’s Islamic lectures have earned millions of views on Youtube. Travelling across the world to speak about Islam, his journey from being a medical doctor to a world-renowned preacher is not known to many.

Dr Zakir’s love for Islamic preaching started during the late 1980s when he was completing his formal education as a student of medicine in Mumbai. He developed a keen respect for the work of late Shaikh Ahmed Deedat who was one of the most popular Da’ees (Islamic preachers) at that time.

“He changed me from a doctor of body to a doctor of soul and he was a big inspiration,” Dr Zakir said with a smile. Sitting in his hotel room after Suhoor, Dr Naik shared the story of his humble beginnings as a preacher.

“I had the full support of my family. Initially I used to give two hours a week for Islamic preaching. Then it became two hours a day and soon I was doing both — practising medicine and preaching Islam,” he said.

Within a year of completing his MBBS degree, Dr Zakir was completely involved in preaching. Since then, he has never turned back and the journey has been ‘challenging’ and ‘fulfilling’ in his words.

He shot to global prominence with the launch of Peace TV in 2006. Reaching more than 150 countries worldwide, the channel has made Dr Zakir a household name among many Muslim and non-Muslim families. Broadcast in English, Urdu and Bangla, the television network has more than 150 million viewers.

“After starting Peace TV, I can say thousands of people are accepting Islam every month. Today, media is the most important weapon in the world. It can change a villain into a hero and a hero into a villain.”

A popular aspect of his talks are centered around the concept of open dialogue with non-Muslims during the question and answer sessions.

“The Q&A session is always interesting because there are new questions. It is a challenge for me to answer them and sometimes I myself am not aware of the answer but when I start giving out the answer, Allah helps me out. This increases my faith,” he said.

Last year, his public talk at Kishanganj town in the Indian state of Bihar attracted around one million people. His talks in Dubai have also been well attended with the highest audience recorded in 2009 when some 30,000 people attended.

“During the Q&A session in my lectures, a lot of people embrace Islam after clearing their doubts. Some of them come prepared to say the Shahadah on a public platform. I remember, at the Peace Conference hosted in Mumbai, a group of 15 people converted to Islam.”

With his increasing popularity, he has had his fair share of controversies and criticism. At times, prominent religious figures have raised objections over his views and remarks.

Taking the criticism with a grain of salt, he believed it was inevitable because of his growing popularity.

“Anyone who is popular in their profession gets targeted. When millions of people started watching my lectures on TV, a lot of people became my fans and naturally some turned against me. I am not affected by these people who speak against me. However, it is difficult to deal with people who present statements in my name and preach teachings which are against the tenets of Islam.”

The Islamic Research Foundation (IRF) founded by Dr Zakir Naik runs popular schools and supports the development of the Peace TV network. More than 500 employees work for the research foundation. His future plans include opening a new school in Dubai by 2015 with an expected capacity for 2,500 students.

“Because of the popularity of my talks and TV shows, there are thousands of non-Muslims coming into the folds of Islam. Today, I have more than 4,000 official invitations pending and practically it is not possible for me to attend every event. I try and make an effort to go to countries where I haven’t been to,” he added.

Following the success of his lecture at the Ramadan Forum in Dubai this year, a special Q&A session titled ‘Ask Dr Zakir Naik’ will be hosted at Dubai Chamber of Commerce and Industry after Taraaweeh prayers today.

muaz@khaleejtimes.com



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