Ramadan Special: Bringing peace to every home

Ramadan Special: Bringing peace to every home

Islamic preacher Zakir Naik is known for using facts and logic to answer difficult questions posed by non-Muslims 




by

Muaz Shabandri

Published: Sat 12 Jul 2014, 1:34 AM

Last updated: Tue 7 Apr 2015, 9:44 PM

Dr Zakir Naik is no ordinary preacher by any measure. His talks on comparative religion have moved millions of people across the world and his conviction to spread the message of Islam is stronger than ever.

One of the most popular Islamic preachers in the world, his critics cringe at his fame. He owns a private television network, a chain of schools, a research foundation and has several international awards to his name.

Using the power of fact and logic in his public talks, Dr Naik is known for his convincing answers to difficult questions posed by non-Muslims. However, his rise to fame has not been without controversies — with his television station banned in India and the UK government restricting him from entering the country.

The popular preacher sat down with Khaleej Times to have a chat about his work and what drives him. Excerpts from the interview:

What is the purpose and mission of your life?

The purpose of my life is to gain Jannah in the hereafter and I believe that should be the purpose of every Muslim’s existence. If I have to sum up the mission of my life, it would be bringing peace to every home. Islam is a religion of peace but hundreds of Muslims are killed every day in conflict zones. However, more people are embracing Islam today and one has to see why this transition is happening. If Islam was a religion of hatred and terror, people would never embrace it in such large numbers.

You have been criticised on many occasions for your remarks on terrorism. How do you react to criticism and improve yourself?

There are many videos of mine that are manipulated and presented out of context. Initially, I used to be affected by the negative propaganda. But that has now become a part and parcel of my life. It doesn’t bother me anymore. If you go on the Internet today, the maximum number of videos (on) any religious speaker in the world are (are related to me). More than 20 per cent of these would be against me.

People have two ways of getting popular. One is by doing good work and another is by criticising those who do good work. Getting involved in replying to comments and criticism takes a lot of time and I prefer to concentrate on doing more positive work which has a greater impact. I always tell my staff to scrutinise any article written against me and see if there is anything worth learning. Being human, I can make mistakes and it is my duty to rectify them.

How can an ordinary Muslim be an ambassador of Islam and promote the message of peace?

There are some 20 odd common questions, which a non-Muslim has in his or her mind and this has been covered in detail in my books. I constantly update the answers and sometimes the questions also change. The first time I wrote this book was before 9/11 and at that time the number one question people asked was why Islam allows men to have more than one wife. At that time, media had a targeted message claiming women’s rights didn’t exist in Islam. After 9/11, jihad became a big question. The basic concept of Islam remains the same but the way you reply to a question can change and my talks and books cover these common questions in detail.

Peace TV is one of your most ambitious projects. What are your aspirations when it comes to making Islam popular by using the media?

One of my aims is to have Peace TV in 10 major languages of the world. At present, we have English, Urdu, Bangla and Albanian language channels. By next Ramadan, we will launch Peace TV in Mandarin. Planning is very important when you run a TV station. Though we have more than 200 full-time staff working for Peace TV, we have to select speakers who can engage audiences to think. The channel reaches almost every corner of the world through 10 satellites. Among all the Islamic channels in the world, Peace TV is the most viewed one.

How important is social media to you as a religious preacher?

My Facebook page was launched just a year ago and it already has 4.6 million fans. Amongst all English speakers, my page is the most popular. Islam is a logical religion and how well you present it within a context matters the most. Social media is a very powerful tool and it will soon overtake satellite media.

Being a public speaker, do you find some the question and answer sessions after your talk difficult?

I believe people in Mumbai and Dubai ask intellectual and challenging questions. While most of the queries are similar, there are times when people plant new thoughts and come up with difficult questions. I strongly believe that while I start replying, Allah helps me and this in turn boosts my spirituality.

muaz@khaleejtimes.com


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