`Modi only Indian PM to visit so many Muslim countries in two years … I am for him if he works for Hindu-Muslim unity’
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 Ashish Chauhan 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 IS?
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.