Islamic preacher, Zakir Naik, sought to answer ‘most frequently asked questions’ in the wake of the raging controversy around the functioning of his charity, Islamic Research Foundation.
The central government has declared the IRF a banned organisation and frozen his bank accounts after it accused Naik of promoting terrorism.
His spokesperson, Arif Malik, on Monday released Naik’s replies to what he said were 12 ‘most frequently asked questions.’
Q1: Do you plan to challenge the ban in Court? If yes, when?
A: Yes, the ban will be challenged as soon as possible God willing. My legal team in Delhi and Mumbai are considering all legal options possible.
Q2: Why did you give donation of Rs 75 lakh to Rajiv Gandhi Charitable Trust?
A: IRF carries out several social programmes in education and health. It does so by donating money to several other NGOs, hospitals and educational institutions. This is done by granting scholarships to needy students and donating money to hospitals for treatment of the poor who cannot pay for expensive surgeries. IRF also runs its own Free medical clinic in Mumbra, Mumbai that gives free treatment to more than 5000 patients a month. Under a similar programme, IRF donated Rs 50 lakhs to RGCT few years ago, which the Trust later returned in July 2016 for reasons better known to them.
Q3: Do you agree that some youths who have joined ISIS have been influenced by you?
A: No, I don’t agree with that. It is atrocious even to imply that. I am followed by more than 100 million people from across the world through television, Facebook and YouTube. Alhumdulillah, tens of thousands of people have come closer to Islam after listening to my talks and videos on topics that have ranged from Misconceptions about Islam, Qur’an & Modern Science, Education, Women’s Rights in Islam, Family Issues, Islamic View on Terrorism and Jihad & many others. I do agree that I inspire tens of thousands of people to come closer to Islam but every fan of mine may not do everything I say. Once a person comes closer to Islam, there are possibilities that he is exposed to other speakers as well, some of whom misguide them in the name of Islam. They encourage them to kill innocent people, which is totally against the Qur’an.
If you listen to my talks, you will not find a single video where I have condoned terrorism or killing any innocent human beings. I’ve been giving lectures for more than 20 years and there’s not a single lecture where I’ve ever encouraged anyone to kill any other innocent human being, whether Muslim or non-Muslim. In the media and elsewhere, I am being misquoted through half sentences and out of context clips, which try to give an impression that I promote terrorism. I’m totally against terrorism. I condemn all acts of terrorism, including killing of innocent human beings, which is considered as the second major sin in Islam. Islam and Qur’an are totally against all acts of terrorism, including killing of innocent human beings. And that is what I’ve always preached.
It is wrong to imply that a few miscreants who joined terror groups were influenced by me. I’m sure you agree that I have good oratory skills. So if I was really spreading terror, wouldn’t I have made a few lakh terrorists by now? Not just a handful? The fact is that I’ve always preached peace and harmony, and how to become good human beings by following Qur’anic tenets. In a fan following of millions, there may be a handful of antisocial elements who will go astray and take up violence. But they are surely not following what I’ve told them. The moment they pick up senseless violence, they cease to be Islamic and they surely lose my support.
Q4: Theresa May was the first leader who had banned Dr Zakir Naik when she was the British home minister. Why are you blaming Modi government?
A: I am not banned in UK. I have been ‘excluded’, which means I cannot enter UK. A ban would have meant banning my speeches on television, my NGO as well as my books, audio and video CDs. None of that has happened. My organisation and my published materials are very much in circulation in UK and doing some commendable work in spreading the message of peace in Islam. Even the exclusion in UK was politically motivated since the earlier government the Labour Party a few months ago when they were in power before myself being excluded, the head of Counter Terrorism had send a senior officer to request me to help them to reach those Muslims whom they felt were misguided.
In fact, for my work spanning over two decades and even after being excluded from UK in 2010, I’ve been awarded some of the highest civilian awards by several countries, like Malaysia, Dubai, Sharjah & Gambia including the King Faisal Prize for Service to Islam by King Salman of Saudi Arabia which is the most prestigious award of the Islamic World similar to the Nobel Prize for Peace. My talks continue to attract lakhs of people from all communities.
It is only in India, my homeland, that even after attracting hundreds of thousands of audience for several years I have been banned. Imagine, I was invited twice in the last few years before the Modi government came to power to the National Police Academy in Hyderabad which is the most prestigious training institute for Indian Police to address the IPS officers.
Most of the officers I addressed may yet be in service. Do you mean to say that this prestigious Institution invited a person who promotes terrorism to address the IPS officers. This ban is truly unfortunate and undoubtedly politically motivated. Like in UK where the Counter Terrorism head disagreed with the exclusion but had to give in to the then Home Secretary here in India too I am positive that the officers in NIA & other Departments after doing thorough research for more than 4 months may have surely realized that I am far away from promoting terrorism have no choice but to give in to the political pressures. More unfortunately, it is also indicative of the grim state of affairs existing in my beloved homeland since the Modi government took over two-and-a-half years ago.
Q5: Why are you not coming back to India?
A: I’m an NRI and my work keeps me away for most part of the year. I’ve been away since May 2016.
As for addressing the current controversy, I’ve repeatedly offered my cooperation to governmental agencies in their investigations. Till a few days ago, no agency bothered to contact me, ask me questions, send me any notice or even lodge an FIR against me. Till date there’s been no contact and the only FIR lodged against me was done after the ban.
Q6: The NIA has found several proofs that can link IRF to ISIS. What you like to say about it?
A: Any talks of links to Anti ISIS is pure fabrication. For the past three months, there is a concerted effort by the government and its agencies to create an air of negativity around me and label me as a hatemonger. And till date, they’ve not provided a single proof to substantiate their claims. That’s because none exist, and all that agencies are claiming are chatter and nothing else. What I’m doing now is the same work I’ve been doing for 25 years. Do you really think my so called “terrorist activities” would have been hidden from multiple intelligence agencies for so long? Most of my statements quoted for banning me have been made by me 8 to 18 years ago. One needs to look at these allegations from a political viewpoint. These allegations started when the current Modi government took over and that says a lot of things.
Q7: Do you think Modi government is anti-Muslim?
A: I don’t think, I know it is anti-Muslim. The last decade and a half has several evidences of Modi’s anti-Muslim behaviour and actions. And the most recent one is the banning of IRF, while the likes of Rajeshwar Singh, Yogi Adityanath and Sadhvi Prachi flourish under him.
But why ask me, ask the hundreds of millions of Indians who will tell you that Modi is anti-Muslim. And that makes him a danger to the Indian democracy.
Q8: NIA claims that IRF funded Anas, a youth from Rajasthan who apparently has joined an ISIS outfit. What’s your reaction to that?
A: IRF funds education of underprivileged children from across the country. It’s been doing that for several years now. It gives scholarships of more than Rs 1 crore every year. Scholarships are given in the field of medicine, engineering, management studies accountancy, etc. Thousands of needy students have benefitted from it over the years.
I’m in no position to confirm or refute regarding IRF funding Anas because all of IRF’s documents have been taken away after the ban. I can tell you that it is highly improper – and childish – to allege that IRF’s scholarship money was used to “fund terror”. That’s not possible because the scholarship amount goes straight to the institution and not to the student. Once the student submits the fee structure of his institution, a cheque is made out in the name of the institution and sent directly to the institution. In some cases, the student may have paid the fees by taking loans or organising money from someone if the last date will be due. In such a case, IRF pays to the student’s account directly. Can anyone digest the claim that IRF funds terror and out of Rs 64 crores received in past 25 years, used only Rs 80,000 for funding terror?
Q9: There are allegations of money laundering by IRF in the funds received from abroad. Your reaction.
A: There is a concerted witch hunting going on with an objective of implicating me by hook or by crook. The 47 crore in question came from my personal account in Dubai to my personal account in Mumbai in the last six plus years. It was duly declared by me in the returns and used for lawful activities including giving gifts & loans to my family members. I don’t know where is the problem in that? The media has claimed that government authorities disclosed that Dr Zakir Naik’s family members have received money from Middle Eastern countries. I challenge the authorities to prove that any of my immediate family members have received even a small fraction of the 47 crores from Middle Eastern countries they are claiming.
Here is a perspective. Every year more than 12 billion US dollars (over Rs 80,000 crores) is officially sent from UAE to India by NRIs and a majority of that amount is sent by non-Muslims. I have sent an average of Rs 7.8 crores a year back to India in the past 6 years (total Rs 47 crores). It is all official. It’s the money I earned as an NRI sent back to India through official channels. What is illegal about it? There are hundreds of non Muslims sending more than hundred crore rupees every year from UAE to India. Let me remind you that out of the list of 100 richest Indians living in the Gulf countries 80% are non-Muslims.
There is another figure of Rs 64 crores that media is saying that ED is claiming that IRF collected illegally. Although I cannot confirm this figure as accurate because we don’t have the documents with us anymore, it is surely an amount received by IRF in donations over the last 25 years. That is close to Rs 2.50 crores per year. Lesser in earlier years & more in later years. More importantly, what the NIA is not saying is that more than Rs 50 crores out of the total are donations received from Indians living right here in India.
IRF received about Rs 14 crores in the FCRA account over the past 15 years. Out of this, about Rs 4 crores were from NRIs living abroad. Only about Rs 10 crores were received from foreign donors in the last about 15 years. All of this was duly declared to the MHA, including the amounts, the names and the addresses of the donors. So, where is the question of money laundering?
If the government really thinks IRF is doing money laundering then why do they not ban and close down all the institutions we have given donations to which was published in the media. All the donations we gave to all the organizations & institutions are legal and within the framework of law. Why do they only talk about Rajiv Gandhi Trust? Why do they not close down KJ Somaiya Trust in Sion Mumbai, Nair Hospital in Mumbai Central, Devilal Memorial Trust, Association of Management Studies & many others as published in media few days ago? Why are they only after IRF Educational Trust which is managing Islamic International School? The answer is they want to misuse their power on Minorities. If they have the guts why do they not ban & close down 100% of all the organizations we have funded.
Q10: Has anyone promised you help ?
A: By the grace of the Almighty, my work and following are spread across the world. I have received from several Muslim countries a response better than what I had expected. If it comes to that, God willing many Muslim countries will roll the red carpet for this humble servant of Allah.
Q11. Have you got the passport of Malaysia?
A: The Indian media has repeated hundreds of times in the last 4 months that I was banned in Malaysia. Now it takes a somersault and says that I have been given the citizenship of Malaysia. How can a person who is banned in a country be given a passport of that country. Both these reports are absolutely false without any proof. I’m neither banned in Malaysia nor do I have its citizenship.
Q12. Some allege that the Zakat money received by IRF is not utilized as per the Islamic law?
A: All the money received by IRF is not from Zakaat. Alhamdulillah every rupee received as Zakaat is utilized as per the Islamic rules of Zakaat. All donations and Zakaat received are utilized appropriately as per the rules of Shariah (Islamic law) and the donors’ request, if any (as long as the request is permitted by Shariah).Dr Zakir Naik has answered some of the most frequently asked questions of today —