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How the Raging Dr. Zakir Naik Controversy is Bringing Different Factions of Muslims Together

Muslims protesting Media trial of Dr. Zakir Naik in Mangalore.

Contrary to what is being reported by sections of media, Muslim organisations, including political and non-political parties have come out in support of Islamic speaker Dr. Zakir Naik, amidst the intense and hyperbolic media trial against him.

Jamaat-e-Islami Hind, The All India Majlis-e-Ittehadul Muslimeen (AIMIM), Popular Front of India, Markazi Jamiat-e-Ahle Hadees Hind, All India Milli Council, Social Democratic Party of India (SDPI), Mission Possible for Justice & Rights, Discover Islam Educational Trust, All India Dawah Centres Association, Welfare Party of India (WPI), Indian Union Muslim League (IUML), All India Muslim Personal Law Board, Imaam Council, Jamiat-e-Ulema Hind, Pune Muslim Lawyers Association, Maharashtra Action Committee, Muslim Foundation, Millat Foundation, Roshan Foundation, Aqsa-e-Hind Group, Chatrapati Shivaji Muslim Brigade, Khidmat Social Foundation, APCR, IQRA Group, Ulemah Action Committee, Unique Foundation, Wahdate-e-Islami Hind, Islamic Awareness Society, Tanzim-e-Waledain, Huda Islamic Centre, GFM, are but only a few names in the list of over 100 Islamic organisations, which have joined hands in Dr. Naik’s favour.

Protest in Bangalore.

At a conference organised in Bangalore on July 13th, Muslim leaders across denominations and political parties slammed the media witch hunt of Dr. Zakir Naik, especially the TimesNow news channel and its Editor Arnab Goswami and termed the entire controversy as a cover to target Islam and Muslims in the country.

Faisal Saiyed, spokesperson of the Bangalore-based Mission Possible for Justice & Rights (MPJR), told The Cognate, that Islamic organisations and Imaams from different schools of thought from across India have formed an association to collectively stand up against the ongoing media onslaught and have even signed a petition calling for the arrest of Arnab Goswami, for ‘defaming’ the image of Dr. Naik.

Saiyed and others at the conference were especially aggrieved with sections of the media, for “dictating Muslims, what type of Islam we should follow.”

Protest in Mangalore.

“Arnab Goswami said in his program that in India only Sufi form of Islam should be followed. Who is he or anyone else to tell Muslims, what we should follow and what we shouldn’t”.

What the entire episode has done, is that it has brought Muslims together. What’s been reported in the media, is an attack on our beliefs, and we will not let this continue. We will fight this in the court of law,” he said.

Umar Shariff from the All India Dawah Centres Association (AIDCA) said, “TimesNow and its Editor Arnab Goswami, is doing the dirty job of pitting Muslims against each other”.

“By calling rabid anti-Islamic individuals like Taslima Nasreen, Tarek Fateh and calling sections of Muslims, who historically have had grouse against the wider Muslim community, as guest panelists to attack Dr. Naik, TimesNow and other media houses are fanning sectarian flames, which has long been the agenda of the Sangh Parivar”.

He said, “Muslims are well aware of these deceitful plans”.

At the conference, some of them even questioned what they called the media’s ‘duplicity’ when it comes to the issue of Islam and Muslims.

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Protest led by Popular Front of India (PFI).

Mohammed Shakif, Karnataka State President of Popular Front of India, asked, how come the likes of Yogi Adityanath, Sadhvi Prachi and Sakshi Maharaj, “who spew venom and incite violence against Muslims, are given police protection, and the likes of Dr. Zakir Naik, who propagates the message of Islam in a peaceful manner is paraded as a terror supporter.”

He said that Muslims have a right to practice and preach their religion in a peaceful manner, and no one has a right to interfere in their affairs.

Moulana Maqsood Imran Rashadi, the Imaam and Khateeb of Bangalore’s Jamia Masjid.

Besides the rhetoric, one significant outcome of the conference and the ensuing meetings held by these Muslim groups was the formation of a pan-India Muslim solidarity association and choosing Moulana Maqsood Imran Rashadi, the Imaam and Khateeb of Bangalore’s Jamia Masjid as its head.

Moulana Rashadi, a follower of the Hanafi school of thought, heading an organisation to defend Dr. Naik, who is usually identified as a Salafi, is an important development, despite the media overdrawing the existence of splits in the community.

Shaik Zakeer Hussain is the Founder and Editor of The Cognate.

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