A reply to Dr Zakir Naik – Maria Wirth

Ishwara

Maria WirthIf you are sincere, Dr Naik, you will realise that the wisdom of your ancestors scores high over the worldview and the mind-set of Abrahamic religions. The attitude of “We alone are right and you go to hell if you don’t accept our religion” is doing great harm to humanity. It may be helpful for world dominion, but do you want to live in a world where everyone has to wear a straight-jacket? — Maria Wirth

Hindus generally don’t criticise other religions in spite of the fact that Christianity and Islam not only criticise, but demean Hinduism badly. Zakir Naik is only one example. Do Hindus know what is preached in the innumerable churches and mosques across India? I know for sure that Hindu gods are called devils by Christian missionaries. Yet Hindus neither defend their gods nor challenge the Abrahamic dogmas in spite of having a solid philosophical basis for their beliefs, which is lacking in Christianity and Islam.

Zakir NaikSome years ago, Zakir Naik had ridiculed Ganapati and thrown a challenge to prove that Ganapati is God. I assume he means by God the Supreme Being that Muslims call Allah.

Now what do we know about Allah?

Foremost, Allah is great and merciful, and the faithful as well as the unfaithful are loudly reminded of it five times a day. He also knows what all human beings are doing, but is separate from them. It is claimed that Allah has communicated his final words to Prophet Mohammed. Those words are in the Quran. Allah declared that Islam alone is true. So, all human beings must follow Islam because other paths are wrong. And they must hurry up, because every human being has only one life.

Those, who do not accept Islam during their lifetime, will be thrown into eternal hell-fire where “boiling water will be poured over their heads that not only melts their skin but also the inner parts of their bellies….” (Quran 22:19-22)

Clearly, here is where Allah’s mercy ends. He does not brook any dissent. And the azan, which started compassionately, ends with: “Oh Allah, guide us to the Right Way. The Way of those whom You have favoured, not of those who have earned Your wrath….” (Al-Fatiha 1)

This means, Allah is merciful only to his followers who are called Muslims and he is wrathful to those who are not Muslims.

Dr. Zakir Naik, I am confident that I got the concept of ‘God’ in Islam right because Christianity has a similar concept. And I dare to claim that it is not true. Can you prove (and this challenge goes also to Christian clerics) that Allah / God is indeed so unfair and divisive? Can you prove there will be this huge cauldron of fire where billions of people will burn for ever after Judgment Day? Do these claims of “eternal hell-fire for unbelievers” not rather have the purpose to keep the flock in check? To divide and rule?

There are about two billion Christians, who are told they have to remain Christians, otherwise they can’t go to heaven. And then there are about two billion Muslims who are told that they have to remain Muslims, otherwise they can’t go to paradise. Both religions had plenty of time to sort out which one is true, but they did not do it. Why? Because they cannot prove it. They can only make claims and counterclaims and fight among themselves, between Muslims and Christians and with heathens or infidels. They do this for the last 2000 years.

Under these circumstances, can anyone claim that Islam or Christianity is beneficial for humanity? Is it not time to have a thorough check of what REALLY is the truth?

In regard to the absolute Truth, Dr. Zakir Naik, your ancestors, the Indian Rishis, made valuable contributions and you can be proud of them. In ancient times, long, long before Christianity or Islam appeared on the scene, the Rishis had a very mature understanding of Brahman which would be ‘Truth’ or ‘Supreme Being’ or ‘God’ in English. Brahman is not personal, not a superhuman entity somewhere in heaven, not male or female, not jealous of other gods, not revengeful if ignored, but It is sat-chit-ananda, the conscious, one essence in all names and forms—like the one ocean is the essence of all the waves.

The Rishis realised that this universe is a wrong perception of Brahman. They called it maya, not really true, only apparently true.

For anything to qualify as absolute Truth, it has to be always—past, present and future—and it has to be self-evident.

The Rishis came to the conclusion that nothing fulfils these criteria except pure (=thought free) consciousness. This consciousness is here and now, always, everywhere. Yet we miss it because we focus only on things or thoughts, emotions, etc.—like, when we focus a torchlight in a room only on the furniture and miss the empty space. Infinite space, which throbs with life and love is actually a good metaphor for sat-chit-ananda—the highest truth that underlies names and forms (nama-rupa).

Science has meanwhile discovered the sat aspect of the truth. Oneness is there. To discover that this Oneness is also aware (chit) and blissful (ananda) scientists would need to turn to their own consciousness to research further instead of looking outside. Let us see whether the scientists will support also the claim of the Rishis that this whole manifestation is alive and full of bliss.

In one point, however, you are right, Dr. Zakir Naik: There is only one Truth, one God, which the wise call by different names. But the nature of it you got wrong. It does not send non-Muslims or non-Christians eternally into hell-fire. The Supreme Being is indeed merciful and great.

GaneshaBut you wanted to know whether Ganapati is a deity.

May I explain a bit of your ancestors’ tradition which struck me as most profound when I came to know of it?

Sanatana Dharma is not only about intellectually knowing sat-chit-ananda, but about realising it. Since Brahman is all-pervading, it must be also in us (ayam atma brahma). So we can tap and feel it. For this, however, we need to follow certain rules. We need to purify ourselves, lead a moral life, speak the truth, etc. To eat plenty of meat and have plenty of sex is not conducive for this purification. Yet one factor is very conducive: bhaktilove for God.

Here Hindu Dharma brings in Ishwara.

The concept of Ishwara is close to the Abrahamic notion of a personal God but more benevolent. There is of course no eternal hell for unbelievers. Everyone gets chance after chance in life after life till he realises that he is not a separate wave, but one with the ocean.

Ishwara is God with attributes and has innumerable aspects, as this universe has innumerable aspects or human nature has innumerable aspects. These aspects are personified in different deities and the devotee can choose the one who is dearest to him. It helps to develop love for the invisible Truth—for example through Ganapati.

Those Devas are mistakenly much maligned by Christianity and Islam. They are not separate entities but kind of access points to the one Brahman, which is otherwise unimaginable. It is possible to feel familiar with them, to love them, to talk with them. And the scriptures leave no doubt that Devas are ultimately Brahman.

And here, Dr. Naik, you may get an answer to your question whether Ganapati is ultimately the Supreme Being.

The Ganapati Atharvashirsa Upanishad, which is part of the Atharva Veda, states: “Tvameva kevalam karta si, tvameva kevalam dharta si, tvameva kevalam harta si. Tvameva sarvam khalvidam brahmasi, tvam saksadatma si nityam.”

It means: You alone are the creator, You alone are the sustainer, You alone are the annihilator. All this is Brahman and You are that Brahman. You are indeed the Atman eternally.

This declaration, however, is not unique for Ganapati. It is said for other deities, too.

Yet the fact that this is written in a sacred text, is not proof enough. There are plenty of sacred texts in this world and if everything in them is blindly accepted as true, we end up with all kind of proclaimed truths which are not true. We need to verify what is declared as truth on the touchstone of reason, intuition and experience. If it contradicts all of these, it is not worth believing it and certainly not dying for it.

The proof that all deities are Brahman is because only Brahman really exists. Brahman is like the ocean. The waves are not separate from it. The name with which one worships the Divine, does not matter. What matters is how much devotion one feels. The greater the devotion, the more miracles can happen. Ganapati is loved by millions of Hindus worldwide. He is the door through which they try to access sat-chit-ananda.

Sanatana Dharma is very ancient. And yet the Rishis had such deep insights, for example that the world is a wrong perception of what is really true, like seeing a snake at dusk when in fact there is only a rope. Max Planck Universe PhotoWesterners who ridiculed Hindus because they believe that the world is an illusion keep now quiet as science supports the Hindu view.

Meanwhile NASA scientists have detected the building blocks of DNA in meteorites. The Max Planck Institute in Germany published the first picture of the whole universe. It had an oval shape. Could it be possible that those who ridicule Hindus for worshipping a Shiva lingam might soon rethink their attitude, as well, lest they embarrass themselves?

Great men have come and gone in India’s ancient civilisation. Some have been made into gods. There is nothing wrong with it. The Divine is in all.

It should make you reflect, Dr. Naik that science keeps validating the insights of the Rishis, for example the mind-boggling age of the universe, or the ultimate Oneness of all.

Attempts to vilify Indian tradition by you and others are successful because the British weaned Indians away from their tradition and most people know little about it. Yet if you are sincere, you will realise that the wisdom of your ancestors scores high over the worldview and the mind-set of Abrahamic religions. The attitude of “We alone are right and you go to hell if you don’t accept our religion” is doing great harm to humanity. It may be helpful for world dominion, but do you want to live in a world where everyone has to wear a straight-jacket?

If I were you, Dr. Naik, I would be worried especially about one thing: what if you wake up after death and there is NO paradise waiting for you? What if all those jihadis, who were inspired by you, cursed you after realising there was no paradise for them? What if you are taking birth again in another form and reap the fruits of your actions of this life where you consciously or unconsciously distorted the truth? Rebirth is not only mentioned in the Indian texts. There is also plenty of evidence for it—over 2500 cases are documented in the archive of Virginia University.

Dr. Naik, I don’t know how deeply you believe what you preach. I know from personal experience how effective brainwashing in childhood can be. But I also know that it is possible to get out of it, and it seems the older one is, the easier.

For me, it was a great relief to come out of the Christian religious straight-jacket and I would encourage you to also genuinely enquire into the truth. Your concept of God is not Truth. You quote a book as support. Truth does not fit into a book. Truth is THAT WHAT TRULY IS.

Your ancestors, the Indian Rishis, spoke from experience, not from book knowledge.

» Maria Wirth is a German psychologist and author who has lived in Uttarakhand for decades.

 Atman Brahman

Muslim clerics in India unite against televangelist Zakir Naik – Uzair Hasan Rizvi

 

Zafir Naik

Uzair Hasan RizviOne of the most powerful Muslim leaders in Bengal, Syed Mohammad Nurur Rahman Barkati, criticised the Muslim televangelist for misleading people and suggested a ban on all his preaching materials in India. “Zakir speaks rubbish,” said Barkati, who is the shahi imam of Kolkata’s Tipu Sultan mosque. “He is only amassing huge wealth. Who is funding him? The government should also investigate this.” – Uzair Hasan Rizvi

Superstar Islamic televangelist Zakir Naik claims to be a messenger of peace and harmony. Through his channel, Peace TV, he broadcasts his messages to around 200 million people across India and the world. Despite this, he has never been able to unite the different branches, sects and sub-sects of Islam in India. One sign of this is the fact that these various groups continued to celebrate Eid on different days earlier this month.

However, Naik seems to have finally united India’s Muslim clerics.

Showing unprecedented solidarity, Muslim clerics from all sects have come forward to urge strong action against Naik and his channel for misinterpreting the Quran and misleading Muslims with his evangelism.

Naik’s Islam is a particularly conservative brand of Salafism, the ultra-conservative reform movement within Islam, which aims to go back to what its proponents call the fundamentals of the faith.

In the aftermath of the July 1 attacks in Dhaka, there were reports that Naik’s provocative speeches had inspired the militants behind the attack in which 20 people, mostly foreigners, were killed. On Sunday, Bangladesh banned Naik’s channel.

Many clerics in India have now demanded a ban on Peace TV, which is broadcast from Dubai. In 2012, the channel was blocked in India after the Intelligence Bureau red-flagged it for broadcasting malicious and so-called anti-national content. However, illegal broadcasts continue and Naik’s sermons are also available online, thus making it hard for the government to limit Naik’s popularity.

Condemnation across the board

In his Eid sermon, one of the most powerful Muslim leaders in Bengal, Syed Mohammad Nurur Rahman Barkati, criticised the Muslim televangelist for misleading people and suggested a ban on all his preaching materials in India. “Zakir speaks rubbish,” said Barkati, who is the shahi imam of Kolkata’s Tipu Sultan mosque. “He is only amassing huge wealth. Who is funding him? The government should also investigate this.”

Clerics from the Barelvi school of Sunni Islam, which gets its name from Bareilly—the town in Uttar Pradesh where it originated from—also accused Naik of delivering anti-Islamic speeches. During his Eid sermon last week, Maulana Asjad Raza Qadri, head cleric of Bareilly, demanded a ban on Naik for his hate speeches, and said that his activities were against Islam and the culture of India.

In the past, Naik has criticised Sufism—the mystical form of Islam that has been present in India for over 1,000 years. The preacher condemned those who revere Sufi saints and visit their tombs as “grave worshippers”.

Last year, members of the All India Ulama and Mashaikh Board, an organisation of Sufi Muslims, protested at the India Islamic Cultural Centre in Delhi after the centre invited Naik for a conference. The members even lodged a complaint against Naik at a local police station, and demanded that he be arrested under the Unlawful Activities (Prevention) Act.

Condemnation from Shias

Naik has also been criticised by the Shias—the second-largest branch of Islam after Sunni Islam.

Shia clerics in Lucknow have accused the televangelist of propagating ideas that attracted Muslim youth to extremism.

Prominent Shia Muslim cleric Maulana Kalbe Jawad Naqvi demanded a complete ban on Naik’s books, speeches and lectures. “Zakir Naik is spreading terrorism,” he said. “Naik is a part of the Saudi Arabia-funded Wahhabi terror network, which creates scholars and clerics who in turn brainwash young Muslims.”

Another Shia cleric, Maulana Yasoob Abbas, led a demonstration against Naik in Lucknow during which Abbas burned Naik’s effigy and labeled him as anti-national and anti-religious. The protestors at this demonstration carried a banner, which read: “Protest Against Terrorism” and carried the photograph of Zakir Naik along with those of Islamic State chief Abu Bakr Al-Baghdadi and Pakistan-based Lashkar-e-Taiba founder Hafiz Saeed.

Condemnation from Deobandis

However, the most surprising condemnation comes from the Darul Uloom Deoband, the seat of the Deobandi school of Sunni Islam, which is headquartered in Deoband in Uttar Pradesh. The Deobandis are often referred as the Wahhabis, as they share many of their beliefs with Wahhabism. Darul Uloom has issued a series of fatwas against Naik since 2007.

The Deoband school said that religion should be learned through authorised ulema (Muslim scholars with specialised knowledge of Islamic theology) and books, and added that Naik was a self-styled preacher unaffiliated to any of the four schools of Sunni Islamic thought.

One of the fatwas issued by the Darul Uloom against Naik states that “Zakir Naik is an agent of Ghair Muqallideen, away from knowledge and wisdom from the four schools of thought, spreading mischievous things and misguiding simple Muslims to wrong path”.

Maulana Khalid Rasheed Firangi Mahali, the deputy imam of Lucknow’s Eidgah, had once come to the defence of Zakir Naik. He had said that if Naik had committed a crime, he should be tried under the law, but harassing the man on a big platform was unethical.

However, in 2008, the deputy imam’s uncle, Mufti Abul Irfan Mian Firangi Mahali, issued a fatwa against Zakir Naik describing him as kafir, or disbeliever. Following that, the Lucknow deputy imam also condemned Naik, and referred to him as a fake scholar. Then, Maulana Khalid Rasheed Firangi Mahali said in an online statement that: “Naik has just mugged up some verses from the Quran and pretends to be an Islamic scholar.”

Solidarity from Kashmir

The one place in India where Muslim clerics have supported Zakir Naik is in Kashmir, where the Jamaat-I-Islami and Jamiat-ul-Ahlihadees have condemned what they called a campaign by the government and media against Naik.

According to a report in the Hindustan Times, members of the Islamic Fraternity, a Muslim youth body, held a demonstration in support of the televangelist at the Press Enclave in Srinagar last week. The report said that the protesters carried banners which read: “Dr Zakir Naik, Kashmir is with you”, “Zakir Naik is a man of peace and harmony” and “Stop false propaganda against Zakir Naik.”

Syed Ali Shah Geelani, the leader of the separatist Hurriyat, too recently issued a press statement in favour of Naik in which he said that the preacher was not involved with incidents of terror in Dhaka, Bangladesh, or anywhere else.

With sentiment against him brewing in India, Naik has released a video saying that he did not inspire the Bangladeshi attackers. Incidentally, in the past, he has, on several occasions, denounced the Islamic State, to which the Dhaka terrorists swore allegiance.

However, Naik is undoubtedly an influential Salafi ideologue whose influence has grown in India and around the world over the years. In fact, last year, the kingdom of Saudi Arabia presented Naik with the King Faisal International Prize for service to Islam, which carried a cash reward $200,000. – Scroll.in, 11 july 2016

» Uzair Hasan Rizvi is an independent multimedia journalist in Lucknow. His Twitter handle is @rizviuzair.

Sri Sri Ravi Shankar & Zakir Naik

Must read critique of Zakir Naik and his monotheism: Punya Bhumi and the bleak landscape of one god-ism – Vijaya Rajiva

Zakir Naik & Salman Khan

Excusing Muslim terrorists and blaming Hindus – David Frawley

Acharya David Frawley (Pandit Vamadeva Shastri)Muslim preachers like Zakir Naik are afforded respect even when teaching intolerance and excusing terrorism. Hindu gurus like Sri Sri Ravi Shankar, on the contrary, are criticized and even sued for promoting world peace and the unity of humanity. And this is occurring in Bharat, which is not an Islamic country. – Dr David Frawley

Muslim preachers like Zakir Naik are afforded respect even when teaching intolerance and excusing terrorism. Hindu gurus like Sri Sri Ravi Shankar, on the contrary, are criticized and even sued for promoting world peace and the unity of humanity. And this is occurring in Bharat, which is not an Islamic country.

Hindu gurus are kept in jail without bail, made the subject of long court cases, dragging out for years. The media presumes them guilty and does not ask for their release. When their names are eventually cleared, as in the case of Pujya Jayendra Saraswati, Shankaracharya of Kanchipuram, no apologies are offered for the derogatory stories published against them.

Hindu Sadhvi Pragya, accused of involvement in a terror attack, can be kept in jail for years without bail, drugged and tortured as a matter of investigation. This would not happen with a mullah or with a priest.

A Hindu politician like Kamlesh Tiwari can be held without bail for allegedly insulting Islam, while those insulting Hindu Dharma are excused or turned into media heroes, like the student protestors from JNU’s communist student union who denigrated Ma Durga—or for preachers like Naik who routinely demean Hindu deities, practices and theology on television shows.

A handout picture released by the King Faisal Foundation on March 1, 2015 shows Saudi King Salman bin Abdul Aziz (L) presenting Zakir Naik, president of the Islamic Research Foundation in India, with the 2015 King Faisal International Prize for Service to Islam in Riyadh. Naik was honoured for being one of the most renowned non-Arabic speaking promoters of Islam. He founded the Peace TV channel, billed as the world's only channel specialising in comparative religion. Inventing the Idea of Hindu Terror and Excusing Islamic Terrorism

Though there are numerous terrorist attacks by radical Islamists all over the world against various peoples and governments, including in Muslim majority states, Bharat’s media likes to blame Islamic terrorist acts in Bharat on Hindus for oppressing their Muslim minority. It attributes these horrific acts to poverty and discrimination, and will not associate them with Islam as a religion or speak of Islamic terror, in spite of such Muslim preachers as Naik for whom Islamic militancy is a matter of pride. On the contrary, Islam is taught as progressive or egalitarian, as if jihadist violence never had anything to do with it.

When very rare and questionable cases of terrorism are brought against Hindus, these are immediately labeled “saffron” or “Hindu terror”, as if the Hindu religion itself were the cause. The suggestion is that Hindu terrorism is on par with global jihad that has cost the world tens of thousands of lives and trillions of dollars in wars and protective measures. This negative approach continues though there have been no convictions for so-called Hindu terrorism in Bharat, or in any other country in the world, only allegations, while Hindus have frequently suffered from terrorist acts against them.

Hindu Dharma is said to be backward and in need of reform, but not Islam or Christianity. Hindu Dharma is identified with caste, oppression and social injustice, and its progressive and spiritual sides are ignored or belittled. Bharat’s leftist media is hesitant to promote Yoga Day as if Yoga were regressive or communal. While pride in Islam or Christianity is respected, for Hindus to express pride in being Hindus is deemed as communal and intolerant.

Salman bin Abdulaziz al-SaudNeed to Recognize Danger of Global Jihad

Mainstream Islamic countries, especially Saudi Arabia, are among the most intolerant and oppressive nations in the world. While looking at Islamic violence in Bharat, the roots of radical Islam outside of Bharat are not considered, as if there were no connection or communication between them. When the role of Pakistan in Islamic terror is brought out, Bharat’s media likes to blame it on extremist factions in Pakistan, though such radical groups often have government and military support.

ISIS, though it calls itself the Islamic State, is described by the media as following policies that are not Islamic, as if Islam of any sort was not part of its agenda. Yet ISIS follows a similar type of Islam to Wahhabis, whose Saudi-funded madrasas are common in Bharat and seldom regulated. While Saudi has of its own accord destroyed most of the mosques in its own country, Bharat’s media will not report such actions. But if a mosque is damaged in Bharat, great outrage is expressed and Hindus blamed. Destruction and defacement of Hindu temples under Islamic rule was conveniently erased from Bharat’s history books by Marxist historians.

When the current BJP government seeks to address the issue of terrorism, it is criticized for being anti-Muslim and pro-Hindu, though jihadi terrorism is the main global danger today. Meanwhile, a Congress Party leader such as Digvijay Singh can praise intolerant preachers like Naik in public programs and attend a book release on the 26/11 terrorist attack in Bharat for a book that blames this well-documented Pakistan-based jihadi attack on the Hindu RSS!

Zakir Naik & Digvijaya SinghContinuation of Old Anti-Hindu Policies

Such policies of Bharat’s Congress-backed media are nothing new and have been occurring for decades, ever since Nehru and his Congress Party began to rely on an Islamic vote bank. Keeping Muslims afraid and Hindus divided insured an en bloc Muslim vote for Congress and a division of the Hindu vote. Since then many left-oriented political parties have adopted the same vote bank strategy.

Given the dangers posed by global jihad, one would think that these vote bank and appeasement policies would come to an end for the safety of the entire country. But this does not seem to be the case given the political alliances forming for upcoming elections. Fortunately, the Bharatiya electorate is no longer accepting the old anti-Hindu propaganda. – Hindu Post, 9 July 2016

» Dr David Frawley (Pandit Vamadeva Shastri) is a Vedacharya and includes in his wide scope of studies Ayurveda, Yoga, Vedanta and Vedic astrology, as well as the ancient teachings of the oldest Rigveda. Tweet him at @davidfrawleyved.

Jihadis

Exposing Zakir Naik might be a better idea than banning him – T. A. Bharadwaj

Zakir Naik Quote

T. A. BharadwajThe problem with having hate speech laws is that they aren’t designed to fight hate. They just make voicing a hateful opinion illegal. – T. A. Bharadwaj

As per recent revelations, at least two of the seven terrorists, who hacked 20 people to death in Dhaka, were followers of Dr Zakir Naik.

Naik, a controversial Indian Islamic preacher, is extremely popular among a section of middle class urban Muslims. Indian media and the political establishment at large have been clamouring to have him banned and to prosecute him on grounds of hate speech.

I believe this would be a terrible move.

First things first, let me make it clear that I consider myself a free speech fundamentalist, but I’m not enamoured by romantic notions of free speech.

I don’t underestimate the threat of radical Islamism and recognise the capacity of hate preachers to influence impressionable young men to commit heinous acts of violence in the name of religion.

The problem with banning someone like Naik is that it doesn’t really help in dealing with radicalisation.

Watch any of his lectures or debates on YouTube and you will see that not only does Naik draw in huge crowds at his events, but he also has a substantial online audience. His large fan base would seem to suggest that many of his abhorrent views are shared by huge swathes of people.

So, while we may be able to ban him from preaching, how would we deal with millions of his fans who hold similar beliefs? Do we ban them too?

We cannot because ideas cannot be made illegal.

The problem with having hate speech laws is that they aren’t designed to fight hate. They just make voicing a hateful opinion illegal.

Salman RushdieJust because people don’t say things out loud, doesn’t mean the idea doesn’t exist. Salman Rushdie once remarked: “If we give people the freedom to voice their hateful views, at least we can see where the hate is coming from and take it on directly.”

The best way to counter the influence of people like Naik is to expose their ideas, for the regressive, conservative and pre-medieval notions they are. Inviting him to debates on national television instead of banning him, would be a good place to start.

Even if you aren’t convinced by my idea and still think people who preach hate should be banned, Naik is hardly the guiltiest on this count.

In fact, if you look at his most controversial statements, as problematic as they are, they aren’t calls for violence. Zakir Naik is a hardcore fundamentalist and the only way to defeat religious fundamentalists is by critically scrutinising their ideology by pitting them against ideas based on reason.

We need to win over people’s hearts and minds instead of alienating them for their false sense of right and wrong.

The only reason Naik is even in the limelight right now is because two of the Dhaka terrorists were his fans. Banning him with that as the reason would set a dangerous precedent.

It was revealed soon after Osama Bin Laden’s death that he was a fan of Noam Chomsky, among others.

In fact, Chomsky’s critique of American foreign policy makes him a darling among Islamists. Would that be reason enough to ban Chomsky?

Naik’s views are regressive and extremely conservative.

However, Indian media has made him the sole scapegoat of a problem that nobody is willing to acknowledge the depth and severity of.

If we want to mitigate the problem of radicalism, we need to wage a battle of ideas.

Banning one preacher would hardly make a dent in the problem and is bound to create more ill will among the people we should be trying to win over. – Daily-O, 9 July 2016

» T. A. Bharadwaj is a student journalist and philosophy buff.

Zakir Naik : Flat Earth!

Zakir Naik Quote

See also

Zakir Naik influenced Dhaka attackers – PTI

Zakir Naik

Sword of Jihad & MayhemSaudi King Salman bin Abdul Aziz presenting Zakir Naik, president of the Islamic Research Foundation in India, with the 2015 King Faisal International Prize for Service to Islam in Riyadh. Naik was honoured for being one of the most renowned non-Arabic speaking promoters of Wahhabi Islam and abusers of Hindus and Hinduism. He also received a large cheque from the king. See Saudi funded Rs 1,700 crore for Wahhabi influence in India – Editor

Two of the five Bangladeshi militants who hacked to death 20 people at a restaurant in Dhaka’s diplomatic zone used to follow three controversial Islamists, including Indian Islamic preacher Zakir Naik. Militant Rohan Imtiaz, son of an Awami League leader, propagated on Facebook last year quoting Peace TV’s controversial preacher Naik “urging all Muslims to be terrorists”, The Daily Star reported.

Naik, a popular but controversial Islamic orator and founder of Mumbai-based Islamic Research Foundation, is banned in UK and Canada for his hate speech aimed against other religions. He is among 16 banned Islamic scholars in Malaysia. He is wildly popular in Bangladesh through his Peace TV although his preaching often demeans other religions and even other Muslim sects, the report said.

Another Dhaka attacker Nibras Islam, 22, used to follow two alleged suspected recruiters of Islamic State—Anjem Choudary and Shami Witness—on Twitter in 2014. Shami Witness is the Twitter account of 24-year-old Mehdi Biswas, who is also facing trial in India for running propaganda for the Islamic State. He was arrested in December 2014 following an investigation into his Twitter account which was last active in August 2014.

Biswas was charged for operating the “single most influential pro-ISIS Twitter account”. 49-year-old Choudary, a Pakistan-origin British citizen is now facing trial in England for breaking the British anti-terrorism law. His twitter account became inactive from August 2015 after terror charges were brought against him.

Choudary allegedly told his supporters to travel to territory controlled by the “barbaric regime” in Syria and Iraq. “This means at least in the case Nibras and Rohan, they did not become radicalised overnight. They have been consuming radical materials for one to two years before finally disappearing in February-March and reappearing as ‘IS killers’ Friday night at the Holey Artisan Bakery in Gulshan,” the paper said.

From their pictures posted by the ISIS media and recirculated by the SITE Intelligence Group, it can be assumed that these young men received arms training after their disappearance specifically to carry out the mission on June 1.

“Their attire with IS logo in their backdrop, the automatic rifles held in their hands reveal they underwent an organised training which is far from anything amateurish. That the killers released some of the hostages 15 minutes before the army-led operation on Saturday morning also showed the depth of their brains being washed—that they were ready to die,” the paper added. – HuffPost, 6 July 2016

 

Meera Nanda returns with more nonsense – Adity Sharma

The Law“Meera Nanda’s lopsided analysis and incessant diatribes laced with venom against Hindus and Hindu Dharma stink of the mindset that plagues most academics in and on India. In her zeal to portray Hindus and Hinduism as entities straight out of a Neanderthal world, she ignores that Christian and Islamic televangelists and preachers also indulge in globe-trotting to raise more and more funds to harvest the poor souls steeped in ‘darkness’. India is a favorite destination for American evangelists. – Adity Sharma

Dr Meera NandaWhen historians and Indologists are not preoccupied with denouncing the dangers of Hindu revivalism, they can be found hurling intellectual-sounding invectives at the evils of Hindu Dharma. Meera Nanda belongs to that special tribe of individuals with impressive credentials and a strong attachment to all things that have perverted secularism’s original meaning in India. A microbiologist, Nanda prefers philosophizing about issues of which she has little knowledge. While Nanda has not quite reached the dizzying depths self-acclaimed historians and Indologists such as Romila Thapar, Arundhati Roy, Wendy Doniger, Vijay Prashad and Angana Chatterji occupy, she is doing her utmost to attain that coveted depth.

In her latest essay on India’s superstition industry (“In the name of faith,” Frontline, September 18, 2013) Nanda recycles the same accusations she has been spouting for years. The article is about the arrest of Asaram Bapu. It is interesting to note that when it comes to accusations against Hindu leaders or gurus, there is nothing like giving the benefit of doubt in the world of India’s secularists. Nanda excoriates the neoliberal regime which, according to her, has given rise to the superstition industry, and weaves a dark tale of the evil nexus between faith, politics and money, all the while taking pains to lay the entire blame for all ills on the Hindu tradition itself.

One quotation stands out amidst the rubble of accusations, “When our elected representatives, policymakers and state functionaries approach the religious establishment as devotees, rather than as officials of a secular state with a constitutional mandate to create a secular public culture, what we get is a culture steeped in a disregard for the law, and a culture that protects irrational beliefs from critical scrutiny.”

World Vision IndiaIn the name of faith 

Oh, very right, but there is one small, insignificant problem. Nanda and her tribe of fatuous historians do not actually intend that all religiosity and the Indian State be divorced from each other. Oh no. This is only intended for the polytheists who have yet to be civilized, and herded away from their idolatrous ways. Proof? Take for example, Nanda and her tribe’s complete silence on the aggressive proselytising (by hook-or-by-crook) going on in many parts of the country. Christian missionaries, both White and non-White, receive staggering sums of money by a conglomerate of Western institutions which, if carefully analyzed, dwarfs the amount Hindu institutions receive.

One such powerful institution is World Vision International, a Christian entity which seeks to proselytise the poorest sections of society through offering them much-needed succour. But along with providing basic necessities, World Vision and other Christian organizations are busy harvesting souls for Christ. World Vision’s website unashamedly announces: “We proclaim together, ‘Jesus lived, died, and rose again. Jesus is Lord’. We desire him to be central in our individual and corporate life.” Where is Nanda’s condemnation? Is she diligently working on it? Doubtful. She feigns ignorance about these activities, which not only alienate people from their ancestral roots, but also create resentment and strife between different communities (see World Vision’s Mission Statement).

World Vision bibles for slum children.Nanda has a huge problem with the purported “state-temple-corporate-complex,” In fact, she has written a book on what she and secular scholars want to pass of as “research.” But what about World Vision’s goal of lodging Jesus in an individual’s private and corporate life, is that not hypocrisy?

But play word association with Nanda. Mention the words (proselytisation) or (Christian missionaries), and the only thing that will most likely come to her superficial intellect is the Stains family being burned alive by an unruly Hindu mob. More proof? With her impressive qualifications, surely Nanda is aware that Islamic countries like Saudi Arabia are feverishly pouring millions in an effort to export Wahhabism which upholds and propagates the crassest elements found in Islam. Islamic countries send Imams and other religious scholars to brainwash millions of youth in non-Muslim countries to become true Muslims, and the hundreds of terrorist attacks across the globe are hapless witnesses to this legacy.

When Abdul Rahman Al-Sudais, Imam of the Grand Mosque in Mecca, who has openly vilified non-Muslims in his sermons, was officially welcomed by India in 2011, the secularist halfwits did not screech with self-righteous indignation. A banquet was thrown in his honor! Was that not an egregious violation and neglect of the Indian State’s duty towards maintaining a secular character? Is it not even more disturbing that no one thinks it necessary to protect India’s secular character from such flagrant displays of religiosity?

They do speak though. Oh yes, they hoard their holier-than-thou secular energy in reserves to use against Hindu leaders. When democratically elected Narendra Modi was denied a visa to attend a private meeting in the United States, the same halfwits who get tongue-tied at the sight of a cleric like Al-Sudais, simply could not conceal their glee. But perhaps an important scholar and philosopher like Zakir NaikNanda failed to decry Al-Sudais’s visit in her writings because she was out on an important fact-finding mission for her next anti-Hindu project?

Zakir Naik, Islam apologist extraordinaire, is another glaring instance where Nanda keeps her excellent lambasting skills in check. Naik has traveled the world spewing anti-Semitism, staging fraudulent conversions, and holding a sham annual Peace Conference. In 2006, Naik launched another propaganda outlet, Peace TV, that runs in several countries. Surely, these extravagant endeavours cost hundreds of millions. Yet, zakaat (Islamic charity funds) keep on flowing in Naik’s direction. So, one wonders in earnest why Nanda who has made a lucrative career out of dishing out nauseating doses of diatribes against Hindus and Hindu Dharma, is silent on Naik’s sources of funding?

Plenty of pie for everyone

Nanda’s lopsided analysis and incessant diatribes laced with venom against Hindus and Hindu Dharma stink of the mindset that plagues most academics in and on India. In her zeal to portray Hindus and Hinduism as entities straight out of a Neanderthal world, she ignores that Christian and Islamic televangelists and preachers also indulge in globe-trotting to raise more and more funds to harvest the poor souls steeped in ‘darkness’. India is a favorite destination for American televangelists.

But a few Hindu gurus duping gullible masses are inconsequential when measured against the belief systems Nanda and her secular cronies laud as progressive. If Nanda seriously wished to present an analysis of how individuals in the guise of religious garb dupe the gullible masses into opening their hearts and trick them into writing out fat checks, she could do a fair analysis of examining the merits of all belief systems, because surely Hindu Dharma alone does not stand indicted.

A "secular" Dalit ChristianChucking the irrational and superstitious

This condemnation of secularist propaganda is not an endorsement of, or an attempt to whitewash, certain gender and caste-based practices that have crept into Hindu Dharma. These need to be dragged into the open, acknowledged, analyzed, and where needed, jettisoned, as is envisioned in the Dharma itself. From ancient times in India, it was common for Hindu thinkers to have scriptural debates. Sages from Hindu and Buddhist backgrounds also engaged in debates on practices and customs.

Superstitions have the dangerous potential of preying on society’s vulnerable and marginalized and can become an albatross around the neck of a civilization that has stood the vicissitudes of time because it does not clash with new scientific approaches to understanding the world, and does not have dogmas that could be endangered by the surfacing of new truths and insights about the world. – Vijayvaani, 2 December 2013

» Adity Sharma is a student at St. John’s University School of Law in New York; her writings have appeared in Beliefnet, Chakranews, HVK, and Counterpunch

 Links:

  1. In the Name of Faith – Meera Nanda
  2. Banquet hosted in honor of Al-Sudais – Arab News
  3. Secularism a threat to Islam, Naik says – Abbas Al Lawati
  4. Private jets, 13 mansions and a $100,000 mobile home just for the dogs: Televangelists ‘defrauded tens of million of dollars from Christian network’ – Nina Golgowski

Punya Bhumi and the bleak landscape of one god-ism – Vijaya Rajiva

Professor Icon“The Gods and Goddesses of the four Vedas are intimately linked not only to the Vedic worshippers, but reappear in consecrated form in the Agama Shastras where the deity is consecrated in a temple. Although the Vedic Hindus performed their yajnas under the open sky after erecting altars, some form of temple is mentioned in the Atharva Veda itself. Hence, from the Vedas to the Agamas, there is a line of continuity in worship which constitutes the Hindu tradition.” – Dr. Vijaya Rajiva

Sri Sri Ravi Shankar + Zakir NaikHindus do not need extremists or the past history of violence and conquest to realise that the dogmatic monotheistic faiths (Islam and Christianity) are not for them. They have to only look at the performances of persons like Dr. Zakir Naik, the Islamic scholar who discussed religion with Sri Sri Ravi Shankar, his mangling of the Veda and cherry picking of quotes therein, and references to Pandit Nehru and Encyclopedia Britannica (since when did these two become authorities on Hindu dharma?) to see what can be expected from a monotheistic interpretation of Hindu tradition. Most of his pronouncements bordered on the ludicrous and could be dismissed, except that an uninformed audience could be taken in by this soap box orator.

Zakir Naik brings to mind the American racist David Duke who used to say India was a great country because of the Aryan achievements in every discipline from science and mathematics to astronomy, architecture, art, music etc., but India degenerated when it mixed with the aboriginal peoples of the subcontinent!

Prof. Max MuellerZakir Naik likewise cherry picks a few lines here and there to prove that the Vedas were once part of an exclusive club of religionists (like himself!), believed in the ONE true god (of his imagination), and that things turned sour when images were introduced, and hence Hindus and Hinduism degenerated!

Yet he is not the only one on the bleak landscape of monotheism who has perversely misinterpreted the depth and range of Vedic Polytheism and its link with Vedic Monism. We have seen learned Indologists and scholars such as Max Mueller speculating freely whether the ONE god was not always present in the minds of ‘pagan’ worshippers and whether this subsequently gave way to the worship of many gods! To them, this was degeneration, sin!

This line of thinking—that pagans first believed in one god—differs from that of Positivists such as Auguste Comte (1798-1857) who theorised that the worship of many deities eventually gave way to a single Cause, and thence the rise of scientific enquiry. His line of enquiry went thus: In Theology: 1. Polytheism and paganism to monotheism, 2. Then to the metaphysical First Cause, 3. Then to the scientific study of phenomena, especially that of society.

Auguste ComteThe fact that Positivism no longer prevails in contemporary Western philosophy is informative. Even the last of the great Logical Positivists such as Sir Karl Popper (who died a few years ago) had abandoned their strict positivism: that philosophy is the handmaiden of science. It should not concern itself with unknown entities. Today, such new thinking as string theory, chaos theory, etc., are indicative of the fact that simplistic views cannot explain the universe.

The gods and goddesses (devas and devatas) of the four Vedas are intimately linked not only to the Vedic worshippers, but reappear in consecrated form in the Agama Shastras where the deity is consecrated in a temple. Although the Vedic Hindus performed their yajnas under the open sky after erecting altars, some form of temple is mentioned in the Atharva Veda itself. Hence, from the Vedas to the Agamas, there is a line of continuity in worship which constitutes the Hindu tradition. This is an unbroken tradition that reaffirms the richness and diversity of the four Vedas.

Contrary to the myths propagated by Western scholars and the one god-ists, the richness of contemporary Hinduism is integrally related to the Vedas. Recently, a Catholic scholar in debate with a Hindu writer hinted that the Rishi tradition is open to interpretations other than that provided by the Smritis, read Hindus. (This was Dr. Francis Xavier Clooney, Jesuit Professor of Divinity, Harvard University, USA). Hence, it is not only Islamists like Zakir Naik who undertake fishing expeditions in the Vedas.

Karl PopperAt this juncture, a clarification concerning the word Hindu is relevant and needs to be kept firmly in mind. The word derives from the river Sindhu mentioned any number of times in the Rig Veda itself, starting with Book I. We do not need Dr. Naik’s disinformation that the word Hindu is of Arabic origin. It is well known the Persians when they interacted with Hindu civilisation could not pronounce the syllable ‘s’ and converted it into ‘h’ and hence Hindu. The rest is history, with the colonial British using the Greek version, Indus, because they traced the legitimacy of their colonial predations from Alexander.

Today, every Hindu knows that the once famous Indus Valley Civilisation is now properly designated by scholars as the Sindhu Sarasvati Civilisation, owing to the proliferation of human habitations along the route of the famous Sarasvati and discovery of the river itself by scientists more than two decades ago. The Sarasvati is the much revered mother, river, and goddess of the Rig Veda (ambitame, naditame, devitame; RV II.41.16). Modern scholars also prefer the original nomenclature of Sindhu to the anglicised Indus.

The list of howlers in Dr. Naik’s speech (which the writer recently viewed) is appalling enough; even worse is the prospect of the ONE god-ism that pervades the monotheistic faith in general, of which Naik is a vociferous proponent. The uninformed might assume from his account that only the few quotes he uses to make the Veda fit his bleak landscape comprise the whole picture. The present writer has pointed out previously that the description of the Infinite Divine, as found in Hindu Monism, is quite at variance with the narrow contradictory version of a ONE true god of monotheism. It is a contradiction in terms to speak of the number ONE in connection with the Infinite.

Vedic God AgniThe Infinite Divine is Satchidananda (Sat, Chit, Ananda, that which Exists, is Conscious and is Blissful) and the Gods and Goddesses of the four Vedas are real existents, they are the manifestations of the Infinite Divine. The Vedic seers knew this and so does the aam admi. The celebration of these divine presences is freely expressed in the Rig Veda and as well the other three, the Sama (which sings of them) the Yajur (which details the rituals offered up to the deities) and the Atharva Veda.

The exact rituals of the yajnas are described in detail in the prose commentaries, the Brahmanas (interestingly, Zakir Naik skips this work!). It is also revealing that he omits all mention of the Brihadaranyaka Upanishad, the longest and densest of the Upanishads, which comes as the end of the Shatapatha Brahmana, and one which extols the yajnas, the gods and goddesses and the manifestations of their divine nature. It also goes into great detail about the significance of Agni (Fire) and the other deities, which Naik dismisses as ‘worship of the elements,’ and yes, Max Mueller also dismisses as the worship of the ‘elements’ common to paganism.

There is good reason for this omission. While he can cherry pick lines from the Rig Veda and the Upanishads and take them out of context to endorse the Islamic version of the one god, it is impossible for monotheists to circumvent the yajnas and their delineation in the Brahmanas. Indeed, Naik omits also the great Mahavakyas of the Upanishads, which clearly cannot be fitted into his scheme of a ONE true god. In what sense can Tat Tvam Asi (That Thou Art), Aham Brahmasmi (I am Brahman) be fitted into the procrustean bed of one god-ism?

Chandrashekarendra SaraswatiThe Kanchi Acharya’s memorable words concerning the gods and goddesses of the Rig Veda and the rituals conducted for them cannot be repeated too often:

“ . . . . a yajna is making an oblation to a deity in the fire with the chanting of mantras. In a sense the mantras themselves constitute the form of the deities invoked. In another sense, the mantras, like the materials placed in the fire, are the sustenance of the celestials invoked” (Hindu Dharma: The Vedas).

To sum up: Murti puja, temples, the gods and goddesses of the Rig Veda are integral to the Punya Bhumi (sacred earth). Dr. Naik and the one god-ists of all denominations can fulminate against them, but they will not go away. The one god-ists are welcome to stay in this sacred land and pray to their own gods, but it is futile for them to try to change the Hindu landscape.

Dr. Naik had said that while he had no problems with the name Vishnu, Muslims do not like it when this god is depicted with four arms and is shown reclining on a serpent etc. That is too bad. No Hindu ever tells him whom he should worship and how and where. At any rate, Vishnu will always be Vishnu and Brihadisvara will always remain the lord of dance, both the cosmic universal dance and the human mortal dance form (Bharata Natyam etc). And Sarasvati will always be depicted as patroness of the arts and learning, Lakshmi of grace and abundance, and Durga of might and power!

Lord VishnuHindu gods and goddesses cannot be wished away. The temples can no longer be invaded by barbarians; the murtis will continue to be consecrated, installed in temples and worshipped by millions of Hindus!

As well known journalist M. J. Akbar once said: In the entire world, in India alone have Muslims enjoyed uninterrupted democracy for more than sixty years (see his blog). And that is as it should be.

Dr. Naik should be grateful to the Punya Bhumi, grateful that the gods and goddesses exist, grateful that the temples with their consecrated deities exist, and that the celebratory, joyful and generous nature of Hinduism owes to the existence of Satchidananda as worshipped by Hindus in various forms and manifestations and images.

» Dr Vijaya Rajiva is a political philosopher who taught at a Canadian university. She lives in Montreal.