Sender : Mr. Disappointed
Dr. Zakir Naik is a man banned from Canada and Europe, yet in Malaysia he has been conferred the “Tokoh Ma’al Hijrah Distinguished Personality International Award for the Year 2013” for his services to Islam in particular, and humanity at large by the Yang di-Pertuan Agong. The charismatic Muslim orator lived up to his reputation of attracting controversy when he was banned from delivering a talk titled “The similarities between Hinduism and Islam.
When the title was announced, the Hindus were all up in arms against the talk going on as they claimed he had the tendency to spew wrong facts about Hinduism in his talk. When he was banned, the Muslims in turn were up in arms clamoring that he be given the liberty to speak. A compromise was reached and he was permitted to deliver a talk albeit on a different topic. The new title of the talk was “Islam: Problems and Solution to Humanity”.
I attended the talk just to see for myself if the speaker was worthy of all the fuss. For the first half of the talk when he spoke on the given topic, there was nothing much to complain about. He expounded with passion on why Islam is the solution to the problems of mankind and gave various justifications on why certain widely criticized aspects of Islam like certain punishments as prescribed by Shariah law are not problems but solutions. It was mostly an academic affair, quite similar to how a socialist or liberal would when trying to convince the crowd as to why their worldview is the best.
The problem starts when he begins to speak about other religions. When he started his talk, he raged against the western media for taking Quranic verses and Hadiths out of context, twisting it to suit their Islamophobia agenda. Unfortunately, he did the very same thing when started quoting Biblical scriptures to prove some of his points during the lecture. As a Christian, I cannot speak for the Hindus but at the very least i can say that if he had been quoting the Vedik scriptures the same way he quotes scriptures from the Bible, I can very well understand why they did not want him speaking on any subject pertaining to Hinduism.
I’ll give an example. During the Q&A session, a Hindu stood up and asked him why Muslims identify themselves all as Muslims but Christians would say they are not Christians but are Catholic or Methodist or Baptist etc. Firstly, I have never heard any Christians deny being one but identify themselves by their denominations first. That however does not concern Dr Zakir so we shall ignore that. Secondly, a Hindu asking a Muslim why Christians are a certain way makes no sense, but then again it is not Dr. Zakir’s fault that such a question was posed to him. Amazingly, Dr. Zakir stood up and proceeded to give a 15 minute long explanation that can be briefly summed up as, because there are so many different versions of the Bibles, there are many different forms of Christians; whereas for Muslims, they have one perfect Quran hence they are united people.
Now, let me tell you what irks me - to even attempt to give an answer to such a question of which is a field he is no expert in. It would not be so bad if he truly knew the answer but he gave an answer of which was so far off tangent even the least committed Christian would know it was wrong. Dr. Zakir is no doubt an expert in the field of Islamic law, nobody denies that. However, he is a Muslim scholar. He may claim to have over 200 translations of the Bible in his personal library and have studied the Bible but it makes no difference. He may have studied the Bible but he does not understand it.
The reason for different denominations is generally due to minor theological differences where different groups of people have different preference or beliefs on how to worship God or differing views on certain theological points, for example, “once save always save” doctrine or the continuation of the gifts of the Spirit in the present age. There are many different reasons but none of it deals with having different Bibles. Those with different Bibles such as the Jehovah Witness are deemed cults by the rest of the Christian community. There are many different translations but this is more to the style of the language such as the Old King James Version which is Shakespearean in style or the more modern ones like New International Version which uses the style of English we have today.
That was not the only thing he got wrong. He recited a whole grocery list of Bible verses in his claim that while the Bible says that there is only one God, Christians are sinning by worshiping Jesus also. The concept of the Trinity is one that deals with the nature of God. God the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit are all one yet many. To seek understand this would be to seek to understand the nature of God. We are finite human beings and to understand the nature of God would mean that we are God already, which we aren’t so we cannot explain how it works except that this concept of one God yet three exist. Jesus as the son of God does not refer to being a son as begotten by a mother and father but the role of a son. Books upon books are written on this yet Dr. Zakir chooses to read a few verses, jump to conclusions and speak authoritatively on this subject just because he memorized a cocktail of scriptures.
He claimed Christians should not drink alcohol because it is written in the Biblical scriptures as so. He has been known to many a times claim that Muslims are more Christian than Christians over this issue. He conveniently leaves out the context of it being one that warns against the dangers of being a drunkard and not a prohibition against alcohol. A person who has 200 over translations of the Bible in his library would surely at least remember the famous story of Jesus turning water into wine during the wedding feast of Cana, no? Selective memory perhaps. I can go on and on about the other things he said but I shall stop on move on to something which I feel is important for Muslims to understand why there is so much opposition from the non-Muslims towards him.
Let me tell you how I felt as a non-Muslim listening to this famed Muslim preacher spew utter rubbish about my faith with all the confidence in the world. I was outraged, I was repulsed, I was disgusted. Whatever openness I had in listening to his point of view evaporated. As a non-Muslim, I was given special seating in the front row right behind the line of VIP’s for the best view in the house, I was given a door gift with food and drink, yet all these niceties are lost on me when the keynote speaker has the audacity to speak such blatant mistruths about my faith. Go ahead and speak on your faith and why you believe in it, I will listen with much interest and try to understand your point of view. I understand not however, the need to speak about the faith of another, when you have little to no understanding of it. It was not a debate; it was a talk where there was no one there to check his facts and the audience just lapped up whatever mistruths he fed them with. An expert in comparative religion? I think not.