The curious case of Zakir Naik & Shekhar Gupta

The gentleman on the right of the frame wants India to be ruled by Shariat laws. He recommends death for homosexuals. He supports Osama bin Laden if he is “fighting the enemies of Islam”. He says revealing clothes make women more susceptible to rape.

Yet, the gentleman on the left, Shekhar Gupta, introduced him as the “rockstar of tele-evangelism” in March 2009, on his NDTV show Walk the Talk:

“…but surprise of surprises, he is not preaching what you would expect tele-evangelists to preach. He is preaching Islam, modern Islam, and not just Islam but his own interpretation of all the faiths around the world.”

In February this year, the paper edited by the gentleman on the left, the Indian Express, ranked the gentleman on the right 89th on its list of the most powerful Indians in 2010, ahead of  Nobel laureate Amartya Sen, with large numbers dripping all over:

“His sermons on Peace TV-English boast of a viewership of 100 million. The channel is aired in 125 countries. Peace TV Urdu has 50 million viewers. He has given 1,300 public talks including 100 in 2009, 10-day peace conference attened by 2 lakh…”

Now, with the British government announcing that the gentleman of such affection—the gentleman on the right, Dr Zakir Naik—will not be allowed into Britain because of numerous comments that are evidence of “unacceptable behaviour”, the journalist-author Sadanand Dhume writes in The Wall Street Journal:

“If you’re looking for a snapshot of India’s hapless response to radical Islam, then look no further than Naik. In India, the 44-year-old Dr. Naik—a medical doctor by training and a televangelist by vocation—is a widely respected figure, feted by newspapers and gushed over by television anchors….

“When the doctor appears on a mainstream Indian news channel, his interviewers tend to be deferential. Senior journalist and presenter Shekhar Gupta breathlessly introduced his guest last year as a “rock star of televangelism” who teaches “modern Islam” and “his own interpretation of all the faiths around the world.”

“A handful of journalists—among them Praveen Swami of The Hindu, and the grand old man of Indian letters, Khushwant Singh—have questioned Dr. Naik’s views, but most take his carefully crafted image of moderation at face value.”

But the Indian Express is, if nothing else, extremely touchy when its judgments are questioned.

With Dhume’s article doing the rounds, it has run an editorial in response to the British decision, curiously titled “Talk is Cheap”:

“By disallowing Zakir Naik from delivering his lecture in Birmingham, Britain has simply made him a cause and handed him a megaphone, ensuring that his voice is amplified on blogs, social networks and other forums where disenfranchised and angry Muslims gather.

“This is not to say that Naik’s televangelism is not entirely free of objectionable or sometimes plain ridiculous content…. Naik is simply one corner in a larger field, and his ideas have been debated, endorsed or demolished, as the case may be, on very public platforms…. Words must be fought with words alone, not clumsy state action.

“Zakir Naik talks of ideas that some might abhor, but some others take all too seriously. Not permitting open discourse is to constrict the free play of disagreeement and disputation.”

Photograph: courtesy NDTV 24×7

Read the full column: The trouble with Dr Zakir Naik

Follow Sadanand Dhume on Twitter


  1. Mohan Nair

    Is there any wonder then that organizations such as the VHP and RSS and their sympathizers on the one hand, and all moderate religionists on the other, abhor such virulent and fanatical personalities? The reason such people thrive is because of our backboneless “secular” media and “secularists” (read anti-Hindu in both cases). The fault lies with the vast majority of peace-loving, tolerant people who consider these apologists as next only to God.

  2. Mysore Peshva

    I have spent many hours watching the allegedly charming Zakir Naik on YouTube.

    The man, like the ideology he professes, uses the very values — of liberal democracy and India’s plural Vedic tradition — that he would then destroy. What an insidious creep! As they say in Hindi, “Jis thali say khatein hain, usi pey thoonkte hain.”

    If I hated snakes I’d say Naik is a Daboia russelii, but i don’t, so he’s plain vermin.

  3. M Vijapurkar

    If Dr Naik is tele-evangelist, why frown at Togadias? They too are doing their bit – propagating their religion. I think Zorastrians are best – they do not bring religion into the public domain, keep it personal, a matter of personal faith.

  4. Loveoflust

    I have watched the teleshows of this Naik guy and have also read his books. He is a smooth talker always finding faults with Christians and Hindus and coming up with as many so called proofs as possible to say that Hindus are Cow killers, polygamists, idol haters and in every way repressed muslims whom need to be converted. Please stop this guy or else there will be more Togadias and Mutaliks very soon.

  5. […] Serif highlights the curious case of tele-evangelist Zakir Naik & tele-journalist Shekhar […]

  6. Sifar

    Dear Sir,

    True-Islam and terrorism are antonyms, in fact Islam hates terrorism. Prophet Mohammed was a full fledged brave-warrior who stood against falsehood and he never resorted to any kind of terrorism or terrorist tactics that are similar to sudden bombing or fear-based torture even on his most deadliest enemies. Only the most deluded and the cowards will resort to terrorism as a retaliatory solution to any given problem. When Zakir Naik calls for the terrorizing of the terrorists, it is like calling for the raping of the rapists, it takes us to no solution.

    Zakir Naik justifies his definition of terrorism by saying that a thief is terrified by a policeman, and so a police man is a terrorist to a theif. This is wrong. A policeman is only terrifying the thief not terrorizing. A policeman only tries to imprison the thief, and if evidence is provided before the court, only then is corrective measures taken. A policeman is not a terrorist to a thief. Similarly there is no terrorism in Islam, even when against the real terrorist themselves. Prophet Mohammed was devoid of the least amount of terror. He did not even terrorize the very woman that poisoned him. People used to throw rubbish on his face, yet he was a man of great patience and forbearance and he won many a hearts. This is true Islam. Such a great man he really was!

    Prophet Mohammed will never use terrorism to fight terrorism, he always used the truth along with a brave army of companions to fight the infidels only in a war of reason, code and self-defense in the way of the Truth before Allah.

    Once Ali, companion of Prophet Mohammed was at war, and he got into a fight with a very dangerous criminal, he finally overcame him and sat on his chest to kill him. The opponent spat at his face. Ali at once left him. Seeing this the man was very much surprised and asked the reason. Ali said, “I was killing you for God’s sake but when you spat on my face, my sincerity was endangered because of the personal feelings of anger.” Hearing this the man immediately submitted and asked repentance to Al-God. Such was the honor and code that these men of Mohammed had, even at the crucial moments of war.

    Whereas terrorism is akin to a mad stupid man jumping from behind a bush, stabbing, bombing and shooting an unaware person at random to cause a state of fear all around. Mohammed will never support such cowardice. True-Islam and Terrorism are antonyms any day.

    Please to understand true Islam more… do visit this link


  7. Jay Kactuz

    Sifar, you obviously have not read the Quran and ahadeeth — or you have but prefer not to be honest about them….

    Here is a verse that explains the purpose of Muslims on earth: Quran 9:111. Read it!

    About the woman that poisoned him. The traditions allude to this and Mulims accept this version. What you forget is that the story is clear that she did it because he conquered her town and killed and enslaved her people. Do you have a problem with that? Is it ok to invade and kill others? Is slavery ok if Moammed did it? Do moral standards not apply to him? In case you don’t know, the old woman was killed anyway, not forgiven as you said. According to Tabari, Aisha said that Mohammad forgave her but Allah didn’t so she had to die.

    Zakir is just a typical Muslim that preaches hate and violence against non-Muslims.

  8. Ahamed Ali

    Dear Jay!
    May Allah! show you the straight path and guide you.
    The verse which you have commented Quran 9:111 is given on the situation where the hypocrites of madinah built a masjid where the chief of hypocrites abdullah bin salul was offereing Mohammad(.P.B.U.H) to offer salaah(namaaz) and the verses have been revealed. Jay for a complete context you have to read above verses from 107 and so on to 111 and they you will be able to understand.

    Ahamed Ali

  9. Madhavan

    Salmaan Taseer, the 65-year-old governor of Punjab province, was gunned down in an upscale Islamabad market by one of his police bodyguards. The reason: the governor’s plain-spoken defense of Asia Bibi, an illiterate Christian woman sentenced to death under Pakistan’s harsh blasphemy laws. Taseer’s killer, a 26-year-old named Mumtaz Qadri, showed no remorse for the murder. A large numberof advocates in the court showered floweres on his vehicle, when he brought to the court.Thousands in facebook lauded him for his heroic act.

  10. He is a lier when i he is giving references. I just checked 2 verses of gita what he described as reference. gita 7.20 naik described as idol worship or murti puja which is wrong. n one other reference given by him gita 10.3. he translated it in totaly wrong way. It actullly sais god is unborn, beginningless but zakir said “god has no child!” n so more but I dont have time to talk about that idiot person.

  11. If Indian Express (or Sekhar Gupta) was so peeved by Britain barring entry to Zakir Lying Naik, has it expressed itself against the US denying (an unsolicited) visa to Narendra Modi? Or does Sekhar ‘Secular’ Gupta have different standards for different people. Why should we then not conclude that such expressions of ‘lofty’ ideals have ‘ulterior’ motives?

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