Zakir Naik a half-baked intellectual: Mumbai police report

ZAKIR NAIK The report is more a study in personality tendencies and a peek into the world of half-truths and falsehoods that the controversial televangelist had been resorting to

The Mumbai police, which was probing the alleged provocative speeches of Islamic televangelist Zakir Naik, has submitted its report to Maharashtra Home department, a senior official said on Tuesday.

The report is more a study in personality tendencies and a peek into the world of half-truths and falsehoods that the controversial televangelist had been resorting to. The report mentions that Naik was often found to instigate and fan trouble by dishing out his brand of inflammatory speeches, which often, though not always, verged on half-baked justifications about Islam as a preferred way of life.

A few attackers in the Dhaka seige attacks claimed they were influenced by the way the Mumbai televangelist chose to address issues in Islam, often tallying them with those in other religions. In fact, the Mumbai police report dwells more on the near-magnetic personality of Naik and his ways of reaching out to the masses than anything else. Naik has been portrayed as a clever televangelist who is given to keeping issues "open-ended."

"He talks in clever couched language and keeps every issues he talks about open. In doing that he leaves himself exposed to a bevy of interpretations, while at the same time does not allow himself to get bogged down or restrained by any one strand of interpretive explanation," said a senior security official.

"The interesting thing here is that in the case he is challenged on one count he always had the privilege of an escape hatch to steer clear of a densely complex religious matter claiming that he never said so in as many words. While in some cases he was found to stick to his master narrative of sorts claiming that anything in the name of Islam is justified," the official added.

The report talks about how Naik over the years managed to cast his sway over a vast multitudes of illiterate and semi-illiterate individuals seeking quick-fix solutions to problems mostly about Islam and also occasionally about other religions.

It has been mentioned that Naik resorted to a "lot of half-truths about Islam and other religions too. Naik has a tendency to parade half-baked facts as truths, and, parallel with this, cultivated an innate knack for running down other religions".

The report, in fact, does not talk about any action by the law enforcement agencies against the controversial preacher at this point in time. The reason being that Naik might "cry martyr" and claim that he had fallen victim to a cruelly vindictive media and security witchhunt.

Naik was under the scanner of various central agencies after reports that his messages inspired some of those involved in Dhaka terror strike on July 1, 2016.

The report will be sent to Chief Minister Devendra Fadnavis for further action. The police were asked to probe Naik's past speeches available online, to see if any of them could have inspired youths to join terrorist organisations. They are also conducting a joint inquiry (with other probe agencies) into the functioning of Naik's Islamic Research Foundation (IRF), to scrutinise the finances it has received from various parts of the world.

In a spate of events post Dhaka-seige, Indian security officials arrested two members of Naik's Islamic Research Foundation (IRF)—Rizwan Khan and Arshi Quereshi—for working toward radicalising young impressionable Muslims across the country. In fact, Quershi was picked up as part of a joint operation by the Mumbai and Kerala police, after inputs emerged that he was facilitating "instrumental motivation" for a section of willing Muslims in southern India and elsewhere.

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