Reflections on a Ban
There may be differences of opinion as to whether or not the Government has acted in undue haste in banning the preacher Dr. Zakir Naik. It is not within the realm of impossibility that some extremists feel inspired by some of the ideas that Dr. Zakir Naik’s ‘Islamic Research Foundation’ and the ‘Peace TV’ have been disseminating. This could be the case with any other such ideological organization and activist group. But it could be that to establish a direct link between a thought and an act might require more intense judicial scrutiny.
Serious-minded Muslims too have reservations against the kind of stuff the ‘Peace TV’ had been relaying through its media apparatus. It has often been felt that Dr. Zakir Naik’s interpretation of the Quran does not befit the current context. Many viewers of ‘Peace TV’ finds its programmes to be in poor taste as the overall emphasis in the content is on belittling other faiths, notwithstanding the comparative study of religious teachings. Love, compassion, gentleness and peace are conspicuous by their absence in the messages put out by this TV channel. On several other issues too, the channel has been taking a line that will not gel with the ethos of composite culture and plural society that we have inherited. The parading of kalima reciters on TV shows has only exacerbated tensions in society and provides a handle to others to enact counter shows, with all this eventually leading to disharmony. Unfortunately, Dr. Naik has been immune to such criticism expressed earlier.
Religions and faiths are private domain of individual in a secular society. Their essence lies in promising salvation in the Hereafter and building peace, harmony discipline in society by inculcating values of service, charity, hospitality, and sacrifice for others. One needs to be extremely careful if the end result is opposite to what is intended and turns believers into an egotistic lot. Dr. Naik has erred grotesquely on this count.