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Zakir Naik’s host defends invite

 | September 19, 2012

Saba Islamic Media invites non-Muslims to the controversial orator’s talks.

PETALING JAYA: Saba Islamic Media today defended its invitation of controversial Islamic orator Dr Zakir Naik to give talks in Malaysia, saying its purpose was to promote harmony among people of various religions.

Saba spokesman Shakirin Kakulal Govindji said his organisation was inviting non-Muslims to Naik’s talks and would give them priority during the question-and-answer sessions.

News that the Mumbai-born physician-turned-orator was coming to Malaysia next week has caused fierce debate on the Internet, with some commentators alleging that Naik has often insulted non-Islamic faiths in his talks.

“We are a multi-religious country and we want to maintain the peace and harmony in Malaysia,” Govindji told FMT. “In the past 20 years, Saba Islamic Media has worked towards building bridges with people of different faiths in the country.”

He said that among Saba’s objectives in inviting Naik was to have him clarify Islamic views on unity among people of all faiths, the Islamic perspective on modern science, and Muslims’ misconception of terrorism and jihad.

Naik is scheduled to deliver a series of talks between next week and Oct 7 at several venues, including the Putra World Trade Centre (PWTC).

Govindji said there would be a non-Muslim panellist at the PWTC event.

“We also invite non-Muslims to attend the talks,” he said. “Priority will be given to them to pose questions. Rest assured that no one will stop you.

“So I urge those who disagree with Zakir’s thoughts to put forward your rebuttals and allow him to answer them. Zakir has agreed to end the sessions late to accommodate all questions.”

Govindji also explained his own views on inter-faith harmony. He said that although there were doctrinal differences between religions, this did not mean that people of different faiths could not unite on common ground.

“Differences will always be there,” he said. “Even father and son have differences with one another but we do share good values and we can work on that.

“In the Quran, Surah Aali-Imran Verse 64, God says, ‘Say to the People of the Book, let us come to common terms between us and you, that we will worship none but God.’

“So even God ask us find a common platform we can work on.”

He said he understood that religious issues were sensitive in Malaysia, but added that it was important for people to know one another’s religions.

“In the Quran, Surah Al-Anaam Verse 108, God has commanded Muslims not to revile other religions because it will invite insults on us due to ignorance,” he said.

“A lot of problems in the world are caused in the name of religion, but they have nothing to do with religion. It’s the misunderstanding and abuse of religion that are causing the problems.”

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