Is talk really that cheap Mr Gupta?

In a recent editorial titled “Talk is Cheap”, Shekhar Gupta of the Indian Express hauled the British Govt over coals for barring Zakir Naik, a Muslim evangelist’s entry into Britain. In all probability it wasn’t going to be his first visit to that country and so I was a little surprised as to what prompted this British action. Was it a manifestation of the new Conservative government’s hard-line against Muslim rabble rousers?

Muslim rabble-rouser?

Shekhar Gupta in his piece –

“This is not to say that Zakir Naik’s televangelism is not entirely free of objectionable or sometimes plain ridiculous content. Indeed, many have joined issue with his analysis of 9/11 and the roots of terrorism, as too his view of gender rights. But this is exactly what makes the British invocation of a provision to secure public order mystifying. 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. In fact, he has been solidly and eloquently taken on in these very pages by liberals like Javed Anand. Islamic authorities, including the Darul Uloom Deoband, have issued fatwas against his preachings. And it must be noted that Naik himself has energetically participated in this back-and-forth on panels along with figures like Shah Rukh Khan, on television.”(End Quote)

Let’s take Shekhar Gupta as that measure of a man who backs those who battle against Zakir Naik’s “objectionable and sometimes plain ridiculous content”. Let’s take him as an example of that man who actually battles objectionable and ridiculous content from Zakir Naik and his ilk.

I’d like to look at the following portion of “Walk the Talk” program dated March 9th 2009, by Gupta where he interviewed Zakir Naik. All I have done is inserted the kind of questions Gupta, with his vast journalistic and interviewing experience, should have known to ask.

Zakir Naik: That’s right. I agree with you totally. It is the most misconceived religion in the world, most misunderstood religion.

Shekhar Gupta: Give me some examples. Because you talk to people around the world.

Zakir Naik: For example, as we were saying, the most misunderstood word in Islam is jihad.

Shekhar Gupta: Right

Zakir Naik: People have a wrong notion, and they have the wrong information just by the television media etc, because as you know jihad originally, the Arabic word comes from the word jiddhu jehad, which means to strive and to struggle. That’s it. It means to strive and to struggle.

Shekhar Gupta: Does it mean holy war?

Zakir Naik: It doesn’t mean at all. This if you see that jiddhu jehad means to strive and to struggle, in Islamic context it means to strive and to struggle against own evil inclination, to strive and struggle to make the society better. Even if a person is striving and struggling in the battle to defend himself, it is called jihad. This word holy war was first used by the Christian crusaders. And now it’s used for the muslims unfortunately. Because holy war, in Arabic if you translate means Harman mukkad dasa. The word Harman mukkad dasa doesn’t appear anywhere in the Koran neither in the XXXXX (4 : 36: 45) of the Prophet.

Shekhar Gupta: (Pala – So since Jihad means “to strive and struggle”, it cannot mean holy war? I wonder what is a holy war or any kind of war, if it’s not to strive and to struggle.) There are invocations for Muslims who rise in jihad either against the West, or in some places against India, or wherever. People who give these invocations haven’t read their books right

Zakir Naik: Some may be right, some may be wrong

Shekhar Gupta: (Pala – Who are these “some” who might be right?) Right

Zakir Naik: For example if someone says, I am going to do jihad to clean up the society and he says that pornography should be removed from society, he’s right. So he’s striving and struggling to remove obscenity from society which is right. But to say in terms which is wrong, which is against the Koran and the Hadith, for example the Koran says in, chapter number 5, verse no: 32, if any human being kills any other human being, whether Muslim or non-Muslim unless it be for murder or for creating corruption in the land, it is as though he has killed the whole of humanity. So any Muslim kills any other non-Muslim, an innocent non-Muslim or a Muslim that is against the Koran.

Shekhar Gupta: (Pala – So in short if a Muslim kills in the process of bringing society in lines with the Koran and Hadith; if he kills those people who he thinks are cause – that is Jihad?) That would apply to the people who went around killing people in 26/11

Zakir Naik: Hundred per cent. It is against the teaching of the Koran Hadith. 26/11, 11 September in new york twin tower killing innocent people even a single Koran goes ahead and says if you kill a single human being it is as though you have killed the whole of humanity. One, they have killed thousands in the world trade centre and even here, 26/11, hundreds, it is totally against the religion

Shekhar Gupta: (Pala – The people killed on 26/11 could not have been corrupting and going against Koran and Hadith and that is why they are innocent? How would you know?) And to kill in the name of Islam is unfair to Islam?

Zakir Naik: Unless, unless the verse says unless he has killed someone else for justice or created corruption in the land. So if it falls under these two categories of murder against murder or spreading corruption in the land, that is the time….

Shekhar Gupta: I am looking at specific examples like 26/11

Zakir Naik: Hundred, hundred, hundred per cent wrong. Going in the market place, blowing up killing innocent people, even non-Muslim. Even if some non-Muslim has done harm to you, you can’t go and kill some other non-Muslim. It’s out of the question, it’s totally against Islam.

Shekhar Gupta: (Pala – I don’t understand you Zakir Naik. How are you sure that those killed by bombs and bullets of these Jihadists were innocent and not corrupt in the eyes of the Koran and Hadith?) So, to use Islam to justify this is something you object to?

Zakir Naik: Hundred per cent. Hundred per cent. (End of Quote – The link can be accessed for the entire interview)

Note – Now to my mind free speech is an unconditional right. I don’t dispute that. What I do however demand is the right to the truth and courage from those who speak for and in the name of free speech. Was Gupta honest in his interview with his “rock star”? Is Gupta being honest in his editorial in support of his “rock star”? Why has he not addressed the specific charges that the British Home Secretary has made against Zakir Naik?

1. ‘every Muslim should be a terrorist’

On Osama Bin Laden

2. ‘If you ask my view, if given the truth, if he is fighting the enmies of Islam, I am for him.

3. ‘If he is terrorising the terrorists, if he is terrorising America the terrorist, the biggest terrorist, every Muslim should be a terrorist.’

Is talk really that cheap Mr Gupta?

– Namaste

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