Popularized among Muslims around the world via YouTube and other video-sharing websites, Dr. Zakir Naik is an Indian Muslim speaker who is famous for his television programs and public appearances, where he talks about and answers questions regarding Islam and religious issues of all sorts. Recently, however, Naik made some rather controversial and inflammatory remarks, resulting in a 2-minute video clip that has begun circulating widely among discussion boards and chain emails around the Internet.
In response to a question about the Battle of Karbala at an Islamic peace conference in Sion, India, Naik said that there were “differences of opinion” among the Companions of the Prophet, and that the Battle of Karbala was a “political event”. Mentioning Yazeed’s name, Naik went even further and added “May God be pleased with him”, an invocation reserved for close Companions of the Holy Prophet (peace be upon him and his progeny).
Naik’s comments have created a firestorm in India and around the world. Both Shi’a and Sunni scholars have condemned his comments as inaccurate, inappropriate, and hurtful.
Safdar Karmali of the Mumbai Khoja Shia Ithna Ashari Jama’at commented that Naik had cheapened the message of Imam Hussain’s (peace be upon him) martyrdom by suggesting that he fought for political reasons. Other South Asian and international scholars, both Shia and Sunni, have also condemned his comments, saying that they come at a sensitive time for Shia-Sunni unity.
Meanwhile on the Internet, Naik’s comment spread like wildfire through chain emails and discussion boards. An email originating from Minnesota commented that while Naik has always urged people to do their research on Islam before making up their minds about it, he himself had failed to do so in this situation.
“The truth is that Dr. Naik and many such so-called Islamic scholars, who are not guided by the Holy Prophet (peace be upon him) and his Ahlul Bait (peace be upon them) can be misled and can mislead others due to the lack of knowledge, prejudice, evil self (Nafsil Ammarah), evil deeds and whispering of Satan,” the email concluded.
Most Sunni scholars and jurists, including Ibn Kathir, Ibn Taymiyya, and Ahmad bin Hanbal, have condemned Yazid and deemed it permissible to curse him.
Naik does not appear to have commented on the fiasco so far.