Mrs Naik admitted to ADK hospital after falling from banana boat

Farhat Naik, wife of well known Islamic speaker Dr Zakir Naik who recently conducted a talk on ‘Misconceptions of Islam’ in Male’,  has been admitted in ADK Hospital after falling from a banana boat yesterday.

Spokesperson for the Islamic Ministry Sheikh Ahmadulla Jameel said that Mrs Naik was not injured but was unable to swim and so was admitted to ADK as a precaution.

”She was not injured,” Ahmadulla said, ”but we brought her Male’ because she might have been injured as she did not know how to swim, and she is a very special guest for Maldivians.”

”She will be discharged today very soon,” he added. ”Dr Zakir Naik and his family will depart today.”

Police Sub-Inspector Ahmed Shiyam said that police had also been informed of the case.

He confirmed the incident had taken place on a resort but declined to give further details upon a request by the Islamic Ministry.

A staff member working at Coco Palm Boduhithi Island resort meanwhile confirmed that the incident happened yesterday afternoon. He said that she suffered no injuries.

Dr Zakir Naik and his family arrived to the Maldives on May 25 and was due to leave on May 31. Naik delivered two speeches during his stay in the Maldives, which attracted over 10,000 people. His wife also spoke on Islam last week.

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Islamic Foundation calls for death sentence if apostate fails to repent

The Islamic Foundation has called for self-declared apostate Mohamed Nazim to be stripped of his citizenship and sentenced to death if he does not repent and return to Islam.

Nazim claimed he was “Maldivian and not a Muslim” during a public question-and-answer session with Islamic speaker Dr Zakir Naik, the first time a Maldivian has publicly announced he is not a Muslim.

According to the Maldivian constitution all citizens are required to be Muslim, and the country is always described as a “100 percent” Muslim country.

The 37 year-old angered many in the approximately 11,000-strong crowd with his statement during Dr Naik’s ‘Misconceptions about Islam’ lecture on Friday.

Dr Naik responded that Nazim had read the wrong books and “deviated from Islam”, and requested him “to read correct books on Islam, and Inshallah, you’ll come back to Islam.”

However Nazim did not relinquish the microphone and pressed Naik to clarify the penalty for apostasy.

“In Islam, there are many cases, it doesn’t mean death penalty,” Dr Naik explained. “But if the person who reverts who was a Muslim then converts to and becomes a non-Muslim and propagates his faith and speaks against Islam, and if it’s Islamic rule, then the person should be put to death. But just because a person who is a Muslim becomes a non-Muslim, death penalty is not the ruling.”

Nazim was escorted from the venue by police for his own protection, after members of the audience attempted to attack him.

Police Sub-Inspector Ahmed Shiyam said two men who tried to attack Nazim were arrested after they attacked the police officers protecting him. Nazim himself “was not injured because police protected him,” Shiyam said.

He was taken to a police building where a crowd of protesters had gathered, calling for him to be punished. Shiyam confirmed that Nazim is now being held in an undisclosed location for five days while police investigate “in consultation with the Islamic Ministry and the Prosecutor General’s office.”

Today the Islamic Foundation of the Maldives issued a press statement calling on judges to give Nazim the opportunity to repent “and if he does not, then sentence him to death as Islamic law and Maldivian law agree.”

“The Islamic Foundation believes that the person who announces apostasy should be punished according to Islamic laws,” the NGO said, warning that Nazim represented “a disturbance to the religious views and the religious bonds that exist with Maldivians.”

“Hereby if this man does not do his penance and come back to the Islamic religion, the Islamic Foundation of the Maldives calls to take the citizenship away from this man as mentioned in the Maldivian constitution.”

If case crossed into areas not covered by the laws of the country, “then the judges should rely on Islamic law,” the NGO stated, as per article 142 of constitution which says judiciary shall look into Islamic shar’ia on matters not covered in law, and sentence accordingly.

“So it is requested that the commissioner of police run the legal research on this man and take this to the Prosecutor General’s office. We also request the Prosecutor General to go through this matter and to take this man to the criminal court for trial,” the Islamic Foundation said.

A government official involved in the legal process, who requested that his name and department be kept anonymous, said he was “really worried” and described the case as “a very sensitive subject”.

“Police are investigating the case,” he said. “My understanding is that the court authorities will give [Nazim] opportunities to change his mind. I think he will be given every opportunity to think about his decision.”

Minister for Islamic Affairs Dr Abdul Majeed Abdul Bari told Minivan News that Ministry officials had acted quickly to remove Nazim from the venue “for his own protection”, and had now handed the matter over to the legal system.

“I don’t know if there is a penalty for apostasy according to Maldivian law,” he said.

The Adhaalath Party issued a press statement claiming that the act violated the constitution of the Maldives and called on the government “to strengthen Islam and protect the constitution.”

Religious NGO Jamiyyathul Salaf declined to comment on the matter during a press conference held today on another matter, however NGO Jamiyyathul Musliheen expressed “concern and regret” over the incident.

”Not a few number of Maldivian youths are moving further from the religion, and many of them are going renegade,” the NGO said in a press statement, adding that “it is a responsibility of the government to strengthen Islam in the country.”

President of the Human Rights Commission to the Maldives (HRCM), Ahmed Saleem, said “what happened was really unfortunate.”

“I think the best thing will be to talk to him and to make him understand the situation and the repercussions, talks which HRCM will welcome,” Saleem said.

He said he was unsure how the Maldivian government would handle the incident.

“I’m afraid of the reaction from the international community should we resort to harsh action,” he said. “I don’t think it would be in our interest – we have just been given a seat on the UN Human Rights Council. This is something we need to think seriously about before we start using harsh language.”

Minivan News contacted several local human rights NGOs however they had not responded at time of press.

A senior government source, who requested anonymity, said he felt the case “will be a real test of how the government will abide by its international commitments.”

Press Secretary for the President Mohamed Zuhair was on medical leave and unable to comment.

Minivan News was unable to reach Nazim himself for comment, however a person close to the matter described him as “a very sensible guy who will think of the people around him. But he will not give up on calling for people to be more honest about themselves. I think he will become a genuine refugee if he refuses to take back his words,” she said.

A transcript Dr Naik’s response to Nazim is available here.

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Comment: An Evening with Mrs Naik

Ever since my tenth grade in lower secondary in 1982, I do not remember being in a room full of only women until Wednesday night. And now I have completed my forty-fourth year of living.

Wednesday night was womens’ night at the Islamic Centre. The occasion was a lecture by a Mrs Zakir Naik hosted by the Ministry of Islamic Affairs. Her husband Dr Zakir Naik was invited by the ministry to the country to deliver Islamic lectures. And the couple, their son and three daughters were also involved.

The local media has over the past three weeks made headlines of Dr Naik’s visit to the country. Many locals seems to believe that Dr Naik, who is the founder of the Mumbai based channel, Peace TV is a renowned Islamic Scholar.

While I am under the impression that he is a medical doctor, one of the senior government officials referred to him as a tele-evangelist.

I believe since the nation converted from Buddhism to Islam in 1153, Islam has been fundamental to Maldivians. But lately, I have been aware that the word “Islam” has a special ring to it that it attracts, assembles, arouses and angers my country folk.

I have been long convinced that the power of Islam as the topnotch political power tool to mobilize the Maldivian masses cannot be overlooked. And while the Maldives struggles to move forward nursing its infant democracy and wounded economy, my eyes are fixed on the hands of the evil but the smart who hold Islam as a weapon as we close on 2013.

I find Islam enlightening, progressive and intriguing. Social justice is a passionate concept to me as much as I believe it is central to Islam. So I was at the lecture venue fifteen minutes before it started to learn from Mrs Naik about Islam.

When I arrived at the venue I was not surprised to be told that the main hall was full. The place was swarming with mostly black figures. Rows of chairs lined up on all possible space outside the hall and women were seated on all of them. Some were climbing up the stairs to the mosque above the hall.

I spotted some nervous officials belonging to the host. Obviously, they expected a large turnout and had made careful arrangements with two screens to display Mrs Naik for the people outside. But this response, I was sure, was unexpected.

I looked around. In addition to some officials from the ministry, the only men were some two dozen seated on the low walls in the compound.

I was lucky to get a seat in the main hall filled with nearly three hundred women. The majority was dressed in black. I counted ten wearing no scarf or buruga. The rest showed only their face and hands. Some showed nothing. I noticed three movie cameras operated by young ladies who I assume were journalists from the TV Maldives. The Islamic Ministry estimated 6000 women attended the function.

The evening began. One of the daughters of Mrs Naik recited Quruan. The next daughter, looking close to ten years recited a poem. It praised the hijab while outrightly insulted those who did not wear it.

Next we heard the introduction of our lecturer Mrs Farhat Naik.
We heard Mrs Naik is from Mumbai and has a masters degree in commerce. We were told she is a well known figure in the Islamic community and has traveled all over the world. We were told she lectured on Islam in countries such as the United States, Australia, Canada, etc. We heard she is a principal of one of the Islamic schools and Mr and Mrs Naik has even opened Islamic Schools.

What I do not remember hearing was her qualification in Islam and who gave it to her.

Mrs Naik took the microphone, standing in front of me. She was tall and a pleasant lady. She wore a black gown and a dark buruga and her face and hands were the only visible skin.

Hoping for some stimulating valuable information in Islam, I listened intently.

She started saying her topic for the night is “My purpose of life” and not “roles and responsibilities of women in Islam” as displayed behind her on a board.

The lecture went on for over an hour. My expectations turned to disappointment. And then, to concern.

The “academic lecture” that I expected turned out to be a memorized inconsistent contradicting jumble. It contained information downloaded from internet mixed with outdated and inappropriate examples that was pinched with selected verses from different chapters of Quruan and decorated with rhetoric. The “world famous Islamic Scholar” turned out to be a “performer” very suitable to school kids from primary to secondary. I later checked her quotes from Quruan and found they were used indeed out of context.

Mrs Naik first quote from Quruan was 51:56. She said “We have created man and jinn only for the purpose of Ibadhaa (worship).” She interpreted it saying “worship is what pleases Allah and our salvation and success depends on Allah being pleased.”

I checked a translation of the verse. It has “worship” replaced with “service” and the verse had a very strong yet broad meaning that encompass the diverse activities of all human life. To my dismay, Mrs Naik’s entire interpretation was in a total vaccum where human life, activities and times were concerned.

In her speech Mrs Naik preached us to be Allah-centred and said the purpose of a Muslim’s life should be to pleasure Allah. She preached not to have meaningless purposes in life and elaborated it with an example of a dog chasing a car on the highway. She came up with a word for each letter in Islam. She said “I” is for Quruan and Sunnah, “S” is for specific goals, “L” is for lucrative – in this world and afterlife, “M” is to measure how much is achieved and “I” is for intentions – which is to pleasure Allah” and “C” is for consistency. She did not tell us how a Muslim could measure the achievements made toward the goal of pleasing Allah.

She preached the values of having strong desires, having focus, putting consistent efforts, disregarding worldly ambitions and not to let society decide what a Muslim should become. She elaborated it with the story of the 1960 Olympic medalist Wilma Rudolph. But she never mentioned the relationship between Wilma’s success and her worship to Allah.

I wonder whether Mrs Naik, as an Islamic scholar did some research on our 100 percent Muslim country prior to her visit. Obviously, she was not aware that murder and stabbing are nearly a weekly affair which the Maldivians are increasingly getting de-sensitized to. She preached repentance and elaborated it with a story of a man who committed 100 murders and fell dead on the way to repent but went to heaven because his intent to repent preceded his death.

Mrs Naik went on to say “do not judge people on what people think of you”. She said the message given by girls who wear hijab is “We are prohibited” while the message girls who wear skirts give is “You are invited”. Is Mrs Naik reinforcing her audience to harass girls who do not wear hijab? Doesn’t she know that in Maldives there are many women who do not wear hijab? Is Mrs Naik saying that harassment, abuse and rape do not occur in communities where women wear hijab? What data does she have to support her argument? Mrs Naik asked her audience to imagine a world where all women wear hijab saying that there would be no such crimes as harassment, rape, abuse, etc. Does she know that rape and sex abuse often happen within family? As a scholar how did she come up with such an assumption?

Mrs Naik expressed her distaste for western values and said “if we copy the west we have products of the west”. I wonder what she was thinking when she sat watching her two daughters emulate a rap song at her microphone after her talk.

Mrs Naik called the TV an “idiot box”. She urged her audience to throw it and switch on the Islamic TV mentioning Mr Naik’s Peace TV. She said cartoons are made to brainwash the children and spoil generations. She disregarded the positive values put across to children through cartoons and the valuable information received through those such as the National Geographic Channel. Her rhetoric seemed to totally disregard modern technological advances and any child’s basic right to walk the path to wisdom.

She said all TV channels except Islamic ones ‘are designed to stop the (imminent) revolution that Muslim Ummah is going to bring to the world’. I saw this message in the context of her entire lecture that can be summarised as, “Allah created humankind to worship Him and while everyone should have a purpose in life it should be the jihad of converting all human kind into Islam.”

I wonder why Islamic scholars always continue to portray Allah in the image of a human being – a human being who gets pleasure from the praise and deeds of his slaves and rewards in return. I wonder how the audience will perceive the divine when Mrs Naik told a story involving a clash between the Angel of Paradise and the Angel of Curse on who would take out the soul of a dead person. She said to determine who gets the soul, Allah asked them to find out which distance is longer – between where the man was when he decided to repent and the spot where his dead body lay or from that spot to where he was going to repent?

I wonder whether a true Islamic scholar trying to win the hearts and minds of twenty-first century Maldivians should talk in such terms.

The superscript of the Naik’s whole visit was revealed when Mrs Naik answered a question from the audience who asked her where she can provide Islamic education to her children. She answered by telling that if she wanted an Islamic school why doesn’t she get together people who want it and call her husband for it at his lecture following evening.

When I left the hall close to eleven thirty, I saw a state car and two security officers in full gear waiting outside in the drive way.

And my mind struggled to reconcile the cost – benefit ratio of this enchanting evening with Mrs. Naik.

But I know, tonight is an accomplishment for those. They’ve seen the blue print for the transformation they require. And this transformation is the final step to the Rule by the Ulaama.

All comment pieces are the sole view of the author and do not reflect the editorial policy of Minivan News. If you would like to write an opinion piece, please send proposals to [email protected]

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