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July 6, 2021 MEMRI Daily Brief No. 292

Global Islamist Leaders Join Hands With Wanted Indian Preacher Dr. Zakir Naik To Build Multi-Purpose Islamic Dawah Center In Norway

July 6, 2021 | By Tufail Ahmad and Y. Carmon*
MEMRI Daily Brief No. 292


Islamist leaders led by Dr. Zakir Naik who have endorsed the Norwegian group Islam Net

A group of Islamist leaders from different countries led by Indian televangelist Dr. Zakir Naik – who is wanted in India and remains in self-exile in Malaysia – has joined hands to establish a grand mosque and Dawah ("preaching, invitation") center in Oslo, Norway. The Islamist leaders have appealed to Muslims for donations, saying: "Earn Allah's pleasure and get a house in jannah [paradise]."[1]

A collage of pictures of the Islamist leaders, inserted in the fundraising campaign, shows Dr. Zakir Naik's photo displayed prominently at the top. Naik faces charges in India for hate speech and money laundering and is accused of radicalizing Muslim youths worldwide.[2] India has sought Naik's extradition from Malaysia for terror activities and money laundering.[3] Even in Malaysia, where he now lives in self-exile, the Malaysian government banned Naik in 2019 from giving public speeches in the "interest of national security."[4]

Through his television productions telecast on Peace TV in Western nations and speeches at numerous events, the Indian preacher has justified polygamy, slavery, and terrorism, and in 2020 argued that it was theologically "permissible" to turn Istanbul's Hagia Sophia into a mosque because it is on land "conquered" by Muslims.[5] "Can a holy place – a church or a temple – be converted into a mosque? After it is conquered – the answer is yes," Naik said.[6]

In June 2010, the Indian Salafist leader was banned from entering the United Kingdom and Canada. The then British Home Secretary Theresa May stated that Naik was banned under laws that exclude anyone who "foments, justifies, or glorifies terrorist violence."[7] However, his television network continued to telecast hate speeches against other communities in the UK. In May 2020, the British media watchdog Ofcom fined Naik's Peace TV network 300,000 pounds for broadcasting "hate speech" and "highly offensive" content in the United Kingdom.[8]

"Our investigations found that programs broadcast on Peace TV Urdu and Peace TV contained hate speech and highly offensive content, which in one instance was likely to incite crime," Ofcom said.[9] The British watchdog added: "We concluded that the content represented serious failures of compliance with our broadcasting rules, which warranted fines. Ofcom has today fined the former licence holders of Peace TV Urdu 200,000 pounds and Peace TV 100,000 pounds for breaking our broadcasting rules."[10]

The Campaign For Islamic Dawah Center In Oslo

In Norway, the campaign for building a mosque and community center is led by an organization called "Islam Net" – based in Oslo and led by Fahad Qureshi, chairman of Islam Net.[11] In the appeal for donations issued by the Islamist leaders on SaveIman.com ("Save Faith") website, Naik says: "Islam Net is a Norwegian Dawah organization that requires your help and support to establish a masjid [mosque] and a Dawah center in Norway."[12] Dawah, or proselytization, is the act of inviting non-Muslims to accept Islam.

While this definition of Dawah does not appear to be problematic in itself, it begins to have consequences for those who do not accept Islam. The concept drives Islamist and jihadi groups to say that non-Muslims who refuse to accept Islam must live as dhimmis, second-class non-citizens, and that non-Muslims cannot share power with Muslims. Precisely for this theological reason, the Islamic Emirate (the Afghan Taliban organization which is poised to seize power in Kabul) recently said that Islam protects non-Muslims, meaning that non-Muslims must agree to live as dhimmis to be offered protection under shari'a.[13]


An appeal for donations published on SaveIman.com

The appeal for financial contributions published on SaveIman.com quotes Islam's founder Muhammad as saying: "Whoever builds a mosque for Allah, Allah will build a house for him in Jannah."[14] "What's in it for you?" the appeal asks, offering many answers: "Finding peace in Islam"; "Excelling in education due to our support"; "​Getting an Islamic education from childhood"; and "Learning Dawah and calling people to Islam."[15]

Reportedly, about 200 Norwegians have converted to Islam in recent years. The appeal for donations notes: "In the last years, around 200 Norwegians have found Islam, and uncountable Muslims have come closer to Allah through our Dawah!"[16]

The Fundamental Message: "Embrace Islam Or Else..." And "The Love Of Death"

Of Dawah, Indian preacher Brother Imran, whose real name is Mujtaba Hussain Siddiqui, said: "Some people say that when Islam took up the sword, it was meant for defense. This is the response of the less knowledgeable [people]. When you say this while sitting among your Muslim brothers and sisters, it looks good. When you go to a university in America and say this, a student will stand up and ask: 'If the sword was only raised in defense, then why did your Prophet Muhammad send letters to the king of Rome and the king of Iran, in which it was said you should accept Islam; if you do not accept Islam, then pay the jizya [poll tax]; if you do not pay jizya, then I am sending my military [to fight you].'"[17]

The Islamic sources present the formulaic phrases used by early Islamic leaders in calling on non-Muslims – the polytheists and the People of the Book (i.e., Jews and Christians) – to convert to Islam. The first and most concise of these is Aslimu wa-Taslamu (embrace Islam and be safe). In the case of the polytheists, converting to Islam afforded protection from the fate of being killed by the Muslims, and in the case of the People of the Book, it spares them the need to accept the degraded status of dhimmi and paying the poll-tax.

According to Muslim tradition, Muhammad used this formula in letters to the Byzantine emperor Heraclius and to the Persian king Kisra, calling upon them to convert. A more detailed phrasing is attributed in the historic sources to the seventh-century Islamic commander Khalid ibn Al-Walid. His statement is presented in slightly different forms in several sources, the most important of which are Kitab Al-Amwal by Abu Ubayd al-Qasim ibn Sallam (d. 838), and Ta'rikh al-Rusul wal-Muluk, by Al-Tabari (d. 923). The most common of these versions is the following. Addressing the Persian governor Hormuzan, Khalid wrote: "Embrace Islam and be safe, or else accept, on your own behalf and on behalf of your people, the protected status and the poll-tax; if you do not, you will have nobody to blame but yourself, for I shall come to you with people who love death as you love life."[18]

Khalid ibn Al-Walid is reported to have issued similar warnings to non-Muslim tribes to convert at Banigya, Barusma, and Al-Hirah in Iraq. In Muslim imagination even in present times, he is upheld as a great Islamic military general who subdued and defeated empires of the day, as seen in this imagined image of him on horseback, posted on Twitter in May 2020.[19]


Khalid bin al-Walid in Muslim imagination (circa: 2020, courtesy: Twitter)

In addition to Dr. Zakir Naik, others who have expressed support for the Islam Net's mission to establish a mosque and Dawah center in Norway include a range of Islamist leaders from the UK, the U.S., Australia, Canada, Malaysia, Saudi Arabia, and others.[20]

These personalities, and not all could have overt Islamist views, include: Imam Siraj Wahhaj (U.S.), Sh. Hussain Yee (Malaysia), Sh. Dr. Yasir Qadhi (U.S.), Ali Dawah (UK), Mohammed Hijab (UK), Sh. Assim Alhakeem (Saudi Arabia), Sheikh Shady Alsuleiman (Australia), Sh. Alaa Elsayed (Canada), Sh. Yusha Evans (U.S.), Sh. Muhammad Abdul-Jabbar (UK), Sh. Dr. Saeed Al-Qadi (UK), Sh. Dr. Haitham Al-Haddad (UK), Sh. Ahmed Ali (UK), Ust. Asim Khan (UK), Kamal Saleh (Australia), Ibrahim Jaaber (U.S.), Smile 2 Jannah (UK), Sh. Mansour Al-Salimi (Saudi Arabia), Omar Esa (UK), and Sh. Dr. Ali M. Saleh (Norway).

"Taking Over Europe Is A Negative Statement – As If You Are Going To Bring Your Military Forces To Take Over Europe; No, No, No"

Shaykh Assim Alhakeem of Saudi Arabia, who has expressed support for the Dawah center in Oslo, says: "Giving Dawah is one of the best good deeds a Muslim can do... This center, this Masjid [mosque], this educational institution, would act like a beacon of light, calling the Muslims in Norway back to the essence of Islam."[21] Shaykh Alaa Elsayed of Canada, who is also featured among the supporters, says in a 2019 video: "This beautiful project, it's about not just building a Masjid, it's a Tarbiyah [training] center, it's a Dawah center. So, help with whatever you can. May Allah SWT reward you multiples!"[22]

Dr. Haitham Al-Haddad, the British Islamic scholar who has endorsed the campaign for donations, delivered a speech in Norway in 2017 where he defined the role of Dawah: "[W]hy do we shy away when we are asked: Do you want to change the laws to become Muslim-friendly laws? We say: 'No, no, no. We don't want to do that.' Otherwise, we will be seen as if we want to take over Europe. Taking over Europe is a negative statement – as if you are going to bring your military forces to take over Europe. No, no, no. We don't want this, and this doesn't even work. But what we want is to bring light to all Europeans, so Europeans themselves decide that they want Islam..."[23]


A video posted by London-based "Smile 2 Jannah" on YouTube

American Islamic scholar Sheikh Yasir Qadhi, whose name also figures in the list of those who have expressed support for the Islamic center in Oslo, discussed the responses of Islamic scholars to the beheading of French schoolteacher Samuel Paty in October 2020 by an Islamist who deemed him to have committed blasphemy of Islam's prophet. In his lecture at the East Plano Islamic Center in Plano, Texas, Yasir Qadhi said that no reputable scholar would permit vigilante attacks such as the murder of Paty.[24]

Nevertheless, Yasir Qadhi went on to justify the killing of a person accused of blasphemous act against Muhammad following due process. He explained: "When we are a minority [in non-Islamic countries], there is simply no argument to be made that this [beheading of Samuel Paty] is something that would be allowed, even if the punishment for blasphemy might be death in most of the type of fiqh [Islamic jurisprudence], that is a type of ruling that will only apply in the lands of Islam after a judge, after a trial, after all of this has taken place. And then, if that law is still being implemented in that land, indeed the classical ulama [Islamic scholars] would say that the punishment for blasphemy is indeed death."[25]

"Smile 2 Jannah" – one of these leaders who has endorsed the campaign for building a mosque and community center – released a video titled "I Am NOT Peaceful."[26] In the video, he says: "Are you peaceful, they ask me" and forwards propositions such as: "When my favorite team loses a match, I get angry, just like you."[27] He declares, "I am not peaceful, but I try to better myself every single day, just like you. So, the next time my religion gets blamed for the actions of the few, expect me to get disheartened and confused, just like you."[28] The video ends with a note: "This video is dedicated to all those who have suffered Islamophobic attacks."[29]

Zakir Naik's Views On Polygamy, Slavery, Jihad – In His Own Words

The upcoming Oslo center – being developed from public donations from across the world by Islam Net, a Salafi organization headed by Fahad Qureshi, a Pakistani-Norwegian national – is not merely a mosque. The advertisement for donations, published on SaveIman.com website, notes: "Muslims of Norway are in dire need of establishing a Norwegian mosque combined with a Dawah, Tarbiyah and community center."[30] The promoters declare that the center "is going to be catering to not only the Muslim community, but also giving Dawah to the broader Norwegian society."[31]

Dr. Zakir Naik's views on polygamy, slavery, jihad, and terrorism militate against democratic ideas nurtured by free societies. In fact, Naik's views based on Islamic shari'a seek to curtail women's freedom, pluralism and rights of religious communities, individual liberties, and the democratic ethos of our era, as documented below.

Malaysia-Based Indian Televangelist Zakir Naik: 'I Say From Day One That I Do Not Call... [Osama Bin Laden] A Terrorist'

'I Say From Day One That I Do Not Call... [Osama Bin Laden] A Terrorist'

Indian Muslim Scholar Zakir Naik: Bush Is World's No. 1 Terrorist

Indian Muslim Cleric Zakir Naik: George Washington and Benjamin Franklin Were Also Labeled "Terrorists"

Indian Muslim Cleric Zakir Naik: 9/11 Was Carried Out by George Bush Himself

From the MEMRI TV Archives: Clips of Islamist Indian Muslim Cleric Dr. Zakir Naik – The Inspiration Behind U.S. Terror Suspect Najibullah Zazi

Islamist Preacher Zakir Naik, Barred from U.K. and Canada – An Ideological Profile

Exiled Indian Islamic Scholar Zakir Naik: Turning Hagia Sophia Into A Mosque Is Permissible Because It Is On Land Conquered By Muslims

Indian Muslim Cleric Zakir Naik: Slaves in Islam Are Treated Better than Modern-Day POWs

Indian Imam Dr. Zakir Naik: Polygamy Is the Solution to Homosexuals and the Surplus of Women in New York and around the World

Malaysia-Based Indian Cleric Zakir Naik: In the West, They Are Selling Their Daughters in the Name of Women's Lib; Slaves in Islam Are Like Modern-Day POWs (Archival)

Indian Cleric Zakir Naik: World Banking Is Controlled by the Jews (Archival)

Indian Social Activist Javed Anand Discusses Radicalization in India, Says:  "Watch Dr. Zakir Naik's Peace TV More Closely; Notice How The Channel Has Nothing To Do With Peace"

Indian Author Sadia Dehlvi Stresses Essence of Sufism in Islam, Says:  "The Ideology that... [Zakir Naik] is Propagating is Very Dangerous, and Could Lead to Radical, Confrontationist and Extremist Tendencies [Among Muslims]"

Indian Islamic Scholar Asghar Ali Engineer Examines the Islamic Clergy's Grip on Indian Muslims, Says: "The Enormous Influence That A Person Like Zakir Naik And His Peace TV Enjoys Even Among Middle-Class Muslims Who Are Not Educated In Madrassas... Think He Is Trouncing... The Opponents Of Islam And Muslims"


* Tufail Ahmad is Senior Fellow for the MEMRI Islamism and Counter-Radicalization Initiative; Yigal Carmon is President of MEMRI.

 

[1] SaveIman.com, accessed June 24, 2021.

[2] IndianExpress.com (India), June 18, 2020.

[3] TheHindu.com (India), July 8, 2018.

[4] FirstPost.com (India), August 20, 2019.

[7] MEMRI Cyber Terrorism And Jihad Lab report, Islamist Preacher Zakir Naik, Barred from U.K. and Canada - An Ideological Profile, June 15, 2010.

[8] NDTV.com (India), May 17, 2020.

[9] NDTV.com (India), May 17, 2020.

[10] NDTV.com (India), May 17, 2020.

[11] SaveIman.com, accessed June 24, 2021.

[12] SaveIman.com, accessed June 24, 2021.

[14] SaveIman.com, accessed June 24, 2021.

[15] SaveIman.com, accessed June 24, 2021.

[16] SaveIman.com, accessed June 24, 2021.

[18] Al-Tabari, Part III, pp. 347-48

[19] Twitter.com/HamzaAqil3, May 13, 2020.

[20] SaveIman.com, accessed June 24, 2021.

[21] SaveIman.com, accessed June 24, 2021.

[22] YouTube.com/watch?v=nTopehApDek, April 5, 2019.

[26] YouTube.com/watch?v=YyddcdK1-U8, July 10, 2016.

[27] YouTube.com/watch?v=YyddcdK1-U8, July 10, 2016.

[28] YouTube.com/watch?v=YyddcdK1-U8, July 10, 2016.

[29] YouTube.com/watch?v=YyddcdK1-U8, July 10, 2016.

[30] SaveIman.com, accessed June 24, 2021.

[31] YouTube.com/watch?v=VAP0CthOkzg, July 6, 2020.

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