Why social media giants must identify and remove Zakir Naik’s hate speech

Zakir Naik has constantly been propagating hate speech through his videos and influencing innocent youth in the Indian subcontinent

Image Courtesy:india.com

Hate speech has been spreading steadily across the world in recent years. Fanaticism is at an all-time high, and one doesn’t realise that for hate speech to make inroads into a secular civilization, one doesn’t need to verbally abuse anybody or shout to make themselves heard. Indoctrination can happen through propagating sectarianism by cherry-picking religious references with an intention to spread hatred among people of different religions.

An example of this is self-appointed radical Islamist Zakir Naik, who hosts an online show ‘Weekly Live Q&A Session’ with his son Fariq, where he tries to overthrow all progressive ideas necessary for a civilization to survive and instead preach divisive ideas. Naik is one of the most followed preachers on social media with 2.01 million subscribers on YouTube and a following of 22,570,594 on Facebook.

Not only does this show the reach he has throughout the world, but also the damning effects this reach could have in the future. An MBBS by education, it is ironic that Naik has shed all scientific temper when it comes to his incendiary teachings.

In one of his old videos, he supported Osama Bin Laden by saying, “If Laden terrorized the biggest terrorist, America, I’m with him,” further adding that “every Muslim should be a terrorist for if he (Laden) is terrorizing a terrorist, he’s following Islam”.


Recently, answering a query about whether good non-Muslims would get a place in heaven, he said they would not find a place in heaven as they were still non-Muslims committing the sin of ‘shirk’ or idol worship. He added that good non-Muslims could get place in a milder version of hell but would not end up in heaven until they embraced Islam.


This statement was extremely controversial as it went against India’s Ganga-Jamuni tehzeeb which has evolved through thousands of years of understanding and co-existence of various religions. In the Indian sub-continent, Muslims and non-Muslims have respected each other’s faiths and many Hindu saints are revered by Muslims and vice-versa.

Dressed in a suit, tie and skull-cap, Naik has taken to propagating his self-styled hardline brand of Islam to millions of people through social media. While painting an air of modernity through his attire, fluent English and claims of western education in the former schools he operated, Naik yet slyly promotes fundamentalist ideas through his preaching. Banned from India, Bangladesh and the UK, his television channel Peace TV has also been barred from promoting Islamist extremism.

In the Indian subcontinent, there have been many recorded instances of atrocities on the minorities by the right-wing. With continuous ostracisation, minorities are constantly being pushed to the sidelines and they are finding solace in fanatics like Naik who relentlessly promotes radical ideas going against what Islam really stands for.

As civilizations have emerged through the times, progressive individuals have adapted to the rule of law, recasting some religious edicts which can’t be used in a modern world that works on the principle of civil rights and respecting people’s faiths.

For example, a conference in Mardin in southeastern Turkey declared the fatwa by 14th century scholar Ibn Taymiyya rules out militant violence and the medieval Muslim division of the world into a “house of Islam” and “house of unbelief” no longer applies, Reuters had reported in 2010.

Naik has quoted regularly from such controversial medieval sources, which in today’s day and age, doesn’t bode well for communal harmony.

If one observes, people like Zakir Naik seem to know everything about everything. His contentious ideas about people leaving Islam deserving a death penalty or how it is ok for a man to beat his wife ‘gently’ or how it is ok for a man to marry a slave woman and set her free.

Even if Naik quotes from religious scriptures, it must be over and over told to the people who follow him that these ideologies are not suitable for modern progressive society. In a world that is governed by laws, mutual respect, secularism and democracy, Naik’s ideologies cannot hold true as all they go against the values of humanism.

In a country that reveres the principles of Sant Kabir, Guru Nanak, Amir Khusro, Maulana Azad and Nehru, Naik’s words spread like slow poison weakening the foundation of secularism. Indian Muslims and many others around the world have increasingly embraced these values, thus preserving art, culture and monuments, which go to show their respect for different faiths.

For centuries now, different religious communities from India and other countries have worked together to promote and maintain brotherhood. One such example is of the Kartarpur Corridor which enabled thousands of Sikhs in India to visit the Kartarpur Sahib Gurdwara in Pakistan.

Now, when the construction of the first Hindu temple for the city’s minority residents has been backed by secular individuals, Naik through his videos is supporting all those religious fanatics who have been opposing it by saying that Muslims cannot contribute towards the construction of a house of worship of the non-Muslims as it is considered a sin in Islam. His words not only spread hatred but also make stronger the hateful propaganda against the Muslims that is spread by the right wing fascists.


In India, there have been hundreds of examples where people from different religions have worked together to either build or restore houses of worship. For example, the famous Shringeri Math was supported and rebuilt by the support of Tipu Sultan, the first church in north India was built with the help of Akbar in Agra, Guru Arjan Ji, the fifth Guru of Sikhism, requested his friend Sai Mir Mian Mohammed, a Muslim Pir of Lahore, to lay its foundation stone of Golden Temple in 1589. Throughout his speeches, Naik avoids all these examples of secularism and is only seen promoting divisive and intolerant views to further the communal divide.

Hence, social media giants like Facebook, Twitter, YouTube and others which host his videos, should categorise Naik’s content as hate speech and take it down at the earliest.



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