Asserting that he has always condemned terrorism or killing of any innocent human, controversial Islamic preacher Zakir Naik on Monday said it is atrocious even to imply that some youth, who have joined the ISIS, are influenced by him.
"I am followed by more than 100 million people from across the world through television, Facebook and YouTube. Alhumdulillah, tens of thousands of people have come closer to Islam after listening to my talks and videos on topics that have ranged from misconceptions about Islam, Qur'an, Modern Science, education, women's rights in Islam, family issues, Islamic view on terrorism and Jihad and many others," Naik told ANI.
Asserting that he inspires many to come closer to Islam, Naik said his every follower may not do everything he says.
"Once a person comes closer to Islam, there are possibilities that he is exposed to other speakers as well, some of whom misguide them in the name of Islam. They encourage them to kill innocent people, which is totally against the Qur'an. If you listen to my talks, you will not find a single video where I have condoned terrorism or killing any innocent human beings," he added.
Naik also asserted that he has been giving lectures for more than 20 years, adding there is not a single event where he has ever encouraged anyone to kill any other innocent human being.
"In the media and elsewhere, I am being misquoted through half sentences and out of context clips, which try to give an impression that I promote terrorism. I'm totally against terrorism. I condemn all acts of terrorism, including killing of innocent human beings, which is considered as the second major sin in Islam. Islam and Qur'an are totally against all acts of terrorism, including killing of innocent human beings and that is what I've always preached," he said.
"I am sure you agree that I have good oratory skills. So if I was really spreading terror, wouldn't I have made a few lakh terrorists by now? Not just a handful? The fact is that I have always preached peace and harmony and how to become good human beings by following Qur'anic tenets," he added.
While asserting that in a fan following of millions there may be a handful of anti-social elements who will go astray and take up violence, Naik said they are surely not following what he has told them, adding the moment they pick up senseless violence they cease to be Islamic and they surely lose his support.
Refuting links of the ISIS to IRF, Naik dubbed it as 'pure fabrication'.
He further alleged that there is a concerted effort by the government and its agencies to create an air of negativity around him and label him as a hatemonger.
"Till date, they have not provided a single proof to substantiate their claims. That's because none exist and all that agencies are claiming are chatter and nothing else. What I am doing now is the same work I have been doing for 25 years. Do you really think my so-called "terrorist activities" would have been hidden from multiple intelligence agencies for so long?" he said.
Naik also said he is in no position to confirm or refute reports regarding IRF funding Anas, a youth from Rajasthan who apparently has joined the ISIS.
"I can tell you that it is highly improper and childish to allege that IRF's scholarship money was used to "fund terror". That's not possible because the scholarship amount goes straight to the institution and not to the student. Once the student submits the fee structure of his institution, a cheque is made out in the name of the institution and sent directly to the institution," he said.
"In some cases, the student may have paid the fees by taking loans or organising money from someone if the last date will be due. In such a case, IRF pays to the student's account directly. Can anyone digest the claim that IRF funds terror and out of Rs 64 crores received in past 25 years, used only Rs. 80,000 for funding terror? he added.
The controversial Islamic preacher further said the IRF funds education of underprivileged children across the country, adding the NGO has been doing the same for several years now.
"It gives scholarships of more than Rs. one crore every year. Scholarships are given in the field of medicine, engineering, management studies accountancy, etc. Thousands of needy students have benefitted from it over the years," he added.
Asserting that IRF carries out several social programmes in education and health by donating money to several other NGOs, hospitals and educational institutions, Naik said it is done by granting scholarships to needy students and donating money to hospitals for treatment of the poor.
"The IRF also runs its own free medical clinic in Mumbra, Mumbai that gives free treatment to more than 5,000 patients a month. Under a similar programme, IRF donated Rs. 50 lakh to Rajiv Gandhi Charitable Trust (RGCT) few years ago, which the Trust later returned in July 2016 for reasons better known to them," he added.
On allegations of money laundering by IRF in the funds received from abroad, Naik alleged that there is a concerted witch hunting going on with an objective of implicating him by hook or by crook.
"The 47 crore in question came from my personal account in Dubai to my personal account in Mumbai in the last six plus years. It was duly declared by me in the returns and used for lawful activities including giving gifts and loans to my family members. I don't know where is the problem in that? The media has claimed that the government authorities disclosed that Dr Zakir Naik's family members have received money from Middle Eastern countries," he said.
"I challenge the authorities to prove that any of my immediate family members have received even a small fraction of the 47 crores from Middle Eastern countries they are claiming," he added.
Stating that every year more than 12 billion US dollars (over Rs. 80,000 crores) is officially sent from UAE to India by NRIs and a majority of that amount is sent by non-Muslims, Naik said that he has sent an average of Rs. 7.8 crores a year back to India in the past six years (total Rs. 47 crores).
"It is all official. It's the money I earned as an NRI sent back to India through official channels. What is illegal about it? There are hundreds of non Muslims sending more than hundred crore rupees every year from UAE to India. Let me remind you that out of the list of 100 richest Indians living in the Gulf countries 80 percent are non-Muslims," he added.
"There is another figure of Rs. 64 crores that media is saying that ED is claiming that IRF collected illegally. Although I cannot confirm this figure as accurate because we don't have the documents with us anymore, it is surely an amount received by IRF in donations over the last 25 years. That is close to Rs 2.50 crores per year. Lesser in earlier years and more in later years. More importantly, what the NIA is not saying is that more than Rs. 50 crores out of the total are donations received from Indians living right here in India," he said.
Naik further said the IRF received about Rs. 14 crores in the FCRA account over the past 15 years.
"Out of this, about Rs. four crores were from NRIs living abroad. Only about Rs. 10 crores were received from foreign donors in the last about 15 years. All of this was duly declared to the Ministry of Home Affairs including the amounts, the names and the addresses of the donors. So, where is the question of money laundering?" he added.
The IRF chief also dared the government to ban and close all organisations funded by his NGO.
"If the government really thinks IRF is doing money laundering then why do they not ban and close down all the institutions we have given donations to which was published in the media. All the donations we gave to all the organizations and institutions are legal and within the framework of law," said Naik.
"Why do they only talk about Rajiv Gandhi Trust? Why do they not close down KJ Somaiya Trust in Sion Mumbai, Nair Hospital in Mumbai Central, Devilal Memorial Trust, Association of Management Studies and many others as published in media few days ago? Why are they only after IRF Educational Trust which is managing Islamic International School? The answer is they want to misuse their power on minorities," he added.
(This story has not been edited by Business Standard staff and is auto-generated from a syndicated feed.)