Hang on tight as I delineate this:
As a kid, I grew up listening to his speeches & as you’d guess it, I was actually quite impressed with his style, wit & rhetoric. He has his own style of quoting from plethora of religious texts; from Quran to Bible & Bhagwat Gita. As I grew, I realised why young Muslims, particularly the urban- bred middle class was in such an awe. For most of the Muslims, Zakir Naik was the perfect answer to those who’ve regularly alleged that the Muslim society & their religion is impervious to modernisation. The man is a trained Doctor, an impeccable orator & combines western dressing with a skullcap & a beard. With an undeniably vast command over religious texts of ‘comparative religions’ (the phrase he uses for religions other than Islam) Zakir Naik became a household name across Muslim localities in India & abroad.
Personally, I’ve scant regard for him. Despite being a trained doctor he blatantly denies the evolutionary theory. He espouses Muslim supremacist beliefs & shamelessly promotes them everywhere. He loves to fashion himself as a man of logic & rationale but, conveniently avoids using (or manipulates) the same when he talks about Islam. Let this be amply clear;religions are simply an extension of culture. They can be put in the same brackets as language & customs. There’s nothing divine or logical in any religion of the world. People like Zakir Naik & other religious televangelists ( of every other faith) simply pander to the preposterous desire of religious people of gaining scientific validation for their anachronistic beliefs.
That said, the ban on his NGO & restriction on foreign funds are a wholly different subject. Actions against his NGO for alleged terror links (which I personally find flimsy & untenable) sets a precedent: the government must act with equal vigour against fanatic Hindu organisations like: Bajrang Dal, VHP & others regularly accused of participating in anti- Muslim pogroms & riots. It doesn’t go down well when you see NIA enthusiastically swooping on young Muslim men & incriminating them in false terror cases while blood thirsty zealots like Maya Kodnani & Babu Bajrangi enjoy extended vacations from jail despite being proven guilty of orchestrating massacres in Gujarat.
There are regular allegations against the present government that they’re soft on Right- wing militants possibly because these people are a significant constituency of the ruling party. The crackdown on Zakir Naik’s NGO is more of an ingratiating act that aims to pander to this constituency.